Doctoral awards serve as proof of the ability to perform in-depth scientific research in a specific subject area represented by a professor at the University of Passau and gained on the basis of an independent research paper (thesis) and an viva voce (oral examination, (Rigorosum or Disputation).
To be admitted as a doctoral student you need to have completed a relevant academic degree. The following list of final grades can serve as reference:
|Faculty||Diplom, Magister, state examination||Master's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Faculty of Law||'vollbefriedigend' (fully satisfactory) (details)||–||–|
|Faculty of Business, Economics and Information Systems||2.3||2.3||not possible|
|Faculty of Arts and Humanities||2.5||2.5||1.3|
|Faculty of Computer Science and Mathematics||2.5||2.5||not possible|
Additional admission requirements may be defined in the subject-specific doctoral degree regulations. Only the provisions of the relevant doctoral degree regulation as last amended are legally binding!
If you are unsure whether your degree will be recognised in Germany, check the information portal for foreign educational qualifications. This database provides information on the evaluation of foreign educational qualifications and supports authorities, employers and private individuals in their effort to establish whether a foreign qualification is recognised in the German system of education.
Furthermore, the Dean's Offices of the faculties will be happy to help you determine whether you are eligible for acceptance to a doctorate.
A journey in and through science can be focused on any of a wide range of subject matters! Please discuss the specifics with your designated supervisor.
Generally, such a journey can be roughly divided into the following phases, each of which comes with its own specific tasks:
- Orientation: In this stage you explore the options, alternatives, potential topics, supervision and general conditions (funding, for example).
- Familiarisation: In this stage, you familiarise yourself with subject matter and may have to draw up a thesis proposal (varies greatly, depending on the subject matter – if required).
- Research: This is the main phase during which you actually work on your topic.
- Completion: In this phase, you complete your manuscript, take the oral examination and prepare for publication.
In Germany, there are different ways of obtaining a doctorate. The following distinctions are made:
- individual or structured doctorate and
- internal or external doctorate.
Individually tailored or structured doctorates
Doctoral students wishing to pursue an individually tailored doctorate are obliged to organise everything themselves - select a topic, find a supervisor, set up a timetable and source funding, for example. Thus individually tailored doctorates require a high degree of self-organisation and thus self-discipline. Structured programmes offer a coherent, organised programme of courses for all participants. Doctoral students also have the option of pursuing their doctoral degree in one of Germany's major research institutions such as the Max Planck Society. These offer prospective doctoral students the possibility of pursuing both individually tailored and structured doctorates. They often include regular funding, and both start time and time of completion are clearly specified. In the structured option, however, many aspects of the organisation are taken care of for the doctoral student. At the same time, students are given much less license than in the individually tailored model.
Internal or external
Structured programmes are usually completed on site at a university, whereas individually tailored doctorates require the student to give some thought to where specifically they can do their research. Students have the possibility of completing doctorates while being closely tied in (employment, for example, which would qualify as internal) with a chair or even a professorship, in companies or from their home without any close university-specific or other attachment to any other organisation (and thus qualifying as external). A thesis can also be written in a private-sector company - as long as additional supervision by a supervisor at a German university is ensured.
There is no easy answer to this question. Possible points to consider could include:
- Title: In which fields of work is a title essential? Where is it more of an obstacle?
- Qualification aspect: Do you wish to qualify for research work? For other jobs? In which sector?
- Promotion opportunities: Would a doctorate - if you decided to pursue one - get you a senior position or a higher salary?
- Strengths and competencies: Would you be able to explain to someone 'outside of research' what specific competencies you were able to acquire in a doctorate?
- Resources: How much time, money and energy can you and would you want to invest?
- Practical experience: Where would your doctorate be credited as practical experience? Where would it not be recognised as such?
An ongoing series of publications by the German University Association of Advanced Graduate Training (UniWiND/GUAT) provides insights into the sector-specific standing of the doctorate.
Various forms of cooperation are conceivable as part of your doctoral research:
- Collaborating with universities abroad
- Collaborating with universities abroad (cotutelle)
- Collaborating with universities of applied sciences (including BayWISS-Verbundkollegs)
- Collaborating with research institutions
- Collaborating with businesses and other organisations.
Please follow the instructions below if you intend to write your thesis in collaboration with others:
- Before you set out to write your doctoral thesis, make sure you check with the partner organisation that the conditions of collaboration are such that you are still able to comply with the publication requirement of the doctoral degree regulation (i.e. publications prior to submission of the thesis and of the completed thesis).
- Please contact your thesis supervisor and, if agreed with the supervisor, the Dean's Office and/or the Board of Examiners for Doctoral Awards before you proceed.
- You should effectively establish how confidential and protected the data that you will be compiling/generating are and how the results can be published.
- Having authored the thesis, you alone have the copyright and any resulting exploitation and usage rights. However: You can grant usage rights to others/institutions in a contract. Please make sure that you do not unwittingly assign your rights to others (by signing an agreement stipulating a blocking period in terms of publications, for example).
If you have any questions about this topic, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
Perhaps you would like to have your thesis co-supervised by an educational establishment in another country?
What are known as binational doctorate involve supervisors and/or referees working at an educational establishment in another country. In the binational doctorate, you earn a doctoral degree awarded by two educational establishments in two different countries on the basis of one single research project (please note: not two different doctoral degrees).
This type of doctorate may be of interest to you if
- you would like to cement your research relationship with both countries involved because you will be pursuing an international career later on,
- your research focus (and that of your supervisors) is strongly linked with the other country,
- both educational establishments have a research interest in the subject matter of the thesis.
As a rule, an individual agreement is needed, or would be advisable, between the involved establishments (doctoral degree regulation nur auf Deutsch) because such an agreement sets forth important details and responsibilities.
The specific content of a cotutelle procedure may vary. Perhaps your faculty already has programmes in place, cooperates with external establishments on a regular basis or maintains good contacts. It would be best if you spoke to your supervisor or your faculty's Dean's Office. Also, please make sure you check your doctoral degree regulation (auf Deutsch) for the specific requirements.
Please consider that this form of doctorate will require additional time and self-management as well as added funding on your part (trips for lengthy research visits abroad). Whether you will be able to apply for a travel grant from the Graduate Centre depends on your individual circumstances.
A doctoral degree programme will require a high degree of individual responsibility and self-management early on when looking for a topic: In many cases (presumably in most cases), you will be expected to find a topic or at least a subject area yourself. It needs to be both acceptable (i.e. in terms of the methodology) and feasible (within the scope of your time schedule). It should be interesting as well as relevant for the technical discourse. It must take into account the current state of research and should constitute a stepping stone in your effort to achieve the goals you have set yourself in your personal career plan.
Methods to find a topic could include (these methods may vary in how apt and effective they are depending on the subject matter):
- survey current topics in the specific field of research
- browse the subject classification list for any intriguing areas
- take the research focus of your supervisor as a starting point
- apply for a topic
- bring in your interests and experience
- go through your past readings, lectures, etc. for any potential topics
- search for a strategic topic and refine it into a manageable one
- expand on the topic of your bachelor's dissertation/master's thesis
- explore a topic with your cooperation partner(s)
- use the topic put forward by your supervisor, etc. in a creative manner
- bear in mind the resources available and the grade you wish to achieve.
When looking for a topic, you could/should take into account the views of other researchers as well. If you thesis is geared towards business management, test its practical relevance. Talking to an expert in the field may help. No 'practical test' is necessary if the thesis is to be theoretical in nature, but whether it will be theoretical in nature needs to be determined beforehand, too. You can check whether there have been any previous papers written on a given subject matter in the national and international databases (on ProQuest or Deutsche Dissertationsliste GmbH for example). When searching these databases, ask the librarian for advice on the most efficient method to research literature in your specific field of research.
When looking for a topic, you should also carefully consider methodology: It is important to be clear about how the enquiry into a subject matter needs to be pursued. To do so, you generally have to opt for a specific method. Naturally, this choice will vary depending very much on the subject matter and thus the thematic focus.
When it comes to writing the doctoral thesis, it helps to draw up timetables and to breaking down the project into individual stages.
In your search for a supervisor, we recommend that you first establish what you yourself expect of a supervisor. Once you are clear about that, you can set about finding one. Please remember that your designated supervisor is also a human being and has his or her own expectations and interests...
Possible ways of finding a supervisor include:
- asking the supervisor of your bachelor's dissertation/master's thesis for feedback
- checking for suitable people at the establishment you are employed with
- getting into contact with the person representing your theme at the university
- getting in touch with the person whose courses you liked
- initiating an exchange with the person whose research fields speak to you
- start a conversation with the person whose lecture you liked
- contacting the person whose works resonates with you
- telling people who would suit you best about your plans
- presenting your plans to a leading expert in the field that interests you
Once you have found a supervisor who meets your expectations, you should try to get to know him or her better. Attend his or her courses and look in on him or her during his or her drop-in hour. The supervisor also needs to be inspired by your topic and be convinced that you are the right person to carry it out the research. At the end of the day, it is important that you get along well with your supervisor since you will be collaborating closely.
You should check beforehand whether a person is allowed to act as your supervisor. For details, please consult the doctoral degree regulation.
A doctoral supervision agreement ensures that relations between you and your supervisor are transparent. However, it is not a contract. By way of example, the following points could be addressed and set forth in a doctoral supervision agreement:
- Topic and thesis proposal
- Financial matters
- Consultations und meetings between doctoral student and supervisor (rhythm)
- Publications and lectures (also jointly)
- Other measures, timetable and work schedule
- Tasks and responsibilities (teaching included?)
- Good scientific practice, and compatibility of qualification and family
- Integration into the supervisor's network
- Conflict management
Check out the website of the German Research Foundation (DFG) for further information on this topic.
Please note: This website provides information in summary form. Only the pertinent legal texts and the official versions of the relevant regulations published in the law gazette are legally binding. The content of this website is not intended to be exhaustive.