Participation in the Earth Science Doctoral Programme provides a stimulating introduction to independent research on a scientific frontier.


An ETH doctorate provides an excellent educational preparation for a career in academic or industry research. A doctoral degree generally takes three to four years with support through a research assistantship.

All degrees, but particularly the Master and PhD Programmes allow people to study at other universities, either independently or through collaborations and joint programmes such as those at the University of Zurich or the IDEA League of RWTH Aachen and TU Delft. The Department of Earth Sciences also has extensive research and teaching connections with leading universities in North America and Asia, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, TIT in Tokyo and the National University of Singapore.

The formal prerequisite for initiating a doctorate is a Diploma, Master's or equivalent College Degree which includes an independent project equal to the Master's Thesis. To enter the doctorate the thematic basis of the Master is of secondary importance. Doctoral students in Earth Sciences are frequently, chemists, physicists or even mathematicians. The candidate's eligibility for one or more departmental research groups is the crucial factor which determines admittance to the doctorate. In order to determine the eligibility of the candidate for the doctorate a qualifying examination may be required, depending on the professional qualifications of the candidate.

Usually the doctoral students are hired as assistants, funded from research grants from government, industry or the ETH Zurich. Prospective doctoral students may participate in the writing of a research proposal during their Master's Degree by collaboration with a potential doctorate advisor, thereby participating in the project definition. More frequently, however, project positions are advertised internationally and candidates selected from the international talent pool. All doctoral students contribute to teaching or to the administration of the departmental laboratory infrastructures.

Formal ordinances concerning the doctorate are given in the ETH rules of procedure and the D-ERDW regulations. Further information or documents on doctoral studies are given by the doctoral administration.

Events for PhD students

PhD Retreat
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