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.

Doctoral committee

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.

For more information about the process for completing a doctorate, visit the website of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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