How do I register to take a doctorate?
First of all: Most doctoral students have a double status. They are students and at the same time staff members of ETH Zürich. Signing a working contract does not mean that you are automatically registered as a doctoral student. That is handled by the Human Resources department. Registering as a student has to be done separately with the Doctoral Administration Office.
For that fill in the Application form (PDF, 882 KB) and enclose all the required documents without exception. You will find a list of the documents that have to be submitted in the Appendix to the application form. Your supervisor (ETH Zurich professor) must sign the application form before you send it to the Doctoral Administration Office. Please note that registrations without an original signature from your supervisor and incomplete dossiers will be rejected.
You should also note the following:
- If you intend to carry out your thesis project outside of ETH Zurich and its associated research institutions, then, in addition to the other documentation, you must also submit an Application for an external thesis project (PDF, 203 KB) and an outline of your proposed research work.
- If your thesis is being supervised by a Privatdozent resp. a Privatdozentin or an adjunct professor, then your application must be accompanied by, along with the other documentation, the form Supervision of the Doctorate by a Privatdozent or an Adjunct Professor (PDF, 207 KB).
- The Doctoral Administration Office does not deal with your entry into Switzerland or your employment. Your supervisor and the Human Resources department are responsible for those.
When do I have to register by?
(deadline for applications)
Doctoral students do not have to keep to the official deadlines for semester enrolment. This means that you can register for doctoral studies at any time. The official start date of your doctorate is determined by the start date of the corresponding work contract.
Note: Students submitting applications during a period when there are no lectures will always be matriculated for the following semester. For example: if your application is received in June, after the official end of the spring semester, you will be matriculated for the following autumn semester.
When will I be matriculated?
Matriculation takes place after the application is received, provided it is complete. Your ETH card is also issued immediately afterwards. If you already hold an ETH card, then this can be revalidated as soon as you have been matriculated (meaning that the “S” is printed on the card and you attain the status of a student). If you do not yet have an ETH card, this will be sent to you no more than two weeks after you submit your registration documents.
Unlike matriculation, the process of admission takes longer. If it is possible for you to be recommended with no admission requirements, it should take about 2 weeks from submission of a completed registration dossier until you receive your official admission letter. However, if a decision first has to be made about the admission requirements, the admission process can take up to 8 weeks.
In the event of a delay with your matriculation as doctoral student for whatever reason in the meantime under no circumstances register as an auditor!
Who can act as supervisor?
Your doctoral thesis can be supervised by a professor as indicated under Art. 1 of the Ordinance on Professorships ETH (PDF) (only availabe in German) i.e.:
- ETH Zurich full professors
- ETH Zurich associate professors
- ETH Zurich assistant professors
- SNF-sponsored professors working at ETH Zurich
Privatdozenten resp. Privatdozentinnen and adjunct professors working full-time at ETH Zurich can also act as supervisors. However, this requires approval from the department. The required approval form, Supervision of the Doctorate by a Privatdozent or an Adjunct Professor (PDF, 207 KB) must be submitted along with your registration for your doctorate. Please note in this context that, where a thesis is supervised by a Privatdozent resp. a Privatdozentin or an adjunct professor, at least one co-examiner must be a professor as indicated under Art. 1 of the Ordinance on Professorships ETH (PDF) (only available in German) or an SNSF-sponsored professor.
Professors can act as examiners in doctoral examinations for up to one year after their retirement. The relevant department (that provides the infrastructure and the funding) is responsible for approving them as examiners after resignation. It should be noted that during the first year after retirement or resignation, at least one professor as indicated under Art. 1 of the Ordinance on Professorships ETH (PDF) (only available in German) must be called in as co-examiner. After that first year, retired professors must give up the role of supervisor and a new supervisor must be decided upon.
Who can act as co-examiner?
In addition to the thesis supervisor, at least one co-examiner must be named. There are no further specifications regarding the number of co-examiners.
In principle, anyone can act as a co-examiner. However, it should be noted that at least one of the people involved in the thesis project (examiner/co-examiner) must be a professor as indicated under Art. 1 of the Ordinance on Professorships ETH (PDF) (only available in German) or an SNF-sponsored professor. Co-examiners who do not fall within this group must be approved by the relevant department. More information about approving co-examiners can be obtained from the relevant department office. The co-examiners should be named, if possible, as soon as the research plan has been worked out – i.e. in the first year of the thesis project – but certainly no later than three years after admission to doctoral studies.