Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Study mode:Full-time Languages: english german Duration:4 years
Local:$ 339 / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 339 / 1 Academic year(s) Deadline: Jul 1, 2021
StudyQA ranking:1252

Photos of university / #unizh

The PhD program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the University of Zurich is one of the 15 programs of the Life Science Zurich Graduate School offering a dynamic and stimulating international research environment. The overall goal is to train PhD students as methodologists with specialized skills in designing, conducting and analyzing studies in a biomedical research context. Depending on the specific research project and supervisor students will acquire core competencies either in epidemiology or in biostatistics, in most cases students will acquire some competencies from the respective other field. 

The duration of the program is approximately 3-4 years. Graduates will obtain their Ph.D. from either the University of Zurich or the ETH Zurich. The program language is English. If you are interested in the methodological foundations of clinical and population-based biomedical research and would like to join our Ph.D. program, please send us your application. 

Thesis committee

Within approximately 6 months of the start of the PhD, the thesis supervisor appoints a thesis committee. The thesis committee comprises at least three members: see pdf below for exact requirements on composition. The thesis committee is responsible for the thematic and methodical monitoring of the thesis, for the formulation and supervision of the complementary course work and for the decision to continue or discontinue the thesis.


Before registering for the thesis defense a total of 12 CPs is needed. The thesis committee and the supervisor decide together with the student on how to obtain these. The PhD program regulations stipulate the following minimal rquirements:

  • 3CP: Methodological courses
  • 2CP: Subject-specific courses
  • 2CP: EB methods seminar
  • 2CP: pre-doctoral exam
  • 3CP: Transferable skills

Thesis Committee Meetings

The first meeting of the thesis committee should take place approximately 6 months after starting, subsequent meetings should be organized in an interval of approximately 12 months. The last meeting is the defense of the thesis.

  • First meeting: student submits, presents and defends a research plan; the thesis committee chaired by the supervisor writes a protocol of the meeting, which is then signed by all involved parties and is used as doctoral agreement.
  • Subsequent meeting: student submits an progress report beforehand, presents new results and summarizes discussion and comments in a protocol.
  • Second meeting/pre-doctoral exam: the presentation of the results and their defense at the second thesis committee meeting counts as pre-doctoral exam. The purpose of this exam is to verify that the student has the skills and the ability to carry out the planned research. A successful pre-doctoral exam is awarded two credit points. In case of failure the exam can be repeated once within 3 months, repeated failure leads to exclusion of the program.
  • All documents have to be sent to the program coordinator. Responsible for the organisation of the meetings is the student. If the requirements concerning these meetings are repeatedly not satisfied the student may be excluded from the program.

Teaching hours

PhD students of the Faculty of Science (UZH) have to prove that they acquired 100-420 teaching hours.

  • A Master's degree (MSc) or equivalent from a university before starting the PhD Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Excellent knowledge of English


Living expenses depend very much on the individual student. These figures should therefore be regarded as a guideline only (in CHF): 

Rent incl. heating 550
Additional expenses (telephone, internet) 200
Meals 400
Insurance 250
Travel 80
Clothing, laundry, personal items 70
Leisure, spending money 150
Teaching materials 50
Total 1,750

The expected minimum cost of living for students therefore comes to a total of CHF 1,750 per month. 

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