Study programme

The doctoral study is set up and implemented in accordance with the Regulations on doctoral studies at the University of Zagreb, which define the minimum requirements for setting up and implementing doctoral studies, and the Regulations on doctoral studies at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, which define additional requirements specific to the doctoral study at FER. There are also Regulations for International Dual Doctorate (cotutelle de thèse).

The expected time for the student to complete the programme varies, depending on the mode of study (full-time, part-time). The doctoral programme takes a minimum of three years of full-time study, and can be extended to five years (with justification; usually depending on employment percentage). As a part-time study, it takes five years, and can be extended to seven years (again, with justification). The maximum permitted time to complete the programme is eight years. After the expiration of eight years from enrolment, the doctoral candidate forfeits the right to defend the doctoral dissertation.


At the time of enrolment, a provisional mentor (supervisor) or a student adviser is appointed to each doctoral candidate. The responsibilities of the appointed provisional mentor (or student adviser) are to provide guidance to the doctoral candidate over the course of his/her study, to monitor his/her work and overall progress and to help him/her plan his/her study obligations. These obligations include coursework (approval of the list of courses to be taken by the student), research seminar, as well as generic skills seminars and workshops. The mentor is formally appointed in the process of dissertation topic submission, evaluation and approval.

Student obligations


A doctoral student must take a total of 5 (five) courses, with a workload of 6 (six) ECTS credits each. At least two courses must be taken in the first and second semesters of study, and the rest must be taken in the third and fourth semesters. All courses must be successfully completed (with a positive grade) prior to enrolment in the fifth semester. A student must also take part in the research seminar in his or her area of research in all six semesters of the study, as well as generic skills seminars or workshops.

Research seminar

Research seminars are organized with the aim of developing research and creative thinking in a research environment, encouraging critical thinking and the adoption of scientific methodology. Currently there are 11 research seminars established at FER, in the following areas:

  • Research seminar in control engineering and automation,
  • Research seminar in electrical power engineering,
  • Research seminar in electronic and computer engineering,
  • Research seminar in electronics,
  • Research seminar in electrical engineering systems and technology,
  • Research seminar in information processing,
  • Research seminar in software engineering and information systems,
  • Research seminar in computer engineering,
  • Research seminar in computer science,
  • Research seminar in wireless communications,
  • Research seminar in telecommunications and informatics.

The research seminars include the following activities:

  • presentations and discussions of research achievements,
  • announcements and preliminary presentations of papers accepted for publication at scientific conferences,
  • qualifying examinations,
  • public discussions on the topics and original scientific contribution of the dissertation,
  • short cycles of lectures,
  • guest lectures,
  • PhD Day and other activities of interest.

A doctoral student is obliged to hold at least one presentation at the research seminar per academic year, and to be present at all others.

Generic skills

The acquisition of the generic research, academic and business skills is carried out through the seminars and workshops established at FER and at the University of Zagreb. Doctoral students can, with supervisor consent, also attend seminars and workshops for the acquisition of generic skills in other national and international institutions. The doctoral student must take at least two seminars or workshops for acquiring generic skills during his or her doctoral studies, of which at least one must be from the set of those offered at FER.

Qualifying examination

The qualifying examination is one of the initial steps towards defining the topic of the doctoral thesis. The student must pass the qualifying examination in the first year of study, as this is a prerequisite for enrolling in the third semester. The positive evaluation of the qualifying examination is also a prerequisite for initiating the procedure for the evaluation of the topic of the doctoral thesis.

To enter the qualifying exam, the student needs to submit the request (form FER-DR-02), together with a research paper containing a state-of-the-art review related to the topic of the future dissertation. The research paper format should be prepared according to the IEEE guidelines for conference papers. The recommended paper length is between 8 and 15 pages, including all figures, tables and list of references.

The qualifying examination is performed by the appointed committee. The members of the committee are formally appointed by the Faculty council. The committee consists of three or five members, of whom at least one member must not be involved in the doctoral study at FER, nor be employed at FER. The student’s mentor cannot be appointed as the committee chairperson.

The qualifying examination has the form of a public oral examination. At the examination, the doctoral student presents his/her research paper. The committee then evaluates the doctoral student’s capability for solving the problems in the area of the doctoral thesis, as well as the related fundamental and specific knowledge, and assesses the doctoral student’s overall capability to accomplish the doctoral thesis. This exam can only be attempted twice.

Doctoral thesis (dissertation)

Submission, evaluation and approval of the doctoral thesis topic

After having passed all exams, including the qualifying examination, and no later than the end of the fourth semester of study, the doctoral student should submit the proposal for formal appointment of the topic and the mentor for his or her doctoral research. This procedure is initiated by submitting the corresponding forms to the University of Zagreb (form DR.SC.-01 and supplementary form FER-DR-03).

The Faculty council, based on the proposal by the Board for doctoral studies, appoints a committee for dissertation topic evaluation and mentor appointment proposal, consisting of three or five members, with at least one member who is neither a teacher in the doctoral study programme at FER, nor employed at FER. The student’s mentor cannot be appointed the committee chair.

The committee for dissertation topic evaluation and mentor appointment proposal organizes a public defence of the proposed doctoral thesis’ original scientific contribution. The committee evaluates the proposed original scientific contribution and submits a formal dissertation topic evaluation report (form DR.SC.-02) which contains the title of the dissertation in the Croatian and English languages, the mentor(s) to be appointed to the doctoral candidate, the evaluation of the original scientific contribution and the language in which the thesis will be written.

The Faculty council must either accept or reject the committee proposal. If the proposal is accepted, the Faculty council forwards it (form DR.SC.-03) for final approval to the Council of Technical Sciences, before the final approval by the Senate of the University of Zagreb.

Evaluation of the doctoral thesis

Prior to submitting the doctoral thesis for evaluation, the student must fulfil all the prescribed requirements for the completion of studies. One of these requirements is related to the publication of research results, as follows. The student is required to have one journal paper, related to the doctoral research work and published during the course of doctoral studies, published in an internationally reviewed journal indexed in CC, SCI or SCI-Expanded, in which the student is the first author. In addition, the student has to have one paper published in the proceedings of an international conference, in which the student has also presented that paper.

The student initiates the procedure for the evaluation of the doctoral thesis by submitting the thesis, with corresponding supplementary documentation, to the Student Administration Office, which officially files it after conducting an administrative check. The request to initiate the procedure uses the form FER-DR-04, and the form FER-DR-06 which contains the check-list for supplementary documents.

The student must inform the mentor about the initiation of the procedure for the doctoral thesis evaluation. The mentor is requested to provide written consent and assessment regarding the performed research and the original scientific contribution achieved. If the mentor withholds consent, he or she must provide a written explanation of reasons for doing so within 15 days. In both cases, the mentor’s statement is made available to the members of the dissertation evaluation committee, who take it into consideration in the process of evaluation.

The Faculty council nominates the dissertation evaluation committee based on the suggestion by the Board for doctoral studies. The committee consists of three or five members, of whom at least one member must not be involved in the doctoral study at FER, nor be employed at FER and is preferably affiliated with another Croatian or foreign university or research institution. The student’s mentor cannot be appointed as a committee member, other than in exceptional cases where the Faculty council approves it.

Defence of the doctoral thesis

The doctoral candidate may undertake the dissertation defence once the Faculty council accepts the positive evaluation by the dissertation evaluation committee, and no later than two months from that date.

The Faculty council appoints the dissertation defence committee based on the nomination by the Board for doctoral studies. The dissertation defence committee can have three or five members (same criteria apply as for the dissertation evaluation committee) and one or two substitute members.

The dissertation defence committee may be made up of the same members as the dissertation evaluation committee. The mentor participates in the dissertation defence, but cannot participate in the passing of the evaluation, other than in exceptional cases and with the approval of the Faculty council.

The doctoral dissertation defence is public.

Promotion ceremony

The ceremonial conferment of doctoral degrees at the University of Zagreb is called ‘promotion’. The promotion starts with a ceremonial procession of the University officials and those to be promoted from the main building of the Rectorate of the University of Zagreb to the Croatian National Theatre, where the actual promotion takes place. The promotion is conducted by the Rector of the University of Zagreb, and attended by the Vice-Rectors and the Deans of constituent schools (faculties and art academies) of the University of Zagreb. Each newly promoted Doctor of Science is handed a doctoral diploma, a memorial doctoral medal and a book containing the thesis details and names of those promoted on that particular day.

The promotion to the degree of Doctor of Science is usually organized twice a year, in May and September.


Regulations on doctoral studies

Regulations on doctoral studies are available in the repository (Documents & forms/Repository/Regulations).