Write a doctoral thesis in the humanities and social sciences!
Doc.CH is aimed at promising researchers who wish to write a doctoral thesis on a topic of their own choice in the humanities and social sciences in Switzerland. Part of the doctoral thesis may be conducted at a host institution abroad if a corresponding request giving reasons is submitted.
Besides the salary of the doctoral student, the grant may include a contribution towards costs directly related to project implementation.
The main participation requirements are listed below. Please consult the Doc.CH Regulations to determine your formal eligibility.
- At the time of the submission deadline, applicants must hold a master's degree corresponding to 90-120 ECTS credits with very good qualifications. In addition, in case the degree is not from a Swiss higher education institution, applicants must either be Swiss nationals or matriculated at the chosen Swiss university on the date of submission.
- Submission up to 3 years after obtaining the degree (at the time of the submission deadline).
- Two persons supervising the doctoral thesis: the first person works at the Swiss higher education institution at which the applicant will be employed (supervisor); the second person must work either at another Swiss higher education institution or abroad (co-supervisor). PhD supervisors are allowed to support only one candidate per submission deadline.
Draw up your Doc.CH application in accordance with the guidelines and submit it using the online platform mySNF. We recommend opening your application as early as possible to familiarise yourself with the requirements. We open the application website three months before the submission deadline. Please also note the conditions and requirements in the regulations.
mySNF user account
If you are submitting an application to the SNSF for the first time: register on mySNF and request your user account. We will then send you your login information by e-mail. Please note: you must request your user account at least five working days before the submission deadline. If not, we cannot guarantee timely access to mySNF. The user account will be available to you for all applications and for lifetime management of approved projects.
Please also consult the Funding Regulations and the Organisational Regulations of the National Research Council:
- Funding Regulations & General implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations
- Organisational Regulations of the National Research Council
Specific instructions for the Doc.CH evaluation procedure can be found in the guidelines and the regulations:
- Guidelines for submission of a Doc.CH application (PDF)
- Doc.CH Regulations (PDF)
- Evaluation form – Doc.CH (PDF)
The grant consists of two parts: the first part lasts for 2 years, the second part for 1 to 2 years. A two-stage evaluation procedure is applied for the first part of the grant.
- First phase: the Evaluation Commissions Doc.CH select the best applications for the second phase.
- Second phase: those persons whose applications were selected in the first assessment phase are invited to a personal interview, during which they present their research project and career plan to the responsible Evaluation Commission Doc.CH. If the application is submitted by 15 March, the interviews will take place in weeks 22 to 25. If the application is submitted by 15 September, the candidates will be interviewed in weeks 48 to 51.
The negative decisions from phase 1 as well as the decisions made in phase 2 are communicated to the applicants all during the same period in a written ruling. Decision letters are sent in the first half of July for applications submitted by 15 March and in the first half of February for applications submitted by 15 September.
After the first 18 months of funding, the grantees submit an application for the second part of the grant. The application must contain a report on the completed first part, justification of the requested funding period for the second part and a statement by the supervisor of the doctoral thesis.
Forms, regulations and guidelines
Members of the evaluation bodies
The list contains the names of the members of the evaluation body Doc.CH Evaluation Commission Humanities and Doc.CH Evaluation Commission Social Sciences. For the SNSF, interaction between applicants and members of evaluation bodies over applications is not compatible with academic best practices.
I intend to write a doctoral thesis in the domain of the Universities of applied sciences (UAS) and universities of teacher education (UTE), and will be enrolled at a higher education institution abroad. Can I submit an application for a Doc.CH grant?
Yes, if a close collaboration between the higher education institution abroad and an UAS or UTE in Switzerland is documented. You must be employed at the UAS or UTE in Switzerland.
Can I submit an application for a Doc.CH grant requesting funds for an interdisciplinary dissertation?
Yes, under certain circumstances. All applicants for a Doc.CH grant must hold a degree that entitles them to do a doctorate in the humanities and social sciences (HSS) at a university in Switzerland. The main topic and the main discipline of the project must be part of the HSS; they must adequately reflect the reality of the project in terms of e.g. research question and methods (see "List of disciplines" on www.snsf.ch > Funding > Documents & downloads > Further documents). Disciplines outside the HSS are acceptable as secondary disciplines. It is possible to be matriculated at a faculty outside the HSS as long as the university agrees to it. But supervision must centre on HSS, in particular the research field of the main supervisor must be within HSS.
How much time must I devote to my doctoral thesis within the scope of a Doc.CH grant?
In principle, the work-time percentage is 100% and you must devote all of it to your doctoral thesis. Where there is good cause, the applicant's working hours may be reduced, but – except during very short periods – should never fall below 80%. Working hours corresponding to less than 100% may be applied for if one of the two following reasons is provided in the application: care duties or fulfilment of activities that serve to qualify them for a scientific career (e.g. teaching, training or continuing education in their field). Applicants may also change from full-time to part-time work during the funding period of a Doc.CH grant for the stated reasons. Such changes must be approved by the SNSF.
Do I need to be registered as a doctoral student by the submission deadline of my Doc.CH application?
No, except if you are not a Swiss national and have a foreign degree (master's or equivalent). The maximum period of employment funded by the SNSF is 4 years for doctoral students. A Doc.CH grant has a running time of 2 to 4 years. The actual start date of the dissertation is decisive for calculating the 4-year time window. If the actual start of the dissertation took place more than 2 years before the envisaged start of the grant, it is therefore not possible to request a Doc.CH grant. However, in response to a written request giving reasons, the eligibility period of 4 years starting from the actual start date of the dissertation may be extended. Accepted reasons for a delay are set out in Clause 1.11 of the general implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations.
What do I need to consider when organising the supervision of my doctoral thesis?
In order to apply for a Doc.CH grant, you must have the support of two persons (supervisor and co-supervisor). The first person must work at the Swiss higher education institution where the applicant will be employed as a doctoral student (supervisor). The second person must work either at another Swiss higher education institution or abroad (co-supervisor). It is mandatory that these two persons work in two different academic institutions. Furthermore, PhD supervisors are allowed to support only one Doc.CH candidate per submission deadline. This rule does not apply to co-supervisors. Please contact the potential supervisor at an early stage, in order to inform them of the supervision conditions, namely that they can support only one Doc.CH applicant for the same deadline as main supervisor, and please request the 2 statements at an early stage so that you are able to submit your full application in good time.
When will the interviews take place in the second phase of Doc.CH if my candidature is selected for this phase?
If you submitted your application by 15 March, the interviews will take place in weeks 22 to 25. If you submitted your application by 15 September, you will be interviewed in weeks 48 to 51.
What happens if the submission deadline for a Doc.CH grant falls on a weekend or on a holiday?
If the submission deadline for applications falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the deadline is automatically extended to the next working day.
What duration can or should I choose when applying for a Doc.CH grant?
Doc.CH grants are awarded for a minimum of 24 months up to a maximum of 48 months and doctoral students can be funded by SNSF grants for a maximum duration of 4 years, starting from the actual start date of the dissertation. If the actual start of the dissertation took place more than 2 years before the envisaged start of the grant, it is therefore not possible to request a Doc.CH grant. However, in response to a written request giving reasons, the eligibility period for the submission of an application may be extended (see Clause 1.11 of the General implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations). Furthermore, in your Doc.CH grant application, you need to request the entire duration (first and second part of the grant pursuant to Article 3 of the Doc.CH Regulations). In principle, no further application for a supplementary grant to extend the duration of the grant may be submitted at a later stage. In other words, it is better to plan a feasible dissertation project with an adequate funding period than an overambitious project with a funding period that is too short (e.g. only 3 years are requested even though 4 years would be permissible under the Doc.CH Regulations as well as necessary to complete the planned research); dissertation projects whose duration is shorter than the longest permissible funding period pursuant to the Doc.CH Regulations are not more likely to be approved.
Which reasons for the extension of the eligibility period for the submission of an application are accepted?
The SNSF may extend this period on request if applicants are able to cite good reasons for this. The following reasons are accepted: maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave; inability to work due to illness or accident; care duties; services that benefit the general public, particularly military or civilian service; continuing education in connection with the applicant’s research activities, particularly internships or clinical work and preparatory activities connected to the dissertation, e.g. participation in classes at a doctoral school. In the event of maternity, the relevant period is extended by 18 months per child. See Clause 1.11 of the General implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations.
What kind of degree must I have in order to be able to apply for a Doc.CH grant?
At the time of the submission deadline, you must have a degree (master's or equivalent degree) from a Swiss higher education institution which entitles you to start doctoral studies in the humanities and social sciences at a Swiss university. Researchers with an equivalent foreign degree (master's or equivalent) are also entitled to submit an application if they are Swiss nationals or if, at the time of the submission deadline, they are matriculated at the relevant higher education institution in Switzerland. The master's or equivalent degree must correspond to 90-120 ECTS points (1.5 to 2 years of full-time studies). A "Master of Advanced Studies - MAS" (which corresponds to 60 ECTS points or one year of full-time studies) and other higher education degrees do not grant eligibility to submit a Doc.CH application. ECTS must appear on one singular diploma (cumulating credits from several different diplomas is not possible). If the degree presented is not assessed according to the Bologna ECTS credit system, it is up to each candidate to provide proof of equivalence. Please note that 1 ECTS corresponds to 25 to 30 working hours according to Swiss law.
My Doc.CH application was rejected and I am thinking about submitting a new application. What do I need to consider for a resubmission?
Here are some important points you should consider:
- First, you need to check whether you meet the participation requirements. Applicants whose application has been rejected may resubmit a Doc.CH application only once, regardless of the topic of their project, provided they meet the personal and formal requirements.
- Then, if the participation requirements are met, you must enter a new and complete application on mySNF, with all the necessary information and documents updated. This is because it is a new evaluation round, with a new competitive situation.
- In addition to the revised research plan, you must upload a separate document in which you respond point by point to the criticisms contained in the rejection letter and in which you comment on any significant changes and/or additions made to your research plan. This statement must be written in the same language as the research plan and must not exceed 2 pages.
- If the new application is submitted by the next submission deadline, i.e. within 6 months after the previous submission deadline, you can upload the same confidential statements provided by the supervisor and the second person (co-supervisor). However, it is in principle better to request new and updated statements. If the re-submission is made more than 6 months after the deadline by which you had submitted your first application, you must request new confidential statements.
- Letters from host institutions in Switzerland and, if applicable, abroad must also contain information that is valid at the submission deadline. If the new application is submitted by the next submission deadline, i.e. within 6 months after the previous submission deadline, you may upload the same letters from the host institutions provided the information in these letters is still current. If the letters from the previous submission contain outdated information (e.g. start and end dates of the stay), then you must provide new and updated letters. If the resubmission is made more than 6 months after the deadline by which you had submitted your first application, you must in any case request new letters from the host institutions.
I heard that the instrument Doc.CH will be discontinued. Can I still apply?
In its 2025-2028 multi-year program, the SNSF states that, in the future, it will focus on direct career development starting at the postdoc level. If the plan is implemented as it is, Doc.CH will be discontinued as of 2025; this means that the last evaluation round for Doc.CH will be in 2024 (submission deadline of 15 March 2024).