Qualified and motivated junior academics are the driving force of scholarship. UZH thus strives to attract the best up-and-coming scholars. That is why it supports early career researchers at all career levels and offers attractive employment conditions.
The Graduate Campus (GRC) of UZH creates cross-faculty offers for the support of Early Career Researchers, with a focus on postdocs. You will receive career development support through funding grants, interdisciplinary skills courses, and individual counseling, coaching, and networking opportunities.
An academic career can be divided into four phases: Doctoral research - postdoctoral research - assistant professorship - university or full professorship. At UZH, early career researchers can assume various roles when going through these career steps. In general, the individual phases are linked to some type of employment (for example, a research associate), but often only serve to designate a person's title or academic status.
Employment: Academic positions for doctoral researchers, postdocs and assistant professorships are by nature temporary. UZH is creating new permanent positions in teaching and research in 2023 as part of "Next Generation @ UZH": "Lecturers" and "Senior Lecturers" with a focus on either teaching or research. In this way, it opens up new, attractive career prospects for highly qualified early career researchers. A uniformly regulated minimum amount of time for their own research also improves the conditions for assistants and doctoral researchers.
Habilitation: The "habilitation" is an academic qualification which enables experienced academics to take on the role of “Privatdozent.” Upon achieving the habilitation, scholars are granted the authority to teach (venia legendi) at the faculty in question. The process of habilitation establishes whether or not a person is capable of representing their field of study in both research and teaching at the university level. The basis for the decision is generally a written work (the Habilitationsschrift) and a trial lecture or the fulfillment of other suitable requirements in the field in question. Because of the diverse nature of subjects at UZH faculties, the faculties themselves are responsible for drawing up their regulations on habilitations.
Contents and requirements: Writing a PhD thesis – independent and original scholarly work – forms the core part of doctoral research. The thesis can take the form of a monograph or consist of several publications on a single subject which have been published in scientific journals (a cumulative PhD thesis). You can find more information about the formal requirements in the doctoral program regulations for your subject area. As a general rule, however, the thesis should be of such scope and content that you can complete it within three years.
The required coursework serves to enhance subject-specific skills, but also goes toward developing transferable skills. All coursework will be recorded in your final transcript of records and Academic Record. Coursework requirements can be fulfilled by attending courses in your subject area, by visiting classes from the main pool of courses in transferable skills, or, in some cases by attending courses at another institution. Alongside the required coursework (including transferable skills), it is highly recommended that PhD candidates develop their teaching skills.
Supervision: Successful completion of a PhD is often determined by the quality of the supervision candidates receive. PhD candidates are generally no longer supervised by an individual, but rather by a team (the doctoral committee). The PhD candidate and the doctoral committee must sign a PhD agreement.
Individual PhD and PhD Programs: There are two different paths to a PhD at UZH: You can either earn an individual PhD or earn the degree as part of a PhD program. We recommend that you inform yourself early on about the common practices at the faculty where you will do your doctoral study and that you read the first steps to a PhD.
The postdoctoral phase is the stage between the conferral of your PhD and an appointment to an (assistant) professorship. The goal of this phase is to gain the scholarly qualifications and experience necessary to apply for a professorship.
Job Description: There is no set job description for postdoctoral work as postdocs carry out tasks in accordance to their subject field and the individual stage in their career. Nonetheless, all postdocs perform their own research and, if possible, give courses, supervise students and PhD candidates, and apply for external funds. If a habilitation is required for a professorship, this should completed during the postdoctoral phase.
Mobility: Working and performing research at a different university is a vital step in gaining varied and broad experience in a given area of study. The postdoctoral phase is the ideal time to move to another university or to go abroad for a research stay.
Assistant professors are junior scholars who teach and pursue their own research. They can apply for funding for their projects at, for example, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) or the European Union (EU). As members of a faculty at UZH, they have the right to award a PhD to doctoral candidates.
Temporary employment: Assistant professorships are temporary positions; the objective of this career phase is to qualify for a permanent professorship. Annual progress meetings with a member of the faculty board or an advisory committee help scholars to plan further career steps.
Tenure Track: At UZH, there is a distinction between a regular assistant professorship and a tenure-track assistant professorship. The tenure-track positions are reserved for highly qualified junior scholars if the faculty in question can offer a chair in the corresponding field. Procedures on granting tenure-track positions are determined by the individual faculties.
The appointment to a permanent professorship (called a “chair” (Lehrstuhl) at UZH) as an associate or full professor is the final phase in an academic career.
Scholars who are not pursuing an academic career can take on employment – generally as part of a project – as “wissenschaftliche Mitarbeitende” or academic associates. This type of employment is often a permanent position.
Scholars with a habilitation are authorized to use the title "Privatdozent".
Qualified scholars can find employment on a semester basis as a temporary instructor during any phase of their career.