Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology

Study mode:Full-time Languages: English German Duration:4 years
Local:$ 331 / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 331 / 1 Academic year(s)  
StudyQA ranking:1050

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This program is available as a doctoral Program in Physics at the University of Zürich. For an admission to this PhD program you have to meet certain criteria concerning your education in Physics (e.g., a 4-5 year Master's degree in Physics) but it is also essential that you inform yourself in advance about open PhD positions in one of our research groups. You should submit to the group leader of your interest a CV, a statement of research interests and previous research experience, course grade transcripts and letters of reference.

The doctoral program in astrophysics is focused on carrying out original research and is completed within three to four years (full-time). The salary will easily allow you to cover all local living expenses including all the necessary social and health insurances. Research topics range from the formation of planets, stars and galaxies, to understanding the large scale structure of the universe, dark matter and dark energy. The program includes a curricular part for which doctoral students must obtain at least 12 ECTS credits. These can be obtained in a variety of ways, such as by attending graduate schools, giving talks at conferences or by attending advanced lectures. Appropriate lecture courses will be chosen by the PhD advisor together with the doctoral student. Doctoral students attend weekly research seminars, the “astrophysics journal club” and “astrophysical thinking”.

The doctoral committee determines each PhD student’s curriculum individually. Their curriculum should focus on students’ specific area of research, while also ensuring a solid general education in Computational Science. Students must earn a total of at least 12 ECTS Credits. Students and their supervisors jointly select suitable courses.

The following rule apply to accrediting seminars, participation in conventions and summer schools:

  • Students must attend at least one convention or summer school on a scientific topic related to their dissertation per year. They will receive one ECTS Credit per week of participation and an additional point for a personal contribution (presentation or poster).
  • The annual group doctoral seminar is obligatory for students (1 ECTS Credit).
  • Regular participation in the weekly journal club in Astrophysics (1 ECTS Credit).
  • Courses at UZH are worth the number of ECTS Credits listed in the course catalogue. Special block courses such as the Schroedinger Lectures are worth 1 ECTS credit.

Doctoral students must participate in teaching every semester of their doctoral studies. The practical trainings coordinator at the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology is responsible for the assignments. The teaching load every semester averages 6 work hours per week during the lecture period. During the last semester before submitting their dissertation, PhD students can ask to be dispensed from their teaching requirements. External PhD students (who have members of the doctoral program as advisors, but are not hired there) generally only complete half the teaching load.

  1. A master’s degree in Physics, Mathematics or Computational Science at a Swiss university, ETHZ, EPFL or an equivalent degree is required. The director of the doctoral program is responsible for the academic evaluation of master’s degrees earned at institutes other than UZH, ETHZ or EPFL. In addition, the research group leader may request the completion of specific courses as an additional requirement.
  2. A successful interview with a research group leader with the right to confer PhDs. At least two members of the admission committee must be present.
  3. A positive decision by a research group leader of the Institute for Computational Science based on the ressources available


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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