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International PhD Program in Neuroscience, University of Zurich, Switzerland


July 01, 2015


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Aims and Objectives

The goal of the ZNZ International PhD Program in Neuroscience is to train excellent scholars with a broad knowledge in modern neuroscience disciplines. The program is specifically designed for students interested in pursuing a professional career in neuroscience. Emphasis will be placed on the development and enhancement of essential skills required to prepare students for their future roles as neuroscientists. This will include the planning of research projects, from conceptualization to experimental design, and to final evaluation. A key element of the program will be the development of skills of communication, interaction with other scientists, and scientific writing. Since doctoral students enrolled in the Program will originate from different biomedical branches, they will be encouraged to actively promote and foster interaction between themselves to facilitate the exchange of research ideas and to encourage interdisciplinary research. Training will be provided over the duration of the PhD thesis (3-4 years) to prepare students for neuroscience careers at an advanced level. The training will consist of two major parts: firstly, coursework will provide students with a theoretical background of the existing body of research knowledge in selected neuroscience fields and with research skills to address specific questions. The core elements of this part will be represented by the current skill base of the research groups participating in the Program. Secondly, a closely supervised thesis will provide the experience of conducting a substantial piece of original research.

Summary of Requirements for the International PhD Program in Neuroscience

  1. The PhD student registers at the Neuroscience Center Zurich (ZNZ) (registration form (Word-file)
  2. The student and his/her supervisor assemble the thesis steering committee (a minimum of 3 people) within the first few months after immatriculation.
  3. A written thesis proposal, which must be signed by all three members of the thesis steering committee is handed in to the ZNZ office within the first 12 months after the beginning of the PhD work (see template).
  4. The Introductory Course in Neurosciences is taken during the first year
  5. A written examination of the Introductory Course topics is taken in two parts
  6. The student prepares annual oral presentations and written progress reports of the thesis research work which must be signed by all three members of the thesis steering committee and handed in to the ZNZ office (see annual progress reports). The first annual written progress report is handed in at the latest one year after submission of the thesis proposal.
  7. The student takes part at least once in the ZNZ PhD Retreat
  8. In the second, third and possibly fourth year, the student takes advanced lectures and courses with assigned credit points. A minimum of 12 ECTS points must be achieved (see description).
  9. The PhD thesis is completed and must be approved by the thesis steering committee
  10. The student takes the final PhD exam
  11. To claim the ZNZ Certificate, the student submits a copy of the final thesis and the course attendance confirmations to the ZNZ office.

Application and Registration


Interested candidates have two possibilities to apply to the ZNZ International PhD Program in Neuroscience:

1) file an application via the Life Science Zurich Graduate School (track I). Deadlines for application: 1 July and 1 December.*

Track I candidates who are invited for the Life Science Zurich Graduate School interview days in February and September will need to pass an admission interview. A successfull admission interview will grant them access to all PhD programs within the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

2) contact ZNZ group leaders of their choice directly to enquire about possible Ph.D. openings and apply directly to group leader (track II). Please also check the job market on our website.

Track II candidates: to ensure equal treatment of track I and track II applicants and in accordance with the rules of the LSZGS, group leaders are required to organize a formal admission interview with their future PhD students if recruited via track II. The interview should be conducted in presence of at least one other PI or faculty member and the supervisor should fill out a short interview protocol (download template).

* Please do not apply via the Life Science Zurich Graduate School online system if you have already secured a PhD position with a group leader. In this case, please follow the instructions for track II admissions.


If the candidate and the future supervisor have both agreed on the PhD research project and a position is provided by the supervisor, the registration process can be started.

1) Registration for the ZNZ PhD Program in Neuroscience

a) Fill out the registration form for the ZNZ PhD Program. 

b) Provide proof of admission to the Life Science Zurich Graduate School (Track I) or an admission interview protocol (Track II).

Both documents have to be submitted together to the ZNZ office, UZH Irchel Campus, Y17 H03, Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zurich.

2) Matriculation as a PhD student at UZH or ETH

In addition to the registration at the ZNZ office (see above), the prospective PhD student must also matriculate at the University of Zurich or ETH Zurich, depending on the PhD supervisor’s affiliation.

Important: Please note that your supervisor’s group will deal with your employment contract and the necessary HR and visa formalities but it is your responsibility to register in parallel as a PhD student at either UZH or ETH. Permits for foreign PhD students are linked to the registration at a Swiss University, students should therefore start the registration process early on.

Here is a summary of the registration processes for PhD students at UZH and ETH:

a) Registering as a PhD Student at the University of Zurich >>

b) Registering as a PhD Student at ETH Zurich >>

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