PhD in Switzerland

6 minute read
PhD in Switzerland

In academia, a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is the highest level of an academic degree. A PhD degree not only provides you with excellent academic success, but it also provides you with other perks such as high-level career chances, research opportunities, a stipend while your studies, and lectureship. Switzerland is one such country that is well-known for delivering high-quality education to international students. It takes about 3-5 years to complete a PhD in Switzerland.

PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Duration 3 to 5 years
Average Fees for International Students INR 1,00,000 to INR 2,00,000 (per year)
Average Annual Stipend INR 40,67,870

Why PhD in Switzerland

  • Universities with a strong international focus: Foreign students account for more than half of all PhD students at Swiss universities. You’ll be part of a diverse and inclusive academic community wherever you study.
  • Doctoral Education: A priority in Switzerland’s higher education system, which is currently focusing on expanding PhD training and creating innovative new research opportunities. This framework will be in place from 2017 to 2020, and it may be beneficial to your PhD.
  • Multilingual Education: Switzerland has four official languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansch. Many PhD programmes are also offered in English, providing a diverse choice of options for students of various language origins.
  • Early Career Researcher Funding: The Swiss National Science Foundation provides considerable funding to postdoctoral and early career researchers who wish to conduct research in Switzerland after completing their PhD.

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PhD Structure

The Bologna Process developed a three-cycle degree system in Swiss universities. A PhD (or doctorate) is a third-cycle degree that normally follows a bachelor’s degree (first cycle) and a master’s degree (second cycle).

A PhD is the highest level of postgraduate degree that may be obtained in Switzerland, and it is a noteworthy accomplishment. The Swiss doctorate, like those in other countries, is a research-based degree that requires autonomous effort toward an original thesis. The routes available for a SwissPhD are :

  • Traditional: PhDs are completed within a single university and are supervised by one or more of the university’s academic specialists. The majority of your time will be spent working on your PhD thesis, while there may be opportunities for further training and growth.
  • Structured: PhDs are a relatively new development. They entail more formal training as part of a PhD programme, and they frequently entail collaboration between institutions (including partnerships of different institutional types, such as cantonal universities and universities of applied sciences).

Top PhD Programs in Switzerland

  • International Relations
  • Communication Studies
  • Public health and administration
  • Supply Chain and Procurement
  • Business Literature

Universities offering PhD in Switzerland

Universities Location Fees
University of Bern Bern 1,45,390/year
University of Lausanne Lausanne 88,943/year
University of St Gallen St Gallen 51,173/ semester
University of Fribourg Fribourg 14,644/semester
ETH Zurich Zurich 1,22,040 total
University of Zurich Zurich 8,552 – 76,970 euro/year
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Lausanne 57,763/semester
University of Basel Basel 28,475/semester
University of Geneva Geneva 40,680/semester
Università della Svizzera Italiana Lugano 81,360/year

Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for a Swiss PhD, you will almost always need to obtain a Masters’s degree in a related field. This will be the primary academic prerequisite for doctorate research admission. Other prerequisites will vary depending on whatever PhD program you are applying for:

  • If you’re applying for a project or job that’s been advertised, you’ll need to write a personal statement or cover letter, as well as an academic resume and references. Your university should be able to provide you with additional information and help on this.
  • You should generally submit a research proposal explaining the scope of your project, its objectives, methodology, and outcomes if you are developing your own PhD topic (as is common in the Arts and Humanities). It’s possible that additional materials, such as academic references, will be required.
  • You’ll need to be able to speak effectively in the language of your PhD programme, and you may be required to take a language test in French, German, Italian, or English to demonstrate this. The specific test you’ll have to take will be determined by your university and subject.
  • Students generally construct their thesis during the first year of their doctorate, applications to structured PhD programmes may not require an initial research proposal.

How to Apply?

The application process for every university differs based on the program, candidate’s nationality, admission process, and much more. To ease your application process, here is a quick guide:

  1. Call our Leverage Edu student counselors at 1800 572 000 to shortlist your courses with the help of our trusted AI Course Finder and select the respective PhD Course.
  2. The next step is to gather and compile all your documents like SOPs, essays, certificates and LORs and exam scores like IELTS, TOEFL etc. 
  3. After submitting your application and all the necessary documents, the experts will then start with the application process for accommodation, student visa and scholarships/student loans. 
  4. It’s now time to wait for your offer letter, which can take around 3-4 weeks or more.

Documents Required

  • Academic transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • Birth Certificate
  • Copy of Passport
  • Passport size photographs
  • CV
  • Letter of Motivation
  • Statement of Research and Career Interest
  • Bachelor (3-year) and Master (2-year) 
  • Bachelor and Master official transcripts 
  • English proficiency tests scores
  • Research Report (optional)
  • Letter of recommendation (2)

Also Read: Switzerland Student Visa

Cost of Studying and Living

The cost of living in Switzerland is relatively high, with an average monthly expenditure of roughly €700(INR 59,865). This, however, varies greatly depending on the type and location of your lodging. Even when compared to other Western European countries, the cost of living in Switzerland is relatively high. You may anticipate paying roughly €1,755 per month(INR 1,50,000) in addition to tuition fees, with €665(INR 56,900) for housing, €570(INR 48,750) for food, and €520(INR 44,471) for other charges.

Also Read: Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships


Universities and institutes offer scholarships for specific programs, and some universities provide additional support to their PhD students through financial loans, but the Swiss Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students is the primary source of funding for international PhD students in Switzerland (FCS). It gives out Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships, which are separated into two categories: research and art. These scholarships are aimed at young foreign researchers who have finished a master’s degree and foreign artists who have completed a bachelor’s degree. They usually cover tuition and living expenses.

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What is the job situation of PhD Graduates in Switzerland?

PhD posts are sometimes advertised as paid research positions or assistantships by Swiss universities. They usually hire PhD candidates as research assistants or PhD candidates in this situation. If you are offered such a position, you will not have to pay any PhD expenses and will be paid a regular income. Additional benefits, such as sick pay and vacation time, may be available to you. In exchange, you’ll most likely be asked to help with undergraduate teaching and other administrative duties.

Is there an age limit for PhD students in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, a PhD is typically started directly following the completion of a master’s thesis (at the age of about 25 to 28 years). At the end of their PhD, the average age of PhD applicants is 31.

Is GRE required for PhD in Switzerland ?

If you didn’t get your bachelor’s degree in one of the EU/EFTA member states, you’ll need to call made. All other pupils are strongly advised to read this book. Minimum GRE scores to expect: Analytical = 3.5 or 50% on the GRE

Is Switzerland good for Indian Students?

Many Indian and foreign students benefit from studying in Switzerland for a variety of reasons, including top colleges, good quality of life, and a solid employment market. Between Germany, France, and Italy, Switzerland is an excellent starting point for seeing Europe.

Is Switzerland expensive for Indian Students?

An Indian student needs approximately INR 1,02,000-1,32,000 per month to cover housing, transportation, food, and utility costs. Cities like Bern, Geneva, and Zurich are very pricey in Switzerland.

Want to study PhD in Switzerland and at European’s finest universities? Then call our Leverage Edu experts on 1800 572 000 and get started on your application process.

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