Media Relations

A Doctor for Arts

It is now definitely possible to earn a doctorate in Bern at the combined Graduate School of the Arts of the University of Bern and the Bern University of the Arts. This artistic/creative-scientific doctoral programme is one of a kind.

The transdisciplinary Graduate School of the Arts (GSA) brings art and science together: For the first time art academy graduates can study for a doctorate in the joint programme of the University of Bern and the Bern University of the Arts (BUA). After a three and a half year trial phase, the head of the University and the BUA have now decided to definitely continue with the model launched in 2011.

26 doctoral students from design, dance, conservation and music are currently registered for the Bernese doctoral programme. 16 of them are either students or staff at the BUA, ten come from various universities – from Bern to Zürich to Harvard in the USA. «Students from the art academy come with specific questions and issues and want to become scientifically qualified while graduates from the university seek proximity to the practice of arts», says head of GSA and head of the BUA research department Thomas Gartmann.

Gartmann explains that some doctoral students have a more artistic, creative background while others have the methodological knowledge and writing routine, «but both have a high affinity for the other approach».

Graduates from the University of Applied Sciences can be admitted to the three-year doctoral programme after completing a special master’s degree programme at the University. This special oneyear master’s programme compensates for any deficit in the scientific-methodological field before commencing with the actual doctoral programme.

Model instead of bias

The GSA shall give both research and art new impulses as well as introducing new perspectives and research fields. «There was an initial prejudice against the GSA – from both sides», explains Beate Hochholdinger-Reiterer, a Bernese professor of theatre study at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Bern and deputy head of the GSA. Meanwhile, the scepticism seems to have vanished. Today the Bernese model is recognised both nationally and internationally and other higher educational institutions even consider adopting it. «The more the doctoral students were able to present their works and the broader and also more distinguished the selection became, the more the GSA gained in recognition.» The doctoral students particularly value the double support from the professors of both academic institutions. 

Even the Swiss National Science Foundation SNF and the Commission of Technology and Innovation KTI have a great interest in this promising artistic/creative-scientific hybrid model: The GSA has already raised external funds for them of four million francs.