PhD in Psychology

A prerequisite for application is to find a professor from the Department of Psychology who is willing to supervise your PhD project. Please note the application process in case of masters degrees in other subjects or from other universities: other qualifications (PDF, 563 KB).

Both doctorates cover a three-year full-time program (standard period of study; part-time is possible) leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) degree and consist of completing a dissertation as well as courses.

  1. Individual Doctorate (Allgemeines Doktorat): dissertation + collecting 12 ECTS points in coursework
  2. PhD Program (Doktoratsprogramm): dissertation + collecting 30 ECTS points in coursework

The aim of the doctorates at the Department of Psychology is to promote disciplinary skills, that is, the PhD students learn to develop competencies in their own research field as well as in methods and applications. Moreover, transferable skills are trained such as academic career development, communication, writing research grant applications, leadership skills, and international research experiences. Our PhD students, who complete their doctoral degree at the Department of Psychology of the University of Zurich, will not only publish in scientific journals, but will also qualify as future scientists or for positions in demanding societal positions.

Employees holding a PhD in psychology are sought after for positions that bridge the gap between the world of research and the general public, politics, economics and culture. The Individual Doctorate is ideal for students who are interested in a non-academic career in creative fields or in management. It offers an overview of and insight into all areas and aspects of a university. Students in the General Doctorate know how to speak the language of academia and understand how academia functions.

The PhD Program is an in-depth program directed at psychologists who want to focus on developing the skills—both in theory and in practice—necessary for an academic career in research and teaching. The concentration on academic work facilitates a seamless transition to conducting independent scholarly research. This ambitious program was designed with promising young talents in mind, and students accepted to the program receive a comprehensive and challenging education that lays the foundation for them to become the leading experts in tomorrow’s psychology research.

The doctorates are conceptualized according to the recommendations of the Extended University Board (Erweiterte Universitätsleitung). PhD students select their courses individually according to the doctoral agreement (Doktoratsvereinbarung), elaborated with the students’ doctoral committee (Promotionskommission). This document ensures the quality of the PhD degree. The doctoral committee meets regularly with the PhD student in order to assess the status of research and to provide feedback.


In the CHE Excellence Ranking 2009 the studies in Psychology at the University of Zurich reached the status Excellence Group. More information



The University of Zurich is a member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU).