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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Completing a Doctorate (PromVO 2019)

For questions related to completing doctoral studies, please write to abschluss@phil.uzh.ch

Information on completing a doctorate according to PVO 2009
Information on completing a doctorate according to PO 2006

Compulsory Matriculation and Enrollment

Compulsory Matriculation

If you are completing a doctorate at the University of Zurich, you must be enrolled during your entire doctoral studies. This compulsory matriculation requirement applies throughout, up to and including the semester in which your PhD thesis is published. Once you have received your provisional final records after passing the doctoral exam you can apply for a leave of absence for the duration of the publication phase (student portal). However, in the semester of publication you must seek regular matriculation again.

If you cannot show that you have been matriculated at UZH throughout, please write to graduiertenschule@phil.uzh.ch at least four weeks before you apply to defend your PhD.

Registration

When it comes to completing your doctoral studies please also note that you must be enrolled in the right degree program (doctorate under PromVO 2019) and the right PhD subject. If you don’t know which regulations apply to you, you can find out on the  student portal.

Application to Initiate the Procedure for Obtaining a Doctoral Degree

As soon as you have completed a thesis that is expected to be eligible for the conferral of a doctorate and the curricular achievements have been completed, you can apply for the initiation of the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree via Online PhD Admin Services. All members of the supervisory committee must agree to this application (similar to the doctoral agreement).

The following items are recorded in the online application:

  • Minutes of the previous year
  • Specimen copy of the dissertation (will be forwarded to the doctoral committee), with:
  • Declaration of Independence (will be requested via checkbox, no upload necessary)
  • List of curricular achievements to be counted towards the degree (a maximum of 12 ECTS credits may be counted toward the degree. Curricular achievements exceeding this amount will be listed in the degree documents as "not counted towards the degree").
  • Proposal for the composition of the doctoral committee as well as for chair and minute-taker (see below for information on composition).
  • Examination details:
    • Video conferencing yes/no
    • Proposed date: The examination can take place at the earliest two months after submission of the application. All expert reports must be submitted no later than two weeks before the planned examination date. It is best to calculate backwards from the examination date, for example: 
      • 31 January: doctoral examination planned

      • 17 January: Expert reports submitted

      • 30 November: Application submitted
      • In fall semester, a doctoral examination may be held from August 1 to January 31. Latest date for submission of the application: 30 November. In spring semester, a doctoral examination may be held from 1 February to 31 July. Latest date for submission of the application: 31 May.

Plagiarism check by Principal Supervisor

According to the Doctoral Regulations, the principal supervisor is responsible for a plagiarism check before the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree is initiated. An effective plagiarism check is of utmost importance for the quality assurance of dissertations. Plagiarism can significantly damage the reputation of the faculty and UZH as a whole.

For this purpose, the UZH provides the plagiarism detection software Similarity by Turnitin. We recommend the use of this software whenever it seems helpful. If you have any questions about the use of the software, please feel free to contact the Graduate School (graduiertenschule@phil.uzh.ch).

After Submission of the Application

Once all parties have approved the application via Online PhD Admin Services, it is automatically submitted to the Graduate School. The Graduate School reviews the specimen copy of the dissertation, the correct composition of the doctoral committee, and the curricular achievements. This review may take several days. If everything meets the requirements, the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree is initiated, and all parties will be notified by email.

Documents for the Application to Initiate the Procedure for Obtaining a Doctoral Degree

Template title page for the specimen copy (DOCX, 23 KB)
Cumulative dissertation form (DOCX, 56 KB)

Composition of the Doctoral Committee

Members of the Doctoral Committee

The doctoral committee consist of two to max. five members with reviewer and examiner function. The members of the supervisory committee are the members of the doctoral committee, except co-authors, visiting professors and teaching staff with a PhD from universities of applied sciences or teacher education.

At least one person with the faculty-internal or external right to confer a doctorate who did not take part in the supervisory committee to this point must be part of the doctoral committee.

At least on member of the doctoral committee is a professor with faculty-internal right to confer a doctorate and at least one member has the faculty-external right to confer a doctorate.

The members of the doctoral committee are responsible for reviewing and evaluating the dissertation as well as conducting and evaluating the doctoral examination.

Chair and Minute-Taker

The members of the doctoral committee are joined by a chair (“Vorsitz”) and a minute-taker (“Beisitz”) without reviewer and examiner function. The chair ensures the correct course of the doctoral procedure. The minute-taker writes the minutes of the doctoral examination.

  • The chair is held by a professor with faculty-internal right to confer a doctorate who did not take part of the doctoral project to this point (adjunct professors and privatdozents as well as emeriti are not possible).
  • Persons with UZH-affiliation and a PhD at minimum are allowed to be minute-taker.

Before the Doctoral Examination: Expert Reports and Revision Requirements

If the Graduate School approves the application to initiate the doctoral examination process, the supervisory committee is dissolved and the doctoral committee is appointed. All parties involved will be informed by email about the further procedure.

Expert Reports

All expert reports are requested prior to the doctoral examination. The members of the doctoral committee must submit the expert reports via Online PhD Admin Services at least two weeks before the planned examination date. If the expert reports are not received in time, the examination may not take place and a new date must be set.

A template for the expert reports will be provided to the members of the doctoral committee via email. Each member of the doctoral committee writes an independent expert report. 
Each Expert report:

  • refers exclusively to the submitted dissertation,
  • evaluates it with a grade between 1 and 6, where 6 is the best and 1 the worst grade (half-grades are possible), and
  • provides reasons for the grade.
  • In the case of a cumulative dissertation, each member of the doctoral committee prepares an overall expert report on all submitted contributions.
  • The grades of the different expert reports may differ.

If the dissertation receives at least a grade of 4 from all expert reports, it is considered accepted and the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree can be continued. If an expert report is insufficient, the dissertation is not accepted and can be repeated once (i.e., it may be improved).

Potential Revision Requirements for Publication 

The members of the doctoral committee upload their expert reports in the Online PhD Admin Services and can define revision requirements for publication at the same time. The revision requirements:

  • can only be imposed to a very limited extent if the dissertation has been accepted (at least grade 4),
  • will be sent to the doctoral candidates after the doctoral examination together with the provisional final documents,
  • must be completed before publication and approved by the doctoral committee.

After passing the doctoral examination, the application for publication on the Zurich Open Repository and Archive (ZORA) can be submitted directly without revision requirements.

If all expert reports and revision requirements are received at least two weeks before the planned examination date and if all expert reports are graded at least 4, all parties involved will receive a confirmation by email with the invitation to the doctoral examination. If the expert reports are not submitted in time, a new date must be proposed.

Doctoral Examination

Mode of conduct (presence or videoconference, costs)

Due to current restrictions because of the coronavirus, doctoral exams can be conducted via videoconference or on-site until further notice. For detailed information, please refer to the Doctoral Examination Information Sheet (PDF, 138 KB) and fill in the form "Declaration of consent (PDF, 77 KB)" if needed.

The room for the on-site examination or the implementation of the videoconference must be organized independently by the doctoral student. If you have any questions, the Graduate School office will be happy to help (graduiertenschule@phil.uzh.ch).

The Graduate School does not provide funds for the expenses of the external members of the doctoral committee. These costs must be covered by the institutes/seminars. In terms of sustainability, the implementation via video conference should also be considered.

Grade sheet and minutes

With the invitation to the doctoral examination, the chair receives the grade sheet, and the minute-taker receives a template for the minutes. The grade sheet and minutes must be completed immediately after the doctoral examination and returned to the Degree Team at the Office of Student Affairs by the minute-taker (abschluss@phil.uzh.ch, scanned signatures are possible).

The conduct of the examination

The doctoral examination may be conducted only after an invitation has been sent. Otherwise, it is invalid.

  • The doctoral examination lasts 60 to 90 minutes and is conducted under the direction of the chair in the presence of all members of the doctoral committee and is recorded by a minute-taker.
  • The doctoral examination consists of an introductory presentation by the doctoral candidate, which lasts approximately 20 minutes, and the subsequent discussion about the dissertation, during which the members of the doctoral committee ask questions.
  • The doctoral examination is graded «pass/fail» and can be repeated once. 
  • Doctoral examinations are open to the faculty. Thus, they are only accessible to persons who have a connection with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of UZH, such as professors, “Mittelbau” or administrative staff, and doctoral students or BA/MA students. Upon justified request, it may be made accessible to an extended group of persons (informal request by e-mail to graduiertenschule@phil.uzh.ch).
  • The discussion of the result of the examination takes place under exclusion of the audience as well as the doctoral candidate. Immediately afterwards, the chair announces the result of the examination (“pass/fail”) and the grade to the doctoral candidate.
  • Following the examination, the minute-taker sends the minutes and the grade sheet by email to the Degree Team at the Office of Student Affairs (abschluss@phil.uzh.ch, scan signatures are allowed). 

Grading of the Dissertation and the Doctoral Examination

The grade for the dissertation is calculated on the basis of all expert reports and the arithmetic mean is rounded to one decimal place.

6.0: summa cum laude 
5.5: insigni cum laude 
5.0: magna cum laude 
4.5: cum laude
4.0: rite

The doctoral examination is graded "pass/fail". If all members of the doctoral committee mark the examination as sufficient, it is considered passed.

Provisional Final Records

As soon as the minutes and grade sheet have been received by the Degree Team, the provisional final  records are prepared and sent to the doctoral student together with copies of the expert reports and the revision requirements. The use of the title "Dr. des." is not permitted.

Publishing the PhD Thesis

You must complete your doctoral studies, including publication, within six years. This period runs from the date of admission to the date of the diploma. If you are unable to meet the regular publication deadline, you can submit a justified request for an extension at the earliest one month before the regular deadline expires (via e-mail to abschluss@phil.uzh.ch). The deadline can be extended once by six months.

ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive)

The procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree is concluded with the publication of the thesis on ZORA. Please replace the title page (see below for template). Minor formal changes (e.g. typos) may be replaced. For cumulative dissertations, please remove the "Cumulative dissertation form" with the details of the individual contributions, which had to be inserted on the second page of the specimen copy.

If the doctoral committee has not assigned any revision requirements, the specimen copy that was submitted for the examination will be published.

If the doctoral committee has issued revision requirements, these must be incorporated for publication in the specimen copy that you submitted for the examination. The incorporation is confirmed with the form Confirmation Revision Requirements (DOCX, 51 KB) and uploaded by the doctoral students with the publication application.

Your thesis will be published by the Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs. You are not permitted to publish your thesis on ZORA yourself. Any duplicates will be removed by the Office of Student Affairs. 
The author agrees that the dissertation may be processed, recorded and permanently archived in the digital library of the Swiss National Library. Any retention periods will be taken into account.

Publication on ZORA replaces publication as an e-PhD thesis or publication with a publisher, meaning that printed copies are no longer submitted.

Upon application, publication of the full text on ZORA can be blocked for three years. This enables you, in the interests of your academic career, to attempt to have your thesis published by a publisher, independent of the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree.

If you are able to present a publishing publication or a publishing contract within the three years, this is a sufficient reason for blocking the dissertation on ZORA for an unlimited period of time. Unlimited blocking can also be applied for in the case of other legal restrictions (e.g. regarding image rights).

Please apply for publication with your PhD thesis transformed into an integral PDF-A (archivable PDF, please find instructions below) via Online PhD Admin Services.

There are three options for the publication on ZORA:

  1. immediate publication of the full text online, i.e. publicly available
  2. immediate publication of the full text in the UZH-internal web, i.e. only available with UZH shortname
  3. Blocking of full text for three years. After three years the full text will be publicly available

Option 3 is recommended if you attempt to have your thesis published by a publisher at a later time.

Cumulative Dissertation:

  • If an already published article may not be publicly accessible, you can use the corresponding template for already published articles (see below.) The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) corresponds to the permalink on which the article was published in the journal.
  • If a submitted or accepted article may not yet be publicly accessible, select the above-mentioned option 3 "Blocking of full text of the dissertation for 3 years" for publication on ZORA.

Please note:

  • After the publication on ZORA the doctorate is completed. No further changes of the uploaded PhD thesis are possible.
  • If, in addition to the publication on ZORA, a publisher's publication appears, no print note may be added to the imprint of the publisher's version identifying it as a PhF dissertation (since the doctoral procedure has already been completed with the publication on ZORA).

Documents for Publication

Instructions PDF-A (German) (PDF, 1 MB)
Instructions PDF-A (English) (PDF, 1 MB)
Template Titlepage English (PDF, 245 KB)
Template Titlepage German (PDF, 314 KB)
Template cumulative Dissertation (page for already published articles) (English) (PDF, 213 KB)
Template cumulative Dissertation (page for already published articles) (German) (PDF, 162 KB)
Confimation Revision Requirements (DOCX, 51 KB)

Final Records

The Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs draws up the full final records immediately following publication of the thesis on ZORA, and sends them to the candidate.  From this point you can use the title of doctor.

Graduation Ceremony

To celebrate doctoral degrees every year the faculty holds a graduation ceremony to which friends and family members are also invited. The ceremony is open only to graduates who have published in the specified academic year. 

Graduation Ceremony for graduates who have published the dissertation in fall semester 2023 or spring semester 2024: 27 September 2024