The CLS doctoral training program offers a unique fellowship program, where PhD students are co-supervised by one advisor from ETH Zurich and one from the Max Planck Society. Each PhD fellow has a primary location (chosen based on interests and match) and spends one year at the other location as well. In this highly competitive program, PhD students are expected to take advantage of the opportunities offered by both organizations and to actively seek cross-group collaborations. With this concept, CLS offers young academics in the field of learning systems the chance of outstanding collaborations and exchange early in in their careers. The Center also offers a wide range of activities like retreats, workshops, and summer schools, as well as the possibility to engage in organizing such events. The program language is English.
Fellowships are remunerated through support contracts with the Max Planck Society and employment contracts at ETH Zurich. CLS students receive a contract at the same level as other PhD students in the group they are joining. CLS pays 50% of the cost of the fellow's work contract for the first three years of the PhD, with the remaining 50% paid by the advisor (during the exchange, the co-advisor). A fourth-year extension is possible in justified cases, subject to progress and successful completion of the one-year exchange.
CLS doctoral fellows must cover some fees and costs charged by ETH Zurich: modest semester fees, plus one-off payments for registration, tuition and for the final examination.
12-month exchange with the co-advisor: this forms the unique feature of the CLS doctoral program and is a non-negotiable program requirement. During the exhange, the contract is stopped/suspended at the home base and the PhD fellow switches to a contract issued by the co-advisors institute. If a single 12-month exchange is impractical, it may be divided into two 6-month periods.
Short visits: PhD fellows are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities offered by both organizations and to actively seek cross-group collaborations. To facilitate this, short visits between sites are encouraged and travel costs covered. The trip between Zurich and Tübingen/Stuttgart takes around 3 hours by train.
Course credits: as ETH doctoral candidates, PhD fellows are seen not only as employees but also students, and are obliged in the course of their doctoral study to continue their education, inside and outside their specialist area. Another important component of a doctorate is learning how to educate others. Thus, CLS PhD fellows need to obtain course credits (in most cases, a minimum of 12 credit points) and take part in the teaching activities of their host group, according to the regulations of the respective department at ETH Zurich.
Progress reports: CLS PhD fellows are expected to discuss their project plans and progress in a joint meeting (virtual or physical) attended by both advisors at least once per year, followed up with a summary written by the student to be submitted to the CLS coordinator. In addition, PhD fellows are expected to provide documentation of the progress of their research project as required by the doctoral regulations at ETH Zurich, e.g. must submit a detailed written research plan within one year of doctoral registration. This research plan should be discussed with and agreed upon by both CLS advisors.
Events: CLS PhD fellows are expected to actively participate in workshops, summer schools and other events of the Center.
Acknowledgements: All CLS fellows are required to mention the CLS as funding source in the acknowledgements of their publications (journal publications, proceedings, PhD thesis, etc). If possible they should also mention the CLS in the affiliation section in addition to the home institution. This could read as:
- Your Name
- Department of XY, ETH Zurich and Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems
- Your Name
- Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen/Stuttgart, Germany and Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems