The DPDS has been established in 2006 by the NCCR Democracy as a Swiss training center for junior scholars in democracy research. In 2013, the program was re-structured and institutionalized at the University of Zurich. It is now open to doctoral students in political science, media and communication science and political philosophy who are interested in theoretical and/or empirical issues of democracy research (admission).
The DPDS provides an intensive, multi-disciplinary doctoral training in theoretical and empirical democracy research which enables doctoral students to obtain PhD degrees of such a quality that they can place themselves at the forefront of their discipline(s). Its curriculum contains specific modules to expand doctoral students' general knowledge of democracy research and their specific knowledge about the impact of globalization, democratization and mediatization on politics. Additional training measures contribute to the promotion of doctoral students' individual research, method and transferrable skills that are considered crucial for becoming a fully professionalized scholar.
The DPDS offers doctoral students the unique opportunity to write their PhD thesis - which forms the core part of their doctoral study - in an environment of internationally renowned scholars in the field of democracy research. This can open up new perspectives with regards to obtaining post-doc or assistant professor positions soon after having completed the PhD (alumni). The thesis can take the form of a monograph or a cumulative PhD thesis which consists of several publications on a single subject. The thesis should be completed within three years.