Your go-to local fellow MD-PhDs. We are here to answer your questions and help you out. Do not hesitate to contact us!
SWISS MD-PHD PROGRAM
Local MD-PhD programs
Each of the five big Swiss Universities has an own MD-PhD program. You can find the details about the program structure, requirements and application process below.
Head: PD Dr. Monica Schaller
Head: Prof. Sophie De Seigneux
Head: Prof. Lucia Mazzolai
Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS) and Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) jointly award a limited number of competitive individual MD-PhD grants each year.
Keep in mind that this is not the only funding opportunity for Swiss MD-PhD students. There are many more organisations and foundations offering support, depending on your research area and career stage. Use the link below to find the best fit for you.
Other useful links
INTERNATIONAL MD-PHD PROGRAMMES AND ASSOCIATIONS
WHAT DOES MD-PHD MEAN?
The MD-PhD is a combined doctorate in medicine (MD) and natural sciences (PhD).
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE MD-PHD PROGRAMME?
The MD-PhD combined doctorate is aimed at physicians who wish to deepen their scientific education. The goal is to train physician-scientists to conduct independent, internationally competitive basic or clinical research.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO ENTER THE SWISS MD-PHD PROGRAMME?
In general, all holders of a Swiss university (or equivalent) diploma in human, veterinary or dental medicine are eligible. In some cases, the entry is possible prior to graduation. For more details, please refer to the "Swiss MD-PhD Programme" section and select the university you are interested in.
WHAT IF I HOLD A NON-SWISS DEGREE IN MEDICINE?
The requirement for diploma recognition depends on the specific MD-PhD position. In general, you will only need to go through the process if your position requires patient contact. In this case, please refer to the Federal Office of Public Health website for details.
HOW DO I APPLY?
Typically, you first need to independently find a position in a research group affiliated with one of the universities offering the MD-PhD programme. You will then write your MD-PhD research proposal together with your mentor, after which you will apply for the MD-PhD programme of your university.
DO I HAVE TO APPLY FOR THE SAMS/SNSF GRANT IF I WANT TO APPLY FOR THE SWISS MD-PHD PROGRAMME?
No. The SAMS/SNSF grant is only a source of funding. As such it is not a requirement for your MD-PhD studies. You can identify the resources on your own or together with your mentor.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE SAMS/SNSF GRANT?
The application process and requirements are described here. Most importantly, only Swiss residents or candidates residing in Switzerland for the last two years are eligible.
The local MD-PhD committee first decides which candidates are suitable for the nation-wide selection. In the second step, the selected candidates are interviewed in Bern and the full committee, including representatives from all MD-PhD programmes, decides which candidates will be supported.
WHAT ARE THE EVALUATION CRITERIA FOR THE SAMS/SNSF GRANT?
The usual selection criteria include
CV: early interest in research and scientific experience, results of exams of medical school, personal flexibility
a solid career plan
personal impressions: talent to present scientific projects and ideas, personal motivation
the originality and feasibility of the project
the quality of the host laboratory (previous publications in the field)
WHAT SALARY CAN I EXPECT AS AN MD-PHD STUDENT?
Your salary depends on the source of the funding for your research project. The joint grant of SAMS/SNFS (see "Financial support" above) typically amounts to a gross salary of CHF 60'000 per year for a period of three years. Keep in mind that only a small number of these grants are awarded each year. If you do not receive the funding from the SAMS/SNSF or the period of support ended, you need to discuss your salary with your lab head. Bear in mind that having an MD title should qualify you for a slightly higher salary compared to a normal PhD. For reference, the typical gross salary of a PhD student is around CHF 50'000.
CAN I DO A PART OF MY MD PHD WORK ABROAD?
The majority of your research has to be completed at a Swiss university. However, a visit to a foreign institution for a duration of 6 months or less is usually possible. Contact your local MD-PhD programme coordinator for more information.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE MY MD-PHD TIME COUNT TOWARDS MY RESIDENCY TRAINING IN SWITZERLAND?
This depends on the rules specific to your specialty. For most specialties, you can have 1 year of your MD-PhD research count towards your education. Your research field does not always need to correspond to your specialty.
We complied an unofficial list of the accredited time per specialty, which you can find here: FMH Accreditation (member-only access). Although the list will be updated regularly, it mainly serves as an orientation as we cannot guarantee that it will always correspond to the most recent regulations. The official regulations can be found on the SIWF website.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE MD-PHD? WHICH CAREER PATH SHOULD I FOLLOW?
There is no single correct answer to this question. To get a better understanding about the possibilities and most common outcomes, we recommend to read the following publication (click to download):
Dos Santos Rocha, A., Scherlinger, M., Ostermann, L., Mehler, D. M. A., Nadiradze, A., Schulze, F., ... & Jawaid, A. (2020). Characteristics and opinions of MD-PhD students and graduates from different European countries: a study from the European MD-PhD Association. Swiss medical weekly, 150(w20205), w20205.