A doctorate usually lasts between three and five years and includes a dissertation, curriculum-based courses, and the doctoral examination. Curriculum-based courses make up at least 12 credit points in individual doctorates and at least 18 credit points in doctoral programs. First, however, a doctoral committee must be formed that will define the framework for the doctorate and work with you to draw up a Doctoral Agreement including an individual study plan.
Structure and tasks
Every doctorate is supported by a doctoral committee. This committee usually consists of a first and second supervisor but can also include a third person. The first supervisor is primarily responsible for making sure that the doctoral project is conducted correctly and that suitable supervision is provided. The doctoral committee defines the curriculum-based courses to be completed and provides the doctoral candidate with feedback on the quality and progress of his or her work during regular supervisory meetings. All members of the doctoral committee produce an independent, graded evaluation report on the dissertation submitted.
Forming and appointing the committee
The first supervisor must be appointed when the application for admission to a doctorate is submitted. The application to act as first supervisor must be submitted to the Student Administration Office together with the application for admission. Ideally, all other supervisors should be appointed by the time the doctorate begins. However, the doctoral committee must be named and appointed by the doctoral board at the latest 12 months after the start of the doctorate. The deadline by which the doctoral committee must be appointed is provided to the doctoral candidate along with their admission letter.
Any Group I professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Basel can serve as first supervisor. Members of Group II (assistant professors without tenure track, honorary professors who hold a doctorate, and private lecturers with a postdoctoral qualification from the faculty) can serve as first supervisor provided the second supervisor is a Group I professor. In this case, the second supervisor must be named in the first supervisor’s application when the application for admission to a doctorate is submitted. Upon request to the doctoral board – the doctoral agreement shall suffice in this case – honorary professors from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences who hold a doctorate and Group I members from a different faculty at the University of Basel may be deemed equivalent to Group I members from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in matters concerning the doctoral committee.
Any of the Group I and II faculty members mentioned above may serve as second supervisor. Upon request – the doctoral agreement shall suffice in this case – the doctoral board may also permit a second supervisor to be appointed from outside the faculty or outside the University of Basel. This person must hold a comparable qualification and position as internal second supervisors and hold the right to confer doctorates at their home institution. All contact details for the external second supervisor requested must be specified in the doctoral agreement (connection to their university, postal and email addresses). The doctoral board decides whether to approve the external second supervisor.
The doctoral candidate may apply to the doctoral board to add a third supervisor to the doctoral committee. In the case of a three-person committee, either the second or third supervisor does not need to hold the right to confer doctorates; however, this person must have a demonstrable link to a higher education institution or possess a high level of expertise in the doctoral topic. An informal application letter must be submitted to the doctoral board explaining why the supervisor has been chosen and providing details of their position, institutional connection, and addresses (postal and email address). The application must be supported by the first supervisor. The doctoral board decides whether to approve three-person committees.
The members of the Doctoral Committee are entered on the cover page of the Doctoral Agreement (see below). A signed copy of the Doctoral Agreement is to be sent to the Office of the Dean of Research. If the full Doctoral Committee has not yet been appointed when the Doctoral Agreement is signed in the first semester, it must be specified by the end of the second semester at the latest. A copy of the updated cover page of the Doctoral Agreement is to be sent to the Office of the Dean of Research.
Departure of a supervisor from the University
When a supervisor leaves the University, their right to examine and confer doctoral degrees ceases in relation to existing doctorates after a period of three years. Departing supervisors should work with the affected doctoral students to find a solution in good time if it is not possible to complete the doctorate within three years. Emeritus professors cannot supervise new doctorates after they have left the University. Their right to examine and confer doctoral degrees also ceases after three years.
The Doctoral Agreement
The Doctoral Agreement must be concluded between the doctoral student and the first supervisor or the Doctoral Committee during the first semester of the doctorate. The form should be completed electronically wherever possible and printed out before being signed. The original is kept by the doctoral students, and a copy must be deposited with the Student Administration Services of the Dean’s Office. The first supervisor should also keep a copy. Every doctoral student receives a notification of the deadline for signing the Doctoral Agreement together with their admission letter.
Elements of the agreement
The cover page of the Doctoral Agreement sets out the general framework of the doctorate in question (members of the Doctoral Committee, type of doctorate, etc.).
An overview in table form is used to keep a signed record of supervisory meetings, which provide an opportunity for reporting and/or giving feedback on the progress of work, setting (intermediate) objectives and deadlines, and discussing the general framework, as well as for career advice and planning. Minutes of supervisory meetings can be kept using the Meeting Sheets, which serve as a memorandum and to document the qualification process. These sheets remain with the doctoral students and supervisors.
The academic program to be completed is agreed between the doctoral student and a supervisor from the Doctoral Committee before being defined and documented in the Individual Plan of Study, which forms part of the Doctoral Agreement.
Updates, adaptations, and termination
The Doctoral Agreement should be updated at least once a year as part of a supervisory meeting. Updates to the Individual Plan of Study, the overview of supervisory meetings, and the Meeting Sheets are not deposited with the Student Administration Services. The last signed version of the Doctoral Agreement is to be submitted along with all other necessary documents at the time of applying for the doctoral examination. The Doctoral Agreement can be adapted during the doctorate to reflect changes in circumstances. If changes are made to the general framework defined on the cover page, a copy of the updated Doctoral Agreement must be submitted to the Doctoral Board.
The Doctoral Agreement includes a termination clause that allows doctoral students and supervisors to end the doctoral relationship. In cases of conflict, both parties to the agreement may ask the Doctoral Board to help resolve the matter. Where possible, the Doctoral Board will seek to find a solution that is satisfactory to all parties.
Earning credit points
In the curriculum-based section of the doctoral training, doctoral students must generally earn a minimum of 12 credit points in an individual doctorate and 18 credit points in doctoral programs. At least two thirds of the credit points must come from the area of subject-specific and methodological skills; a maximum of a third can be earned for transferable skills (see the Doctoral Agreement Fact Sheet and the course program on Transferable Skills).
Candidates can only earn credit points at doctoral level while they are registered on a doctorate at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. It is not possible to transfer credits from a master’s program and count them toward a doctorate, nor can credits be used twice for multiple ordinary degrees. Attendance at classes not offered at doctoral level can only be credited toward doctoral studies with the consent of a supervisor from the Doctoral Committee. The supervisor must provide their signature on the Individual Plan of Study by way of confirmation. Provided that the student has registered for the classes via MOnA (compulsory registration), they will be awarded the corresponding credit points as stated in the course directory. However, credit points can also be earned for work completed outside of the university curriculum and for which it is not possible to register via MOnA. This work is agreed between the doctoral student and a supervisor from the Doctoral Committee and recorded in the Individual Plan of Study. Credit points are recorded using an electronic Learning Contract (for information on this procedure, see the Learning Contract Fact Sheet [in German]). Any attendance confirmations must be enclosed with the Learning Contract.
When awarding credit points for credits not earned according to ECTS, supervisors follow the regulations of the University of Basel’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in relation to master’s programs. No credit points can be awarded for publications.
Recognition of external credits – mobility
For questions regarding the recognition of credits you have earned as part of mobility programs, please refer to the further information available in the Mobility section.