Thesis procedure

Thesis procedure | Doctorate abroad

Thesis procedure


For thesis procedure at the EPFL, contact the EPFL doctoral programe relevant to your field of interest

Thesis procedure

Step 1 : Thesis committee composition (upon registration, use the form available on our website)

Together with their thesis director, each MD-PhD student selects a thesis committee who follows their progress throughout their doctoral work. Its composition must be communicated to the Doctoral School as soon as possible following registration and must include the thesis director (and co-director, if applicable), two experts (at least one of whom is external to the Department of the thesis director*) and the president (a member of the MD-PhD Committee for students registered at UNIL).

* Experts should not collaborate on the thesis project or publish with the MD-PhD student. Note that other experts can be added for the thesis defence, so that at least one may be external to the University of Lausanne.

Step 2 : First evaluation during the 2nd semester

A short report summarizing the thesis project, the milestones and the research progress must be prepared by the end of the second semester. The report should be sent by e-mail to ALL the members of the thesis committee with a copy to the thesis director as well as to the Doctoral School (E-mail).

Step 3 : Mid-thesis exam

The mid-thesis exam for students enrolled at UNIL must be held at the latest 18 months following the start of the MD-PhD contract. This exam is designed to allow the students to present the advancement of their research to the thesis committee and to asses any potential issues related to their project, surpervision and environment.

Students enrolled at EPFL must pass their candidacy exam at the end of the first year of doctoral studies.

Step 4 : Thesis defence

In brief, the student must write their thesis manuscript and defend it at the "private defence" session in front of a selected jury. If the student passes the exam, they will be allowed to present their research in a more accessible format to a public audience. The thesis defence usually takes place in the 3rd, 4th or 5th year, provided that the 12 ECTS credits of the coursework have been obtained and the mid-thesis exam has been successfully passed.


Doctorate abroad

The MD-PhD program allows a thesis project to be conducted abroad in its entirety. However, as the MD-PhD is delivered by the University of Lausanne, there must be co-supervision of the thesis by a faculty member of the University of Lausanne and the faculty member of the University in which the work is performed.

Thesis Co-direction

Students who chose to do their thesis abroad need to identify a thesis Director at UNIL. The thesis supervisor in whose laboratory/institution the work is conducted formally serves as the thesis co-director although for all practical intents and purposes they are the de facto thesis Director and conduct the supervision without interference of the formal Director at the UNIL. The formal Director participates in the mid-term exam and in the final thesis defense and the degree is awarded by the UNIL.

Choice of laboratory and funding

Students who choose to do their thesis abroad must identify a suitable laboratory and a co-director who agrees to supervise their work. They must also secure funding through granting agencies or foundations, as the National scholarship allows no more than one year abroad. 


Secretariat MD-PhD - Bureau 304 - AmphipĂ´le - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 40 06