UNIL Doctorate Holders Career Survey

Introduction | Annual Surveys | Overview of the 2007-2017 survey results


UNIL aims to gain a better understanding of the career paths of its doctorate holders in order to ensure the quality of doctoral training and to highlight the range of possible careers after a doctorate. To this end, the Graduate Campus regularly conducts surveys among UNIL doctorate holders.

After an initial survey carried out in 2018-2019 on UNIL doctorate holders from the 2007 to 2017 cohorts, the Graduate Campus has been conducting since 2021 an annual survey on the professional situation of UNIL doctors three years after completion of their doctorate. The annual survey makes it possible to monitor, cohort after cohort, the evolution of doctorate holders careers, the relevance of their doctorate to their professional activities, as well as their expectations and degree of satisfaction with regard to their professional life after the doctorate.

These themes coincide with two areas of reflection and action by the Graduate Campus:

  1. The quality of doctoral education in terms of preparing doctoral candidates for their future professional paths;
  2. Raising awareness among early-career researchers and supervisors of the diversity of career options after the doctorate and promoting the value of the doctorate among employers.

These aspects are given particular attention by academic institutions at Swiss, European and international level.

The annual survey contributes to the mission of the Graduate Campus to accompany and support doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in their professional development, and to support the University in its efforts to raise awareness, both internally and externally, of the professional potential of the next generation of researchers trained at the University.

The annual survey is thus part of the Graduate Campus' response to points 2.1.2 and 4.1.1 of UNIL Rectorate’s 2021-2026 Statement of Intent. It also meets one of the key recommendations of the OECD Expert Group report on the promotion of diverse career pathways for doctorate holders concerning the visibility and valorisation of diverse career options within and beyond academia.

Annual Surveys


The 2020+3 annual survey was launched in November 2023 and is now complete. 

We are currently working on the analysis of the results, which we will publish in autumn 2024.


The results of the 2019+3 annual survey will be published in autumn 2024, at the same time as those of the 2020+3 survey.


Read the Uniscope article about the 2018+3 survey.

In November 2021, the Graduate Campus, with the support of FORS , launched the first annual survey on the professional situation of UNIL doctorate holders three years after completing their thesis.

Key Figures

Of the 290 doctoral graduates who defended in 2018 (PhD, MD-PhD or MD) in one of the seven UNIL faculties, 255 were contacted and 103 participated in the survey. The participation rate is thus 40%.

The sample of participants is composed of 46% women and 56% men. Almost half (48%) of the participants obtained their doctorate in FBM, 15% in SSP, 15% in GSE, 10% in HEC, 8% in Lettres, 5% in FDCA and 1% in FTSR.

  • Unemployment rate similar to that of Switzerland: At the time of the survey, 92% of the participants were gainfully employed, while 3% of the participants responded that they were registered as unemployed.
  • A diversity of employment sectors: The public sector and the higher education sector each employ about one third of professionally active participants (34% and 32% respectively), the private sector slightly less (27%) and the private non-profit sector 7%.
  • The academic path: Nearly 60% of professionally active participants are pursuing an academic career (entirely or in parallel with other activities).
  • Fixed-term contracts in academic positions: Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those employed in the higher education sector are employed on a fixed-term contract.
  • Job satisfaction: 81% of participants who are currently working are fully or somewhat satisfied with their current role.
  • Regionally anchored: Nearly three-quarters (74%) of professionally active participants work in Switzerland and 15% work in Europe.
  • Continuing in the same field: Almost half (47%) of the professionally active participants claim to be working in the same field as the one in which they obtained their doctorate, and 39% say they are in a similar or broader field.
  • The importance of transversal skills: 64% of the professionally active participants said that they are taking advantage of the transversal skills acquired during their doctorate.


Awareness and promotion (Statement of Intent 2.1.2)

The strong regional roots of the participants show the importance of the local economic fabric in the professional integration of doctorate holders. It reminds us also of the importance of developing initiatives to highlight these skills with employers in the region and facilitate the efforts of doctorate holders during their professional transition towards new employment sectors.

Career preparation (Statement of Intent 4.1.1)

The important mobilisation of transversal skills in the current role, including compared to theoretical and technical skills, show the importance of a doctoral training that takes into account and encourages the development of this type of skills.

Further development of the annual UNIL + 3 doctoral survey

This first annual survey allows us to identify different lines of analysis and action for the future editions of the survey. Furthermore, this survey collected new contacts of doctorate holders interested in participating in initiatives organised by the Graduate Campus (webinars and/or doctoral portraits presented on our website

Finally, in the medium and longer term, the annual survey will provide material with which to develop initiatives to raise awareness and inform the various audiences concerned (early career researchers, supervisors and employers).

The executive summary is available below. To receive the full report, please contact the Graduate Campus.


From January 2018 to September 2019, the University of Lausanne’s Graduate Campus conducted a survey of the 2448 people who received a doctoral degree between 2007 and 2017. The first phase of the survey, using online social networks and search engines, allowed us to find the contact details of 1265 of our target population. Of those, we were able to interview 459 people.

Overall, we can observe a wide variety of career paths, with differences between the faculties of origin. The large majority of those we interviewed felt that the doctorate had been a positive experience, a personal challenge accomplished, and in the long term, a distinction that has had a real effect on their career. If they could turn back time, they say they’d do it all again!

The interactive table below provides a résumé from different perspectives of the information collected during the first phase of the survey. Other qualitative and quantitative results will be published in a more extensive report.

The full report is available here.

Overview of the 2007-2017 survey results

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