Admission to Doctoral Studies

To apply for doctoral studies, you must have received a confirmation of supervision by a faculty member who is a qualified professor (habilitated). Please begin by contacting a potential supervisor.

Application forms can be found on the UniPortal. New external doctoral students must apply online. Doctoral students who have studied at the University of Lucerne before should use the doctorate re-registration form.

You should have electronic copies (PDF or JPEG) of these documents ready for the application process.

See downloads (below) for supervision agreement forms.

The following deadlines apply for doctoral studies applications:
31st August for the coming Fall Term
31st January for the coming Spring Term

Doctoral studies admissions are governed by the GSL Board. Admission requirements can be found in the doctoral regulations.

The admission decision will be communicated via email in the first or second week of the semester.

Language skills: German skills are desirable but not mandatory.


Important note for research assistants (faculty positions): Please remember to fill in a Career Assessment for Emloyment and Training Agreement (ETA) (for the Human Resources Department). 

 * If the Supervision Agreement form does not open as a fillable form, click: file -> open in immersive Browser. 

Study achievements

Compulsory registration applies throughout the duration of doctoral studies at the University of Lucerne.
Doctoral studies are subject to Graduate School specifications and are governed by the doctoral regulations and the guidelines to the doctoral regulations.

The curricula shown correspond to the study achievements required for doctoral students beginning from the autumn semester of 2012. Doctoral students registering before the autumn semester of 2012 should consult the relevant guidelines.

Grant holders

The doctoral process is to be designed in such a way that studies can be completed within three years. The supervisor and, where relevant, the GSL will help students to keep to this timetable as far as possible. If there are changes to the timetable, they are communicated to the GSL as part of the annual report.

Research Assistants and Scientific Staff (e.g. SNSF Researchers)
The doctoral process is to be designed in such a way that studies can be completed within four years. The supervisor and, where relevant, the GSL will help students to keep to this timetable as far as possible. If there are changes to the timetable, they are communicated as part of the annual progress report.

Independent Doctoral Students:
The doctoral process is to be designed in such a way that studies can be completed within a reasonable period of time. The supervisor and, where relevant, the GSL will help students to keep to this timetable as far as possible. If there are changes to the timetable, they are communicated as part of the annual progress report.

For those carrying out doctoral studies without university employment or a GSL grant, the overall duration of the doctoral study is not limited. However, admission to the GSL is limited to a period of five years. After this period has elapsed, the Board of the GSL will assess the progress of the dissertation and reach a decision on the duration of a further period of admission.

Notes on individual study achievements:

  • Attendance of course teaching academic skills in methodological or theoretical aspects: summer schools, winter schools, workshops, block weeks, Master Classes, Master seminars, (...).  All such courses offered by the GSL are labelled. External courses can also be attended in agreement with the supervisor. The following course formats are not considered as courses teaching academic skills in methodological or theoretical aspects:  Generic Skills courses (unless specifically indicated), Bachelor seminars, language courses, conference attendances (see below). 
  • Attendance of and presentation given at an international conference: students may request financial support from the GSL for attending conferences.

All course and conference attendance and any presentations given at colloquia should be certified by the course organiser. This can be done using either certificates of attendance issued by the event organiser or GSL certificates of credit (see download). All certificates of attendance can be submitted to the GSL either together with the annual progress reports, where they will be archived, or alternatively may be submitted at the end of the period of doctoral study.

GSL Certificate of Credit


  • The first supervisor is responsible for the academic supervision. The first supervisor needs to be chosen from among the professorial staff of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Universit of Lucerne. Admission to the doctoral studies is only possible with a joint supervision agreement (template can be found under "Admission") co-signed by the designated first supervisor.
  • The second supervisor - also called "second reviewer" needs to be someone with a "habilitation" or academic training equivalent to a habilitation. The "habilitation equivalence" will be assessed by the GSL board once selected second supervisor is communicated to GSL. The second supervisor should be selected by the end of the second year of doctoral studies and his or her name and affiliation needs to be communicated to the GSL in the framework of the yearly progress report.

    If a (potential) second supervisor asks for specific information regarding the second review, he or she can consult these downloadable guidelines.

Progress Reports

Annual reports on the progress of the thesis are doctoral study achievements required by the GSL throughout the doctoral study period.

Students registering in the spring semester must submit their first progress report by 1 April of the following year.

Students registering in the autumn semester must submit their first progress report by 1 October of the following year.

The progress report must be prepared using the GSL form and signed by the doctoral student and his/her supervisor. Alternatively to a signature, the veracity of details listed in the progress report can be confirmed via e-mail (with the progress report in question attached to the e-mail).

Template download*:

Template Progress Report (Version Feb. 2020)

Joint Doctoral Degree

Information and guidelines on gaining a joint doctoral degree (also called a ‘cotutelle de thèse’) can be found on the International Relations Office website. It should be noted that the cooperation agreement must be signed within a year of registering as a doctoral student.

Leave of Absence

Students may ask the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (KSF) in writing for a leave of absence from doctoral studies ( Requests must be submitted to the Dean by 15th September (for the autumn semester) or 15th February (for the spring semester) at the latest. A leave of absence lasts for a maximum of two semesters. No registration fees are due during this period and no doctoral study achievements (such as progress reports) must be rendered to the GSL. During the leave of absence, the student may not apply for financial support from the GSL, may not apply for initiation of the doctoral examintation procedure and may not participate in GSL courses.


Informal examination of study achievements

Before completion of the thesis and before the application is submitted to initiate the doctoral examination procedure, the GSL office is to be contacted for an informal examination of study achievements that were completed as part of the structured doctoral studies programme at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences. It is best if the GSL office gets contacted as soon as the date of completion becomes foreseeable in order to allow for time to complete requirements that still need to be completed.

All study achievements must be certified in writing to meet the requirements set out in § 3 to 5 of the Guidelines for the Doctoral Regulations. If doctoral students wish achievements completed in addition to the GSL study credits to appear on the GSL certificate, they must submit written documentation to the office before the viva examination. It is the doctoral student’s decision which additional achievements to list on the certificate.

Application to initiate the doctoral examination procedure

The doctoral examination procedure is initiated by a resolution of the Board at the request of the candidate.

The application must be addressed to the Chairman or Chairwoman of the Board and submitted to the GSL office.

The following documents must accompany the application:

1. Three copies of the dissertation (for cumulative theses, please note the special requirements stated in the Guidelines for the Doctoral Regulations). Please carefully read our information sheet about review and deposit copies.
2. A summary of the dissertation in triplicate outlining the objective, content and findings of the dissertation. This shall not be identical to any section of the Dissertation
3. A declaration by the candidate stating that the dissertation is entirely his/her own work, that only the specified resources were used in writing the dissertation and that any direct quotes or content drawn from another source is referenced accordingly.
4. A declaration as to whether the dissertation has previously been submitted to any faculty, either in its present form or another version
5. Proof of participation in the doctoral study programme at the Faculty in accordance with §3- 5 of the Guidelines for the Doctoral Regulations)
6. Proof of enrolment for the duration of the doctoral study programme (available from the Student Administration Office)

Assessment and Viva Examination

Following a Board resolution, the Examinations Committee asks two qualified members of the Faculty to provide a first and second assessment. The second dissertation assessor (= reviewer) may also be a qualified member of another faculty or university Usually, the first and second dissertation supervisors are also the first and second assessors of the thesis. The GSL arranges for the thesis to be sent to the reviewers. After this is done, the completion of the graduation process is no longer organized by the GSL Office.

The reviewers must submit their thesis reviews to the examination board within four months of being commissioned. Once all reviews have been submitted, they are displayed together with the thesis in the Dean of the Faculty’s office for a period of four weeks for inspection by full-time graduate research and teaching staff and associates of the faculty.

The date of the viva examination is set by the Dean’s Office in consultation with the doctoral student and the reviewers. The viva examination generally takes place within three months of the thesis being accepted. If desired by the candidate, the viva examination will be open to all doctoral students and an external audience. The viva examination consists of a presentation by the doctoral student lasting approximately twenty minutes and a discussion lasting approximately forty minutes. Following acceptance of the thesis, the candidate will be issued a bill for the examination fees by Financial Services.


After successful completion of the viva examination, the candidate is entitled to hold the title of doctor designate (Dr. des.) until graduation. Once the deposit copies are submitted (see publication regulations), the candidate becomes a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.). A reference is issued confirming the candidate's doctoral study work. It shall be signed by the dean. In addition, a certificate is issued by the GSL covering participation in the structured doctoral study programme.

Publication regulations

Information on the formatting of the deposit copies can be found in the information sheet about review and deposit copies.

Financial support

Annual seed money funding for new researchers

The seed money funding is intended to support new researchers to draw up a research project to be carried out at the University of Lucerne as part of a doctoral dissertation. A funding application should be made to the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) or other funding body after six months at the latest.

Current call for applications (Deadline: August 1st, 2020;  Starting date: October 1st, 2020)

Mobility Funding (Conference Attendance, Research Stays, etc.)

GSL doctoral students can apply for financial support for actively participating in international conferences, doing research stays and other activities directly related to the doctoral research project. Applications must be submitted at least four weeks before attendance of the conference. Please note the guidelines for financial support applications and use the application form (see downloads).
Provisional Change during Coronavirus Crisis: Reimbursement of fes for services provided by libraries and archives can be requested. In total, the maximum amount of funding usually granted for mobility funding per doctoral student must not be surpassed. Please collect as many expenses as possible and hand in receipts along with the reimbursment form, accompanied by a short written statement why the payable service is relavant for doctoral research project. Any amount above CHF 150 needs to be requested prior to handing in reimbursement form by using the altered request form for mobility funding below. 

Applications should be sent to


* If the application form does not open as a fillable form, click: file -> open in immersive Browser.   

Support for self-organized workshops and retreats
GSL doctoral students can organise their own workshops or retreats in consultation with the Graduate School. They will receive financial support from the GSL.

Upon request, the GSL office will send information with financial and organisational guidelines for GSL workshops which must be considered when preparing an application. Applications should contain the following:

- Cover letter to the GSL Board (with a short description of the project and a presentation of those organising it and invited lecturers)
- Budget (list of anticipated costs)
- List of participants from among GSL members (interdisciplinary if possible)

Applications should be sent to

Doctoral regulations, guidance instructions, information sheets

Doctoral Regulations

Study start Fall Semester 2012:

Study start after February 1st 2010:

Forms and Guidelines to Financial Support


* If the forms don't open as a fillable forms, click: file -> open in immersive Browser.