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Recruiting and hiring PhD students

It is essential that you CONTACT YOUR PROGRAM COORDINATOR as soon as you plan to hire a student.

  • There are two ways of hiring: through a collective international open call or through an individual ad hoc interview. No student can join the school without having been interviewed by members of the PhD School.

  • The PhD School coordinators organise open calls (see below), can assist with ad hoc interviews, add new students to the PSLS database, initiate the ‘attestation de direction de thèse’ and help with the enrolment process (‘immatriculation’ – website available in French and English).

    The PhD School does NOT deal with assistant contracts – please see with HR and the administrative assistant of your department (or equivalent).

  • PhD students may start year-round; there are no deadlines for enrolment to a doctoral degree. Open calls are twice a year (see below). You may organise an ad hoc interview (see below) any time you like.

  • The PhD school organises two calls per year (Summer call, Winter call). The call deadlines are on April 15th and November 15th, 23:59 CET. Virtual interviews take place in weeks 1 or 2 (Winter Call) and weeks 20 or 21 (Summer Call). On-site visits take place end of January/early February (Winter Call) and end of May / early June (Summer Call). Interview days (3 consecutive days, Monday – Wednesday) are usually taking place outside the semester, in week 5 or 6 and week 26 or 27. Candidates can apply to all 6 programs, and PIs from all 6 programs can recruit through a call. Coordinators invite PIs to join a call about a month before the call closes. The preselection (recruiting PIs) and recommendation (non-recruiting PIs needed to give an unbiased feedback on each candidate) committees meet approximately ten to fifteen days after the call deadline to shortlist those candidates who will be invited.

  • Please inform your program coordinator with the name and email of your candidate, your ad hoc date, and your ad hoc committee (see below).

    Your coordinator will ask the candidate to complete an ad hoc dossier and send it to the committee members (see rules below).

    After the interview, please send the signed ad hoc report to your program director for approval (unless they were present at the interview), then to the program coordinator.

  • Ad hoc committees are composed of the full member or associate member wishing to recruit a doctoral student to their research group, and of at least two full members of the program, one of whom cannot belong to the department (or equivalent) of the recruiting member. One of the two members can be the program director, or a substitute designated by the program director him/herself. One or more external experts can be added.

    The composition of the ad hoc committee must be evaluated and validated by the program director.

  • The interview should follow the same procedures as the selection process during an open call: a scientific presentation (15 minutes) by the candidate, followed by questions & answers (15-30 minutes).

  • Ad hoc committees must be called to evaluate any candidate (including UNIGE Master students) outside open calls. The ad hoc committee serves as equivalence commission and helps advise the program director on the equivalence of the candidate’s diplomas.

    Ad hoc interviews may be done by videoconference if required.

    The ad hoc interview should happen before the ‘attestation de direction de thèse’ is established (i.e. before the candidate is officially accepted into the PhD School and the Faculty). The thesis start date cannot predate the ad hoc interview date.

    Ideally, any person hired on an assistant contract and whom you wish to enrol as a PhD student should have an ad hoc interview within 3 months of starting in the lab. If a candidate fails the ad hoc interview, he or she cannot take it again.

  • UNIGE Master students must pass an ad hoc interview. Because the regulations differ between Master thesis exams and ad hoc interviews, you unfortunately cannot combine the two.

    Please notify the program coordinator well before the Master thesis defence to avoid exmatriculation of your student.

  • You will receive a link to complete the ‘attestation de direction de thèse’ (thesis supervision certificate) as soon as the program coordinator has added your student to the PSLS database. The ‘attestation de direction de thèse’ serves as acceptance letter to the PhD School and to the Faculty. This document is based on the regulations of the Doctoral School and is an absolute requirement for enrolment to the University. Admissions will not accept any letters of supervision that differ from the PSLS template and that do not bear the signature of the Dean’s office.

  • Yes, you may if you are a member of the Faculty of Science. The diploma will differ; students in the PhD School of Life Sciences receive a ‘PhD in Life Sciences’ / ‘doctorat ès sciences en Sciences de la vie’; students outside the School receive a PhD / ‘doctorat ès sciences’. If you opt for the PhD School, note that no candidate can be enrolled in the PhD School without having passed either an open call interview or an ad hoc interview.

    If you have privately interviewed a candidate, please get in touch with the program coordinator for the next steps (ad hoc interview, attestation de direction de thèse).

  • The contract start date and thesis start date should be identical. If you have hired a student on an assistant contract and decide to do an ad hoc interview at a later point, the thesis start date cannot be backdated to the contract start date. The earliest thesis start date possible is the ad hoc interview/call date.

  • In principle, the mandatory first year salary should be at ‘minimum vital’ level required by the OCP (or as defined by the HR & legal departments). Once the student has successfully passed the TAC (at the latest), the salary must be equivalent to the candoc salary proposed by the SNSF.