Frequently Asked Questions

Graduating a PhD degree at Department of Biomedical Engineering is governed by the regulations of the Medical Faculty of the University of Basel. Information about this regulation as well as a detailed time line of a PhD and all related documents can be found here.

Below, we also provide a list of frequently asked questions about the PhD Program of the DBE. However, if you need additional information, please ask your direct supervisor or feel free to contact Sara Freund, PhD Program Coordinator.

The regulation of the PhD is manily given by the Medical Faculty. The latest version of this regulation can be found here (in German) and an English translation of this document is available here. Please note that the English translation is not legally binding. For legal purposes, always refer to the original German document.

In addition to this general regulation, the DBE proposes the regulation of the PhD Program of the Biomedical Engineering. The latest version of this regulation can be found here (in English only). Please, note that this regulation does not replace the regulation of the faculty of medicine but complements it.

A full research proposal with Learning Agreement has to be submitted to the PhD Student Office of the Medical Faculty 6 months after admission. A template for the writing of this proposal is available on the page of the Medical Faculty.

In addition, PPHS (PhD Program Health Sciences) offers a course in writing a PhD thesis proposal in collaboration with supervisors. This training is open for all PhD students at the Medical Faculty and focuses on the structure and process of proposal development leading to a successful submission. More information can be found here

The PhD Agreement has to be updated yearly during the whole PhD period. A template for this Progress Report can be found as well on the page of the Medical Faculty.


In the PhD Program, each doctoral student is expected to achieve at least 18 ECTS (inclusding min.12 ECTS for lectures dedicated to Biomedical Engineering topics and min. 2 ECTS for Transferable Skills) to gain the graduation certificate. These ECTS can only be earned through courses such as seminars, transferable skills lectures, summer schools, etc. Conferences as well as supervision of master's students which are an important part of a PhD, can be listed in the progress report, but no ECTS can be earned for them.

Participation in the seminar series “Selected research topics in Biomedical Engineering” and a visit to at least one summer or winter school are mandatory before graduation.

According to the regulation of the Medical Faculty, the PhD Thesis should be written as a cumulative dissertation which consists of three peer-reviewed papers listing the candidate as firstauthor. The articles should be at least 8 pages long and have to be published in either journals or conference proceedings among the top 30% of the field. At the time of submission of the dissertation, at least one of the three articles must have been accepted for publication.

Note that the primary supervisor has the authority to decide on the minimum required length of articles (as a rule of the Medical Faculty, at least 8 pages) and to judge whether a journal meets the top 30% of the field. These points should be discussed directly between him/her and the PhD student.




Publications as shared first authors are possible and will be counted as regular (full) first author publications.Consequently, a candidate can include more than one publications as shared first author in his/her PhD thesis. However, candidates will have to explain the reasons for the shared first authorship(s) and to state explicitly in their PhD thesis the specific contributions of both first authors.

Please note, that the general rule that the same scientific work should not be used for more than one academic title applies also in this case. Thus, for the protection of the PhD-candidate, it is highly recommended that in case both "equally contributing first authors" intend to use the same research material for their PhD dissrtation, a thesis with more than the three minimally required publications should be planned.

Please find more information on shared first author papers on the homepage of the medical faculty.

The PhD defense is a public colloquium (60 minutes: 20 min presentation + 40 min questions/discussion). Traditionally the defense is followed by an Apéro.

A PhD-project is meant to be financed and supervised for the duration agreed on the doctoral agreement, once it is approved by the PhD-commission, even if a supervisor leaves Basel.

After 10 months the PhD-student and the supervisor meet for the first status review. During this meeting, they agree whether the PhD-project will be continued or not. If yes, the PhD student receives the confirmation in writing (e-mail) and the contract will be extended for another 3 years OR to the end of the duration of the project stated in the doctoral agreement (the prolongation shall be based on the approved funding by SNSF or third party. This 3-year contract procedure has been introduced at the University of Basel to give the PhD-students a certain security regarding finance, residence permits, and sometimes also rent contracts, especially if they come from abroad.

The funding and supervision of doctoral contracts is verified in advance by the PhD Board. The latter also make sure that the Department offers only PhD projects that can be effectively supervised and supported financially for a duration of 4 years.

PhD students with children can apply for support from the Family Service of the University of Basel. They can also benefit form the Get on Track funding for doctoral students at the University of Basel who are parents. This support options include temporary extra help with childcare, hiring an assistant, or individual options within the established range of offerings.