PhD Degree

The doctoral degree will be issued jointly by the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Science, and the Vetsuisse Faculty (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), after submission of the written thesis and successful defense of the thesis. — The PhD thesis must be submitted no later than one year after completion of the experimental work.

Guidelines for the Submission of the PhD Thesis

General Information

It lies in the candidate's responsibility to schedule a date for the defense, in agreement with the thesis committee. Furthermore, enough time must be granted to the external co-referee for the evaluation of the approved thesis and for writing the report.

Instructions for the preparation and submission of your PhD documents are detailed below. Candidates of Vetsuisse Zurich follow the instructions for the Front Page and the Payment Fee according to the Guidelines for GCB candidates of Vetsuisse ZH (DOCX, 33KB).


Step-by-Step to the PhD Degree

  • In good time before the defense date, you should provide your supervisor, your co-advisor, and your external co-referee with a copy of your thesis, after it has been approved by your supervisor.
  • All PhD documents have to reach the GCB office 4 weeks before the specified date of the thesis defense at the latest.
  • Supervisor and external co-referee send their assessments directly to the GCB-coordinator PD Dr. Monica Schaller and Cc to Edith Imthurn at least 4 weeks before the defense date.
  • Hard copies must be submitted to Edith Imthurn, GCB Secretary. If you come in person, please arrange a personal appointment with Edith Imthurn in advance.
  • Electronic copies (PhD Degree Form, PDF of PhD thesis) must be uploaded on SWITCHfilesender and addressed to Login on SWITCHfilesender with your campus account (username & password). Files should be named with your «LastName_FirstName_PhD_DegreeForm» and «LastName_FirstName_PhDThesis».
  • All required ECTS credit points are collected
  • Successful passing of Mid-term Evaluation
  • At least one 1st author paper published or accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal; exemptions must be supported by the external co-referee and accepted by the responsible Expert Committee
  • Positive assessment of supervisor
  • Positive assessment of external co-referee

Please note:

It is essential that you carefully follow the instructions below and on the Front Page template. In order to avoid mandatory corrections after printing (and re-printing), it is highly recommended that you submit the Front Page of your thesis to Edith Imthurn for inspection in good time before printing your thesis.

The bound thesis in A4 format must have been approved by the supervisor and must contain the following sections:

  • Front Page (docx, 63KB)
  • Abstract
  • Comprehensive introduction into the field
  • Hypothesis and aim of the thesis
  • Results, can be added as published or submitted manuscripts. If this option is chosen, a separate page needs to be inserted before each manuscript in the thesis, where the title of the manuscript and a short description of your own contribution is stated (i.e., which experiments, which figures are yours).
  • Overall discussion and outlook/perspectives
  • Curriculum vitae and list of publications
  • Declaration of Originality (pdf, 61KB), which must be dated, signed and bound into each hard copy and also be included in the electronic copy of the thesis, with your scanned-in or electronic signature. Hard and electronic copies of the thesis without signature cannot be accepted.

Layout: The cover page and deans’ signature page must be printed on one side only, while for the remaining pages of the thesis duplex (double-sided) print is preferred.

Each PhD thesis submitted to the GCB will be screened for improper citations and potential plagiarism by means of a specialized plagiarism-detection system. For guidelines on scientific integrity and prevention of plagiarism, please consult the links referring to Scientific Integrity in the box «Find out more» at the bottom of this website.

The thesis is independently assessed by the supervisor and by the external co-referee.

No later than 4 weeks before the date of the thesis defense, the candidate should submit the following documents to the GCB office:

  • Completed PhD Degree Form (PDF, 789KB), 4 pages. Fill in the form and then save it on your computer (File → «Print as PDF» → save on computer). Print out two copies and date & sign them by hand. Type the date and your name in the box «signature» (or use an electronic signature) for the electronic copy.
    − hand in two dated & signed print-outs of the PhD Degree Form, together with the remaining required documents (see below)
    − upload the electronic copy of the PhD Degree Form on SWITCHfilesender and address it to
  • One paper-bound (not spiral-bound) copy of the thesis approved by your supervisor
  • One electronic, dated & signed PDF copy of the same thesis version as the hard copy, to be uploaded on SWITCHfilesender and addressed to
  • Written information on date, time and venue (room and exact address) of your thesis defense
  • Current official registration confirmation from the Admissions Office of the University
  • Proof of payment of examination fee of CHF 500.–, to be paid to:
    Berner Kantonalbank BEKB AG
    Bundesplatz 8, 3001 Bern
    IBAN: CH42 0079 0020 9334 6666 3
    Universität Bern, Dekanat der Med. Fakultät,
    Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences GCB, 3012 Bern

The PhD Degree Form and the assessments of the supervisor and the external co-referee will be forwarded by the GCB to the members of the thesis committee and the respective GCB Expert Committee. The members of the Expert Committee decide no later than one week before the specified date of the thesis defense upon acceptance of the thesis and admission to the thesis defense.

On request, an electronic copy of the thesis (PDF) can be made available for inspection to the members of the GCB Expert Committee.

Additionally, the GCB provides the mentor with a hard copy of the PhD Degree Form, the submitted thesis, and with appropriate instructions concerning the format of the thesis defense.

The thesis defense is public and consists of your presentation of 40-45 min, followed by a discussion of 20-60 min.

Examiners are:
(1) the supervisor,
(2) the co-advisor, and
(3) the mentor, who is also chairing the thesis defense.

The examiners agree immediately on the assessment of the thesis defense and communicate it to the candidate. It is recorded on the Thesis Defense Record (docx, 41KB) and submitted to the GCB office by the mentor.

The final assessment is summarized on the Graduation Record and is obtained as defined in the «Rules» of the GCB («Promotionsreglement»), Art. 16, consisting of:
(a) the supervisor's assessment of the thesis
(b) the external co-referee's assessment of the thesis
(c) the examiners' assessment of the thesis defense (mean of examiners' individual marks)

No later than 2 weeks after the thesis defense, you must submit the following to the GCB office:

  • Three additional paper-bound (not spiral-bound) deposit copies of the final version of your thesis (required corrections implemented).
  • If you have made changes to the text after your PhD Degree Application: One new electronic, dated & signed copy of the final version of the thesis, to be uploaded on SWITCHfilesender and addressd to

Furthermore (optional):
You may submit one electronic copy in PDF format on CD/DVD directly to the University Library (UB) Bern—see the UB website for further information.

The PhD Degree is jointly awarded by the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Science, and the Vetsuisse Faculty (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine) upon the proposal of the PhD Committee of the GCB. The PhD documents are only issued upon receipt of the additional deposit copies and the electronic PDF copy of the final version of the PhD thesis. You are entitled to bear the PhD title after having received the PhD Diploma and Diploma Supplement.

It is recommended that you actively exmatriculate after completion of your PhD, by contacting the Admissions Office.

You may attend the Graduation Ceremony of the Faculty with which you were affiliated during your PhD. Information on date, time and venue will be made available by the GCB office.