Each PhD candidate is supervised by a thesis committee consisting of the advisor and a co-referee. In addition, the students of the Expert Committee III have a mentor assigned, who also chairs the PhD defense. The students of the Expert Committees I and II choose a member of the Expert Committees as GHS Representative for chairing the PhD defense.

Thesis Committee

Thesis advisor 

is responsible for the research project, adequate supervision, the laboratory infrastructure, and the salary of the candidate and must be a lecturer with PD title or a Professor at the University of Bern.

A co-thesis advisor can be appointed to support the thesis advisor (this is optional). 

The co-thesis Advisor is an expert within the field of the dissertation and is chosen from the thesis advisor.

She/He is normally a part of the research team or close network of the thesis advisor, a habilitation (PD title) is not required.

The co-thesis advisor certifies her/his role in the supervision of the PhD student with a written statement and discusses the research project on a regular basis with the student.

The participation of the co-thesis advisor to the 1st and 2nd year exams in substitution of the thesis advisor is possible. The co-thesis advisor can not replace the thesis advisor at the thesis defense or for validating the PhD Thesis, but participation is favored.


should be an expert in the research area of the thesis project but must not be affiliated with the same institute/department as the thesis advisor. He/ she meets with the candidate at least twice a year to discuss and assess progress of the thesis work, as well as advising and supporting the candidate, is present at the exams, and is present at the thesis defense.

Mentor (only FKIII)

guides the candidate on the tailor-made training program reported in the doctoral agreement, together with the candidate and the thesis advisor, and evaluates the progress report. The candidate’s previous education and the relevance to the planned research work is taken into account. The mentor is also a mediator in case of conflict within the thesis committee. The mentor is a member of one of the GHS committees and is assigned during the interview. He/She chairs the defense and can also be chosen as examiner during the 1st and 2nd year exams.  

In the GHS each PhD student is supported by a team of experts. The specific role of the different type of supervisors is specified in the table below: