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Old 15.03.2018, 12:24
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Post-Doc Requirements

Hello,

I have applied to a post doc in Switzerland and am going to an interview. However, my adviser seems to misunderstand how post-docs work and has suddenly informed me that he never thought I would graduate before the position start date. Clearly not ideal and not at all what I expected.

Does anyone know if there are particular rules about having defended your dissertation before the start date of a post doc? I know in the US one can often start a post doc before defense, but I think this is different in different fields and different countries.

I would like to know what to expect when I break this news to the hiring professor.
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Old 15.03.2018, 12:43
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

You can go to the interview without having the degree, but you have to have at least a confirmation of graduation to start working as a postdoc here.

Anyway, how do you imagine working here in CH and preparing for the defence in the US simultaneously? Thesis is not a piece of cake, you will need 120% commitment. And why the hell a swiss professor should pay the last months of your PhD anyway?

P.S. Finish one thing, then start the other. In the worst case you will enjoy a couple of months of unemployment.
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Old 15.03.2018, 12:44
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

Uni St. Gallen states that a postdoc applicant should acquire the doctorate within six months and that the supervising professor should confirm the status of the work and final exams:

https://www.unisg.ch/de/forschung/fo...tdocfoerderung

You might want to search on "postdoc schweiz anforderungen" or similar for more information from other Swiss universities.
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Old 15.03.2018, 13:21
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@LifeStrain I totally agree, the professor shouldn't pay for my phd. I was under the impression I would be done by September and my adviser writing reference letters to that point was a pretty strong indication. No idea why he changed his mind, but I would not have even applied to the position if he had been more forthcoming.

To the same point, that means I am essentially done and just waiting to graduate, so I would be able to work on new research, outside of bureaucratic responsibilities to finish the thesis.

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Uni St. Gallen states that a postdoc applicant should acquire the doctorate within six months and that the supervising professor should confirm the status of the work and final exams:

https://www.unisg.ch/de/forschung/fo...tdocfoerderung

You might want to search on "postdoc schweiz anforderungen" or similar for more information from other Swiss universities.
@Mullhollander It seems EPFL (where I've applied) has different standards, typically stating that you hold the Phd before the start. I'm more curious if there are more institutionalized standards.

Just trying to decide when is the optimal time to look like a jerk, before or after the interview... :\

Last edited by 3Wishes; 15.03.2018 at 16:18. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 15.03.2018, 13:39
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

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I was under the impression I would be done by September and my adviser writing reference letters to that point was a pretty strong indication. No idea why he changed his mind, but I would not have even applied to the position if he had been more forthcoming.
And that is exactly why they want you to HOLD the degree, not be about to receive it. Hell knows what's in a professors head... This is not the first story I hear, that a supervisor and a student agreed on the defence, but then the former made it last 1-2 years more. I think they probably have a sort of informal competition and brag to each other in a bar something like: "hey fella, I ruined his 4-year PhD project in just 1 meeting" or "I made him work for free for 7 months, what a fool!"...
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Old 15.03.2018, 15:07
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

I can confirm that EPFL requires a PhD before starting work as a postdoc (you must even send a copy of the diploma!).
This is because your position title and place on the salary scale depend on you having a doctorate.
Different from the American system, I know - and not a rule that can be bent most of the time.
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Old 15.03.2018, 15:19
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

I had a postdoc in my group who began and worked for a few months before returning to his home country to defend for a couple days, before returning with the official doctorate title. This was ETHz, so apparently it's possible there. Not sure the contract details though
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Old 15.03.2018, 20:11
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

I'm a little confused by this question. Doesn't the word "post-doc" alone imply that you can only do that after a completed and awarded doctorate title?

Maybe my mind works in too simple ways

I've seen enough doctoral candidates who ended up NOT getting the title at the time they originally planned, so it appears fair that having the diploma in hand would be a requirement for a post-doc. This is also a requirement, for example, if doing a post-doc in industry, at least that was the case at my company where they always asked for a copy of the diploma.
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Old 16.03.2018, 14:17
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

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I'm a little confused by this question. Doesn't the word "post-doc" alone imply that you can only do that after a completed and awarded doctorate title?

Maybe my mind works in too simple ways

I've seen enough doctoral candidates who ended up NOT getting the title at the time they originally planned, so it appears fair that having the diploma in hand would be a requirement for a post-doc. This is also a requirement, for example, if doing a post-doc in industry, at least that was the case at my company where they always asked for a copy of the diploma.
Its fine if you have just a confirmation of passed final exam, diploma can be issued much later.

And yes, it is true that to be seriously considered for any jobs here you must have at least passed the final exam. I submitted about 40 applications both before and after the PhD exam, and only those submitted after the exam resulted in interviews. Before that - silence.
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Old 19.03.2018, 18:47
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Re: Post-Doc Requirements

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Hello,

I have applied to a post doc in Switzerland and am going to an interview. However, my adviser seems to misunderstand how post-docs work and has suddenly informed me that he never thought I would graduate before the position start date. Clearly not ideal and not at all what I expected.

Does anyone know if there are particular rules about having defended your dissertation before the start date of a post doc? I know in the US one can often start a post doc before defense, but I think this is different in different fields and different countries.

I would like to know what to expect when I break this news to the hiring professor.
This is very common. It happened to me at the end of my PhD due to mental health issues of my supervisor.

Switzerland is less flexible than other places in terms of having official confirmation of the PhD, but accommodations are possible on a case by case basis. The most common accomodation being that they'll just delay the official start date of the position.

If your thesis is legitimately wrapped up, just a delay in official defense, they can also hire you on a research assistant salary until your defense. Although I have no idea of the residence permit ramifications of a (lower salary) RA vs postdoc as everyone I have known who has done RA before defense already had residence (or an EU path to it).

Regarding delaying, it really comes down to where the funds for the position are coming from. If they are tied strictly to a grant, it is likely harder to do. If the position is coming out of the professor's "Chair" budget, then things are much more flexible.

Unless the EPFL professor has been very insistent about the start date throughout the application/preliminary interview process, (i.e. unless you've answered a direct question about when you'd be able to start) just wait until she/he asks when you'd be able to start.
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