Completing a Doctorate (PVO 2009)

For questions related to completing doctoral studies, please write to 

Important information

  • The last possible date for doctoral examination according to the Regulations for Obtaining the Doctoral Degree at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Zurich (PVO 2009) is 31 July 2023; registration for graduation must be made online by 15 July 2023 at the latest. 
  • The thesis must be published within two years of the doctoral examination.
  • If the doctoral examination cannot be completed by 31 July 2023, it is possible to transfer to the doctoral program in accordance with the PromVO 2019 by the fall semester of 2023 at the latest. Information on the change will follow shortly.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the Corona virus, doctoral examinations are possible via video conference or in presence mode until further notice. Details: Information on doctoral examinations (PDF, 78 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 (you apply via the student portal).
However, in the semester of publication you must seek regular matriculation. 

The legal bases of compulsory matriculation are the Ordinance on Admission to Studies at the University of Zurich (VZS) and the Admission (ZR).
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 PVO 2009) and the right PhD subject.

Composition of the Doctoral Committee

Please refer to your doctoral agreement and the list of people with Authorization for Examinations and Supervision at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to check whether the composition of your doctoral committee is correct. Please direct any questions you may have to the Graduate School:
External members of your doctoral committee must be approved by the Graduate School Vice Dean of Studies. Instead of a separate application, you send the Graduate School – if you have not done so already – a scan of your doctoral agreement:

Preparing Your Application to Defend Your PhD Thesis

Doctoral agreement

If in the course of your doctoral studies you have not yet submitted a doctoral agreement to Student Services or the Graduate School, or if the composition of your doctoral committee has changed, before applying to graduate you must submit a current doctoral agreement and if necessary have your supervisors approved. The approval procedure is an integral part of the doctoral agreement.
Doctoral Agreement (PDF, 311 KB) (German only) 

Submitting your PhD thesis to the doctoral committee

Please provide your principal supervisor with one copy of your PhD thesis for each member of the doctoral committee. Your principal supervisor makes sure these copies are distributed to the members of the doctoral committee and in consultation with them signs the Confirmation of acceptance of your PhD thesis and registration for graduation form (PDF, 130 KB) (German only) that you need to apply to defend your PhD. Please agree the deadline for submission and the type of binding direct with your doctoral committee.

Recording ECTS credits

ECTS credits you have earned at the doctoral level must be set down with your phd coordinator in an Agreement on curricular coursework for completing doctoral studies (PDF, 596 KB) (German only). Besides coursework already recorded in the system to be used towards the degree, any further eligible coursework completed externally must also be specified. The total number of ECTS credits must not exceed the number (12 or 30) required for the degree.
Please upload the agreement on curricular coursework for the degree as a PDF via Online PhD Admin Services. External coursework that has not yet been recorded will be recorded in the system as per the agreement.

Applying to Defend Your PhD Thesis

Registration deadlines

Your last chance to defend your PhD under PVO 2009 is in Spring Semester 2023.

You must apply to defend your PhD within the following periods:

  • Fall Semester: 16 July to 15 January (defense by 31 January)
  • Spring Semester: 16 January to 15 July (defense by 31 July)

The application deadlines are legally binding. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. No exceptions will be granted.

When organizing your PhD defense please also note the following points:

  • Specify the desired date for your PhD defense in your application. Please note that this must be in the semester in which you are applying to complete your doctorate.
  • Your application is valid once you have received confirmation of acceptance from the Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs. The Office of Student Affairs will only send this once all the information is correct, the necessary documentation is complete, and proof of the requisite coursework (ECTS credits) has been provided.
  • Final arrangements for your PhD defense must not be made until you have received confirmation of acceptance. 
  • The doctoral committee must be present at your PhD defense. For this reason you should make sure to choose a date where everybody can be present in person. 

You must apply for your PhD defense via Online PhD Admin Services. Before applying please note the following section on «Documentation and Information».

Documentation and Information

Please have the following information and documentation ready in PDF form for your application: 

Until publication of your PhD thesis you must keep the originals of the following forms in a safe place yourself: Confirmation of acceptance of your PhD thesis and registration for graduation, plagiarism statement, and agreement on curricular coursework. 

Online registration

You must apply to defend your PhD via Online PhD Admin Services.

Organizing the PhD Defense, Note Sheet, and Expert Report

Defending a PhD Thesis: organizational matters

Final arrangements for your PhD defense must not be made until your registration has been accepted and confirmed. Doctoral candidates must organize their PhD defense themselves in consultation with the doctoral committee and the co-examiner.
When you are organizing your defense, please note the following points:

  • The date of the defense must be in the semester you are graduating in (Spring Semester between 1 February and 31 July, Fall Semester between 1 August and 31 January).
  • The entire Doctoral committee must be present in person at your PhD defense (PVO 2009, § 16–17). Please note the exception due to the Corona situation (section "Modality of Conduct" below).
  • The co-examiner («Beisitz») takes minutes which must be submitted to the Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs along with the other documentation.

  • The co-examiner must have at least completed their own PhD defense and be employed at UZH in the semester the PhD defense is held. A connection to the department or institute makes sense but is not required. The co-examiner may not be a member of the doctoral committee as well. If the doctorate is part of a cotutelle de thèse the co-examiner may come from the outside university.

Modality of conduct (presence or videoconference)

Due to current coronavirus restrictions, PhD defenses may be conducted via videoconference or in presence mode until further notice. 
Details: Information on doctoral examinations (PDF, 82 KB).

The room for the on-site examination or the implementation of the video conference must be organized independently. If you have any questions, the Graduate School office will be happy to help (

Note sheet and expert report

After registration for graduation the Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs sends the note sheet directly to the principal supervisor. Please also note the following points:

  • The assessment of the colloquium is mandatory for the predicate. The predicate can therefore only be determined after the colloquium.
  • The note sheet must be filled out completely, marked with the predicate and signed by all present (including co-examiner) (scan-signatures are possible).
  • There must be at least two signed expert reports (scan-signatures are possible). One of these expert reports must be written by a professor of the Faculty of Humanities. Neither a grade nor the predicate may be written in the reports.
  • Grading: The doctoral committee as a whole assigns a predicate in a final appraisal that includes the colloquium. The following predicates are to be used:
    • summa cum laude
    • magna cum laude
    • cum laude
    • rite
  • In the case of a cumulative dissertation, the provisions on co-authorship and peer review are governed by the applicable doctoral regulations (general and special sections).
  • The principal supervisor sends the expert reports, note sheet an minutes by email to the Office of Student Affairs, Degrees Team.
  • If the doctorate is awarded within the framework of a cotutelle de thèse, all regulations and provisions of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences apply analogously. The co-examiner may be from the foreign university.

Please note that you can only graduate once you have completed the required curricular coursework.

Dispatch of provisional final records

The Degree team at the Office of Student Affairs will send the provisional final records to graduates by mail within a few days after the graduations have been processed.
It is not permitted to use the term «Dr. des.».

Publishing Your PhD Thesis

Deadline for publishing and extensions

To earn a doctorate (under PVO 2009) the PhD thesis must be published within two years after the provisional final records are issued. Publication before receipt of the provisional final records is not permitted for the doctorate. 

If you are unable to meet the deadline for publishing you must apply for an extension via Online PhD Admin Services. An extension of the deadline will be granted in case of delays caused by a publisher's publication. Please submit your publishing contract with the request for extension.

Please note that you can use the title of doctor (Dr. phil.) only once you have published your PhD thesis and have received confirmation of your doctoral degree. In addition, the publication itself must not contain any information or other wording giving the impression that the doctorate has already been legally conferred at the time of publication (e.g. «Dr. phil.», «got their doctorate» etc.).

ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive)

With the entry into force of the new regulations of PromVO 2019 in August 2019, doctoral students under the regulations of PO 2006 and PVO 2009 are also permitted to publish their PhD thesis on ZORA. This publication must incorporate the revision requirements prescribed by your supervisors.

The 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 required. 

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, 1 MB)
Instructions PDF-A (English) (PDF, 1 MB)
Template Titlepage English (PDF, 282 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)

Once your publication request has been approved, you do not need to take any further action. The Dean's Office, Study Degrees Team, forwards the dissertation to your main supervisor for approval. Your final documents will then be drawn up and your dissertation published on ZORA.

Publication with a Publisher

If you do not want to publish your PhD thesis on ZORA you can publish it with a publisher as a transitional solution. Before press, the print version of the PhD thesis, in particular the note in the publishing information, the book cover and jacket text, must be approved by the Office of Student Affairs.

You must apply for approval online via Online PhD Admin Services. If you fail to obtain approval and the information in the printed version is incorrect or incomplete, the entire run must be corrected. 

The entire print run must bear the following note in German or English in the publishing information:

«Die vorliegende Arbeit wurde von der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Zürich im Frühjahrssemester 20[..]/Herbstsemester 20[..] auf Antrag der Promotionskommission [namentliche Aufzählung aller Mitglieder; die oder der Vorsitzende der Kommission ist in Klammern als «hauptverantwortliche Betreuungsperson» zu kennzeichnen] als Dissertation angenommen.»

«This work was accepted as a PhD thesis by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Zurich in the spring/fall semester 20 [...] on the recommendation of the Doctoral Committee: [followed by a list of all committee members; the chairperson of the committee must be identified in brackets as the «main supervisor»].»

If you publish your PhD thesis with a publisher you must submit two deposit copies to the Office of Student Affairs. You must also submit one deposit copy directly to the library of the institute or department offering the PhD subject.

Plagiarism assessment for publications on ZORA

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 via email to
    1. You carried out the plagiarism assessment by using the software «Plagscan»
    2. There is no plagiarism in the PhD thesis
    3. You approve the publication of this PhD thesis.

Dispatch of Final Records

From the moment you submit deposit copies until you receive your final records it generally takes up to 8 weeks. 

First you’ll receive confirmation of your doctoral degree, and then a few weeks later the Degree Office will send you your diploma documents. The compulsory matriculation requirement applies until the doctorate is conferred (the date of the diploma).

You may only use the title of Dr. phil. once you have received confirmation of your doctoral degree.

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 2021 and spring semester 2022):  date to be confirmed.