Qualifying exams & Research plan

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After you have registered for a doctorate, the Vice-Rector for Doctoral Studies and the Doctoral Committee for the relevant department decide whether you should be admitted. About one-third of doctoral students have to take a qualifying examination. The exact details of the admission requirements are decided upon by the Doctoral Committee for the relevant department, in consultation with the thesis supervisor. Then they are confirmed in the admission letter from the Vice-Rector and you are notified accordingly. The examination fee of CHF 120 is added to your semester invoice.

Procedure where there are admission requirements:

  • You can find a list of the qualifying examinations that you have to take at www.mystudies.ethz.ch.
  • The date for your qualifying examination is shown on the examination schedule that you can see via myStudies.
  • If the examination and/or other mode of examination is/are not based on a course in the Course Catalogue, you will need to agree an individual date with the examiners.
  • You must register for the examination at least one week before the agreed date.
  • To register for an examination, log into myStudies, select first the “Functions” section and then “Qualifying examinations”. Then you can enter the date and time of the examination.

Unlike any other student the registration for qualifying exams must under no circumstances be done with the Examinations Office. Please proceed exactly as described above!

As soon as you have registered, both you and the examiners will receive confirmation of the registration by e-mail.

After the examination, the examiners will enter the grade(s) in eDoz or communicate the grade(s) in writing to the Doctoral Administration Office.

As soon as you have met all the admission requirements and the grades have been recorded, you will receive an official confirmation letter from the Doctoral Administration Office, including your examination results.

It is essential that the examination dates are entered in myStudies to ensure that the processing of the qualifying examinations by the Doctoral Administration Office runs smoothly.

The admission requirements must be met within one year. This period of one year runs from the date of the admission letter. These deadlines can also be found at www.mystudies.ethz.ch. Extensions to deadlines must be approved by the relevant department and can be applied for using the Application to extend the deadline for taking qualifying examinations form (PDF, 83 KB).

If you do not pass the examination at the first attempt, you can repeat it once more within six months, provided that your supervisor is in agreement. If your supervisor does not agree or you fail the exam again at the second attempt, you will be de-matriculated and you cannot continue your doctoral studies.

Important: You must take your qualifying examinations before you can submit your research plan.

All doctoral students must compile a research plan outlining the goals and nature of their doctoral thesis and the responsibilities of the doctoral student. This is submitted to the supervisor and if possible to a co-examiner, and must be approved by the Doctoral Committee of the relevant department. According to the Regulations for Doctoral Studies (Art. 12, Section 4), it must be submitted within twelve months of enrolment. Extensions to this deadline must be approved by the Doctoral Committee.

There is no set format for the research plan, but it must contain the following points:

  • Research tasks
  • Content-based framework and time-frame
  • Scope of research work
  • Other obligations

If your doctoral thesis project is mainly carried out outside ETH Zurich, this must be specified in your research plan, and the reasons given.

The research plan must be submitted, together with the approval form Approval of your research plan (PDF, 28 KB), to the Student Administration Office in the relevant department. They will then arrange for it to be signed and approved by the Doctoral Committee and will forward the form to the Doctoral Administration Office. Then the Vice-Rector will give final confirmation of your admission to doctoral studies.

If there is a delay in submitting your research plan, you must fill in an Application to extend the deadline for submitting your research plan (PDF, 71 KB)

Important: Doctoral students who have to take qualifying examinations may only submit their research plan once they have met all the admission requirements.

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