A doctorate serves as proof of qualification for advanced scientific work and is based on independent scientific research – the doctoral thesis – and an oral examination. It is the highest academic degree that universities can award and is essential for a career in research.
In Germany, a doctorate can also open up numerous other career paths, as management positions in the public sector or in business are often filled by doctoral graduates.
Compulsory Enrollment: Since 30.03.2018 for newly accepted doctoral candidates
After being accepted as a doctoral candidate by the faculty, you must enroll at the Student Administration of the University, see section 38, paragraph 5, 1st half of sentence one in the “Landeshochschulgesetz” [LHG], which is the Higher Education Law of Baden Württemberg. On the website of the Student Administration you can find further information on enrolling as a doctoral candidate. There are advantages to being enrolled - for instance, you get a student email account and you can use University facilities, such as the university library.
- Doctoral candidates whose main employer is the University of Tübingen, that means if the employment contract is for at least half of a full-time position, can be exempt from compulsory enrollment according to section 38, paragraph 5, 2nd half of sentence one in the LHG.
- All doctoral candidates that have already been accepted as a doctoral candidate before March 30th 2018 are entitled to enrollment, but there is no obligation to enroll.
Doctoral candidates may choose to complete their doctorate in the form of an individual doctorate or a doctoral program.
- The faculties are entitled to award individual doctorates and degrees obtained within doctoral programs in their subjects.
Further regulations are covered in the doctoral degree regulations published by each faculty.
- Faculty and department structures can vary between universities and different states.
- Doctoral candidates are responsible for organizing their own funding.
Acceptance as a doctoral candidate is not linked to funding; candidates must demonstrate the required qualifications. Doctoral programs can offer positions or scholarships, but this does not apply to all programs.
- Although there are no specific fees for doctoral candidates, they must pay the semester fee twice a year (currently approx. EUR 155 per semester), please refer to informations on enrollment for doctoral candidates.
Individual doctorates are the most common form of doctoral degrees, especially in the humanities and social sciences. Doctoral candidates who choose an individual doctorate select a research topic in consultation with their supervisor and work on it independently. This work is subject to a supervision agreement between the academic supervisor and the doctoral candidate. Most supervisors offer their doctoral candidates regular supervision meetings but there are usually no additional requirements. The independence of individual doctorates is also the greatest challenge – candidates are entirely responsible for organizing and conducting their own research and managing their time effectively which can be a demanding task.
Several support measures have been introduced at the University of Tübingen for individual doctorates. These include the introduction of supervision agreements between the doctoral candidate and usually two supervisors which clearly define rights and obligations as well as ongoing schedules for regular supervision meetings and interim reports. The Graduate Academy also offers interdisciplinary qualifications for doctoral candidates.
Structured doctoral programs are a relatively new alternative to individual doctorates. Such programs have many different names and some are more structured or interdisciplinary than others. The doctoral programs at the University of Tübingen include DFG Research Training Groups, doctoral research networks (mini graduate schools), the Excellence Graduate School LEAD and three graduate schools at the Werner Reichardt Center for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) Cluster of Excellence. Two of these graduate schools are International Max Planck Research Schools which are part of a collaboration between the University and the Max Planck Campus in Tübingen.
- Doctoral programs are usually defined thematically and each doctoral project is linked to the main focus of the program.
- Candidates must usually submit an application for admission to a doctoral program. Many programs have specific start dates and advertise available positions publicly. Some programs regularly accept new doctoral candidates.
- When the candidate is admitted to the program, a supervision agreement is concluded between the candidate and at least two academic supervisors which are usually nominated during the selection process. This not only sets out rights and obligations, but also ongoing schedules for regular supervision meetings and interim reports.
Doctoral programs often have a compulsory curriculum or specific training (for example relating to scientific methods used within research projects) as well as other events to promote the exchange of researchers across projects. The Graduate Academy also offers interdisciplinary qualifications for doctoral candidates.