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Each year the Swiss Confederation awards Government Excellence Scholarships to promote international exchange and research cooperation between Switzerland and over 180 other countries. Recipients are selected by the awarding body, the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS).
The Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships are aimed at young researchers from abroad who have completed a master’s degree or PhD and at foreign artists holding a bachelor’s degree.
One minute introduction to Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships
Introduction to Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships (5 min.)
Types of scholarship
- The research scholarship is available to post-graduate researchers in any discipline (who hold a master’s degree as a minimum) who are planning to come to Switzerland to pursue research or further studies at doctoral or post-doctoral level.
Research scholarships are awarded for research or study at all Swiss cantonal universities, universities of applied sciences and the two federal institutes of technology. Only candidates nominated by an academic mentor at one of these higher education institutions will be considered.
- Art scholarships are open to art students wishing to pursue an initial master’s degree in Switzerland.
Art scholarships are awarded for study at any Swiss conservatory or university of the arts. This scholarship is available to students from a limited number of countries only.
The FCS assesses scholarship applications according to three criteria:
a) Candidate profile
b) Quality of the research project or artistic work
c) Synergies and potential for future research cooperation
Select your country of origin according to your passport:
Check the application deadline and the different types of scholarship on offer. These vary according to country. You will also find details of what to do next and where to get more information.
Applications are subject to preliminary selection by the relevant national authorities and/or the Swiss diplomatic representation. The short-listed applications are then assessed by the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS), which takes the final decision.
The FCS is composed of professors from all Swiss public universities. Scholarship awards are decided on the basis of academic and scientific excellence.
The FCS will announce its decisions regarding the new scholarship awards by the end of May at the latest.
The FCS will select scholarship holders for the 2021-22 academic year by the end of May 2021. Scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year will be advertised online from August 2021.
Academic year: 2021-2022
Opening of the call: 10 August 2020
Submission deadline: 30 November 2020
Swiss Government Excellence PhD Scholarships for foreign students
The Swiss Government via the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students FCS
To enable selected applicants to undertake a PhD at one of the 10 Swiss cantonal universities, the two Swiss federal institutes of technology or the Graduate Institute.
Universities Federal institutes of technology
- University of Basel / University of Bern / University of Fribourg / University of Geneva / University of Lausanne / University of Lucerne / University of Neuchâtel / University of St. Gallen / University of Zurich / Università della Svizzera italiana
- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)
- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ)
- Research Institutes of the ETH Domain (PSI; WSL; EMPA; EAWAG)
- Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)
The scholarship is valid only for full-time PhD studies in Switzerland. It is not valid for mixed PhD programmes (part time in Switzerland and part time in another country).
“Cotutelle de these”: PhD students with an ongoing or planned doctoral project that is carried out within the framework of a formalized agreement between two universities (“cotutelle de thèse” cooperation between a Swiss and a foreign university) and under the joint direction of two supervisors are eligible for a 12 month research fellowship only.
Highly qualified postgraduate students (possessing the required degrees) from all academic fields.
12 months (starting in September) prolongable up to 36 months based on the achieved academic results.
Amount and additional allowances
- The scholarship amounts to a monthly payment of CHF 1’920.
- For non-EU and non-EFTA grantees only: the FCS pays mandatory Swiss health insurance.
- There are no family allowances.
- No financial support for fieldwork or for conferences.
- Scholarship holders from non-EU and non-EFTA countries receive a flight allowance (lump sum) for a ticket back to their country of origin (provided at the end of the scholarship).
- Special CHF 300 housing allowance (paid once at the beginning of the scholarship).
- One-year half-fare public transportation card.
- Support services and various trips, dinners and sightseeing tours organised for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship holders.
Eligibility criteria and specific conditions
- Master’s degree or equivalent university degree achieved before 31 July 2021 (degree certificate) recognised by the Swiss university. As a proof, the degree has to be submitted to the Federal Commission for Scholarships before the start of the scholarship.
- Applicant’s date of birth after 31 December 1985.
- Applicants must provide a letter from an academic host professor (including her/his short CV) at the chosen Swiss university confirming why she/he is willing to supervise and support the PhD thesis. Without such specific support letter, the application will be rejected.
- If an assistant professor supports a candidature, a full professor who is entitled to supervise the PhD during the entire scholarship has to co-sign the support letter.
- Applicants must have a research proposal including a timeframe. This is the centrepiece of the application. The applicant must devote all required attention to it.
- Applicants must be in command of the necessary language skills required for the PhD studies/ research.
- Applicants who have been in Switzerland since more than one year at the beginning of the scholarship in September are not eligible. Reference document if applicable: residence permit to be added to the application documents.
- Applicants who have already benefited from a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship are not eligible to apply for a second scholarship.
- Scholarship holders are expected to move to Switzerland during their grant period.
- The FCS application for a PhD scholarship and the application for admission by a Swiss University for a PhD study are two separate procedures.
- The admission to a PhD study at your chosen Swiss University is a conditio sine qua non for a potential attribution of a FCS scholarship - but no guarantee though for a positive decision by the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students FCS. It is the applicant’s responsibility to manage both procedures in parallel.
- There are two different ways to achieve a doctorate degree (aka PhD). The first way consists in undertaking doctoral studies under the supervision of an academic mentor (supervisor). In this case, the admission to the PhD takes place after the scholarship start. The second way consists in being admitted to a doctoral school, which provides the framework for the following doctoral studies. Please inquire your admission directly at the corresponding school.
- In addition to all other application documents (including the support letter from a supervisor), the admission letter from the doctoral school is required with the application dossier. As this takes, time applicants must plan accordingly and submit their application for admission to the doctoral school sufficiently in advance of the scholarship programme deadline.
- If the chosen doctoral school does not allow you to contact a supervisor before being admitted to the school, the application for the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship is not possible.
- The following aspects and selection criteria are primarily considered: The candidate: academic profile, research capacity and motivation.
- The research project: originality and methodological soundness.
- The academic context: quality and context of supervision and potential for future academic cooperation.
Opening of the call: 10 August 2020
Application deadline: 30 November 2020
Beginning of the scholarship: 01 September 2021
The application package can be obtained by e-mail from the Embassy of Switzerland in Abuja.
- Please submit 2 sets (=1 original + 1 copy) of application documents in exact order given below: The 1st set contains the original, signed documents plus the confidential letters of recommendation and, if applicable the attested translations in English. The other set is the copy of the 1st set except for the confidential letters of recommendation (only 1st set). No copies for 2nd set.
- Signed FCS application form (typed and printed) with photo.
- A full CV with list of academic publications, awards etc.
- A motivation letter (max. 2 pages).
- A complete research proposal (max. 5 pages, signed), using exclusively the FCS research proposal form.
- A copy of the letter from an academic host professor (including her/his short CV) at the chosen Swiss university confirming why she/he is willing to supervise and support the PhD thesis.
- Applicants for doctoral schools (doctoral programmes): In addition to all other application documents (including the support letter from a supervisor), the admission letter from the doctoral school is required with the application dossiers.
- Two confidential letters of recommendation from two different professors in the applicant’s field (use exclusively the FCS reference form – originals in sealed envelopes only for the 1st set). No copies for 2nd set.
- Academic Year 2021-2022 - Nigeria
- Photocopies of certificates and grade sheets from previously attended universities/colleges and diplomas with grades, starting with the most recent. If not in English, French, Italian or German with attested certified translations in English. Do not submit the original certificates.
- Signed medical certificate (use only the FCS health certificate form).
- Two copies of the applicant’s passport (main page with personal data). Dual nationals add copies of both passports. Applicants already in Switzerland during the application procedure add a copy of the residence permit for Switzerland.
Please do not put the documents into plastic folders or binders.
Contact institution for the application
Questions and application documents, should to be submitted to the following address – if not mentioned otherwise below*:
Embassy of Switzerland
157 Adetokumbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II 900003 Abuja
Tel: 00234 (0) 810 411 9943-6
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