How do I apply for admission to a doctorate?

To be admitted to a doctorate, applicants must hold a master’s degree in a field related to the desired subject of doctoral research with an average grade of at least 5.0 rounded to the nearest tenth (the Swiss system awards grades from 1 to 6 with 6 being the highest grade and 4 being a “pass”). Other degrees from a higher education institution recognized by the University of Basel may be deemed partially or fully equivalent on the condition that the applicant acquires any missing credits. Acontinuing education program qualification from a university (e.g. Master of Advanced Studies) does not entitle an applicant to be admitted to a doctorate.

Admission applications must be submitted online to the university’s Student Administration Office. Applications can also be submitted after...

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How is the doctoral training structured?

The doctorate comprises

  • a dissertation
  • a curriculum-based academic program
  • a doctoral examination.

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 structured 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 doctoral agreement fact sheet).

The precise structure of the academic program to be completed is agreed between the Doctoral Committee and the doctoral student, and defined and documented in the Individual Plan of Study. Insofar as possible, the academic program should be distributed throughout the duration of the...

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Is it possible to do a cumulative dissertation?

Yes, cumulative dissertations are also possible. The format of the cumulative dissertation is defined in the Doctoral Agreement. For cumulative dissertation requirements, please see the relevant information sheet.

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What academic achievements are required?

The academic achievements required are set out in an Individual Plan of Study, which forms part of the Doctoral Agreement. Specialist/methodological courses comprise 2/3 of the program and a maximum of 1/3 may consist of transversal competences (as recommended in the doctoral agreement fact sheet). This is regulated in the study and training programs for the structured doctoral programs.

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How can I apply for admission to a doctoral program?

To be admitted to a doctoral program, you must first be successfully admitted to a doctorate in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Basel. You can then apply to the executive board of the doctoral program for admission. 
For more information, please consult the doctoral program websites.

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What is a Doctoral Committee?

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.

The members of the Doctoral Committee are entered on the cover page of the Doctoral Agreement.
The Doctoral Agreement is signed by the first supervisor and the...

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Who can serve as a supervisor on the Doctoral Committee?

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...

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When is the deadline for nominating a Doctoral 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.

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Can the second supervisor belong to a different faculty / university?

Yes, external second supervisors must hold a comparable qualification and position as internal second supervisors and hold the right to confer doctorates at their home institution.
Full contact details for the external second supervisor must be specified in the Doctoral Agreement (connection to their university, postal and email addresses).

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How long can a supervisor who is either in retirement or now employed at a different university continue to supervise dissertations?

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.

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What is a Doctoral Agreement and what is its purpose?

The Doctoral Agreement supports and guides the optimal configuration and supervision of the doctorate.

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When must the Doctoral Agreement be concluded?

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.
If the Doctoral Committee is not nominated within the first semester, it must be appointed at the latest 12 months after the start of the doctorate. A copy of the updated cover page must be provided to the Student Administration Services of the Dean’s Office (by post or email to Hildegard.Raeuber@clutterunibas.ch).
The Doctoral Agreement should be...

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Can the Doctoral Agreement be modified?

Yes, 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.
In the event of a conflict, doctoral students and supervisors can refer to the faculty’s Doctoral Board (see also “How can Doctoral Agreements be dissolved?”).

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How can Doctoral Agreements be dissolved?

The Doctoral Agreement can be dissolved by mutual consent at any time before the student registers for the doctoral examination. In the event of a conflict, if the doctoral student does not fulfill the required academic achievements stipulated in the Individual Plan of Study and meeting minutes, or if the student’s performance has proved unsatisfactory, both parties may apply to the Doctoral Board for mediation. The Doctoral Board shall attempt to find a solution that satisfies all parties.
If either party fails to comply with crucial aspects of the agreement, they will be given six months in which to improve. If they fail to improve or a satisfactory solution cannot be found, either party may dissolve the Doctoral Agreement. This will be performed by the faculty.

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How is the Individual Plan of Study completed?

Provided the Doctoral Agreement has been concluded, the Individual Plan of Study will be discussed with the first supervisor during the first semester. All academic achievements that have been defined as compulsory will be entered in the study plan at this point. All other academic achievements throughout the doctoral training will be gradually added and confirmed with the supervisor’s signature once completed successfully (see «Earning credit points». Individual academic achievements will only be signed off by the supervisor once complete.
The first supervisor confirms that the doctoral student has completed all training required to register for the doctoral examination. The student must provide the original copy of the completed Individual Plan of Study to the Student Administration...

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How can I earn credit points?

During doctoral training, curriculum-based courses carry at least 12 credit points in individual doctorates and at least 18 credit points in doctoral programs. Students can only earn credit points at doctoral level while they are registered on a doctorate in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Basel. It is not possible to transfer academic achievements from a master’s program and count them toward a doctorate, nor can credits be used twice for multiple ordinary degrees. Provided that the student has registered for courses via MOnA (compulsory registration), they will be awarded the corresponding credit points as stated in the course directory. Assessments will be conducted based on the criteria published in the course directory and in accordance with the...

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How many credit points do I need to earn?

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.

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Do I need to earn a minimum number of credit points each semester?

No, but credit points should ideally be spread across the entire duration of the doctorate and not completed “in one go”.

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Can I transfer credits from my master’s program?

No. The required credit points must be earned during the doctoral training.

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How can I earn credits for academic achievements outside the University of Basel?

Credit points earned at other higher education institutions can be credited provided they fulfil the criteria for a doctoral-level course and attendance has been agreed with a supervisor from the Doctoral Committee, who must confirm the successful completion of the course by signing the Individual Plan of Study. The doctoral candidate must also provide proof such as confirmation of participation, a course certificate, or a transcript of records. At least 6 credit points for the courses required must be earned from courses at the University of Basel.

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Are there application deadlines for the doctoral examination?

No.

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What do I need to know about the doctoral examination?

Doctoral candidates should register for the doctoral examination and submit their dissertation at the latest four months before the desired oral examination date. Please note that doctoral examinations cannot be held during master’s examination sessions.
Doctoral candidates must register for the doctoral examination in person at the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
All information can be found in the applying for doctoral examinations fact sheet or on the website.

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How does the doctoral examination work?

The doctoral examination consists of a dissertation defense based on the evaluation report provided in advance. Each member of the Doctoral Committee produces a report on the dissertation and submits this to the Office of the Dean of Research at the latest 15 working days before the examination date. The candidate is then provided with the reports (including grades) at the latest 10 working days before the examination.
The defense starts with a presentation lasting around 15 minutes followed by a discussion, which can cover the wider subject area to which the dissertation belongs.

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What grade is required for the dissertation to be accepted?

The dissertation is considered accepted if none of the grades is below 4.0.

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How is the overall doctoral grade determined?

The dissertation grade is calculated as the average of all grades awarded by the reviewers. The doctoral examination is awarded one grade determined by all examiners together. A grade of at least 4.0 is required to pass. 
When calculating the overall Latin grade, the dissertation grade counts for twice as much as the doctoral examination grade. The following Latin grades are awarded to successful doctorates: 

5.75–6.00 excellent (summa cum laude)
5.25–5.74 very good (insigni cum laude)
4.75–5.24 good (magna cum laude)
4.25–4.74 satisfactory (cum laude)
4.00–4.24 pass (rite)

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Do I have to publish my dissertation?

Yes, the dissertation must be published to ensure that the doctorate is valid in law.

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In what format must I publish my dissertation?

The mandatory copies of the dissertation are to be provided in the format specified in the publication regulation.

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By what date must the dissertation be published?

The candidate is obliged to deliver the dissertation in the format specified in the publication regulations within three years of the doctoral examination.

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Can I apply for a grant to cover the printing costs?

The Max Geldner Dissertation Fund of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (application form awards grants to cover the costs of printing dissertations in the humanities and social sciences. Grants are awarded by the relevant faculty committee every February and September.
You can also consult this list of foundations and funds that offer grants for printing costs. Before applying, please ensure you meet the criteria.

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When do I receive my doctoral certificate?

You will receive your certificate once you have submitted the mandatory copies (see the publication regulations). Until then, you may only use the title of “Dr. phil. des.” (Doctor philosophiae designatus).

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When does the doctorate become legally valid?

The doctoral certificate entitles the bearer to use the academic title “Dr. phil.”, or “PhD” in English.
The doctorate will be announced in the Kantonsblatt Basel-Stadt.

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