PhD timeline

Week 1 –Week 4: Enrolment to the PhD programme and registration with the UNIL

1) The student and their thesis director (supervisor) the C&I enrolment form, for the PhD program  declaring that they accept the specific rules of the program. This form also requests that the student chooses a  PhD programme representative, who will follow their progress during their thesis. The C&I enrolment form also requires that the student lists the proposition of courses they intend to participate to in the first year of their PhD  to give a total of 4 ECTS.

Note: Within the first year, there must be 2 credits obtained from UNIL tutorials or various CIIL courses  out of the 4 credits required. Students must obtain at least 12 ECTS credits before their final thesis defense. Link


• The C&I enrolment form needs to be returned to the PhD program coordinator within the first month of starting your PhD.
• Note: As part of their obligations, PhD students enrolled in UNIL laboratories teach practical classes for Biology and Medicine students of the University of Lausanne (this is indicated in the “cahier de charges” part of your contract).

2) Registration procedure at the UNIL when you start your PhD

The student should enrol themselves as a student of the UNIL: This procedure is preformed on- line via the UNIL Imatt. Office. Please check the deadlines  and follow the steps carefully on  

   - with a Swiss undergraduate University degree : click here   

   - with a foreign undergraduate University degree: click here


Note: If the application is sent after the deadlines, the registration will be postponed to the next semester (or, in case the late application is accepted, the prospective student will have to pay an extra fee of CHF 200.-).  For more info


Please note that you will be requested by the IMMAT office to pay 200 CHF at the beginning of your PhD, plus 80 CHF at the beginning of each semester.


For questions on this step: administration office

Within the first 6 months:

The PhD student arranges a short meeting with his selected PhD program representative to briefly discuss how they have settled into the new environment and into their project.

By the end of the first semester following registration


Each PhD student has a thesis committee that follows her/his progress during the thesis period.
The committee’s composition must be communicated to the Doctoral School at the latest one semester following your registration, and selected by common consent between the thesis director and yourself.

Here are some important recommendations:

  • Thesis committee composition is selected by mutual agreement between the thesis director and the PhD student.
  • Experts should not collaborate significantly with you during your thesis, as this may prevent them from being objective in the assessment of your work. Relatives or partners of the directors or students are not allowed as experts or representatives.
  • At least one of the experts must be from outside UNIL/CHUV/Unisanté.
  • The program representative who officiates as the president should be from a different department than the thesis director(s) and must be in the list of representatives can be found here:
  • When selecting members of your thesis committee, please inform them that they should be present in person at the mid-thesis exam and private exam, in principle. Remote participation of thesis committee members, especially external ones, could exceptionally be permitted. However, it is expected that at least the PhD student, the thesis director, and the president are present in person in the same room. NB: For the qualifying exam, which is specific to the Cancer & Immunology thematic program, the presence of the President (PhD Programme representative), the thesis director, and Expert A is required.
  • This form has to be validated by Professor Fabio Martinon. Once the form is signed, it has to be sent to


Committee composition form 


For questions on this step:


Within 6-9 months: First year evaluation (Qualifying exam)

Within the first 6-9 months from the official day of starting the PhD there is an qualifying exam with the thesis committee (thesis director, PhD program representative and an additional member that is external or in a different department but amongst the participating labs of the PhD Program) to evaluate the student’s performance and potential. The exam consists of a short written report (4 pages maximum, see instructions below), an oral presentation (approx. 30 mins) and a discussion. The report should be submitted to the members of the thesis committee 2 weeks before the exam.


As soon as possible, these informations below should be given to the PhD program coordinator Nathalie Colin Garret:

- a copy of the report, the date, the time, the place of the exam and the qualifying exam committee form.

The result form has to be completed, signed by the qualifying exam committee and send back to Nathalie Colin Garret:



►Instructions for preparation of the first year evaluation

• Use Arial font 11 for the text and font 8 for the figure legends.
• Total of 4 pages divided in the following sections:
1. Overall working hypothesis, specific aims and brief description of approaches to be used to achieve the goals: 0.5-1 page
2. Summary of significance: max. 4 sentences, bullet point style
3. Background with novelty/significance of the questions to be addressed: 1 page
4. Preliminary results: 1-1.5 pages
5. Project plan: future approaches : 0.5.1 page


• The Figures and figure legends are included within the 4 pages. The references may be added in addition to the 4 pages.

Please note that the purpose of the first exam (to be held within the first 9 months), is to evaluate the potential, dedication and capacity of the student to focus. The exam is not meant to assess the results already obtained. The committee will inform the student if they feel that the student is unlikely to be successful in completing their first year. Following a potential additional probation period, the student's contract will be terminated (by the end of the first year).


For questions on this step -> Nathalie Colin Garret:


By the end of the first year


A short report summarizing the thesis subject, the report of the Qualifying exam, the thesis milestones/plan & the research progress must be prepared by the end of the second semester for a first evaluation by the full thesis committee. The report should then be sent by e-mail to ALL the members of the thesis committee with in copy (Cc) the thesis director and the Doctoral School (


If the report for the qualifying exam (first year evaluation) matches the criteria, it can be considered as a first-year report. Please make sure you send it to all your committee members, if they differ from the people who participated in the qualifying exam.


For questions on this step:

Mid-thesis exam: two years following the start of the PhD assistant contract or 3 semesters after the official enrolment date


The mid-thesis evaluation must be held at the latest two years following the start of the PhD Assistant contract or 3 semesters after the official enrolment date. During this exam, the student presents the progress of her/his research project in front of the thesis committee. The PhD student, together with the thesis director(s) and committee members (including the PhD Programme representative who also acts as president of the thesis committee), choose an examination date.


At least one month prior to the mid-thesis exam, you should forward the following information to the Doctoral School (


  • The mid-term report presenting the results and research progress (recommended length 20 pages, double-spaced, 30 references). This document should be signed by you and the thesis director and then sent by email to ALL the members of the thesis committee with a copy (Cc) the thesis director and the Doctoral School (
  • An e-mail to mentioning the date, hour and place of the exam. For more details (exam duration, format of the report...), check our Directives 2022 for the PhD in Life Sciences, section "Evaluation intermédiaire”


For questions on this step:

Three to 3.5 years (36-42 months):

If the student anticipates that their thesis will last more than 4 years they are required to complete and submit the form Request for an extension of the thesis deadline”. The maximum period of extension is 12 months.


For questions on this step :-> Nathalie Colin Garret:

End of the program: usually in the 3rd, 4th or 5th year of your PhD


You need to fulfil the following program requirements: minimum 12 ECTS, according to the specific conditions of The Cancer & Immunology program. At least 2.5 ECTS (out of the 12 required) must be obtained by taking part in at least 1 Summer Course in Cancer or Immunology organised as part of the thematic doctoral program in Cancer and Immunology. Please forward the documents for validation of courses at any time during your thesis, but at the latest 4 weeks before depositing the thesis manuscript to the Doctoral School Secretary's Office (=manuscript for the oral private exam). Please forward the ECTS documents (minimum 12 ECTS) to the FBM Doctoral School (, possibly by postal mail, or if abroad e.g., by e-mail, in PDF with all the relevant documents merged in the appropriate order.


Should you have any queries on the requirements of the program in which you are enrolled, contact:


Are you ready to defend your thesis? Private exam and public defense

In brief, you will have to write your thesis and then defend it at the “private defence” session in front of your selected jury.


A thesis jury needs to have a minimum of 4 members and a maximum of 6 and should include:

  • The thesis director (and co-directors if applicable)
  • Two experts (or three if in the initial thesis committee composition there is no expert from outside the University of Lausanne/CHUV and therefore an additional expert has to be selected). Note that none of the experts can have collaborated in the thesis project or published with the PhD student.
  • The PhD program representative (who also acts as president of your thesis jury)


Please make sure the composition of your thesis jury is validated by Professor Fabio Martinon, Director of the PhD program in Cancer & Immunology.


Do not forget

  • 9 weeks before the private exam date : to ask for your ECTS final certificate of your exam (
  • 5 weeks before the private exam date: to provide the Doctoral school with documents listed under the checklist available on the Doctoral school website: select Checklist deposit under the section “Milestones of your Thesis”

If you pass your private exam, you will then be allowed to present you research in a public defense in a format accessible to non-scientists in front of a public audience.


Detailed information on these exams are available in sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Milestones.


For questions on this step:


After the public defence


Detailed information on these exams are available in section10 of the Milestones.


For questions on this step:

Ch. des Boveresses 155 - CP 51 - CH-1066 Epalinges
Tel. +41 21 692 57 00
Fax +41 21 692 57 05