PhD funding opportunities in Switzerland for international scholars

PhD Funding Opportunities in Switzerland for International Scholars

Switzerland, with its scenic beauty and renowned educational institutions, offers an enticing destination for international scholars pursuing doctoral studies. The country’s commitment to academic excellence, coupled with its multicultural environment, makes it an attractive choice for aspiring researchers worldwide. However, funding remains a critical aspect for many prospective PhD candidates, particularly international scholars. In this guide, we’ll explore the diverse funding opportunities available for international scholars pursuing their PhD in Switzerland.

Types of PhD Funding Opportunities

1. University Scholarships: Swiss universities offer various scholarships tailored for PhD students. These scholarships frequently include coverage for tuition fees along with offering a stipend to assist with living expenses.

2. External Scholarships: Numerous organizations, both public and private, offer scholarships to support doctoral research in Switzerland. These scholarships may target specific disciplines or nationalities.

3. Research Grants: Government agencies, private foundations, and international organizations provide research grants to support specific projects. These grants can cover various expenses associated with doctoral research.

4. Employment Opportunities: Some PhD positions in Switzerland come with employment contracts at universities or research institutions. These positions typically involve teaching or research assistantships, providing financial support alongside academic engagement.

Scholarship Opportunities for International Scholars

1. Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships: These prestigious scholarships are awarded to outstanding scholars from around the world to pursue doctoral or postdoctoral research in Switzerland. They cover tuition fees, living expenses, and provide a monthly stipend.

2. ETH Zurich Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme (ESOP): ETH Zurich offers the ESOP to outstanding master’s and PhD students, including international scholars. The scholarship covers tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the PhD program.

3. Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Scholarships: SNSF offers funding opportunities for doctoral researchers in Switzerland. International scholars can apply for SNSF scholarships to support their research in any field.

4. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowships: These fellowships support experienced researchers, including PhD candidates, to conduct research in Europe. International scholars can use MSCA fellowships to pursue their doctoral research in Switzerland.

5. University-specific Scholarships: Many Swiss universities offer scholarships specifically for international PhD students. These scholarships cover tuition fees and provide a stipend to support living expenses.

6. Research Grants from Swiss Foundations: Several Swiss foundations provide research grants to support doctoral research in various fields. International scholars can apply for these grants to finance their PhD studies in Switzerland.

7. Industrial Collaborations and Partnerships: PhD programs in Switzerland often involve collaborations with industry partners, offering financial support alongside valuable research opportunities.

8. Swiss-European Mobility Programme (SEMP) Scholarships: International scholars enrolled in PhD programs at Swiss universities can benefit from SEMP scholarships, supporting short-term mobility for research purposes.

Navigating the Application Process

Securing funding for a PhD in Switzerland requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some tips to navigate the application process successfully:

– Start early: Begin your search for funding opportunities well in advance.

– Identify suitable scholarships: Research different scholarship programs and ensure they align with your research interests and eligibility criteria.

– Prepare a strong application: Tailor your application materials, including CV, research proposal, and letters of recommendation, to the specific scholarship program.

– Seek guidance: Reach out to academic advisors and university support services for assistance throughout the application process.

– Stay persistent: The competition for PhD funding can be intense, but perseverance is key. Explore alternative funding options and remain proactive in your search.


There is a wide array of funding opportunities available for international scholars pursuing PhD studies in Switzerland. By exploring various scholarships, grants, and collaborations, aspiring researchers can secure the financial support needed to pursue their doctoral studies in one of the world’s leading research destinations.


1. How competitive are PhD scholarships in Switzerland?

PhD scholarships in Switzerland are highly competitive, with a large number of applicants vying for limited funding opportunities. However, demonstrating academic excellence and research potential can enhance your chances of success.

2. Can international students work while pursuing a PhD in Switzerland?

Yes, international students can work part-time while pursuing their PhD in Switzerland. However, it’s essential to check the specific regulations and restrictions regarding work permits and hours allowed for students.

3. Are there any specific eligibility criteria for PhD scholarships in Switzerland?

Eligibility criteria for PhD scholarships in Switzerland vary depending on the scholarship program. Common requirements include academic merit, research proposal quality, and language proficiency.

4. Is it possible to secure funding after starting the PhD program?

While it’s preferable to secure funding before starting the PhD program, opportunities for funding may still arise during the course of study. Students can explore additional scholarships, grants, or part-time employment options to support their research.

5. How can international scholars improve their chances of securing funding in Switzerland?

International scholars can enhance their chances of securing funding in Switzerland by maintaining a strong academic record, developing a compelling research proposal, actively seeking out scholarship opportunities, and networking within the academic community.

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