Program structure

First phase: thesis thematic & research plan

The purpose of this Phase is to provide the student with enough time to
a) enrich and deepen his knowledge in the research area of his choice, and
b) identify his research subject and plan the work he will carry our during Phase 2.

Phase 1 lasts at most 24 months and concludes with the presentation of the student’s thesis proposal. This document serves as a scientific contract between the student on one side, and the advisor and the Doctoral commission on the other. The curriculum is based on three parts, namely (1) a custom program of courses, seminars and projects, (2) the critical reading exam, and (3) the thesis proposal.

(1) Custom program

The student must carry out a custom program of courses, seminars and projects. Courses and seminars might be attended in any recognized academic institution. At least one methodology seminar is required. For this purpose, the ISI proposes a seminar presenting various research methodologies applicable to information systems, e.g., empirical studies, design sciences, etc. The custom program is proposed by the advisor and approved by the doctoral commission.

(2) Critical reading exam

The student, together with his supervisor, selects 5 articles (research papers, book chapters). The Doctoral commission decides on this choice. Then, the student writes a critical review of each article, outlining its strengths and weaknesses. Each review should be approximately 2 pages long (A4 format), single space, starting with a short summary of the reviewed paper not exceeding 1/2 page. In addition, the students chooses 1 of these critical reviews and presents it during a "Day of PhD students". During this presentation, the students can also be asked questions about the other 4 chosen articles. This constitutes the critical reading exam.

(3) Thesis proposal

The student writes a thesis proposal of approximately 15 pages (A4 format), single space. The proposal should provide the following information:

  • a description of the research;
  • a preliminary review of the main research conducted in the domain;
  • a discussion of the research questions that will addressed;
  • a discussion of the theoretical basis underlying the thesis;
  • a description of the foreseen research methodology;
  • a discussion of the expected contributions to theory and practice;
  • a detailed timetable of the planned research activities.

The thesis proposal is then defended during a "Day of PhD students" by the student,  no sooner than one month after having been handed out to the Doctoral commission. If accepted, the proposal serves as research plan for Phase 2 and as scientific contract between the student on one side, and the advisor and the Doctoral commission on the other. The thesis proposal concludes Phase 1.

Second phase: PhD Research

The goal of Phase 2 is to conduct the research planned in Phase 1 and to result in the actual doctoral thesis. The curriculum is based on two parts, namely (1) the participation in the various events organized in the context of the doctoral school in information systems, and (2) the publication of two research papers in international conferences or journals with peer review. 

Doctoral School Events

The student is asked to participate in the various events organized in the context of the doctoral school, such as research seminars, seasonal schools, and research days. Among others, these events include research seminars organized throughout the academic year, research days organized once or twice per year, occasional seasonal schools, etc. For details, please refer to the events section of this site.

Reviewed publications

The student must have at least 2 papers accepted in conferences or journals with peer review. If a paper is accepted in a conference, the student must in addition attend the conference and present the paper.


Learn more: 

See PhD program regulations


The Phd student form will help you to keep track of your progress during your doctoral studies. So whenever you achieve an important step in your PhD curriculum, you are responsible for updating your form and sending it back to the secretary of the doctoral school.

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Doctoral school, PhD in Information systems
University of Lausanne
HEC Lausanne
Internef 234
Quartier de Dorigny
CH-1015 Lausanne
+41 21 692 35 80

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