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Supervision: other possibilities

In Switzerland, the thesis supervisor plays a dominant role in the supervision of doctoral students. However there are training programmes available, such as compulsory doctoral schools in certain disciplines and EPFL or optional doctoral programmes, for example those offered by the University Conference of Western Switzerland (CUSO).

There is also a wide range of courses, workshops and seminars on specific topics that are offered specially to doctoral students. Also, in parallel with the thesis supervision by the thesis supervisor, other scientists often take part officially or informally in the supervision of doctoral students.

The most recent findings of the Système d'information universitaire suisse and the Enquête 2007 auprès des personnes nouvellement diplômées (OFS, 2010, Document in French) show that communication and social skills are enhanced by attending one or more training courses.

Supervision by several professors, exchanges of information between doctoral students and participation in meetings with scientific experts also strengthen the ability to present research results in public as well as the ability to communicate complex ideas in more than one language.

These transferable skills, along with others acquired in the course of doctoral studies, are important in the context of an academic career and represent significant assets in the professional world outside academia.

To maximise your chances, it’s therefore better not to rely only on the support of the thesis supervisor during your doctorate, but to seize all available opportunities right from the start, whether formal (doctoral programmes, courses, workshops) or informal (exchanges between peers and colleagues).

A summary of resources offered in French-speaking Switzerland is available here.