Graduate School of the Arts (GSA)

Program structure

The curriculum comprises an interdisciplinary series of methodical-thematic workshops, such as canon formation, ritual, figure or remix, ethnographic urban research, audience surveys or authorship concepts (see actual courses and past courses). This program is independently co-determined and shaped by the doctoral students. In addition, soft skills courses are offered, from application to presentation techniques, from self-management to scientific English. Active participation in a total of 12 courses is expected for at least four semesters. Excursions e.g. to the Phonoteque of the Swiss National Sound Archives, the Paul Sacher Foundation or the Abegg Foundation complete the program. The doctoral students are supervised by one professor from each institution. They also attend the  disciplinary doctoral colloquia offered by both supervisors.

Longer research stays abroad as well as artistic and other scientific activities outside the GSA are welcome and can be easily combined with the commitment in the graduate school.

In addition to the mandatory program, the GSA also offers joint courses in different artistic disciplines which raise the profile of doctoral projects and the GSA as a whole. It builds virtual platforms, provides access to the outstanding infrastructures of the two universities, and supports collaborative enterprises with international print-based and electronic publishing houses. The GSA sees itself as a laboratory with an explicit remit to promote the development of unconventional learning and innovative connections between the world of academia and the world of art.

GSA Research Day

In order to open the GSA to a broader audience and to provide doctoral students with conference practice from the beginning of their doctoral studies, the GSA Research Day was established in 2016, which always takes place at the end of the semester. The doctoral students will present their first theses and questions or their partial results within 30 minutes Dissertation. An additional half an hour is open for discussion. Later, doctoral students have the opportunity to expand their contributions to essays that are also edited by their colleagues. Thus, additional experience and practice in scientific publishing are acquired.
The first volume of this new series brings together contributions from the first two Research Days, which took place in May and December 2016, and cover a wide range of topics: Beiträge der Graduate School of the Arts I.

Approaches to learning and work

The doctoral program contains both theoretical and practical modules. Considerable emphasis is placed on the independent work undertaken by doctoral students, who also benefit from intensive supervision. A core element of the GSA is the mutual sharing of experiences across disciplines. As part of the collaboration with Bern University, those attending the GSA receive a second supervision from qualified lecturers at Bern University of the Arts (HKB). The services of qualified external lecturers may also be enlisted, or a group of lecturers may come together to form a doctoral committee, particularly when specific areas need to be covered and the staff at neither the Faculty of Humanities nor Bern University of the Arts have the requisite competences.


The GSA's doctoral program lasts three years. Extensions may be available if the reasons are sufficiently important. Evidence of active participation and fulfillment of the mandatory curricular program is provided in the form of a Diploma Supplement in addition to the actual doctoral diploma.