The doctoral program in ecology and evolution (DPEE) offers PhD students from the five universities of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel the opportunity to follow activities in addition to their PhD research. These activities aim at allowing doctoral students to learn new skills and obtain training in areas that will improve their career development as a research scientist in ecology and evolutionary biology. The DPEE aims to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and scientific methods through seminars and workshops to which foreign experts will be invited. The doctoral program will also allow doctoral students to improve their aptitude for communication about their research, and offers a possibility to improve scientific English. Furthermore, the program encourages the doctoral students to acquire experience in the organization of their own scientific events (congress, seminars) and to establish networks of collaboration.


Any person who is enrolled as a PhD student in one of the five participating universities and is conducting his/her research within one of the participating research groups is, in principal, eligible to join the program. A doctoral student wishing to join the program must register to participate in the doctoral program. It is advisable that the PhD student discusses this with his/her supervisor before registering for the program. PhD students who have already started their PhD can join the program if they have not completed more than 2 years of their PhD studies.

Please note that a person who is not registered as a PhD student and working in one of the participating research groups cannot join the program. The coordination office of the DPEE does not handle any requests for registration as a PhD student or requests for funding such as grants for conducting a PhD (see point 7 below).


The doctoral program comprises organized activities that PhD students must follow in order to obtain a number of credits (ECTS). These activities are divided into 3 categories: scientific knowledge, methodological improvement, acquisition and reinforcement of skills. Each PhD student has to collect a minimum of 12 credits (ECTS) over a time period of three years. Credits will be obtained by participating in activities. Students have to acquire at least 2 ECTS for each one of the three sections. Doctoral students must acquire at least 3 ECTS each year. At least 6 ECTS must come from activities organized by the DPEE.

PhD students also need to present their own research project in another affiliated university than that where they are enrolled, before the end of the 3rd year. This activity is compulsory and is credited 1 ECTS.

If in the first year of the program there are not enough creditable activities organized by the doctoral program that a doctoral student is able to attend then this number of credits can be reduced. Flexibility will also apply when, for example, fieldwork or other constraints such as teaching obligations may prevent a student from following some activities.


12 ECTS over 3 years time


At least 3 ECTS per year






of Skills


The remaining ECTS can be obtained by participating in activities entitled "free choice". Free choice: any activities recognized by the DPEE (i.e. some of the activities of the 3ème cycle or NCCR "plant survival"), and participation to national and international congresses. Activities not mentioned in the website can still be recognized. The request of recognition of an activity must be submitted to the coordination office of the doctoral program.

Doctoral students should note that 12 ECTS is a minimum requirement. The total number of ECTS is intentionally low because students should not attend activities because they need ECTS, but because they are interested in learning new things and they can get ECTS as an extra. Therefore, students are highly encouraged to collect more than 12 ECTS.

PhD students from Geneva, Bern and Fribourg, who join the program after their first year of enrolment as a PhD student, will require a minimum of 8 ECTS in order to complete the program. Of these 8 ECTS, at least 2 should be from each of the 3 categories and 6 from activities of the ee doctoral program.
For students from Lausanne and Neuchâtel, where there is already a requirement from the university doctoral school that doctoral students acquire credits, ECTS obtained before starting the ee program will be recognized. These doctoral students should acquire 12 ECTS in total. Of these 12 ECTS, at least 2 should be from each of the 3 categories.
This is only possible for PhD students who enrolled as a PhD student in their university before the doctoral program officially existed (i.e., before 1 January 2007).

A doctoral student who successfully obtains the required number of ECTS credits with at least the minimum number of credits from each of the 3 different categories will then be eligible to receive an attestation from the doctoral program stating that they have successfully completed the Inter-university doctoral program in ecology and evolution, the number of ECTS acquired and the list of the activities attended. This attestation is only issued at the end of the PhD studies after they have successfully defended their PhD in one of the five participating universities.



The official language for all courses and activities is English.

Each activity that is either arranged or approved by the DPEE is listed and described on the website of the program. PhD students must register on line for the courses and activities. Registrations will be handled by the DPEE office. A number of credits or ECTS is obtained by participating in an activity that is organized or approved by the doctoral program. For a full definition of the ECTS credit system see the CRUS website. The doctoral program coordination office verifies the accreditation of PhD students for any activities in which they have participated. Each doctoral student is evaluated for each activity by the main organizer (usually a professor) of a given activity in order to assign credits and signed accreditation forms must be submitted to the coordination office for accreditation. Students should send a copy of the participation certificate and keep the original of all their certificates.



PhD students who have enrolled in the DPEE can obtain credits for activities organized by other doctoral programs as long as the activity has been approved by the coordination office. In principal, PhD students can also enroll in more than one doctoral program, as long as they satisfy the requirements for each program. In this case, at least 6 ECTS must be obtained from the DPEE.


The DPEE obtains it's main funding from the Conférence universitaire de Suisse Occidentale (CUSO see Additional financial support is provided by the 5 participating universities. This funding is used for the organization of activities and reimbursing travel and accommodation costs of experts and teaching staff. PhD students who are enrolled in the DPEE can also be reimbursed for travel costs, accommodation and meals for attending activities that are organized by the DPEE. Costs for attending other activities for which credits can be obtained, and that are not organized by the doctoral program, cannot be reimbursed by funding from the program. For example, a doctoral student can obtain 1 ECTS by attending a conference and presenting his/her research work. Such an activity is not organized by the doctoral school itself and costs for participating in such an activity cannot be reimbursed by this doctoral program. The reimbursement of costs for teaching staff, experts or PhD students is given strictly on adherence to CUSO regulations and a detailed explanation of the reimbursement regulations can be seen in the website (reimbursement).



The role of the coordination committee is to approve the regulations and directives governing the doctoral program. Additionally, the coordination committee plans and approves each year's series of activities. The coordination committee will meet at least once a year. Suggestions for activities must be submitted to the coordination office of the doctoral program or to a coordination committee member before mid-June of the year preceding that in which the activity will occur. The coordination committee is composed of 1 representative for each of the 5 universities, the coordinator of the program and one PhD student. The nomination of a scientific representative for a given university should be decided democratically by the group leaders at that university; similarly, the nomination of the representative student should be decided by all PhD students participating in the program.



It is important that potential applicants to the program, doctoral students who are in the program and doctoral student supervisors understand which parts of the administration of the doctoral degree is not administered by the coordination office of the DPEE.

  • The coordination office of the doctoral program does not handle any matters concerning inscription as a PhD student in any of the 5 participating universities. This is an administrative matter than is dealt with locally at each university by the immatriculation office and the doctoral student office. The coordination office of the doctoral program is not authorized to determine whether candidates are eligible to do a PhD.

  • The coordination office does not handle requests or administer any financial aspects relating to grants or subsidies for PhD students. PhD students who register for the DPEE must already be funded for the PhD studies by one of the research groups in one of the five participating universities. The doctoral program does not award research fellowships or stipends.

  • All PhD students must satisfy the requirements of their local university in order to obtain their PhD degree. This may mean that the student has to collect additional credits for activities that are not recognized by the DPEE. In addition, all matters relating to evaluation of the PhD student, either by an intermediate exam/evaluation and the final defence of their PhD dissertation is a matter administered by the local university where the PhD student is registered for their PhD degree.

  • The PhD degree is awarded by the university where the PhD student is registered. The DPEE does not award the PhD degree itself. The doctoral program does, however, award PhD students with an attestation that they have completed the inter-university doctoral program in ecology and evolution, as long as they have successfully defended their PhD research work and satisfied the requirements (in terms of minimum ECTS acquisition) for the doctoral program.