Study with us

The Centre for International Environmental Studies at the Graduate Institute hosts a vibrant interdisciplinary group of PhD students working on climate change, environmental and development topics. The PhD candidates receive their research training in one of the Institute's Academic Departments depending on their respective discipline (International Relations/Political Science, International History, International Law, Anthropology and Sociology of Development and International Economics). They then carry out their research as Research Assistants within CIES, working on ongoing research projects that are supervised by the various faculty associated with CIES.

How to apply


The CIES does not handle PhD applications directly. Interested students should follow the Graduate Institute's application process and register in the teaching department that suits their interests. 




Funding opportunities for prospective students are available on the basis of ongoing CIES research projects funded by the Swiss National Scientific Foundation,the Swiss Network of International Studies and other funders, as well as EU-funded research projects.

Once registered in the Graduate Institute's PhD programme, PhD candidates holding a Master's degree from a Swiss institution can also apply to the Doc.CH programme funded by the Swiss National Scientific Foundation, which covers the salary of PhD candidates for up to 4 years.

Deadlines for the Doc.CH programme are every year on 10 March and 10 September. More information can be found here.   Interested students should contact a CIES faculty member who will approve and support the application process. 

Courses and Training


The Graduate Institute offers a large number of graduate courses on environmental topics both at Master and PhD levels. 

The list of courses offered can be found in the programme of the Environment, Resources and Sustainability track of  the Interdisciplinary Masters. The classes are clustered around four themes:  the Global Framework, Climate change, Development, Governance and Politics of Resources, and Agrarian Environment and Food systems. 

In addition, PhD courses on environment and development issues are also offered in the academic departments. PhD candidates in economics have, for instance, the possibility to enrol in the Advanced Natural Resources Economics class.

The CIES organises two series of seminars each semester that are open to students working on environmental topics:

  • the CIES Lunch seminars, which are a series of interdisciplinary seminars, where faculty members and occasionally guest speakers present their most recent work 
  • the CIES resource, environment and development economic seminars, which are a series of PhD level economic seminars featuring external speakers.

Supervision at CIES


The following faculty members are currently available to supervise PhD students:

  • Liliana Andonova (IR/Political Science)
  • Susanna Hecht (International History)
  • James Hollway (IR/Political Science)
  • Marc Hufty (Development Studies)
  • Joelle Noailly (International Economics)
  • Anne Saab (International Law)
  • Shaila Seshia Gavin (ANSO)
  • Tim Swanson (International Economics)

Testimonials from Alumni

Giulia Valacchi


Giulia Valacchi, Research Fellow, WIPO, Geneva

"In February 2017 I joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as a research fellow. I was in the final year of my PhD, and I managed to combine work and PhD research. The experience at CIES was crucial for me to get the fellowship as I started working with IP statistics, particularly patent data, during my research assistantship at CIES. CIES environment is very stimulating: I co-authored papers with other colleagues working in the research center. This helped me relating with a more integrated working environment, like the one at WIPO, where I am required to interplay on a daily basis with colleagues from my own or even different divisions. At WIPO I am currently co-managing a study on innovation in the mining sector. In addition, I am working on finalizing and publishing some of the articles from my PhD thesis. My specialization in environmental issues remains important for my current work as environmental topics are becoming more and more up front in the policy agenda of the UN. I do miss the university environment, particularly the many academic conferences that I got to attend during my PhD years. Luckily also WIPO economic division encourages us to take part in international conferences and present our research outside."



Kathryn Chelminski, Manager – New Market Development – Solar PV, Ameresco

"After completing my PhD at IHEID, I joined Ameresco – the largest independent energy services company in the U.S. – in May 2017. My experience at CIES and IHEID at the nexus of international politics and economics of energy and environment was a truly rewarding experience that honed my professional and academic skills. Throughout my years as a researcher at CIES, I gained experience developing interdisciplinary research on energy and climate change through collaborations with researchers from around the world inside academia and within international organizations. I worked on a range of topics including sustainable energy development in Indonesia, the effectiveness of the clean energy regime complex, as well as fossil fuel subsidy reform in Indonesia. I am grateful for the professional and academic opportunities that CIES and IHEID provided to collaborate and develop research, conduct field research in Indonesia and share my findings with diverse audiences. The supervision and feedback I received while at CIES was invaluable and fostered my growth as a scholar. Since my time at CIES, I was a Sustainability Science Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center (2015-2016), as well as a visiting Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge Energy Policy Research Group (fall 2016). During these fellowships, I further developed my PhD research on the impacts of clean energy finance on geothermal development in Indonesia and the Philippines, and research on the politics of fossil fuel subsidy reform in Indonesia. In my current position as the Manager of New Market Development for Solar PV at Ameresco, I have the opportunity to combine my energy policy and regulatory analysis background with business analysis and market development to help spur further development of the clean energy industry in the U.S. It has been an enriching experience to see from a business perspective the impacts that domestic energy policies can have in driving clean energy development."



Jules Wurlod, Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, Geneva

“I joined the Boston Consulting Group, an international management consulting company in August 2016. My time at the CIES was a true stepping stone, both from a personal and a professional standpoint! After graduating from my PhD in 2015, I joined an economic consultancy in Paris called NERA, where I worked on energy and climate change related topics. Among others, we contributed to estimate the risk of delocalization of energy intensive industries due to carbon policy in the European Union. Needless to say, my experience at the CIES was an invaluable help in my work. I decided to continue my path in a management consulting company, which allows me to work on very diverse topics while learning how projects are carried out outside of academia and the public sector. It is fascinating how private companies view environmental sustainability and how this translates into concrete strategy and action! Overall, working at the CIES has helped me to deepen my knowledge on truly inspiring topics – such as innovation and energy consumption – as well as to develop a methodology to construct solid research pieces. The supervision I received from senior researchers at the CIES was truly invaluable. My best memories are certainly international academic conferences, where not only you get concrete feedback from very talented peers on your work, but you also get to learn completely new topics in just a few days.”



Martina Bozzola, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Agricultural Economics and Policy Group, ETH Zurich

“In September 2016, I joined the Agricultural Economics and Policy Group at ETH Zurich, after spending last academic year as a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. I completed my PhD at IHEID in December 2014, with a thesis on “Climate Change, Adaptation and Household Response”. My work within the center has been a very stimulating experience in nurturing my passion and interest for climate change economics and agriculture in particular. At the EUI, I worked within the Florence School of Regulation, Climate Group. This experience exposed me to several exciting academic and policy events, including the chance to interview Professor M. Weitzman, Harvard University, and being involved in several events related to the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) that took place in December in Paris. I could also extend my own research into the issue of climate change mitigation in agriculture, having mostly dealt with adaptation issues during my PhD studies. Since completing my PhD, I have also been involved in several projects though the International Trade Center. My work dealt with managing capacity building activities for farmers seeking to adapt and mitigate climate change in key agri-food sectors in Kenya and Uganda, and leading a survey of about 200 farmers in Zimbabwe. I am looking forward to contributing to the work of the Agricultural Economics and Policy Group at ETH. I feel very fortunate to continuing my work within a fantastic team whose research interest are perfectly aligned to my own! I am equally fortunate to continue collaborating with former colleagues and friends at CIES. We are soon to bring to conclusion our work related to the EU FP7 FOODSECURE Project. The final conference “Policies that Matter” is taking place next month in Brussel and I will be there to discuss the exciting results of our research.”





Chiara Ravetti, Research Fellow of Oxcarre and the Department of Economics of the University of Oxford

"In the year before completing my PhD (winter 2014-15) I participated in the European and American job market, attending the ASSA meeting in Boston and the Spanish Symposium in Palma. The experience was interesting and intense, as it required me to confront with other young economists from all over the world.
Ultimately, after defending my PhD thesis at the Graduate Institute, I joined the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford as postdoctoral research fellow within the Oxford Centre for Resource Rich Economies (OxCarre). I received an SNSF Mobility Grant to work on innovation, trade and natural resources during my two-year stay in in Oxford. I am currently working on finalizing and publishing some of the articles from my PhD thesis, and starting the new work on green innovation. One of my articles on Chinese air pollution was recently posted on the economic blog VoxEu.
The academic environment here is extremely stimulating, in particular because of the large economic department. This is quite a change from IHEID, which is a relatively small and highly specialized institution.
In the first few months in Oxford, I had the occasion to meet with several colleagues from the CIES at the LSE Green Growth and Innovation Conference in London. I definitely miss the CIES research group (and the view from my old office!), but I am learning to enjoy the strange traditions of Oxford colleges and the British weather. However I always look forward to coming back to visit Geneva, maybe for the Annual Congress of the European Economic Association or some other conference."