NOW OPEN: Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships – PhD Scholarships 2021

NOW OPEN: Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships - PhD Scholarships 2021
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Application deadline: November 24, 2020

Swiss Government Excellence PhD Scholarships for foreign students are offered by The Swiss Government via the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students FCS

Where to study

University of Basel, University of Bern, University of Fribourg, University of Geneva, University of Lausanne, University of Lucerne, University of Neuchâtel, University of St. Gallen, University of Zurich, Università della Svizzera italiana

Federal institutes of technology
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), Research Institutes of the ETH Domain (PSI; WSL; EMPA; EAWAG), Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)


  • The scholarship is valid only for full-time PhD studies in Switzerland. It is not valid for mixed PhD programmes (part time in Switzerland and part time in another country).
  • “Cotutelle de these”: PhD students with an ongoing or planned doctoral project that is carried out within the framework of a formalized agreement between two universities (“cotutelle de thèse” cooperation between a Swiss and a foreign university) and under the joint direction of two supervisors are eligible for a 12 month research fellowship only.
  • Target group: Highly qualified postgraduate students (possessing the required degrees) from all academic fields.
  • Duration: 12 months (starting in September) prolongable up to 36 months based on the achieved academic results.


  • The scholarship amounts to a monthly payment of CHF 1’920.
  • For non-EU and non-EFTA grantees only: the FCS pays mandatory Swiss health insurance.
  • There are no family allowances.
  • No financial support for fieldwork or for conferences.
  • Scholarship holders from non-EU and non-EFTA countries receive a flight allowance (lump sum) for a ticket back to their country of origin (provided at the end of the scholarship).
  • Special CHF 300 housing allowance (paid once at the beginning of the scholarship).
  • One-year half-fare public transportation card.
  • Support services and various trips, dinners and sightseeing tours organized for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship holders.

Eligibility criteria and conditions

  • Master’s degree or equivalent university degree achieved before 31 July 2021 (degree certificate) recognised by the Swiss university. As a proof, the degree has to be submitted to the Federal Commission for Scholarships before the start of the scholarship.
  • Applicant’s date of birth after 31 December 1985.
  • Applicants must provide a letter from an academic host professor (including her/his short CV) at the chosen Swiss university confirming why she/he is willing to supervise and support the PhD thesis. Without such specific support letter, the application will be rejected.
  • If an assistant professor supports a candidature, a full professor who is entitled to supervise the PhD during the entire scholarship has to co-sign the support letter.
  • Applicants must have a research proposal including a timeframe. This is the centrepiece of the application. The applicant must devote all required attention to it.
  • Applicants must be in command of the necessary language skills required for the PhD studies/ research.
  • Applicants who have been in Switzerland since more than one year at the beginning of the scholarship in September are not eligible. Reference document if applicable: residence permit to be added to the application documents.
  • Applicants who have already benefited from a Swiss Government
  • Excellence Scholarship are not eligible to apply for a second scholarship.
  • Scholarship holders are expected to move to Switzerland during their grant period.
  • The FCS application for a PhD scholarship and the application for admission by a Swiss University for a PhD study are two separate procedures.
  • The admission to a PhD study at your chosen Swiss University is a condition sine qua non for a potential attribution of a FCS scholarship – but no guarantee though for a positive decision by the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students FCS. It is the applicant’s responsibility to manage both procedures in parallel.
  • There are two different ways to achieve a doctorate degree (aka PhD).
  • The first way consists in undertaking doctoral studies under the supervision of an academic mentor (supervisor). In this case, the admission to the PhD takes place after the scholarship start.
  • The second way consists in being admitted to a doctoral school, which provides the framework for the following doctoral studies. Please inquire your admission directly at the corresponding school.
  • In addition to all other application documents (including the support letter from a supervisor), the admission letter from the doctoral school is required with the application dossier. As this takes, time applicants must plan accordingly and submit their application for admission to the doctoral school sufficiently in advance of the scholarship programme deadline.
  • If the chosen doctoral school does not allow you to contact a supervisor before being admitted to the school, the application for the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship is not possible.

Source / More information for application procedures: Official Website.

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