PhD Degree

The doctoral degree will be issued jointly by the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Human Sciences, after submission of the written thesis and successful defense of the thesis. As a rule, the PhD thesis must be submitted no later than one year after completion of the experimental work. The University regulations require enrollment until the successful completion of studies. If the thesis is submitted before January 31 or July 31 and the defense takes place before the start of the new semester, i.e. by week 7 or 37 respectively, enrollment in the following semester is no longer required.

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 co-referee for the evaluation of the approved thesis and for writing the report.

Information for publications can be found here

Instructions for the preparation and submission of your PhD documents are detailed below.

Step-by-Step to the PhD Degree

  • Please inform the GHS two months in advance of your schedule and your planned thesis defense date to
  • In good time before the defense date, you should provide your thesis advisor and your co-referee with a copy of your thesis, after it has been approved by your thesis advisor.
  • All PhD documents have to reach the GHS office 6 weeks before the specified date of the thesis defense at the latest. If the defense date is in August or September, the deadline for submitting the application documents is 8-9 weeks prior to the defense date. The GHS secretariat will inform you about the exact deadline. 
  • Thesis advisor and co-referee send their assessments directly to the GHS-coordinator Dr. Tullia Padovani Schipper with Cc to GHS Office at least 6 weeks before the defense date. If the defense date is in August or September, the deadline for the assessments from the thesis advisor and co-referee is 8-9 weeks prior to the defense date. The GHS secretariat will inform you about the exact deadline.
  • The 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».
  • Please be aware, that the title of the thesis has to be exactly the same as in the PhD Degree form. Furthermore, no changes to the title page of the thesis (including tittle of the thesis and PhD title) are allowed after submission to the GHS. Especially not for the final version. Only exception is, if you agreed on this with the secretariat of the GHS.
  • All required ECTS credit points for the curriculum are collected (Please ensure to send us your latest doctoral agreement, in case there have been any discrepancies e.g. courses which have changed throughout your PhD).
  • Successful passing of 1st and 2nd year examinations
  • At least three scientific papers submitted to peer-reviewed journals: One paper for which the candidate is the first author must be accepted for publication, and another two (first author or co-author) must have reached the peer-review stage
  • Positive assessment of thesis advisor
  • Positive assessment of 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, it is highly recommended that you submit the Front Page of your thesis to GHS Administration for inspection in good time.

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

  • Front Page (DOCX, 53KB)
  • 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 also be included in the electronic copy of the thesis, with your scanned-in or electronic signature. 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 GHS 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.

Check Art. 11 of the «Promotionsreglement (PDF, 426KB)» or «Promotionsreglement (English translation) (PDF, 208KB)» for more information.

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

Both signed, electronic documents (PDF) should be sent at least 6 weeks before the date of the planned thesis defense to: Dr. Tullia Padovani Schipper, with Cc to GHS Administration (please fill out form in english). If the defense date is in August or September, the deadline for the assessments from the thesis advisor and co-referee is 8-9 weeks prior to the defense date. The GHS secretariat will inform you about the exact deadline.

No later than 6 weeks* before the date of the thesis defense, the candidate should submit the following documents to the GHS office:

  • Completed PhD Degree Form (PDF, 756KB), 4 pages. Fill in the form and then save it on your computer (File → «Print as PDF» → save on computer).
    − hand in the PhD Degree Form electronically, together with the remaining required documents (see below)
    − upload the electronic copy of the PhD Degree Form on SWITCHfilesender and address it to
  • One electronic, dated & signed PDF copy of your thesis 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: CH90 0900 0000 3000 6618 3
    Universität Bern, 3012 Bern
    Vermerk: GHS DK 35 992
    Clearing: 09000
    Swift: POFICHBE (Swiss Post, PostFinance, CH-3030 Bern)

*If the defense date is in August or September, the deadline for submitting the application documents is 8-9 weeks prior to the defense date. The GHS secretariat will inform you about the exact deadline.

  • The Steering Board and the respective Expert Committee of the GHS receive the PhD Degree From and the assessments of the Thesis Advisor and the Co-referee. Within two weeks, the two Committees decide on provisional acceptance of the thesis.
  • The Faculty responsible for approval (where the Thesis Advisor is a member) receives the PhD Degree Form and the assessments and takes the final decision on acceptance of the thesis and admission to the thesis defense. The Faculty informs the GHS office of their decision.
  • The GHS office notifies the candidate of the final decision one week before the defense date.

On request, an electronic copy of the thesis (PDF) can be made available for inspection to the members of the GHS Steering Board, the GHS Expert Committee and the Faculty.

Additionally, the GHS provides the GHS representative with 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 a presentation of 40-45 min, followed by a discussion of 20-60 min.

Examiners are:
(1) the thesis advisor,
(2) the co-referee, and
(3) a member of the GHS Expert Committee, who is also charing 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, 906KB) and submitted to the GHS office by the GHS representative.

The final assessment is summarized on the Graduation Record and is obtained as defined in the «Rules» of the GHS («Promotionsreglement (PDF, 426KB)»), Art. 16.

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

  • Three 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 and the Faculty of Human Sciences, upon the proposal of the Steering Board of the GHS. The PhD documents are only issued upon receipt of the three 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.

Once you have completed your studies or if you no longer want to continue studying, you have to have yourself removed from the student registry (this does not take place automatically). For this purpose, please use the electronic re-registration form. Detailed information can be found on the following link:

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 GHS office.