If you are aiming for a PhD in biological sciences, Basel and in particular the Biozentrum of the University of Basel are a great choice for your studies! Basel offers a renowned environment for biology research with major academic institutions and industrial research institutes. Apart from that, Basel is rich in culture and, being located in North-Western Switzerland directly bordering to France and Germany, an excellent starting point to explore Switzerland and the neighboring countries. The Biozentrum provides an outstanding international research environment for Molecular Biology studies with five focal areas (Infection Biology, Growth and Development, Neurobiology, Structural Biology & Biophysicsand Computational and Systems Biology).
How to apply for a PhD position
There are two possibilities to apply for a PhD position at the Biozentrum. First, you can directly contact the group leaders who work at the Biozentrum. For detailed information about research that is performed here, you can check the Biozentrum website:
Also have a look at the publicly announced open position at the Biozentrum, they also include PhD positions.
Alternatively, you can apply for a prestigious PhD scholarship that is founded by the Werner Siemens Foundation and still partially paid by it. In addition to the financial support (which includes an extra budget for conferences, personal equipment, books, etc.) this fellowship offers the advantage of lab rotations during the first year of your PhD, followed by a student-based selection of the research group for your PhD. This allows you to choose your research group more easily if you are uncertain which project to follow. For more information refer to the official website of the Fellowship for Excellence program:
General PhD guidelines
PhD students at the Biozentrum usually receive their PhD degree from the University of Basel. The University website gives detailed information about the requirements and regulations for PhD studies in Basel:
In order to graduate students have to adhere to certain rules defined by the Faculty of Science…
… as well as to the regulations of the Biozentrum:
These documents can also be found on the official Biozentrum website.
According to these guidelines every PhD student must select a PhD Thesis Advisory Committee (PAC) that supports and monitors the progress of his/her research. Meeting with the PAC has to annually take place beginning at 1 year after starting the PhD. Moreover, every PhD student has to graduate within 4 years. A total of 18 credit points have to be obtained from lectures, conferences, retreats and courses. Out of these 18 points, a minimum of 6 points have to be obtained from the graduate teaching program.
How to write the annual thesis progress report
The annual progress report summarizes the work you have done over the past year. It should include a short introduction, your results – including unresolved issues, technical problems and open questions -, and a conclusion/summary, plus an outlook of how you are going to continue your work. The length of the report should be about two pages or more, if necessary. If you are in doubt about the format, talk to your PAC members (see above), or to the PhD program administrator Angie Klarer.
The progress report should be submitted to all committee members at least 1 week before the thesis committee meeting, so that they have time to prepare for the meeting. After you have presented and discussed your work with your committee, the chair of the committee writes a short summary protocol, which is signed by all members of the committee. A copy of this protocol needs to be deposited at the office of PhD program administrator. Don’t forget to print out the protocol form and bring it to the meeting.
How to prepare for the annual PhD Committee meeting
The annual PhD Committee Meeting is mandatory for all PhD students. It is an opportunity for you to receive scientific and personal support from an expert committee. To make it efficient and beneficial you should follow the guidelines accepted by the PhD program coordinator the director of the Biozentrum. You can find them here:
How to register for courses and obtain credit points
During the course of your PhD you have to acquire 18 credit points from lectures, courses and other activities which allow the graduation from the University of Basel. At least 6 of these credit points have to be gathered from lectures of the graduate teaching program. Find your courses of interest in the online course directory, and via transferring them to your watchlist you can sign up via the online services website.
The online services website also serves as a general information hub, where you can see how many credit points you already received and from where, you can create learning contracts and check/update HR information like residential address, bank account number or general salary information.
Problems during your PhD?
PhD Students, who are faced with an issue or concerns which they cannot solve with their supervisor or PAC (PhD Advisory Committee), can bring their problem to the official Unibasel Ombuds-Office or directly to the responsible person at the Biozentrum, Prof. Christoph Handschin.
The other Group Leaders of the Biozentrum are also available for students, who want to speak with someone about sensitive issues or concerns, such as gender specific matters, for a confidential talk.
FAQs for newcomers to Basel
Do I need my MSc when I submit my application?
You don’t need your MSc at the time of application. But you must have completed your studies and have received your MSc degree or equivalent at the time, when you start your PhD studies at the University of Basel.
Are the lectures in English or in German?
The medium of all instruction is English. Standard language of communication in laboratories is English, too.
The salary of around CHF 3500.- netto is according to standards of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Tuition fees are CHF 350.- per semester. As student you can benefit from the student discounts that are offered in most public facilities like museums or swimming pools, but a ticket for public transport is not included.
Health insurance coverage for doctoral students is obligatory, as it is for all people working/living in Switzerland. You can compare different insurances on the web: www.comparis.ch.
Accidents that occur at work are covered by the university. Additionally, a liability and a household insurance are recommended. These insurances are generally offered in combination.
Support of monthly costs for health insurance from the City of Basel
People with a low income (we count to these people) can get a little (significant) help from the Stadt Basel for the „Grundversicherung“. You can apply for this „Prämienverbilligung“ by sending them your „Antragsformular für Prämienverbilligung“. Find additional information like calculation of how much subsidies you will get here.
Let a lab member help you to translate and fill out the form.
As Basel is located close to the French and German borders, students at the Biozentrum have the opportunity to live within Basel, but also in France or Germany. These options have several advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you decide to live in Switzerland, administrative matters are easier to handle, the health insurance can be cheaper and, obviously, your way to work is shorter. In contrast, if you prefer to live in Germany or France, living costs are reduced, but administrative matters are more difficult to arrange and your way to work takes about 20 minutes (by bike) to an hour.
Housing in Basel
Rent for an apartment or a flat for a single person in Basel starts at approx. 600 – 700 CHF per month. Here are some websites that might help you find an apartment or a shared flat:
Living costs in Basel
The estimated costs of living in Basel are approx. 1100-1300 CHF minimum per month for a single person (living expenses and health insurance).
Student representatives: https://phdstudents.biozentrum.unibas.ch/ (for all questions regarding PhD student life at the Biozentrum)
* Biozentrum: http://www.biozentrum.unibas.ch/
* University of Basel: http://www.unibas.ch/
* PhD Fellowship Program: http://www.biozentrum.unibas.ch/education/phd/fellowship-wsf/
* PhD students: https://phdstudents.biozentrum.unibas.ch/
* PostDoc Information: https://www.biozentrum.unibas.ch/postdoc/