Program Overview

  • 5 years


  • 500 CHF/Semester

    Tuition Fees

  • February

    Application Deadline

  • Full Time


  • On-Campus

    Delivery Mode

  • English


The five-year GSEM Ph.D. program in Economics includes two years of teaching. The students are required to attend the Swiss Program for the Beginning Doctoral Students in Economics offered by the Gerzensee Center in the first year. Also, elective courses can be chosen from a wide array of options, and they must be completed by the end of the second year. From year two onward, students are required to attend two department seminar series regularly. These are the Brown Bag Seminar, during which Ph.D. students present their ongoing work and receive feedback, and the Research Seminar in Economics and Econometrics, which mostly offers invited external speakers.

Key Facts

Autumn Semester

  • Application deadline

    Feb 28, 2021

  • Credit 48 ECTS*

*The GSEM Ph.D. program in Economics usually lasts five years, of which two years are devoted to courses. At the end of the first year, students choose their supervisors and start working on their dissertations, which normally comprise three academic articles. From year two onward, students are required to regularly attend two department seminar series (48 ECTS & academic articles).

Admission Requirements

General Terms and Conditions

Doctoral applicants must hold a Master’s degree in a program and a university recognized by UNIGE.


Interested applicants must submit the following documents via email to [email protected]:

  • Motivation letter
  • Official exam transcripts from bachelor and masters
  • Copy of your official GRE score report containing the Quantitative Reasoning score from the GRE General Test
  • Two to three academic reference letters (to be sent directly by the referees to  [email protected])
  • Two copies of the enrollment form, completed, dated, and signed.
  • Two passport photos (full face and bareheaded)
  • A copy of your identity document (back and front) or of the personal information page of your passport.
  • A copy of your Swiss residence permit (front and back), where applicable.
  • A complete CV, including full details of your studies at the secondary and university level. Each year should be clearly accounted for, including years during which you undertook no studies.
  • A copy of your diploma of upper secondary studies in the original language, together with a copy of the final grade transcript, where available.
  • Copies of all university grade transcripts obtained to date (even if dropped or failed) in the original language. Please note: For countries that have not signed or ratified the Lisbon Convention, certified true copies are required.
  • If the grade transcripts for the current academic year are not (yet) available: proof of registration or student status in the original language.
  • Copies of all university degrees obtained to date, in the original language. Please note: For countries that have not signed or ratified the Lisbon Convention, certified true copies are required.
  • For students who have studied at Swiss higher education institutions (universities, EPF, HES, HEP), proof that you are no longer enrolled at that/those institution(s) (“attestation d’exmatriculation”). For applicants whose studies are still ongoing, this proof must be provided at the latest when your enrollment at UNIGE is confirmed.
  • A letter of acceptance for doctoral studies signed by the Dean of the Faculty.
  • An official translation of each document not in French, German, Italian, English, or Spanish should be provided along with the documents in the original language.

For further information, check the official website:


Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees

  • 500 CHF/Semester

Living costs for Geneva

  • 3,500 CHF

    Living Costs The average living cost is a sum of estimated prices of rent, meals & groceries, utilities, transportation, and entertainment.

The cost of living in Geneva is expensive, at approximately CHF 3,500 per month; however, it seems affordable since the average monthly salary is CHF 5,340. Living costs in Geneva depends on your lifestyle and the type of housing you choose.


As the most expensive place to rent in Switzerland, the average renting prices in Geneva are:

  • CHF 3,800 for a standard 4.5 room apartment
  • CHF 2,700 for a standard 3.5 room apartment
  • CHF 1,800 for a standard two-room apartment

When it comes to student apartments in Geneva, they are often somewhere around 22-42m². Even though the renting market is highly competitive in Geneva, you can find rooms for rent under CHF 1,000 if you look thoroughly.

Monthly utilities (heating, electricity, water, garbage…) for a person living in a 45 m2 (480 sqft) studio cost approximately CHF 122, while for an 85m2 apartment, it can reach CHF 200.


Prices obviously vary whether you prefer eating out or buy groceries to prepare food yourself. For a night out, it also depends on the restaurant. A basic lunchtime menu, including a drink, can cost about CHF 30. Dinner for two at an Italian restaurant that includes appetizers, main course, wine, and dessert costs approximately CHF 113.

Average prices for a drink can be CHF 20 for a cocktail, CHF 5 for coffee and sodas, and CHF 7 for a 0.5 beer. A week’s worth of food (bread, pasta, rice, eggs, vegetables, cheese, deli meats for sandwiches, and some assorted fruit) will cost you around CHF 75-100 in Switzerland.


In Geneva, an extensive network of bus, tram, train, and boat services enables the general public to travel around the entire region. Transportation can be expensive, but there are usually monthly travelcards. A regular ticket for 60 minutes costs 3 CHF, and you can switch between buses, trams, and boats. For several bus or tram journeys, you can get a day pass for 10.60 CHF or a monthly public transport ticket for CHF 60.

If you prefer to go around by taxi, the start tariff is approximately CHF 6, and a basic charge for a trip on a business day would cost CHF 36 for 8 km. (5 miles)


Estimate your expenses

Type of expense Monthly Yearly (12 months) Details
Tuition fee CHF 83 CHF 1000 Count CHF 11 per month for UNIGE students who are exempted from taxes.
Education expenses
(material, support, etc.)
CHF 83 CHF 1000 For HES, part of the tuition fee is added to the tax.
Health Insurance CHF 1191 CHF 1’428 For students with a permit B training.
CHF 3722 CHF 4’464 For Swiss students or ex-officio affiliates.
Rent CHF 700 CHF 8400
Public Transportation CHF 453 CHF 450 The annual price of the TPG subscription is CHF 450.
Maintenance CHF 1’000 CHF 12’000 Maintenance includes food, pocket money, clothing, electricity, telephone, household maintenance, personal care, hygiene, and other services.
Insurance Deductible
and medical expenses
CHF 33 CHF 400 See our advice on this subject in the section Establishing my budget below.
Total CHF 2’063 CHF 24’756 For students with a permit B training.
CHF 2’316 CHF 27’792 For Swiss students


Financial support: The GSEM offers Ph.D. students financial support, usually in the form of teaching assistant contracts. The number of assistantships is limited and is allocated on the basis of academic merit. Research funds may provide additional financial support.

For the Swiss Government excellence scholarships, check the site down below:

For further information please check the official website:

Getting a Student Visa

Since Switzerland is a part of the Schengen zone, a Schengen visa will win you the right to go to the country, but if you want to stay there as a student, you must take a few more steps. The procedures are different for EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA students.

After getting the acceptance letter, follows the process of setting an appointment with the Swiss embassy or consulate in your country. The procedure takes time, so make sure to set the appointment six months prior to your studying. The processing time for the short stay visas is around 10-15 days, and for long stay visas, eight to ten weeks.

For each document required, you have to provide the original along with three copies. The papers should be in English or in one of Switzerland’s national languages (German, French, Italian, or Romansh). If they are not in one of these languages, you will need a certified translation of those documents. 

Switzerland Student Visa Requirements

  • The completed and signed application forms for a long stay visa (D type) in one of the languages mentioned above. 
  • Passport – valid three months beyond the planned stay.
  • Four passport-size biometric photographs.
  • Letter of acceptance (certificate of enrollment) issued by a Swiss university.
  • Paid visa application fee. 
  • Proof of payment of the registration and tuition fees (for the first year of your studies).
  • Proof of sufficient financial coverage: copies of bank statements or a letter from the bank provided by you or your supervisor. Funds are supposed to cover living costs in Switzerland for the duration of schooling (21,000 CHF or 19,200 EUR at the beginning of each year of your studies).
  • Scholarship/Loan proof (if available) from an institution that proves that the scholarship or loan will cover all expenses for the study.
  • CV.
  • Letter of motivation, which should also include your professional plans for the future.

Submitting the Switzerland student visa application

After filling the application and completing all required documents, you should submit them in person at the Swiss embassy/consulate at the designated time of your appointment. Along with submitting your documents, you are required to pay the Swiss student visa application fee. 

After receiving your Swiss Student Visa

You may enter Switzerland after you receive a student visa. Within the first two weeks of arrival, you have to register at the local Residents Registration Office of your canton as well as visit the cantonal migration office in order to obtain a residence permit form.

B permit (a biometric card) is the type of residence permit for student stay. Prior to that, you will receive an attestation that allows you to open a Swiss bank account. It will take up to 8 weeks for your B permit to be processed. 

Student Visa Validity

The student visa or the B permit obtained in Switzerland initially is valid for one year. After one year, you have the option to extend it. However, updated proof of income is required in order for your student visa to be extended.


If you’re a student who wants to study in Switzerland but are not quite sure what are the steps of the student visa application process,  you are advised to read the following resources on Everything You Need To Know about getting a visa for Switzerland.

Work Permit

Find out all you need to know about work permit regulations for working part-time (during studies) and full-time (after graduation) in Switzerland.

Work while studying in Switzerland

For many international students in Switzerland, working while studying is an ideal option. Still, that is not recommended by some universities since it can distract and affect your academic work. With job boards and other advisory services, other schools facilitate job searches to help students. During the school year, students’ working hours are limited, and there are a few requirements they need to fulfill.

How many hours are international students allowed to work per week?

International students can work up to 15 hours a week in part-time jobs. But during semester holidays students can work full-time.


When are students allowed to start working?

Students from outside the EU/EFTA countries may start working only 6 months after starting their degree program.

Is there a work permit required for students working part-time?

Citizens from EU-27/EFTA states do not require authorization for short-term employment up to three months or 90 days per the calendar year. For an extended time, they will have to earn a residence permit. Third-country nationals are obliged to submit numerous documents to prove their eligibility for a work permit in Switzerland.

What job can I get as a student in Switzerland?

During your years as a student, there are many part-time jobs that you can do. For most students, employment in retail, restaurants, and others are sought-after options. However, a lack of language skills (in German, French, or Italian) can limit your employment chances. 

Work after graduation in Switzerland

Upon your graduation, you have the right to look for a permanent job in Switzerland. Prior to that, a residency permit that allows you to search for a job should be obtained. The permit is only valid for 6 months, and it cannot be extended.

What requirements do students need to fulfill in order to receive a residency work permit?

In order to receive the residency work permit, you have to provide proof that you:

  • Have graduated. 
  • Are financially able to support your say.
  • Have secured housing.

Are students allowed to work during this 6 months period?

During this six month period, graduates can work up to 15 hours a week. These rules do not apply for EU/EFTA nationals as they benefit from the freedom of movement under bilateral agreements.

How difficult is for international students to find a permanent job after graduation in Switzerland?

A non-EU/EFTA can get a job in Switzerland only if there are no qualified individuals from within the Swiss labour market or from an EU/EFTA state that apply for the position. Employers are required to show that they made “big efforts” to find qualified applicants from EU/EFTA countries or nationals who already have a permit to work. Furthermore, employers must show why those with priority to get the job were not suitable candidates for the position.


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