What are the qualifications and academic requirements to apply for admission?
Learn more our eligibility criteria here. Mandatory basic requirements are at least 17 years of formal education or more and, either a Master's degree in design or a Bachelor's degree in design with three years of professional experience in the design field. The term "design" must appear in the title of the degree.
What does “17 years of education” mean?
This span includes your entire formal education, including graduate/master's degree and postgraduate studies. Learn more about our eligibility criteria here.
Is a professional with a diploma from a private design institution eligible to apply for admission?
If they meet the admission criteria and their diploma is deemed equivalent to a master's degree, they are eligible. Consult our eligibility criteria and/or contact the programme’s management team.
How many PhD candidates do you accept?
We accept two or three PhD candidates per year.
How many times a year do you accept applicants?
Once a year. The call is published annually, around February/March (subject to change). Check our website for the latest updates.
Can I apply if I have not yet completed my master’s programme?
It depends. Please refer to the eligibility criteria and contact the programme’s management team.
Cooperation between the HSLU and the NID
Do you expect the PhD proposals and research topics to reflect the collaboration between the two institutions, i.e., their countries and cultures?
The basic requirement for admission to the PhD programme is a research topic that fits in with one of the research foci of either one of the partner universities. It is the only way to ensure adequate supervision at the NID and at the HSLU, and the integration of PhD students into the research groups of the Lucerne School of Art and Design.
Is it possible to conduct the research involved anywhere or is it limited to India and Switzerland?
In principle, it is possible to conduct your research in any country. However, to be accepted to the programme, your research topic needs to fit in with one of the partner universities’ research foci. It is the only way to ensure adequate supervision at the NID and at the HSLU, and the integration of PhD students into the research groups of the Lucerne School of Art and Design.
How do you hope to manage the challenges of working with people with diverse cultural perspectives that might clash sometimes (especially online)?
The HSLU and the NID have been teaching and conducting research together for many years. A fundamental aspect of this cooperation is the fostering of a shared culture of inclusion. Continuous, critical reflection on, and engagement with, diversity is deeply rooted in the programme, especially in terms of intercultural exchange, which manifests for example in the joint supervision of the PhD students and our joint course offerings. We consider integrating different perspectives to be an important part of the learning and teaching experience.
Doctoral Advisory Committee (DAC)
What does the supervision look like in this programme?
All PhD students are supported and supervised by the so-called “DAC”. The committee consists of the guide (first supervision, provided by the NID), the co-guide (second supervision, provided by the HSLU) and a third external specialist from industry or academia, that is, from outside this cooperation. The chairperson of the DAC is the guide. The PhD students submit a report to the DAC every six months, presenting the status of their work.
Duration of Studies
What is the difference between part-time and full-time studies?
PhD students can study part-time (five years) or full-time (three years). Studying full-time means they devote five working days per week to their doctorate. By comparison, PhD students studying part-time devote about 2.5 working days per week to their doctorate. Concurrently to working on their doctorate, they may pursue other activities, have employment outside the PhD cooperation or work with one of the HSLU’s research groups on a different project. In terms of funding possibilities (cf. Funding below), this means:
-SNSF model (cf. SNSF-Model below) (employed by HSLU)
-Self-funded studies (not employed by HSLU)
-HSLU time model (cf. HSLU time model below) (employed by HSLU, work in other projects run by a research group)
-Self-funded studies (not employed by HSLU, professional activities outside the PhD cooperation)
Both part-time and full-time studies may be extended by a maximum of two years in justified cases (such as illness, parenthood, military service, etc.).
Is it possible for PhD students to attend exchange semesters at the NID or at the HSLU?
Yes, that is possible. In consultation with their guides and co-guides, PhD students enrolled in the PhD programme from both the NID and the HSLU can attend courses offered by either university. For more information, consult the respective websites of the HSLU and the NID. However, longer stays must be financed by the students themselves. The HSLU may cover a limited part of the travel costs.
Is it possible to join the programme as an exchange student from a different university?
The courses offered in the framework of the PhD programme at the Lucerne School of Art and Design are open to interested PhD students from other universities. For more information, visit the Events section or contact the programme’s management team. Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to complete an entire exchange semester at doctoral level at the HSLU. The PhD students in this PhD programme are exclusively enrolled at the NID. If you would like to attend an exchange semester at the NID as part of your doctorate, please contact the International Office of your home university.
What are the requirements for a partially or fully funded doctorate?
The HSLU offers two funding models to finance the doctorate. To qualify for one of these two funding models, the proposal must meet the admission criteria, convince the selection committee of its quality and feasibility, fit in with the research foci of the two universities and, ideally, fit into an ongoing research project of one of the research groups at
Lucerne School of Art and Design.
What does a fully funded scholarship entail?
There are no scholarships available for this PhD programme. PhD students who have been admitted to the programme are assigned to one of the four research groups of the Lucerne School of Art and Design according to the thematic focus of their proposal and employed as research associates, provided that their dissertation project fits into the research focus and/or into an ongoing research project. If this is not the case, a free, self-financed doctorate is also possible (cf. self-funding below).
There are two employment models for PhD students: the HSLU working time model (cf. HSLU time model below) and the SNSF model (cf. SNSF model below). Based on the extent to which a proposed topic aligns with ongoing projects in one of the research groups, the HSLU decides whom to integrate in which model and research group, respectively research project. PhD students in either model earn a monthly salary that covers their living expenses. Tuition fees and any extra costs must be borne by the PhD students. The HSLU may cover a limited part of the travel costs.
What is the “HSLU working time model”?
PhD students are employed as research associates by one of the research groups of Lucerne School of Art and Design for 3.5 days (0.7 FTE) per week and paid accordingly. For 2.5 (0.5 FTE) of these working days, they work on various projects run by the research group. The remaining day is reserved for the doctorate. There is an expectation that the candidate spends the remaining, unpaid time (that is, 1.5 working days per week, 0.3 FTE) working on their dissertation. Funding is limited to three years.
What is the “SNSF model”?
PhD students will be integrated into an SNSF-funded (Swiss National Science Foundation) research project of one of the four research groups and will be employed as research associates by the HSLU. They are employed and paid according to the SNSF guidelines for PhD students for four days a week (0.8 FTE), during which they exclusively work on their dissertation (“protected time”). The SNSF expects PhD students to devote 80 to 100% of a full-time position (0.8 to 1.0 FTE) to their doctorate ("protected time") and to complete their dissertation quickly within the maximum funding period of four years. If there are open doctoral positions in an SNSF-funded project, these are regularly advertised on the HSLU job portal. If there is a thematic fit with the PhD programme “Eco-Social Innovation by Design”, the position will be explicitly stated in the call.
What does "self-funding" mean? What costs will I incur?
"Self-funding" means that all personal living and study costs are borne by the PhD students themselves. They are not paid employees of the HSLU. However, the HSLU may cover a limited part of the travel costs. The courses offered specifically for PhD students at the HSLU and within the framework of Campus Luzern are also open to self-funded PhD students without employment at HSLU.
What is the cost of self-funded part-time participation in the programme?
Part-time studies last five years. The tuition fee for the PhD programme at the NID is USD 2,000 per year. In addition, there are living and study costs for materials such as books, etc. as well as travel costs. The HSLU may cover a limited part of the travel costs.
Is the funding a monthly payment that covers the researcher’s cost of living or does it only cover the tuition fee?
The funding is paid in monthly instalments, as a salary that covers the living costs. The tuition fee must be paid by the PhD student themselves. The HSLU may cover a limited part of the travel costs.
Will you accept more candidates if they are all self-funded?
No. The number of applicants is always limited to two or three candidates per year. Admission to the PhD programme depends on the quality and feasibility of the proposal and its alignment with the research foci of the two universities.
Are candidates expected to include a budget and timeline in the proposal?
A timeline must be submitted as part of the proposal. If it makes sense for your project, you may include a budget, though it is not mandatory. Check the admission process for the information to be included in the proposal.
Is it possible to include a portfolio in the proposal?
Yes, if it makes sense for your proposal, you may enclose a portfolio in addition to the documents required.
Place of Study
Where is the place of study? How often do I have to be present in person at the HSLU or the NID?
PhD students generally conduct their research projects individually and independent of location. A research stay in India or Switzerland is possible, but not mandatory. However, students are expected to travel to the NID at least twice during their studies (module attendance, defence of the dissertation). In the case of employment as a research associate at the HSLU, relocation to Switzerland is strongly recommended to avoid difficulties regarding residence status, health insurance and taxes.
If research in India or Switzerland is part of the proposal, is it possible to stay on campus for the duration? How long can I stay there?
Yes, you can stay/work on the NID or HSLU campus to conduct the research required for your doctoral studies. The duration of your stay depends on your project and will be determined in consultation with your guide and co-guide.
Is there a list of potential supervisors to get an idea of the faculty involved?
Yes, click here.
If I would like to be assigned a specific supervisor, should I mention it in the proposal?
There is no requirement to do so, but if you already have a specific guide in mind, you can of course mention it, and we will see whether the person is available.
Is it possible to bring in an external supervisor?
It depends. Please contact the programme’s management team.
Can you elaborate on your definition of sustainability?
We understand sustainability, in all its dimensions, as defined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Having said that, in the programme, our focus is on social and environmental innovations rather than technical innovations.
How can I find out whether my topic might be of interest?
Find information about the relevant research topics at both universities. In case of the HSLU, it specifically pays to read up on the four research groups of the Lucerne School of Art and Design.
What if a topic is so ground-breaking that there is only very little existing research? (i.e., design fiction, speculative design, a radical reframing)?
Excellent! The aim of doctoral studies is precisely to close research gaps.