Postgraduate education

Doctorate in medical science "MD-PhD"

General information

This doctorate is intended for candidates holding a diploma in human medicine or dental medicine. It is awarded by the Faculty of medicine following the conclusion of a research project in clinical, fundamental or dental medicine that lasts generally three years.

The Doctorate in medical science "MD-PhD" is not to be confused with the Doctorate in science, specialisation in biology (PhD), which is awarded by the Faculty of science.

The Doctorate in medical science does not lead automatically to a Doctorate in medicine. These two doctorates are distinct from one another, each one involving different research activities, the writing of a different thesis and a separate registration procedure.


Candidates applying for the Doctorate in medical science must have a diploma in human medicine or in dental medicine awarded by a Swiss or a foreign university. Admission to this programme is decided by the Faculty of medicine with regards to the formal admission and registration conditions and by the scientific committee of the "MD-PhD".

The Doctorate in medical science is composed of two mains parts:

  1. Theoretical training in the form of modules and research colloquiums;
  2. Achievement of an original research project.

Both parts of the training are subject to an evaluation.

  1. Theoretical training (modules) : Knowledge is assessed by the persons in charge of the teachings and participation in the research colloquiums is validated by the organisers of the colloquiums.
  2. Thesis work:
  • The personal work is assessed by the thesis committee on the basis of a report provided by the thesis director;
  • Oral examination;
  • The thesis manuscript is assessed by the thesis jury;
  • The thesis is defended in public.

Generally speaking, the timeframe allowed for carrying out this doctorate is of six semesters and the research work is conducted within one of the departments of the Faculty of medicine of the University of Geneva.

Regulations (in French only)

Réglement "MD-PhD" Sciences médicales

  • The Swiss National Research Foundation (FNRS) offers MD-PhD scholarships to physicians appyling for a doctorate in neuroscience, for a PhD in medical science ("MD-PhD") or in science (MD/PhD).
  • Scholarship applicants may be occupying a position of research assistant-doctor. In this case, remuneration will amount to 70 % of a clinical assistant-doctor position.
  • It is also possible to obtain an MD/PhD scholarship for a three year period within the framework of the federal programme funded by various foundations. Applications must be undertaken with the authorisation of the thesis director and of the MD/PhD committee and must include a research project. Seven to eight scholarships are awarded each year to Swiss medical faculties.
  • In both cases of FNRS funding, the amount awarded consists of approximately 60'000 Swiss francs.
  • Other grants can be made available by the Faculty of medicine of Geneva for laboratory internships abroad lasting a few weeks as well as for participation in congresses.

To whom should one apply for funding?

Pre Sophie De Seigneux

Fonds national suisse - Bourses MD-PhD 

Finding a host group

  • Check out the web pages of the Faculty of medicine related to faculty departments and fundamental, clinical and dental research;
  • Contact the group leader or the head of department whose research thematic one is interested in and check whether it is possible to undertake a research project within their group.

Submitting an application file

The candidate who has found a host group and a thesis supervisor may then submit an application file to the scientific committee of the doctorate in medical science "MD-PhD". The committee will rule upon admission to the doctorate. The application file must contain:

  • a motivation letter with career plan (max 2 pages)
  • a CV + list of publications
  • a copy of the diploma of medicine
  • UE/AELE diploma : attestation of the Federal Commission MEBEKO assessing the equivalence with the Swiss diploma *
  • the title and description of the research project
  • a certificate written by the chosen thesis supervisor guaranteeing salary cover and research costs


Non UE/AELE diploma:

  • a motivation letter with career plan (max 2 pages)
  • a summary of the research project (max. 3 pages)
  • a CV + list of publications
  • a copy of the final examination of medicine
  • the full list of exams you passed during your MD program
  • the marks received
  • the number of teaching hours per each topic
  • A dated and signed letter (handwritten signature) indicating "I note that obtaining the MD-PhD title, which is an academic title only, will not give me official recognition of my foreign diploma and will not allow me to practice as an intern in a service of the University Hospitals of Geneva or any other Swiss medical institution or in liberal practice in Switzerland. For obtaining a federal diploma I will refer to the requirements applied by the MEBEKO Medical Professions Commission."
  • a certificate of registration in the MEBEKO medical professions register
  • a letter from the thesis director indicating:

-  that he accepts the candidate under his direction for the MD-PhD thesis

-  the title of the thesis

-  the composition of the thesis committee

- that a salary is guaranteed for the duration of the thesis

Registration within programme

When the candidate has been accepted within the doctorate in medical science programme:

  • He/she will receive a certificate from the scientific committee and will proceed to registering with the students' secretariat of the Faculty of medicine.
  • A thesis committee is constituted on the proposal of the thesis supervisor and must be approved by the scientific committee.

End of thesis

When the thesis is coming to a close:

  • The thesis committee assesses the personal work of the doctorate student within the framework of the research project, on the basis of the report provided by the thesis supervisor.
  • If this personal work is considered satisfactory, the doctorate student submits a thesis manuscript project to the thesis committee.
  • Two months at the earliest after submission of this project, an oral examination is conducted by the thesis committee.
  • If this examination is successful, the thesis supervisor submits the thesis manuscript to the scientific committee together with a report and a proposal as to the composition of the thesis jury.
  • The thesis jury receives the manuscript and provides a report.
  • If the report is satisfactory, a date for the defence of the thesis can be agreed upon between the scientific committee and the thesis jury.
  • Once the modifications requested by the jury have been brought to the manuscript, the candidate can undergo the public defence of thesis.

Awarding the diploma

  • Once all these conditions have been fulfilled, the scientific committee rules on the attribution of the diploma.
  • The title of the diploma is: "Doctorate in medical science of the Faculty of medicine ("MD-PhD").