Doctorate itinerary

A good start

If you are planning to do a thesis at the University of Geneva and would like to know whether it is really for you, then visit the page Doing a thesis in Geneva - Overview.

On this page you'll also find links to each Faculty, which will give you a wealth of information, particularly administrative information, on the specificities of doing a thesis in Geneva.


On the Welcome Centre website, you will find valuable information to help you prepare for your arrival and installation in Geneva, including: how to find accommodation, organise your move, information on insurance (some of which is compulsory), means of transport in Geneva and Switzerland, nurseries/schools for your children, French language courses for the university community members, and more. In addition, if you have any particular needs, a Welcome Centre correspondent can answer your questions and help you with the administrative formalities.

In addition, in 2023, the Service Egalité & Diversité, in collaboration with other departments, created a Parentalité page that provides a wealth of information for parents and future parents working at the UNIGE.

The Academic Mobility Service provides an estimate of the cost of living in Geneva for students. This estimate must be adapted to the personal situation of the doctoral candidate. For example, accommodation for a single person in Geneva generally costs at least CHF 1,000 per month. The Welcome Centre at the University of Geneva provides information to help future employees settle in the Geneva region.

The Swiss Confederation also provides the Index of Price Levels in International Comparison (38 European countries).

If you are from another country, you can also use cost-of-living comparisons here .


Work permits for doctoral student assistants

Not all doctoral students are employed at the UNIGE as doctoral assistants. However, this is the case for the majority of doctoral students. Here are a few guidelines for future doctoral assistants, particularly those coming to Switzerland from abroad.

For future doctoral assistants, your faculty must help you obtain a residence permit (also known as a "work permit") before you arrive in Switzerland. You must enter Switzerland with this residence permit.

You are strongly advised not to arrive in Switzerland with a residence permit without activity or with a student permit. This is because the steps taken by your faculty to obtain a work permit for a non-EU/EFTA national will take at least 3 months after your arrival, during which time you will not be entitled to work as a doctoral assistant and will have difficulty opening a bank account, taking out insurance or renting accommodation.

If you are granted a work permit after three months and start working as a doctoral assistant when the permit is granted, your first salary will not arrive until the end of that month at the earliest, i.e. at least 4 months after your arrival in Switzerland.

It's also important to know that, in order to be granted a flat, the Régies often require 3 months' worth of salary statements. Under these conditions, you will not be eligible for a lease until seven months after your arrival in Switzerland at the earliest.

In addition, the granting of a work permit (residence permit with activity) is never guaranteed, even once you are on Swiss territory with a residence permit without activity or with a student permit.

It is therefore essential for doctoral assistants to have obtained a residence permit with work permit (also known as a "work permit") before arriving in Switzerland.


Working conditions for doctoral student assistants

Doctoral assistant contracts are either full-time, i.e. 100% (40 hours/week) or part-time, generally 70% (28 hours/week, art. 30 al.1 RPers). Employment contracts generally stipulate that a minimum of 40% of this time must be devoted to the doctoral student's thesis work (i.e. 16 hours per week for a 100% contract and around 11 hours per week for a 70% contract).

The net salary in the first year is around CHF 4,000 for a 100% contract and CHF 2,929 for a 70% contract. It is essential to find out what you need before arriving in Switzerland, bearing in mind that the cost of living is at least CHF 2,000 per month.

The doctoral assistant contract is subject to Swiss employment law. Doctoral assistants are part of the body of teaching and research staff and are governed by the Personnel Regulations, which stipulate, among other things, their holiday entitlement (6 weeks for full-time contracts) and other leave entitlements.


You will also need to register with the Registrar's Office. Further information can be obtained from the Welcome Center and, if you are coming with a scholarship, from Academic Mobility Service.

You can find all the information you need on the Doc.Mobility page.

PhD Code


Preparing your registration file (assistants from non-EU countries before the start of the thesis).


If you are experiencing difficulties with registration or have questions about the admission/registration procedure: here or there.


Before registering for a doctorate, you may need to get in touch with one of the academic advisers (the pages also mention those in charge of doctoral students):



Applying for or renewing a work/residence permit (assistant / post-doctoral researcher).


The Division de la Formation et des Etudiants (DIFE) offers a wide range of training and support services on the Campus Life page. Here you will find information on the sports and cultural activities offered by the University.

The Welcome Centre can help you with practical matters (accommodation, insurance, crèche, etc.).


The University of Geneva offers a wide range of cross-disciplinary skills courses: 


In addition, the transversal generic skills programme proposed by CUSO:

Conférence universitaire de Suisse Occidentale