GCB Doctoral Agreement

Doctoral candidates are matriculated at the University and most GCB doctoral candidates are also employed at the University of Bern. The following points are to be observed in relation to this dual nature: The Doctoral Agreement (DA) details your study plan in accordance with the GCB Promotion regulations. This is separate from your employment contract with your supervisor and your supervisors’ institution. However, as your studies are intended to support your research, you and your supervisor will complete the DA together with your mentor.

Framework and Purpose of the Doctoral Agreement

The GCB Doctoral Agreements (DA) is a “living document”. This means the doctoral agreement is a type of document that is created with a defined mechanism and process. It is used to define, manage, review, revise, update, share and communicate. Major changes (i.e. mandatory requirements) to the Doctoral Agreement must be recorded in a revised Doctoral Agreement, which must again be dated, signed, and submitted to the GCB for approval.

The Doctoral Agreement defines the framework conditions (form and duration of the doctorate, educational, research and supervision goals) as well as the aspired academic accomplishments (written contributions and conference contributions).

Educational Objectives

In addition to the individual academic supervision, formal educational objectives – such as those offered within the structured doctoral programmes - support the professional competence and the research and publishing work of the doctoral candidates. Within the framework of the doctoral study regulation, the supervisor and the mentor of the PhD candidate, (and final approval from the coordinator of the GCB for final approval the Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences) are free to award ECTS credit points for such educational achievements.

Minimum Mandatory Curriculum Requirements
6 (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) ECTS:

  1. Earn - 6.0 ECTS comprised of exclusively obtained with scientifically oriented topics.
    • Pass Exam* - 3.0 ECTS are acquired with lecture courses or book clubs which include a graded exam with marks, and that provide the candidate with new knowledge relevant to the individual research project.
  2. Participate in the course - “Scientific Integrity” (List this course in Mandatory requirement in your doctoral agreement)
  3. Attend and participate in – the GCB Symposium starting the 2nd year of the PhD studies (e.g., students registered in 2020 will participate in the 2022 symposium)

*Mandatory Course exams must be passed after a maximum of two attempts. This is an obligatory prerequisite to continue with the PhD program (see «Promotionsreglement», Art. 92 and Art. 191).

Additional Optional Achievements

Transferable skills courses - (academic writing, presentation skills, etc.) are considered as optional courses and cannot be acknowledged as part of the required minimum of 6.0 ECTS.

ECTS are only awarded for courses, workshops, summer schools etc. which include some type of performance assessment, i.e. an exam, a talk, a poster presentation or a written report. Requests for ECTS reviews must be submitted to info@gcb.unibe.ch and include:

  1. Course listed on Doctoral Agreement (see Training: Courses and Examinations for more information on ECTS)
  2. Signed and Dated Certificate of Achievement - pdf format (not jpeg or smartphone photo)
  3. Course content (course dates, effort in terms of days/hours, exams, presentations, etc.) - in the situation when the course has not been previously approved

For more information on European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), please follow this link.

Any changes to the planned courses listed as «Mandatory Requirements» in the PhD Doctoral Agreement (DOCX, 68KB) and / or the MD-PhD Doctoral Agreement (DOCX, 96KB) are subject to the approval of the supervisor and the mentor of the PhD candidate, and must be communicated to the coordinator of the GCB for final approval. Additionally, the written agreement of the mentor (e-mail) must be submitted to the GCB.

Major changes (mandatory requirements) to the Doctoral Agreement must be recorded in a revised Doctoral Agreement, which must again be dated, signed, and submitted to the GCB for approval.


Doctoral Agreement Information Sheet (PDF, 66KB)