Degree Programs & Courses Doctorate

First steps to a doctorate

Below is some general information about the first steps for anyone considering a doctorate:

  • Find out about the admission requirements and procedure and the specific requirements for the doctorate in the regulations on doctorates at the faculties and graduate schools (each faculty has its own regulations on doctorates).
  • If you would like to start a doctorate at the University of Bern, first contact a supervisor from your area of interest and show them your dissertation project. The supervisor will decide whether they are prepared to supervise you as a doctoral student through the course of your dissertation.
  • Look into funding issues and the general framework conditions for your doctorate with your supervisor. Funding is often provided in connection with an appointment as an assistant or doctoral student (funded by the university itself).
  • External funding may be available to support a project or a person's career (e.g. funding available at a national level). You also need to find out about the course and duration of your doctorate, the kind of dissertation, graduate schools/doctoral degree programs, employment conditions, teaching activities, administrative duties, etc.
  • Once you have found a main supervisor, register for your doctorate online at the Admissions Office and complete the confirmation of supervision appropriate to you. Doctoral students must be registered throughout the whole period of their doctorate.
  • If you are accepted for a doctorate, you can also apply for admission to a graduate school or a doctoral degree program. Admission to graduate schools/doctoral degree programs often involves some kind of competition, which they themselves specify. Find out about the relevant acceptance conditions and procedure on the websites of the relevant graduate schools/doctoral degree programs.
  • At the start of the doctorate, the doctoral student and supervisor will draw up a doctoral agreement setting out guidelines and objectives for the dissertation project (e.g. main and secondary objectives, work schedule, attendance at conferences, publications, academic development). Progress achieved in terms of the work done is assessed periodically and objectives are reformulated.
  • If your doctorate means you have to move to Bern from elsewhere, the Welcome Center of the University of Bern can provide you with information and advice on any questions concerning the day-to-day realities of starting life in the capital city and the plans you need to make before and after traveling to Switzerland.