Frequently Asked Questions

Admission requirements

Application process

PhD studies, Tuition Fees, Employment, Living in Switzerland

Admission requirements

Can I apply before I receive my degree?

Yes. Applications can be submitted before obtaining the degree. You should, however, obtain your degree within 6-9 months after the application deadline. If your Master's degree is not available at the time of your application, we kindly ask you to upload a copy of your Bachelor degree and your latest academic transcript instead.

I hold a medical degree (MD). Am I eligible?

If you hold a Medical (MD) you can apply either to the MD-PhD program or the Clinical Science program. For all other programs a MSc or Mphil degree is required - mind that a MD is not considered an equivalent of a MSc degree. Applicants with a Veterinary degree (DVM) can apply to the MD-PhD program. For more information, check the websites of the MD-PhD program or the Clinical Science program.

I hold a degree from a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule). Am I eligible?

Students with a MSc of a university of applied sciences are welcome to apply. However, please note that the Life Science Zurich Graduate School - as it does with all applicants - will only evaluate your scientific ability. After the successful acceptance to the Life Science Zurich Graduate School all applicants have to apply for their formal admission as PhD students at the University of Zurich or ETH. The admission might not be granted because of formal reasons or it might be granted with or without further admission requirements.

I hold a Bachelor's Degree/B.Tech/B.Sc (Hons) and have research experience, which gives me access to a PhD in my home country. Am I eligible?

Unfortunately, our universities do not consider a Bachelor's Degree/B.Tech/B.Sc (Hons) as equivalent to a Masters and therefore an application is not possible.

I hold a Master in Public Health/a Master in Clinical Research/a Master in Psychology/ another biology related M.Sc. Do I qualify for the program?

In this case, please contact the coordinator of the program you would like to apply to prior to registering as it will have to be looked at individually. Eligibility depends on the specific curriculum/credit points.

Does the LSZGS have specific language requirements?

The program language is English throughout. Proficiency in English is therefore required. A formal proof of competence in English (IELTS, CPE or TOEFL) is recommended but not mandatory.

The only program that requires fluent German is the PhD program in Clinical Science.

Does the LSZGS require candidates to have taken a GRE test?

At present, the LSZGS does not ask for a GRE test.

Is there an age limit?

Although we do not have a strict age limit, we think that PhD students should not be older than 30 years when they start their dissertation. This limit may be disregarded if special circumstances give a convincing reason for a delay (to be explained in the application).

Application process

How much is the application fee?

The Life Science Zurich Graduate School does not charge an application fee.

How many letters of recommendation are required?

Two letters of recommendation are requested but you can upload up to 4 letters. 

My referee has not been contacted by the LSZGS.

Check whether his or her email address is correct. If it is wrong, please use one of the remaining slots for the correct entry and invite again. If the email address is correct the following might have happened:

a) The email ended up in the junk box of your referee because the spam filter blocked our email -> Resend the email and, importantly, tell your referee to also check the junk box.

b) There was another problem and the email was not delivered -> Resend the email and inform your referee accordingly.

Can I upload scanned copies of recommendation letters instead of having them submitted online?

No, it is not possible to upload letters of recommendation. Your referees must fill in our online form.

Can I change the chosen program?

Yes, you can do so within the application deadline. In case your prospective supervisor is affiliated with another program than the one you applied to you can easily change programs, there is no need to re-apply.  If he or she is a member of more than one program, you may choose together with him or her which program you will join.

Do I need to choose and contact a specific group leader with whom I wish to work with before applying to the LSZGS?

No. It is neither necessary nor recommended to contact group leaders individually. Students who are invited for an interview will get access to a list of open positions and project descriptions before coming to Zurich.

Where do I find a list of open positions?

The list of open positions is only published after the application deadline. Invited students will automatically have access to the list of open positions.

Can I save the data of my application and resume completing it later?

Yes, you can save your application and take up editing again later. Once you have submitted your application, no more changes can be made. 

Will I receive a confirmation after having registered and submitted my application? 

Yes, after having registered you will receive a confirmation email to the mail address stated. After you have submitted your application you will again receive a confirmation. 

If you did not receive any confirmation email, most likely our email ended up in the spam or junk folder. If you cannot find your confirmation email there, you might have misspelled your email address during registration. In that case, simply fill in the registration form again.

If you still do not receive your registration email, please contact the graduate school office and let them know about it.

Why am I not able to download a pdf of my application?

Most likely one of the documents you uploaded is not a pdf or bigger than 1 MB. The difficulty may also lie with the security settings of the pdf, which is often the case with certificates. Please make sure the pdf you upload is viewable (click on it after the upload and check whether the download works). If the upload or download does not work, it is best to convert the documents once more into a pdf.

How can I check the status of my application (references, upload of certificates, result of my application)?

1) References: You can easily check yourself whether the letters of recommendation have arrived or not. On the dashboard your referees will be listed. Please indicate which letters of recommendation you would like to submit.

2) Upload of certificates: To check whether you uploaded your documents correctly, you can download the pdf version of your application. You will find the corresponding button at the bottom of the page. If you are not able to download the pdf, this means that your documents are not correctly uploaded.

3) Result of your application: The status of your application will be indicated on the dashboard and you will obtain an email.

Do I need to have my certificates translated into English and authenticated?

There is no need to have your certificates authenticated prior to the online application and you may provide the translation yourself for this purpose. Official translation and authentication of the certificates and degrees is required, however, for the registration at the ETH or the University of Zurich.

Should I send a hardcopy of my application and curriculum vitae by post as well?

No, there is no need to send a hardcopy as the whole application process is online and no post mail is exchanged. However, you will need to bring along the hardcopy originals of your certificates when you start your PhD, as you will need them for registration at the University or the ETH Zurich.

My first choice program has turned down my application. Will my application be considered by the second choice program?

No. Our programs all apply the same quality standards, which would not be guaranteed if a program invited a student who has been rejected by another program.

Am I allowed to apply a second time?

Yes, you are welcome to apply a second time to a PhD program of the LSZGS. However, please be aware that we will not accept a third application.

In case you have been shortlisted and have attended the interviews you cannot apply a second time irrespectively of whether you have successfully passed or failed the admission interview.

How and when will I hear about the outcome of my application?

Students who submitted a complete application will be informed on the dash board about the outcome and in an email. If possible, they will know about the result by the end of the month of the application deadline (end of July, end of December). There will be no further correspondence on the decision.

What is the meaning of "University best possible grade"/ "University worst possible grade"?

The "University best possible grade" is the best grade your university awards (e.g. 6 in Switzerland, 1 in Germany), whereas the "worst possible grade" is the lowest degree (e.g. 1 in Switzerland, 5 in Germany). If a percentage system is used in your country, just indicate the "best-grade-value" and "worst-grade-value" in percentage.

My university uses a percentage system instead of grades or scores. What should I indicate?

Please upload the key to the grades of your university. Also indicate the percentage you obtained and which percentage is the worst possible that can be achieved according to the grading scale of your university.

My PDF files are too big. What can I do?

You will have to reduce their sizes. 
There are several online free tools that can easily reduce the size of your PDF files, for example:

Please make sure you understand their privacy policy before using any of these third-party services.

PhD studies, Tuition Fees, Employment, Living in Switzerland

When do I start my PhD / when does the PhD Program start?

Accepted students may start their PhD and the PhD program any time of the year. In general, the student will agree with his or her prospective supervisor on a specific starting date.

How long does it take students to complete their PhD?

Students of the Life Science Zurich Graduate School are expected to submit their thesis within three to four years.

How do I proceed to enroll at the ETH and the University of Zurich?

After having been accepted to the LSZGS and accepted a job offer from one of our group leaders, you will have to enroll at the institution your prospective group leader is affiliated with. The enrollment procedures of ETH and University differ considerably; therefore make sure that you stick to the right requirements. Both institutions may ask you to complete specific admission requirements such as examinations. You will be informed whether you have to fulfill such requirements after your enrollment. For detailed information see the regulations of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich.

For the enrollment at ETH please refer to the following web pages: www.rektorat.ethz.ch/doctorate/application/how/index_EN

You will find all necessary information about the enrollment at the University of Zurich here: http://www.uzh.ch/studies/application/doktoratphd_en.html

Please be aware that you will have to enroll at the general office (Kanzlei) of the university as well as the dean's office for doctoral studies of the relevant faculty!

Are there any tuition fees?

ETH: Before beginning your PhD studies you will be asked to pay an application fee of 150,- CHF. Should you have to fulfill additional admission requirements (qualifying examinations) a fee of 120.- CHF is due. In addition to that, there is a one-time global fee of CHF 1'200 which will be charged at the end of your doctoral studies. Compulsory semester fees are currently CHF 37.-.

ETH fees and contributions

University: PhD students have to pay a tuition-fee of Fr. 294.00 CHF per semester.

UZH tuition fees

How will I finance my PhD studies?

Research groups within the Life Science Zurich Graduate School provide financial support in accordance with the Ph.D. student salary set by the Swiss National Science Foundation (at present CHF 47'040.- in the 1st year; 48'540.- in the 2nd year; 50'040.- in the 3rd and 4th year). Please note that these are gross amounts from which approx. 15 % will be deducted for social security, taxes, etc., not including the private health insurance which is compulsory (approx. 250.- to 300.-/month depending on the scheme you choose). The income is generous compared to international standards and sufficient to make a decent living in Zurich. Living costs (including accommodation, health insurance, transport, meals) sum up to approx. CHF 2'000 per month.

How do I prepare my entry in Switzerland?

Students from EU and EFTA countries only need a valid passport. For students from the new EU states, transitory regulations apply. Please contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in your country for information about the immigration procedure. Students from countries with a visa requirement need to apply for a visa at the embassy or consulate general in their home country at least three months before entry. More information is provided by Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Please note that students from the above mentioned countries cannot be matriculated at our universities without having a valid visa. If you have accepted a position with ETH or the University of Zurich, the HR department of that particular institution or the person responsible for personnel in your future research group will contact the immigration authorities and file an official demand for the work permit. You will probably be required to provide additional personal information needed for this procedure. Within approx. one month, you will receive a confirmation letter with which you can obtain the visa for your entry to Switzerland at your local embassy. Once in Switzerland, you have to report to the immigration office who will then finalize the work permit formalities. As a rule you have to reckon with about two months for immigration formalities prior to traveling to Switzerland.

Can my spouse join me if I accept a PhD position in Zurich?

If you are not from an EU or EFTA country, it will be up to the immigration office to decide whether your spouse will receive a permit to join you or not. In general, a PhD salary is not considered sufficient to make a living for two adult persons. Nonetheless, it might be possible to obtain a permit, if your spouse can prove that she or he has enough personal savings or that she or he has a working contract with a company domiciled in Switzerland or a funded PhD position.

How do I go about finding accommodation in Zurich?

Do I need to organise my own health insurance in Switzerland?

Where do I find practical information regarding life in Switzerland?

You will find an answer to all the above and many more questions you may have at the ETH Welcome center

For UZH related information on these topics please refer to the

International Scholars Center (ISC)