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How To Graduate

Graduating can be a time-consuming process, especially regarding your dealings with the bureaucracy. This guide aims to help a bit by outlining the steps you may expect.

Note: The following was heavily edited by people from the Physics dept., but it should apply to ICS as well.

Links, Rules, Checklists and Infos:


  • Main MNF info page: ger eng (check both, english version is not always up to date..)
  • MNF Fact sheet PhD Defense: ger, pdf eng, pdf
  • Template PhD titlepage pdf

Official Rules / Reglemente:

Persons involved

  • The author (You)
  • Supervisor / Betreuer: Person that actually cares about you.
  • Chair (responsible faculty member of the PhD committee) / Vorsitz: Person allowed to confer a PhD list of people (supervisor and chair might be the same person)
  • PhD committee: Supervisor, chair and possibly other profs on the sheet “Meldung der Mitglieder des Promotionskommiittteeessss” that you / your supervisor handed in at the beginning of your PhD
  • External Referee / Externer Gutachter (one or two)
  • Zirkulationskreis (four MNF Profs.)


  • MNF: Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultaet = Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (to which the ICS is attached).
  • UZH: Universitaet Zurich = University of Zurich
  • ZB: Zentralbibliothek = University Library

Steps to get your degree

1. write thesis

  • Use the template titlepage layout, it's mandatory!! A quick latex template is here
  • make sure you have a “Zusammenfassung” in German (mandatory, in German, about a page) and a summary in english (if you are writing in english you can add an english one), put if right after the title page, in front of the TOC.

2. Assemble Promotionskommitee (should be done by Supervisor)

:!: max 3 months, min 6 weeks + 1 day before [DateOfdefense] :!:

3a. Hand in thesis draft to supervisor

  • [supervisor] organize the assessment / Gutachten, you need to get a External Referee for that.
  • [supervisor] writes one assessment
  • [external referee] writes one assessment
  • –> Those two assessments / Gutachten have to be back (can be per email) approx. 4 weeks before [DateOfDefense]; for the circulation.
  • –> Those two assessments / Gutachten have to be present at [DateOfDefense] in original form with signatures! (oldschool mail for example)

3b register online; at least 6 weeks + 1 day before [DateofDefense]

(this is the only actual hard deadline, the online form simply won't let you book your date any more if you are too late)

for the registration you will need:

  • the date of defense (>6weeks and < 3 months from now)
  • your student number
  • a complete draft of thesis as pdf
  • a max 50 words summary (ger or eng)

You will get an email back with a form to fill in and hand in to the Dekanat. More about that in point 4.

3c Send Thesis Title to Regina / Suzanne?? (ICS) / Carmelina (PHY)

You should also book a room! Maybe even earlier..

  • For PHY, thats done by carmelina, first consult Seminar Schedule for free slots.
  • For ICS: FIXME ask someone who knows and then write it here.

4. Paper based application form to sign

After you have done 3b, you will get an email within a few days (usually the next day), with your application form. You have to return this form within a few days, max 1 week after you subscribed online with the following documents:

  • print out the form “Anmeldung zur Promotion / Registration for Doctorate Examination” and sign it and get is signed by the chair.
  • a copy of your passport / id card
  • a copy of your cv (which is attached to your thesis anyway, extract those pages; not sure if really mandatory, but just do it)
  • a list of your credit points obtained (reminder, have to be >=12 in total; in detail for PHY: >=6 from lectures, >= 6 from conferences, 1pnt per 1 week of conference participation, 1 additional pnt for a talk / poster, 2 points for a summer school; for ICS: FIXME put in something here..) AND get it signed by your supervisor and chair.
  • list your participation in teaching duties (reminder, has to be >100h in total) AND get it signed by your chair and supervisor
  • copy of the title page of your thesis
  • a sheet stating that a) you fulfilled all conditions and additional requirements if you got some of those during registration for PhD, or b) you had no additional requirements to fulfil.
  • a sheet stating your planned date of the exam.

RafiK made LO tempaltes for those

:!: 4 weeks before [DateOfDefense] the latest (maybe 3 are ok as well?) :!:

5. Internal Circulation

  • [supervisor] find 4 internal persons (from MNF??) for the internal circulation of the thesis. (those people shouldn't be involved otherwise with the work)
  • [supervisor] Reports have to be back!!! PHY: Hand in to Carmelina; ICS: FIXME ???
  • [author] print your your thesis, bind it (PHY: can be done in the office of Titiano; ICS:???) and hand it in for internal circulation (PHY: to Carmelina, ICS: ???)
  • [author] organise the apero! (ICS&PHY: champagne is reimbursed, everything else is on you)

6. "The best thesis defense is a good thesis offense"

  • public talk, 45min +-5min. rule of thumb: 15min for laymen, 15min for your friends from the masters, 15min for experts in the field.
  • public questions, few minutes
  • closed examination; ca. 30min-60min, can vary a lot

After the defense:

  • [supervisor/chair] hand in final thesis and protocol of the exam to the Studiendekanat

You should get a (regular) mail with a confirmation of you completing the PhD, but you are NOT allowed to use the title yet! You should also get a red card, that you need to hand in your thesis at the Central Library

7. After Your Defense

:!: You need to remain registered as a student (and pay tuition) at the UZH until you have received your final diploma in the mail. :!:

  1. A few weeks after your defence, the MNF will issue a certificate stating that you have passed your PhD defence, but that you have not been officially awarded the PhD degree yet. Your may need this for job applications. You may have to request this from Regina.
  2. Some longer time after your defence, the professors of the MNF will meet and make the final decision on whether you have earned your PhD. This usually happens every month.
  3. Afterwards, you will receive an invitation to the official graduation ceremony. This usually happens in June and December.
  4. You will be sent a little red card and instructions. With that card, you will have to deliver the final (printed and electronic) versions of the thesis to the ZB. see below for details.
  5. The library will forward one copy of the dissertation to your supervisor who has to sign off on this copy.
  6. Once your supervisor has signed off, the UZH/MNF will issue your diploma. At this point, you will need to provide them with a postal address where they will send the papers. This can take up to twelve weeks.

final versions for central library

there are several options:

  1. 16 hard copies
  2. 2 hard copies and 17 electronic form (DVD)
  3. 3 hard copies and 1 electronic form internet compatible

electronic: 3 files: diss.pdf, abstract.pdf, abstract.txt (use those filenames, you can extract the abstract.pdf from the diss.pdf, both languages, and create a text only version of both in abstract.txt)

There are many rules and restrictions to obey for the printed version and the DVD. You have to put a A5 sticker version of your title page onto the binded version, the DVD have to be labelled correctly… The “printing house” below de Dekanat knows all the rules. You can just print your thesis on a institute printer, assemble the relevant electronic files and bring them the 3 copies and they make the rest, for like 100 SFr.

8. Call yourself Dr. when booking flight tickets

Only from now on you are officially allowed to carry the title.

graduatephd.txt · Last modified: 2017/10/04 13:48 by Rafael Kueng