Supervising projects

Research projects

Master’s students at EPFL must complete “research projects” in labs, as must Bachelor’s students in Communication Sciences (SC). Bachelor’s students in Computer Science (IN) and Master’s students may also do an optional research project. They are worth 8 credits (Bachelor’s, Master’s optional) or 12 (Master’s required), which is two to three times an average course, so students are supposed to spend a significant amount of time on them (12 or 18 hours per week).

PhD students are often tasked with coming up with project topics, and more importantly, supervising the students. This typically means meeting with them once per week to check their progress, help them get unstuck, etc.

More information can be found on the official pages for Master’s research projects and Bachelor’s research projects.

Pro tip: Master students are great! They can make some interesting contributions to your work. Do not assign essential parts of your research but interesting branches that you might want to explore later.


As part of the Summer@EPFL program, you can also hire external Bachelor’s and Master’s student interns from univerities all over the world to work on a project over the summer. They will normally stay for 3 months. It’s a great way to recruit future PhD students for the lab, and a great opportunity to see talent from around the world, because EPFL is somewhat unique in having such a large formal program and being geographically/politically accessible to many people. Ask senior students or your professor if your lab has a process for hiring students through the program.

Master’s project

Master’s students must also complete a projet de Master (PDM) or “Master’s project”, doing research full-time (30 ECTS credits) for six months. This can either be in a lab or in industry but signed off on by a lab. This is sometimes called a “thesis”, especially in English, or specifically referring to the final written submission.

As a supervisor, the main differences from research projects are that the student works full-time on the project, and an external examination expert (to be found by the lab) should be part of the jury during the final oral presentation.

More information can be found on the official page for the Master’s project.

Computational resources for students

PhD students typically use IC-IT computational resources (HaaS or RunAI) or RCP computational resources (also RunAI). For detailed information on these resources, see IC Compute and Storage. You can typically give project students access to these resources by adding them to the corresponding groups on; for instance, runai-labname for IC-IT RunAI, or rcp-runai-labname for RCP RunAI.

Note that in this case, the lab will pay for the computational resources used by the student. However, students can access free computational resources (including GPUs) on the EPFL-wide HPC cluster. They can sign up for credits worth 4000 CHF for computational resources for classes and projects. More details are available on the SCITAS page about accounts. After they sign up, you will typically be contacted by SCITAS to confirm that the student is working under your supervision. The way to submit jobs to this cluster is quite different from RunAI and is described in the SCITAS documentation.