A look from inside. Graduate School at EPFL. Part 3: from receipt to protection

  • Tutorial
Dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the EPFL

On October 30, 2012, I had a one-way ticket in my hands, to Geneva, and a great desire to get a Ph.D. at one of the most prestigious universities in Europe, and perhaps the world. And on December 31, 2018, I spent my last day in the laboratory, to which I was already attached. It is time to take stock of where my dreams have led me over the past 6 years, to talk about the features of life in the country of cheese, chocolate, watches and army knives, as well as philosophize on the topic of where to live well.

About how to enter graduate school and what to do immediately upon arrival is described in two articles ( part 1 and part 2 ). For a computer science school, I found my pretty detailed manual here. In this part, it’s time to finish the long-drawn-up story about graduate school at a beautiful university, in one of the richest and at the same time poor countries - Switzerland.

Disclaimer: the purpose of this article is to explain in an accessible form the main points of the scientific life of a graduate student in the EPFL, perhaps some of the following thoughts will someday be embodied in the Russian Federation when reforming universities or in the 5-100 program. Additional, revealing information and examples have been removed into the spoilers, perhaps some points are unnecessarily generalized, but I hope this does not spoil the overall picture of the story.

Well, congratulations to you, my dear friend, you entered graduate school at one of the best universities in Europe and the world, set up your everyday life, which we will talk about in more detail in the following parts, and passed the necessary safety training and work in the laboratory. And now, six months have passed by, the head, the professor is immensely satisfied (or not - but not exactly) with the results, and the candidate exam loomed ahead - the first serious test of the path to obtaining a Ph.D. aka PhD.

Go! Moving from Lausanne to the new Zion campus in April 2015

"Candidate minimum" in Swiss

At the end of the first year of study, each graduate student, or rather a candidate for graduate student, is waiting for an aptitude test. Before this wonderful moment, graduate students often jaunt, although cases when someone was kicked out can be counted on the fingers. This is due to the fact that candidates go through several stages of filtering:

  1. formal when applying to school,
  2. personalized for interviews and presentations,
  3. social, when, before the final decision on the appointment, a professor or group leader asks his employees whether they liked the person, whether he will join the team.

If someone is kicked out, it is done for formal and objective reasons, for example, regular and flagrant violation of TB rules or very bad scientific results.

So you should not be afraid of the first year exam, because in general the exam is much easier than in the Russian Federation, where you need to pass a philosophy, English, specialty and still write a bunch of reports on the work done.

There are several formal criteria for exam access (it can vary from school to school):

  • Closed 3-4 ECTS loans of 12 or 16 (more on this below), depending on the program / school. In my case, it was EDCH - a doctoral school in chemistry and chemical technology.
  • A written report on the work done and plans for the future has been prepared. Someone requires a brief 5 pages, someone believes that you need to write a mini-review of the literature.
  • A commission of 2-3 professors (often internal) was selected.

All movements are entered into the electronic accounting system (about it below), the report is uploaded there, as well as the names and surnames of professors. A minimum of bureaucracy and an almost complete absence of paper consumption (literally a couple of forms must be filled out and signed). Although, a quick survey showed that the EPFL inside is very heterogeneous and, for example, in EDBB (School of Biology and Biotechnology), the electronic system is used differently.

In the exam before the commission, which includes the supervisor, you need to tell the presentation and answer questions. Sometimes they are truly philosophical, however, no one will torture with “questions from a textbook”, such as, for example, write such a formula or forcing to draw an iron-carbon state diagram with all austenitic and martensitic transformations.

Departed Iron-Carbon Chart

By the way, the chart for memorization is not easy. Source

It is believed that the candidate will find this information somewhere in a textbook or reference book, but the ability to think, evaluate facts and make correct conclusions - this, unfortunately, does not exist in books.

European loans (ECTS): what is it and what does it eat?

If you thought that I would write about financial loans, then I will disappoint. ECTS is a pan-European system for recording and re-recording the time spent on learning a particular subject. The number of hours for obtaining one loan varies slightly, but is generally standardized - about 15 hours per ECTS. The EPFL is considered the norm for 14-16 hours per ECTS, which roughly corresponds to a half-semester course of 2 academic hours per week.

Course e-book
In the course book , which is different for each school, it looks like this: on the right is the value of the course in credits, the total number of hours and the schedule:

However, there are also such courses where only 1 credit will be given in 30 hours.

As of 2013, the following rule worked: for masters it was necessary to collect 12 credits for the entire time of postgraduate studies, while for specialists - 16. It was justified by the fact that the specialist’s program was shorter, and therefore it was necessary to get this very different course half a year difference.

Lifehacks and buns
The system provides several lifehacks and buns:
  • Each year, you can get 1 ECTS for attending the conference, subject to the availability of a report (poster or presentation is not important). This can be done 2-3 times for the entire graduate school, respectively, -20-25% of the load.
  • You can take a course at another university, not the EPFL, or visit winter / summer schools. Provide one (!) Single paper, which will indicate the equivalent of time spent in loans, and fill out a special form. Everything, nothing more is required from the student, other questions are decided between responsible people.

NB: Often, participation in conferences and summer / winter schools can be sponsored by the EPFL school itself. To do this, fill out the form and write a motivation letter from the supervisor. The money received is enough, for example, to pay for travel, which is already not bad.

Ultimately, at the end of the graduate school, all courses and conferences will be indicated separately in the annex to the diploma:


Fortunately, all bureaucracy is hidden within the system. This is especially true for standard issues and procedures such as filling out travel reports and so on. Therefore, in ~ 95% of cases, the employee does not encounter filling out paperwork and forms, but only enters his data into the system, receives a pdf file for printing, which he signs and sends further according to the instance - swiss precision. Of course, this does not apply to “special” cases when there is no standard instruction — everything can drag on for a very long time, as elsewhere, in fact.

Business trips: Switzerland vs Russia
In the EPFL, upon return from a business trip, all checks, travel cards, etc. hem and give up. Naturally, the report is sent in paper form, but it is still duplicated and stored in the SESAME system in electronic form. Typically, the secretary himself (a) makes all the costs in the system according to the submitted report, at the same time checking all the costs, and then asks to sign one piece of paper to compensate for the costs, which will be generated within the system. I think that in a couple of years everyone will have an electronic signature and the whole procedure will be completely electronic.

Some small expenses of 2-5-10 francs can be entered into the report without the presence of checks (in honest terms, yes). In addition, common sense always applies: if a person travels from A to B, but has lost a ticket, for example, he will be reimbursed anyway. Or, for example, at London airports the device “eats” a ticket at the exit, then a regular photo of a ticket is also suitable. And lastly, if tickets and a hotel were ordered through a laboratory credit card (and there is one!) Or through a special bureau, then no papers are required for the report, they are already tied to the trip code inside SESAME.

Now, how things are in Russia. Once I was invited to a beautiful city outside the Urals (we will not disclose all the details) to give a lecture on their scientific topics. By a fortunate coincidence, I was in Moscow at that moment, I could jump onto the plane with a small suitcase to overweight and fly to my destination in a couple of hours. After the scientific seminar, I was asked to sign a “contract for the free provision of services”, a few statements, and I had to send the spine of the boarding pass for the return flight in an envelope.

Visual comparison of Russian and Swiss systems
Once upon a time I received a grant from the Russian Federal Property Fund for a trip to a conference in Rhodes (I wrote about this in the first part ), after which I was forced to translate all the checks into Russian.

One of my colleagues in a dangerous business brought checks from a trip to Israel, where part of the amount was indicated in euros and another in shekels. All checks, of course, in Hebrew. However, for some reason it never occurred to anyone to force them to translate from Hebrew, they simply believed in the word where is which currency. Why would you steal from yourself, from your own grants, right ?!

Yes, there is a field for abuse, but usually this is all nipped in the bud when it comes to large amounts, rather than spending 200-300 euros at conferences.

Publishing articles and writing grants

An important indicator of the effectiveness and "coolness" of a scientist is his hirsch index (h-index) . It shows how well the works of a particular author are cited, correlating the number of articles and their “quality” (number of citations).

In Russia, they are now fighting to increase the Hirsch index among researchers and improve the quality of journals (in other words, impact factor or IF, impact factor), where these works are published. The method is simple: let's pay a premium for a good article. There is much to argue about this managerial decision, however, unfortunately, they do not solve two main problems: the underfunded nature of Russian science, in general, and the collective farm of authors, when they include those who were directly related to work and those who sat next to me. "

Oddly enough, in EPFL there are practically no additional payments for articles, it is believed that the scientist himself will be published if he wants to achieve something, and if he does not want to, then please come out. Of course, if the contract is permanent, then it will be difficult to complete it due to the lack of publications, but usually at this point the professor is overgrown with teaching, various committees and administrative work. For example, the post of dean is elective; there is a term of occupation of this position of several years.

My vision of solving this problem
All impact factors of journals are known and are in the public domain. It is necessary to establish a clear conversion factor from IF to rubles, say, 10k for 1 IF unit. Then publication in a relatively good journal Nanoscale (IF = 7.233) will cost 72.33k rubles per team of authors. And Nature / Science is up to 500k rubles. And it is better to differentiate 5k for 1 IF unit in large cities and federal research centers and 10k in new (up to 5-7 years) and regional centers.

Then such a premium for publication should be paid not to each author, but to the entire team of authors, so that there is no desire to include left-wing people in the publication. That is, if it is a “collective farm” of 10 people, then everyone will receive 7k each, and if it is 3-4 people actually involved in the project, then ~ 20-25k each. Scientists will have a transparent economic incentive to write in good journals, straighten out the English language (for example, ordering proofreading of articles) and not include “consultants”.

Total: a researcher will be able to receive at the level of a professor or even the director of the institute, doing what he loves. There will be a fork of opportunities: vertical (career ladder) or horizontal (more different projects and topics, more graduate students and students, more money earned) development.

In general, there is nothing complicated in the publication of an article if it is qualitatively executed and it is assumed that it will be of interest to the public. From my chemical experience, I’ll say that the first 3-4 articles in serious journals go hard because they do not take into account some factors in its preparation (general style, presentation of important and unimportant results, a ready list of reviewers, including which work aspects discussed at conferences and meetings, etc.). But then they begin to fly out, like hot cakes from the stove. Especially if the topic is in the world top, and the last in the list of authors is a well-known and respected professor.

The following dilemma immediately arises: the top world-famous professor (aka large corporations), when you need to literally scrape bit by bit, or the leader of a group with a large and ambitious project (aka start-up), where there is a huge incentive to develop and multitasking experience.

Although physicists and biologists, for example, obtaining results suitable for an article can take up to several years, so 1-2 publications for doctoral studies are considered the norm.

However, I am forced to disappoint the romantics of science: as elsewhere, often the quality of the work itself is responsible for publishing in a highly rated journal, but rather meeting the right people. Yes, the very nepotism that they are trying to fight, but human nature is difficult to fix. Even in the EPFL itself, there is one elderly professor, under whose name quite muddy works are sometimes published in good magazines. But this is a big topic for a separate article, where everything is interwoven: PR, the desire of magazines to earn money and the ambition of the authors.

And, of course, a similar situation with grants. The first few applications may be a failure, but then grant-writing activities get on the assembly line. Although formally, graduate students are not required to deal with grants, nevertheless, you can participate in the process.
I don’t know how it is now with applications for the Russian Science Foundation ( RNF ), but 7 years ago, an application for a grant in the Russian Federation actually required a bundle of paper, as well as a report. Applications and reports for the Swiss National Science Foundation ( SNSF ) rarely exceed 30-40 pages. It is necessary to write briefly and succinctly in order to save resources and time of other participants in the process, reviewers.

There are no concrete plans for the articles, but in general, my professor said this: “ If you publish 1 article per year, I have no questions for you. If two, then great! "But this is chemistry, about physicists and lyricists mentioned above.

And finally, the publication of articles slowly crawls in the direction of open access (aka open access), when the author pays or the scientific fund pays for the author, instead of the usual model, when the reader pays. A directive has been adopted in the EU, which urges that all research funded by ERC be published in the public domain only soon. This is the first trend, and the other trend is video articles, for example, for 3-4 years there has been a JoVE - Journal of Visualized Experiments, and not a successful blogger. This magazine also promotes the dissemination of knowledge about scientific discoveries in a simple and understandable way.

SciComm and PR

And since the word PR has sounded higher, then in modern science there is a simple rule: one should advertise one’s research and achievements as much as possible - PR. Write articles for popular science portals, write review articles for scientific journals, prepare materials on the same Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and VK. Make the most of social networks. Why is this needed? The answer is simple: firstly, no one except the author of the original studies will be able to better describe their ideas and the results achieved, and secondly, this is a banal transparency of science to taxpayers. In the West they love it very much!

You can read more about the article here * *
* LinkedIn - an organization banned in the Russian Federation

Scientific PR, as it is
One cool video from ACSNano 's first article :

The most public defense video in the EPFL:

One Irish friend of mine through Twitter almost wins ERCs and national grants, because on Twitter there is an S&T council account that monitors where and what happens, where there are notorious “growth points”.

Twitter smoker of the right scientist, turned to face the public

In addition, various contests aimed at a short and capacious narrative about science are gaining popularity. For example, FameLab , organized by the British consul, “Ma these a 180 seconds” , Science Slam in Russia, “Dance your PhD” , conducted 11 times under the auspices of the journal Science ( in 2016, the winner was a Russian , for example), and many many other. For example, one of the upcoming events will be held as part of the XX Sol-Gel Conference , where students can participate absolutely free!

In the same FameLab, for pre-screeners, they organize a mini-school on the weekend, where they tell how to convey information, how to start and end the story, and by and large the same pitch. At one time, I participated in such a school, which was organized and held at CERN itself. It is unusual to feel yourself on the surface of the most grandiose scientific construction and realize that somewhere below, protonchiki fly almost at the speed of light through a pipe of 27 kilometers. Impressive!

For many people, science is the door to a new world! Often, ingenious scientists simply don’t know how, are shy or afraid to speak to the public, but it is precisely such contests that allow breaking down barriers and overpowering themselves. So, one of my acquaintance biologists, having made his way to the final stage of FameLab, became a scicomm evangelist. It seems to me that for him it was a pretty sharp turn in his career. See for yourself:

Or here’s Radmila’s talk about uranium complexes at the “Ma these a 180 seconds” contest literally a week ago:

About mentoring

No matter how polite and respectful each other is, conflicts often occur, and the interests of the boss (professors or leader groups) diverge from the desires and aspirations of the employee (graduate student or postdoc). EPFL, as a conglomeration of tens of thousands of people, is also subject to these processes. To help graduate students in the first few years of their stay at the university, in 2013 a mandatory institute of mentoring was introduced.

What does mentoring aka mentoring mean for a graduate student?

Firstly , scientific and technical examination of the ideas of a graduate student. In principle, the mentor should receive the same reports and research plans 1-2 times a year as the professor himself and the head of the graduate student.

Secondly, mentor - an arbitrator in disputes between a graduate student and a professor. If the professor for one reason or another rejects the proposals and ideas of the graduate student, then the mentor weighs all the arguments of the two parties and tries to resolve the conflict.

It is worth mentioning that, in spite of all the administration’s efforts, the EPFL has abuser professors who squeeze the last juice out of students and graduate students - sometimes even scandals happen. In this case, the mentor can support the student, help contact the administration of a particular school. This is an important aspect of training, since for many graduate students moving to another laboratory or deciding to stop studying at graduate school is almost a personal failure on a planetary scale, so they are ready to endure almost everything to prevent this from happening. However, the EPFL should not be afraid of this, as there are a variety of ways to solve problems and employees, especially administrative staff, are always ready to help, because it directly affects the image of the university.

ThirdlyA mentor can help with career advice and networking. The mentor will also help with tips and contacts for a future doctor's career.

By the way, while this article was being prepared, I shot a video for the mentoring club of Moscow State University (Mentors Club MSU) about what mentoring is in EPFL. Anyone can contact me through this club here .

Teaching Practice: Hell or Paradise?

Each graduate student, signing a contract, undertakes to spend 20% of the working time on teaching (teaching assistance). It can be either conducting seminars with analysis of tasks, or working in the laboratory with students (workshop).

Here I can’t write for everyone, maybe it’s a pleasure for someone, but my experience was not very positive. Of course, it depends on how you relate to this: you can do it on "from # $ @ & sh", or you can try to tell students something and show, try to combine different sections of chemistry together with leading questions.

How Teaching Practice Looks Inside the ISA System

For two years I have been conducting practice in IR spectroscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy (two semesters each). After 200 students, I can say that only 10 percent treated the workshops with due respect. interest and did everything neatly and on time. Unfortunately, the proportion of the indigenous, Swiss population among such “geeks” is vanishingly small.

Requiem for a workshop
The first IR workshop was very childish. Usually the group left in an hour, sometimes 1.5, instead of the set 3. Everything is simple: he told the theory, showed how to work with the device and voila “kids” measured 5 samples (each for a minute, two) and went home to count, look for information and cook report. A week later they bring a report, I check it, I give estimates. However, there were brilliant individuals who were too lazy to write and draw up a report. There were also those who were too lazy to simply search for the IR spectra of the most common polymers. They saw them and touched them with their hands (!), That is, it is simply impossible to guess, since 4 out of 5 are PET, PVC, Teflon and PE, one sample is aspirin powder (yes, you have to tinker with it). There were also those who could not answer rather simple questions from the series: “how to polymerize a monomer?” Once person 5 stood at the board, trying to remember the stagesthe radical polymerization reactions that they took place literally last semester, and why chlorine is often used there, was not remembered ...

Another workshop was on fluorescence spectroscopy: how much quinone is in Schweppes. The task of analytical chemistry is to construct a calibration curve and determine the unknown concentration. We did this in the SUNC in the 11th grade. So, bachelor students do this task poorly, they don’t follow the numbers, they don’t know the statistics, although I knew the practice on analytical methods and statistics with processing the results. Some cannot even make a sample and standard solutions ... on the 3rd year of the bachelor, yes. Is it any wonder then that Swiss graduate students are an endangered species ?!

And as a cherry on the cake, there is an unwritten rule: you cannot put it below 4 out of 6, otherwise the student must retake, which is not necessary for the student or the teachers.

Yes, you should not forget for a minute that not only the teacher evaluates the student, but also the student at the end of each course evaluates the teacher. The sad thing is that these students' grades are taken too seriously - it may not be possible to dismiss the teacher, but a ban on teaching can be obtained. And a professor is not quite a professor, if he does not have 1-2 courses for students, that is, replication of knowledge. When it works in the direction of encouragement and additional goodies for the teacher, it’s good, but when it becomes a means of revenge and settling scores, the rules are “not lower than 4 out of 6” and overstated grades, and monosyllabic questions at the grading stages, if only they lag behind, that is the quality of teaching is falling.

An instructive story about students and teachers
Once, one teacher needed to replace another colleague for some time and conduct a continuous lecture at EPFL for first-year students in general chemistry. One lecture - noise, din, children still do not understand where they got. The second lecture is similar. On the third, he began to read the material, and when the stream went into the classroom, turned and said (in French, semantic translation): “ I am replacing another teacher here. I came here to teach leaders because it is EPFL. I don’t see such people among you ... ”Students instantly wrote a“ slander ”, the seething of a well-known substance started, they almost broke a person’s life and career. He barely restrained himself and from that time no longer gives streaming lectures, only a workshop is safer.

In fairness, it is worth adding that in the EPFL there is a bonus system where the best teacher, in the opinion of students, can receive a reward of 1000 CHF per semester.
But in all Swiss universities there is a strict system: if you couldn’t get a degree in chemistry at the first attempt, you flew out in the middle of training, then you have no more right to enter this specialty in any universities across the country only if you leave for the EU.

Completion of graduate school: writing a dissertation and defense (s)

And now, having gone through all the circles of hell, having received the necessary number of credits, and having worked the necessary number of hours with students, you can think about defending a dissertation.

In EPFL, as in many European universities, there are two schemes for defending a dissertation: “shortened” and ordinary. If there are 3 or more published articles, then you can go for a shortened scheme. That is, write a brief general introduction, attach these articles, since each will be regarded as a separate chapter of the dissertation, and write a general conclusion. There is less work than in the usual version, but there are also fewer goodies. For example, shortened dissertations are not eligible for the Springer Nature Theses Prize, as well as special prizes of the relevant school for outstanding dissertations (usually, the commission votes in closed defense).

Accordingly, the writing time also differs: a shorter one can be completed in a month, two, and a complete one should be started writing at least 3-4 months before the defense, and preferably half a year.
Next comes the protection process, which is divided into two stages: private protection and public. At the same time, 35 days before private defense, it is necessary to download the text of the dissertation and pay for the exam and diploma in the amount of 1,200 francs.

Closed (private) protection is a kind of analogue of our pre-defenses in the departments when only members of the commission come together (professors from other Swiss universities and universities of other countries - at least 2 out of 3). They evaluate quality, scientific significance, prepare tricky questions and so on. In general, the defense is mild, professors communicate with the future doctor on an equal footing. It is absolutely not necessary to memorize any factual material or formulas; you can always refer to the page of a written thesis. As in the case of the first year exam, they rather assess the ability to think, reflect, process new introductory notes when there is already some conclusion made.

The relaxed state is after protection, and the window has already begun to darken ...

The whole process is automated, the system itself will tell you when to submit the document, who to contact for help, and so on. And since 2018, the entire document flow is conducted in electronic form. If earlier it was necessary to print and bring four (each professor + one to the archive) filed copies of the thesis, now all communication is conducted online, and works for review are sent by email. Plus, this allows for mandatory plagiarism testing from 2018.

Swiss customs fun
A friend of mine sent his diploma by mail to a professor in neighboring France. Usually, when you get a job, a break comes in, they say the correspondence is delivered. However, one week passed, the other, there is no answer, the printed version of the work in France was not seen. It turned out that the Swiss customs delayed the departure, counting it as a book and, accordingly, not having discovered the payment of a fee on their accounts, delayed it. So by email it is somehow more reliable now.

Sometimes such Talmuds are suspicious

Practically all data is collected in the postgraduate card inside the ISA system and inside this system all this data is stored, updated and supplemented

This is how the graduate student’s life path inside the ISA looks: Run, Forest, Run!

To ultimately put a bold green tick at the end

And so, all the steps have been completed, the work has been written and adjusted after questions and the answer is on the private protection. The candidate goes to public defense, where he needs to explain his science in the simplest possible language, since anyone can visit it, including not necessarily an EPFL employee. Thus, complete transparency of science and the expenditure of taxpayer funds is organized. People from the street really come to some defenses.

And only after public defense (yes, it may seem that this is only a formality, but it is), the candidate receives a diploma and a Ph.D. ( Doctor of Philosophy ).

It so happened that in the turmoil they completely forgot about the photographer ...

And the most pleasant part of public defense is a small, and sometimes even very big buffet table, again for all those present.

Doctor's champagne My ...

Which must be immediately launched!

And the memory photo in an informal setting.

Yes, I almost forgot, the EPFL has its own printing house, where theses are printed. Depending on when the final version of the dissertation is uploaded, its printed version appears in a beautiful cover exactly before public defense or slightly later:

This is what a printed copy of a diploma looks like, a couple of pieces you can take with you

Degree recognition in the Russian Federation and apostilization

The degree obtained in the EPFL, until recently, required confirmation in the Russian Federation, but since 2016 this is not required, according to the order of the government of the Russian Federation of 05.04.2016 N 582-p .

Now I know that you just need to certify the signature in the EPFL, and then put the apostille in the administration of Lausanne ( Prefecture de Lausanne ), which takes a couple of hours at most. Make a copy from the apostilled diploma and simply give it for transfer to any translation agency in the Russian Federation.

The tale of how the Ministry of Education does not want to delve into your appeal
My original appeal:
Topic: Recognition of the degree of PhD (EPFL) in the Russian Federation
Text of appeal: Good day!
There is a lot of information on the Internet about the recognition of a PhD degree obtained at a foreign university in the Russian Federation. Unfortunately, I did not find detailed and simple instructions / information on what to do and where to contact the site, so I am writing this appeal.

I received my PhD in Chemistry from the Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) at the beginning of 2017. I would like to receive detailed instructions on the subject of confirming the diploma and degree, as well as approximate terms for all necessary examinations, although I think the latter should pass quickly (10+ publications in top, well-known journals), in addition, the dissertation itself is in the public domain.

In particular, there are the following questions:
1. Do I need to translate into Russian and apostil the diploma itself, or is it just a notarized translation (for example, made in the Russian Federation, as the latest version of the law says “notarized translation”)?
2. Do I need to provide a printed version of the dissertation?
3. Do I need to translate a dissertation?
4. In what form and where to apply? Is there an option for electronic submission of documents (at least preliminary)?
5. If all the same, only a paper submission form, can I submit documents in Moscow with a non-Moscow permanent registration?
6. Will a candidate “crust” be issued?
7. Perhaps the Russian Federation and Switzerland have a mutual recognition of degrees?
Thanks in advance for the detailed answer!

It would seem that the situation is described, what I want indicated, questions are quite specific asked.
What I get clericalism on 4 pages, of which nothing follows. What is the meaning of such an answer? Where are all the options listed? Why can’t you make a diagram or some script on the site that will produce relevant information?

Is there life after PhD?

At some point, every freshly baked PhD raises the question: is there life after PhD? What to do next: stay in the academic environment or try to get a job in a private company?

Below is a slightly simplified diagram of how I saw this situation.

Possible career paths after obtaining a PhD

First , there is always the option of returning to Russia. Unfortunately, there is practically no R&D in Russia (I’m talking mainly about chemistry and physics now), there are separate centers of resistance, such as startups to develop tomography equipment, oil and gas-chemical holdings who want to sell not only oil in barrels, but products of high processing, start small-scale production of chemicals. But that’s all. There remains an academic environment, which recently began to be pumped up with funds not only pointwise for the purchase of equipment, but also in terms of salary. This is the 5-100 program , and various programs aimed at foreign cooperation, and the notorious SkolTech, and the “fat” grants of the RSF, comprehensive support programs for young scientists . But the problem remains: after a quarter-century of total oblivion, so many talented young scientists have washed out of the scientific community that now filling the problems will not be easy. At the same time, all sound initiatives were buried under an array of bureaucracy and paperwork.

Secondly , you can always move from Switzerland to neighboring EU countries, the USA, etc. The diploma is quoted, and the Swiss Science Foundation can still throw money under the Early Post-doc Mobility program. And the salary will be slightly higher than the average for the country where you plan to leave. In general, in Europe and not only they love various programs of mobility of young scientists very much so that they visit here, gain truly international experience and different approaches, make connections. The same Marie Curie fellowship program is aimed specifically at intensifying international cooperation. On the other hand, in 4 years it is quite possible to develop a package of contacts in the scientific community (they worked with someone, drank beer at a conference, etc.), who would invite you to your postdoc or researcher position.

If we talk about industrial positions, then they are also full in neighboring France, Germany, Benelux and so on. Large players such as BASF, ABB, L'Oreal, Melexis, DuPont and others massively buy talented people in the market with a degree and help them move and settle in a new country. The EU has a very simple and convenient system, the salary exceeds ~ 56k euros per year - here is the “ Blaue Karte ”, just work and pay taxes.

Thirdly, you can try to stay in Switzerland itself. After receiving a diploma, starting from the date of its issuance, any student has six months to look for work within the country. There are pluses and minuses, their own nuances, but more on that another time. Many companies do not want to bother with hiring foreign employees mainly because of the visa issue, so getting a position in the industry for PhD can be called a great success. Although, if you learn one of the state languages ​​(preferably German or French) to the conversational level B1 / B2 and get an official certificate, then the chances of finding a job increase, even if you don't say a word at work later. A moment of chauvinism and nationalism. In addition, this certificate will be necessary for applying for a permanent permit.

And, of course, you can stay in Switzerland, working in research centers and universities, since, in principle, the salary of a postdoc allows you to live a family well. In this case, people will be squinted at, as mobility is considered the norm, but it’s quite possible to stay in your group for a year to finish the job, or go for a year as a postdoc for an interesting project. It all depends on the specific situation and the desires of the employee.

Instead of a conclusion

On this, the story about graduate school and study in Switzerland can be considered completed. In the following parts, I would like to talk about everyday life, domestic issues in this country, to show its pros and cons. Write in the comments questions of interest to this part (I will try to answer them as detailed as possible), as well as to the next, as this will help me structure the material.

Video sketches about life in Switzerland can be found here:

PS: he defended his thesis in January 25, 2017 and remained on a postdoc in the same group. During this time, five more works were completed and written, including a monograph (book) based on the results of the dissertation. And in January 2019, he left to work in a startup that is engaged in the production of solar panels.

PPS: I would also like to acknowledge and thank for the comments and comments of those who helped with the writing of this article: Albert aka qbertych , Anya, Ivan, Misha, Kostya, Slava.

And finally, a bonus - two videos about EPFL ...

... and separately about the campus in Mount Zion, which is involved in energy projects:

Do not forget to subscribe to the blog : it’s not difficult for you - I am pleased! And yes, please write about the shortcomings noted in the text in the PM.

Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

What to devote the next part to?

  • 60.8% Everyday life 14
  • 13% Travel 3
  • 21.7% Food 5
  • 39.1% Housing (search, features and choice of habitat) 9
  • 56.5% Job Search 13
  • 26% Cities of Switzerland 6
  • 4.3% I will write in the comments 1

Also popular now: