Degree Programs & Courses Doctorate

Call for Applications «Doctoral Programs University of Bern», Pillar Graduate Schools 2025-26

In spring 2022, within the framework of the intra-university funding program «Doctoral Programs University of Bern 2021-24», the University Executive Board launched a second call to promote sub-programs / specific activities of the University of Bern’s Graduate Schools for the period 2023-24. Within the scope of the new Multi-Year Financial Planning 2030, the University Executive Board has now allocated resources for the continuation of the «Doctoral Programs University of Bern» funding program – in principle, for another four years.

The purpose of the funding program «Doctoral Programs University of Bern» is to enhance and further develop the quality and appeal of doctoral studies, to strengthen doctoral supervision and to optimize the career prospects of doctoral students within and outside of academia, at national and international level.

The funding program supports activities that promote (inter-)disciplinary, methodological and transversal skills and that also offer doctoral students the opportunity to connect and network with each other as well as with established researchers from Switzerland and abroad.   

With this call for funding applications, the University Executive Board is inviting the Graduate Schools of the University of Bern to submit funding applications for innovative sub-programs or specific activities that cannot or can only be partly funded through the base budgets of the Graduate Schools, for the funding period 2025-26 and pursuant to the criteria outlined below. Projects applied for must be implemented in collaboration with other universities (universities, universities of applied sciences [FH], universities of teacher education [PH]).

Applications for financial support of sub-programs or specific activities may, in principle, be submitted for the funding period 2025-26. However, the University Executive Board expressly reserves the right to redefine, if necessary, approved funds during the funding period 2025-26, e.g., in light of possible structural reforms in the domain of doctoral studies (as part of Fit for Future).

This call for funding applications extends to:

  • Continuation of sub-programs or specific activities already funded in the period 2023-24 within the scope of the «Doctoral Programs University of Bern» funding program (Pillar Graduate Schools) or
  • Start-up funding of sub-programs or specific activities newly set up from 2025 (e.g., Summer Schools),

offered under the umbrella structure of a Graduate School, provided they meet the criteria below and cannot or can only be partly funded through the Graduate Schools’ base budgets.

The funding volume of projects for which continuation is being applied for may not exceed the funding volume to date of the years 2023-24 if the projects are to be continued unchanged. 

No funding requests may be made for activities already established in the Graduate Schools and not supported in the period 2023-24 within the scope of the «Doctoral Programs University of Bern» funding program (Pillar Graduate Schools).

Funds may only be applied for that are directly required for running a sub-program or individual activity. These are, in particular, the following cost items:

  • Travel, accommodation and meal costs for doctoral students,
  • Travel, accommodation and meal costs for lecturers, provided an active contribution within the scope of the activity/activities is made,
  • Fees for visiting lecturers,
  • Costs for specially rented rooms/premises,
  • Costs for consumable supplies needed to carry out the activity/activities (e.g., handouts, photocopies),
  • Personnel costs for administration / coordination of the activity/activities (e.g., budget management, invoice processing, membership administration and course registration, contact to sub-program members and partners, reporting, maintenance of the program’s website). Coordination/administration is to be kept as lean as possible and must not take on any academic functions.

Funding requests cannot be made for:

  • Resources for funding doctoral students’ research (salaries and grants of any kind), 
  • Lump sum payments to doctoral students,
  • Resources for infrastructure (workspaces, devices, software, etc.),
  • Costs for external doctoral students and for lecturers of participating partner universities.
  • Solidly devised, high-quality and innovative sub-program / specific activity for promoting (inter-)disciplinary, methodological and/or transversal skills development, as well as to support knowledge sharing and networking among the doctoral students. 
  • Clear positioning of the sub-program / specific activity within the existing Graduate School offering.
  • Strengthening of national and international visibility of the University of Bern and its doctoral students.
  • Participation of at least two units of the University of Bern (faculties, centers, departments, institutes).
  • Interuniversity collaboration(s) and/or collaboration(s) across different university types[1] (universities of applied sciences and/or universities of teacher education) with substantial participation of all cooperation partners. Collaborations with universities from the University Alliance ENLIGHT are expressly welcomed.
  • Minimum total of 20 doctoral students (with minimum 10 doctoral students from the University of Bern).
  • Doctoral students are a full member of a Graduate School.
  • Adequate and transparent cost sharing of the partner university/universities.
  • Realistic and transparent budget and cost efficiency.
  • Support of the sub-program / specific activity by the Graduate School’s management.

[1] Applications for cooperation projects with universities of applied sciences (FH) and/or universities of teacher education (PH) may only be made if admission to doctoral studies of master graduates with an FH/PH degree is enshrined in the respective  regulations for conferring a doctorate (“Promotionsreglement”) of the participating faculties, and the corresponding degrees are listed on the admissions list of the Admissions Office. Doctoral students with a master’s degree from an FH or a PH are subject to admission requirements of minimum 30 and maximum 60 ECTS  Credits (cp. Regulations governing admission to the University of Bern with a degree from a university of applied sciences FH or a university of teacher education PH).

Form und Scope

Funding applications are to be submitted electronically as a single PDF file (scope: max 8 pages without annex). An application form is available to download below. Applicants submitting funding requests must make sure to use this form only. Applications may be submitted in German, English or French. They must be signed by the management of the competent Graduate School (not by the coordinating body). 

Application Deadline

The deadline for submitting funding applications is May 13, 2024. Please email to:

Marco Hollenstein (, for the attention of Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter, Vice-Rector for Development.

Selection of Activities

The selection of sub-programs / specific activities will be made by the University Executive Board on the basis of the criteria listed, and in consideration of the overall funding available. There is no legal right to the awarding of «Doctoral Programs University of Bern» program funding.


A report is due at the beginning of the respective year for sub-programs / specific activities supported by the «Doctoral Programs University of Bern» funding program, documenting the implemented activities and related expenditures of the preceding year.

An application form is available. Please use this form only.

If you have any questions, please contact Marco Hollenstein: or tel. +41 31 684 85 41