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Advanced Studies in Switzerland

Switzerland is becoming a popular destination for masters student seeking jobs or research opportunities or universities at which to do their PhD thesis.

The doctoral degree — Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated to PhD, Ph.D. or D.Phil — is an advanced academic degree awarded by most of top-tier universities. In general, across Europe and North America the PhD or equivalent has become a frequent career requirement in science, technology, or even finance. Of course it had always been a requirement for acceding to a professorship at a university. In Switzerland, doctoral programs vary at the 12 top Swiss universities.

Recognized PhD titles are only awarded by these 12 official universities. Universities of applied sciences do not award doctorates. Usually the prospective doctoral student must have his research work accepted by a professor at one of the 12 universities.

PhD work is started immediately after the master theses (students are usually 25 – 28 years of age). On average, PhD candidates finish at 31. Unlike elsewhere in Europe, Swiss PhD candidates are supposed to start on their research project right away; classes are usually dispensed with. In this manner, Swiss PhD programs resemble more an autonomous work environment than they do an educational institution.

As is largely the case with the rest of the EU, you cannot enroll in a PhD program without a recognized Masters degree. Further, each university has its own admission requirements. The duration of doctoral studes/projects is nonstandard and can vary from between 2 – 6 years depending on the chosen field of research. While PhDs in sciences can often be accomplished in 4 years, PhDs in the arts and humanities can often take 4 to 6 years or longer.

Candidates for a PhD typically sign on as research assistants/PhD-candidate at a university; occasionally some students manage to obtain a research position with an international company and attach their project to a University. Salaries vary significantly with some slots paying as little as CHF 2000 and other paying more than CHF 6000.

It depends on the source of the funding. Further, working conditions will vary from institution to institution. Doctoral candidates are usually employed part-time and sometimes the remaining time can be used for research; other times the PhD candidate is required to give lectures or to supervise students. The contract will specify this.

If you are employed less than 100%, you are legally free to do use the remaining ime as you please, for example by taking on a second job, a common occurrence with candidates from the arts and humanities.

The top Swiss universities are:
1 ) EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne www.epfl.ch
2 ) ETHZ, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich www.epfz.ch
3 ) University of Basel www.unibas.ch
4 ) University of Bern www.unibe.ch
5 ) University of Fribourg www.unifr.ch
6 ) University of Geneva www.unige.ch
7 ) University of Lausanne www.unil.ch
8 ) University of Lucerne www.unilu.ch
9 ) University of Neuchâtel www.unine.ch

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