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Academic career

Are you considering pursuing a career in science? Here you will find helpful information to help you in your decision-making process. If you need it, make an appointment for a personal counselling session to plan your academic future.


In principle, the rules and requirements for a career in science and research are the same – that is, demanding – across all fields of science. However, don't let these discourage or intimidate you from the start:

  • Competition in this field is generally high.
  • Research positions at universities are often limited.
  • Resourcefulness, accuracy, determination and perseverance are key skills.
  • Very good English skills are essential.
  • Academic careers and mobility are practically synonymous. At least part of a university research career is spent abroad.
  • Both countries nearby and further afield must be considered as the job market.

More information and general conditions on this topic can be found on the webpage of the University of Bern:

Stages of an academic career path

The academic career can be divided into four stages, following the structure of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The start of the doctorate is the first step in an academic career.

1. Doctorate

At the beginning of the doctorate, the doctoral student and his/her supervisors conclude a doctoral agreement. This agreement defines the general conditions and the duration of the doctorate as well as its educational, research and supervisory objectives:

The duration of a doctorate can vary from faculty to faculty. It is worth knowing about the «best practices» in the relevant research discipline. The regulations of the faculties can also be used for this.

2. Postdoctoral position (post-doc)

After successfully completing the doctorate, a postdoctoral position is the next logical step in one's academic career. The duration of a post-doc is not clearly defined and can vary greatly between faculties.

3. Assistant professorship

Assistant professorships are available with and without a tenure track. An assistant professorship with tenure track is a temporary academic position with the prospect of a permanent position. Successful completion of a probationary period is a prerequisite for permanent employment, see also the corresponding general conditions of the University of Bern:

Furthermore, there is the possibility to pursue a permanent professorship with the support of the «SNF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowships». Eccellenza offers the opportunity to achieve this goal at a university in Switzerland as an assistant professor with a research project under their own direction:

4. University professorship

The appointment as full or associate professor to a permanent university professorship – a so-called «Lehrstuhl» (Chair) – marks the final stage of the academic career.

  • Counselling on career and professional path

  • Study guidance

  • Career entry + career path (overview) 

  • Workshops (in German only)

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