The UNIL PhD Career Survey

Introduction | Annual Surveys | Overview of the 2007-2017 survey results


UNIL's objective is to better understand the future of its doctorate holders in order to ensure the quality of doctoral training and to highlight the range of possible career paths. To meet this goal, the Graduate Campus has established annual surveys of UNIL doctorate holders.

The objectives of the annual survey centre on two areas of reflection and action by the Graduate Campus:

  1. The quality of the training of doctoral students during their doctorate in terms of preparation for their future professional paths;
  2. Raising awareness (among early career researchers and supervisors) of the diversity of post-doctoral career options and promoting the value of the doctorate among employers.

These issues are given particular attention by organisations at Swiss, European and international level, of which the Graduate Campus is part.

The annual survey contributes to the mission of the Graduate Campus to accompany and support doctoral and post-doctoral researchers in their professional development, and to support the University in its efforts to raise awareness, both internally and externally, of the professional potential of the next generation of researchers trained by the University.

The annual survey thus forms the basis of the Graduate Campus' response to points 2.1.2 and 4.1.1 of the UNIL Rectorate’s 2021-2026 Statement of Intent. It also meets one of the key recommendations of the OECD Expert Group report on promoting diverse career pathways for doctoral and postdoctoral researchers.

Annual Surveys


The next annual survey (2020+3) is in preparation. If you defended your doctorate at UNIL in 2020, please check your email for further details. If you would like to participate but haven't received an email by the end of December, please contact us.


The 2019+3 annual survey was completed in December 2022.

We're currently working on the analysis of the results, and will publish the highlights on this page as soon as they are ready.


Read the Uniscope article about the 2018+3 survey.

In November 2021, the Graduate Campus, with the support of FORS, launched the first annual survey on the professional situation of UNIL PhDs three years after the public defence.

This report presents a descriptive analysis of the 2018+3 survey results. It provides a portrait of the 2018 cohort of UNIL doctorate holders three years after the public defense, in terms of their current professional situation, the relevance of the doctorate in their professional activity, and their expectations and satisfaction with their professional life after the doctorate.

The report also suggests avenues of reflection for future actions to be undertaken, by the Graduate Campus and in collaboration with other UNIL units, in connection with the UNIL 2021-2026 Statement of Intent.

Key Figures

Of the 290 doctoral graduates who defended in 2018 (PhD, MD-PhD or MD) in one of the seven UNIL faculties, 255 were contacted and 103 participated in the survey. The participation rate is thus 40%.

The sample of participants is composed of 46% women and 56% men. Almost half (48%) of the participants obtained their doctorate in FBM, 15% in SSP, 15% in GSE, 10% in HEC, 8% in Lettres, 5% in FDCA and 1% in FTSR.

  • Unemployment rate similar to that of Switzerland: At the time of the survey, 92% of the participants were gainfully employed, while 3% of the participants responded that they were registered as unemployed.
  • A diversity of employment sectors: The public sector and the higher education sector each employ about one third of professionally active participants (34% and 32% respectively), the private sector slightly less (27%) and the private non-profit sector 7%.
  • The academic path: Nearly 60% of professionally active participants are pursuing an academic career (entirely or in parallel with other activities).
  • Fixed-term contracts in academic positions: Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those employed in the higher education sector are employed on a fixed-term contract.
  • Job satisfaction: 81% of participants who are currently working are fully or somewhat satisfied with their current role.
  • Regionally anchored: Nearly three-quarters (74%) of professionally active participants work in Switzerland and 15% work in Europe.
  • Continuing in the same field: Almost half (47%) of the professionally active participants claim to be working in the same field as the one in which they obtained their doctorate, and 39% say they are in a similar or broader field.
  • The importance of transversal skills: 64% of the professionally active participants said that they are taking advantage of the transversal skills acquired during their doctorate.


Awareness and promotion (Statement of Intent 2.1.2)

The strong regional roots of the participants show the importance of the local economic fabric in the professional integration of doctorate holders. It reminds us also of the importance of developing initiatives to highlight these skills with employers in the region and facilitate the efforts of doctorate holders during their professional transition towards new employment sectors.

Career preparation (Statement of Intent 4.1.1)

The important mobilisation of transversal skills in the current role, including compared to theoretical and technical skills, show the importance of a doctoral training that takes into account and encourages the development of this type of skills.

Further development of the annual UNIL + 3 doctoral survey

This first annual survey allows us to identify different lines of analysis and action for the future editions of the survey. Furthermore, this survey collected new contacts of doctorate holders interested in participating in initiatives organised by the Graduate Campus (webinars and/or doctoral portraits presented on our website

Finally, in the medium and longer term, the annual survey will provide material with which to develop initiatives to raise awareness and inform the various audiences concerned (early career researchers, supervisors and employers).

The executive summary is available below. To receive the full report, please contact the Graduate Campus.


From January 2018 to September 2019, the University of Lausanne’s Graduate Campus conducted a survey of the 2448 people who received a doctoral degree between 2007 and 2017. The first phase of the survey, using online social networks and search engines, allowed us to find the contact details of 1265 of our target population. Of those, we were able to interview 459 people.

Overall, we can observe a wide variety of career paths, with differences between the faculties of origin. The large majority of those we interviewed felt that the doctorate had been a positive experience, a personal challenge accomplished, and in the long term, a distinction that has had a real effect on their career. If they could turn back time, they say they’d do it all again!

The interactive table below provides a résumé from different perspectives of the information collected during the first phase of the survey. Other qualitative and quantitative results will be published in a more extensive report.

The full report is available here.

Overview of the 2007-2017 survey results

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