Science & Policy Procedures

Application process: new students in the plant sciences

Required Qualifications

  • Applicants must hold a university Master's degree (or equivalent) before starting the Science & Policy program. Please note that degrees from Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen) are not accepted.
  • Applicants must have strong English skills.

There are two ways to apply

  • Track I Application. File an application via the Life Science Zurich Graduate School
  • Track II Application. Contact a PSC group leader directly to enquire about possible PhD openings, and then apply directly to the group leader.

Track I applicants:

Students apply through the Life Science Zurich Graduate School. Applications are evaluated by an LSZGS admission committee. Selected candidates are invited for an interview, to be held in Zurich in early February (December 1st, deadline) or in early September (July 1st, deadline).  Final acceptance depends on:

  • Passing the interview
  • Finding a PhD position in one of the participating research groups
  • Satisfying the formal admission requirements of the University of Zurich, University of Basel, or ETH Zurich

Track II applicants:

To ensure equal treatment of Track I (recruitment via LSZGS) and Track II (direct application to principal investigator (PI)) candidates and in accordance with the rules of the LSZGS, as of January 2013 group leaders are required to organize a formal admission interview with their future PhD students if recruited via track II.  S/he must organize a formal admission interview with the potential student, if recruited via track II.

The interview should be conducted in the presence of at least one other PI or faculty member.  The supervisor should fill out a short interview protocol to be submitted together with the registration form. Students entering via Track II who wish to join the Science & Policy program must register within three months of enrolling, using the registration form that can be downloaded from the box at right.

Application process: students from other natural science fields

Students may join the Science & Policy program after they have been accepted for a PhD position in a research group based at the Faculty of Science, University of Zurich; the Department of Environmental Systems Science, the Department of Biology or the Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zurich or the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel. Please apply to these programs via the Life Science Zurich Graduate School, or go to the websites of the respective departments and contact those research groups of interest to you.

For those enrolled in one of these institutes, application to the Science & Policy program is possible within the first year of PhD studies (using the form in the box at right). An admission committee will evaluate the request.

Requirements for Completion of the Science & Policy Program

All PhD students must follow the regulations of their home institution as well as the complementary regulations of the PSC PhD Program in Science & Policy. Please check the detailed guidelines in the box on the Science & Policy main page. Major requirements include:

  • Completion of 12 ECTS (credits) from courses accredited in Science & Policy Curriculum.
  • Submission and successful defense of PhD thesis.
  • Compliance with other regulations of the home institution (University of Basel, University of Zurich, or ETH Zurich).

Note: For all students who have started their PhD after February 2016 it is mandatory to visit the LSZGS introduction event “Introductory Lecture to Good Scientific Practice and Scientific Integrity” (2 hours, no ECTS). Within the event you will sign the declaration of “Good scientific practice” that will become part of your DissGo documents. All PhD students who have or will visit a course on “Research Integrity” or “Ethics” in their PhD program don’t need to visit the introduction. For all accredited training courses see the LSZGS Training in Scientific Integrity course catalogue. (PDF, 249 KB)

Checklist of documents to be submitted

The following table is a checklist of documents to be submitted during your PhD studies. Follow submission instructions on each document; please also provide a copy of each document to the PSC administrative office.


Registration, Fees and Withdrawals

  • Courses are posted on our website at the beginning of June (for autumn term) or December (for spring term).
  • Online registration is possible as soon as courses are posted.
  • Allocation of places is on a first come, first serve basis. Priority is given to PhD students registered in Science & Policy. Registration remains open until 4 weeks before course start, although courses may fill before that time.
  • Course spaces are confirmed at the beginning of each semester. Approximately two weeks prior to the course, participants are informed of course logistics by email.

Course Fees

Science & Policy courses are free of charge for PhD students enrolled in the following PhD programs: Science & Policy, Plant Sciences, Ecology, and other members of the Life Science Zurich Graduate School, if space is available.

External and non-member PhD participants are welcome, although a fee is charged. Inquire about course fees prior to signing up by contacting the PSC coordinator.

Withdrawal from courses

Withdrawal from course registration is without penalty up to 4 weeks prior to course start. Thereafter, cancellation will incur a fee of CHF 60, due within 10 days of cancellation. Failure to attend a course without prior cancellation at least 4 working days before course start will result in a charge of CHF 150. Cancellations should be arranged with the PSC coordination office.

PSC PhD Program Certification

The PSC issues certification of completion after all requirements have been fulfilled and the Doctoral Degree Certificate by your home university has been awarded. Required submissions (in hard copy) to PSC:

  • A photocopy of course participation documents
  • A list of all completed courses (at least 12 ECTS), signed by the PhD supervising professor. (Example sheet for PhD students at ETH Zurich)
  • A copy of your Doctoral Degree Certificate

Certification and diploma supplement generation generally takes 1 to 2 weeks.

Program Contact