Completing a Doctorate (PromVO 2019)

For questions related to completing doctoral studies, please write to

Information on completing a doctorate under PVO 2009
Information on completing a doctorate under PO 2006

Due to the restrictions caused by the corona virus, doctoral examinations can be held via video conference only until further notice. Details: Information on the doctoral examination from October 29, 2020 (PDF, 86 KB)

Compulsory Matriculation and Enrollment

Compulsory Matriculation

If you’re 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 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.
The legal bases of compulsory matriculation are the Ordinance on Admission to Studies at the University of Zurich (Verordnung über die Zulassung zum Studium an der Universität Zürich [VZS]) and the Regulations Governing Matriculation Procedures and Semester Enrollment (RüMIS).  If you cannot show that you have been matriculated at UZH throughout, please write to at least four weeks before you apply to defend your PhD.


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 Establish the Doctoral Committee and Initiate the Procedure for Obtaining a Doctoral Degree

As soon as your thesis is ready to defend, you and your principal supervisor draw up the application to establish your doctoral committee and to initiate the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree via  Online PhD Admin Services. All members of your supervisory committee must agree to this application.

As an integral part of this application you fill in a final version of your doctoral agreement. All completed curricular coursework to be credited to your degree must be listed within this version. No more than 12 ECTS credits’ worth of curricular coursework may be credited to your degree. Any curricular coursework over and above these 12 ECTS credits will be listed in your final records.

The application must be made within the following periods: 

  • Fall Semester: Application until 30 November (PhD defense by 31 January)
  • Spring Semester: Application until 31 May (PhD defense by 31 July)

Proposed date for the PhD defense

The application must contain a proposed date for the PhD defense. Please note that the defense may not take place before two months after the application has been made, as the Graduate School must obtain the expert reports on the thesis and the revision requirements before the PhD defense. The members of the doctoral committee must as a rule submit their expert reports within four months of submission of the application. In order to be able to meet the proposed date for the PhD defense, all expert reports must be uploaded at least to weeks before this date via Online PhD Admin Services.
In Fall Semester a PhD defense may take place from 1 August to 31 January, and in Spring Semester from 1 February to 31 July. For this reason, please note the deadlines for application for the establishment of a doctoral committee (see above).

Submitted thesis and plagiarism check

The application must include the submitted thesis. For the publication of PhD theses on ZORA a standardized plagiarism assessment by the principal supervisor is required. UZH uses the plagiarism assessment software «Plagscan». The software examines whether there are text similarities with online sources or licensed specialized literature. Please note, the software is only a tool for the assessment. The final decision if there is any plagiarism in the PhD thesis or not has to be taken by the user, i.e. the principal supervisor.

Upon receipt of the publication application the Office of Student Affairs informs the principal supervisor via email about the required plagiarism assessment.

Guide for principal supervisors

  1. Open Plagscan
  2. Login via Shibboleth Login (Access: UZH shortname and password)
  3. Upload the PhD thesis and start the plagiarism scan. You can leave all settings for the assessment unchanged (default setting). Depending on the size of the document the assessment takes a few minutes to one day. The assessment will be executed on the server even if you go offline.
  4. View the results of the plagiarism scan. «Plagscan» marks potential plagiarism directly in your document and also in the sources. By clicking on the marked points, you get the references of other sources. The so-called «PlagLevel» indicates the percentage of potential plagiarism within your document. The «PlagLevel» as well as the markings in the text are supposed to support your own analysis. UZH does not specify a certain threshold value above which a PhD thesis is clearly plagiarism.
  5. Download the plagiarism scan (pdf of the analyzed PhD thesis) and keep it in a safe place.
  6. Delete the PhD thesis with the plagiarism scan in «Plagscan» and log out.
  7. Please confirm the plagiarsim check at the end of the application to establish the doctoral committee (checkbox) via Online PhD Admin Services.

Composition of the doctoral committee

How to find your doctoral committee
How to find your doctoral committee
How to find your doctoral committee (German only)


The doctoral committee is responsible for executing the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree, in other words for reviewing and evaluating your thesis and conducting and evaluating the PhD defense.

The doctoral committee consists of: 

  • 2 to 5 members acting as reviewers and examiners
  • one additional member to chair the committee (who does not act as a reviewer and examiner)
  • Guest professors, instructors from universities of applied sciences or teacher education, and co-authors may not sit on a doctoral committee.

Organizing the PhD Defense, Expert Report and Revision Requirements

The Graduate School checks the composition of the doctoral committee and if the necessary course work is completed. If everything is correct, the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree is initiated. 

Expert Reports

All expert reports are gathered before the PhD defense. The members of the doctoral committee must as a rule submit their expert reports within four months via Online PhD Admin Services. In order to be able to meet your proposed date for the PhD defense, all expert reports must be uploaded at least two weeks before this date.

PDF templates will be provided for the expert reports. Each member of the doctoral committee (apart from the chair) writes an independent expert report referring exclusively to the thesis submitted, grading it from 1 to 6 (1 = lowest, 6 = highest; half grades are possible). These grades may differ.
If the thesis is graded at least 4 by all reviewers, it is deemed to be accepted, and the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree can be continued.
If one of the reviewers gives the thesis a failing grade, it is deemed not to be accepted and can be revised (improved) once.  After that the thesis must be reviewed again by all members of the doctoral committee.

Revision requirements for publication

Together with the submission of the expert reports, any revision requirements imposed for publication must be stated via Online PhD Admin Services. After the PhD defense the candidate will be sent the revision requirements along with the provisional final records. 

Please note: If the PhD thesis is graded at least 4, it is accepted, and revision requirements should only be given to a very limited extent. Revision requirements must be executed before publication on ZORA and approved by the doctoral committee. If there are no revision requirements, the PhD thesis can be published on ZORA immediatly after the sucessfully finished PhD defense.

Date of the PhD defense

Once all the relevant documents are available, the proposed date is confirmed and an invitation to the PhD defense is sent out. If by two weeks before the proposed date the documents are not available, another date must be proposed.

Video conference

If external members of the doctoral committee are unable to attend in person the PhD defense may be held by video conference. The Graduate School will set the definitive date and time and provide technical support.
Upon application, and provided that an encrypted video conference (Vidyo) facility is available, a PhD defense can also be held via video conference at a department.

At the very least the chair, the co-examiner, and two examiners must be present in person.

Note sheet and minutes

The chair of the doctoral committee (Vorsitz) is provided with a template for the note sheet and the co-examiner (Beisitz) with a template for the minutes. These must be completed immediately following the PhD defense, signed, and returned to the Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs.

PhD Defense

The PhD defense may only be held if an invitation has been sent; otherwise it is invalid.

  • The defense lasts between 60 and 90 minutes, and is led by the chair in the presence of all the members of the doctoral committee, and minuted by a co-examiner ("Beisitz"). The co-examiner can be a UZH member with at least a doctorate. 
  • The PhD defense consists of an introductory presentation lasting around 20 minutes by the candidate, and a subsequent discussion where the examiners ask questions in accordance with § 32 PromVO.
  • If the defense is held via a video conference, the chair must sign in place of absent persons.
  • If the defense does not involve a video conference, the committee must organize the room itself. 
  • The PhD defense will be marked Pass or Fail, and can be repeated once.
  • PhD defenses are open, but only to members of the faculty. This means that they are basically only accessible to people with a connection with the UZH Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, in particular professors, non-professorial academic staff, administrative staff, PhD candidates, and students.


The classification is calculated on the basis of the arithmetic mean of the marks awarded by the reviewers. The assessment does not include grades for curricular coursework. Your PhD defense will be marked Pass or Fail.

Provisional final records

Once it has all the relevant documents, the Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs draws up the provisional final records and sends them to the PhD candidate along with copies of the expert reports and revision requirements. You are not permitted to use the designation «Dr. des.»

Publishing Your 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 (see PromVO § 20).

ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive)

With the entry into force of PromVO 2019, the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree is concluded with the publication of the thesis on ZORA. This publication must incorporate the revision requirements prescribed by the doctoral committee. You confirm the incorporation of the revision requirements by uploading the form Confirmation Revision Requirements (DOCX, 51 KB) in your application for publication.

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 or scientific career, to attempt to have your thesis published by a publisher, independent of the procedure for obtaining a doctoral degree.

If it is necessary to block the full text for more than three years, an extension of the blocking period can be requested after three years. 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.

For a cumulative PhD thesis containing already published articles, please use the template for already published articles below. «DOI» (Digital Object Identifier) = permanent link of your already published article, e.g. by your publisher, journal or on ZORA.

Please note: After the publication on ZORA the doctorate is completed. No further changes of the uploaded PhD thesis are possible.

Instructions PDF-A (German) (PDF, 1179 KB)
Instructions PDF-A (English) (PDF, 1070 KB)
Template Titlepage English (PDF, 212 KB)
Template Titlepage German (PDF, 189 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. 

The following date is planned for the next graduation ceremony:

Publication in fall semester 2020 and spring semester 2021: Graduation ceremony on 24 September 2021.