The process of becoming a professor in Germany may differ from the academic conventions that you have been accustomed to in your home country. Please refer to the following information to gain a first insight into career options at the University of Tübingen. The information provided here is meant to foster a basic understanding of German academia and illustrate key facts to facilitate decision-making on whether to apply for and eventually accept a position at the University of Tübingen. However, please understand that legally binding information concerning professorship appointment procedures can only be given in German, so these explanations have no legal significance.
Tübingen is also home to a number of world-class non-university research institutions, hosting institutes from the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Senckenberg Nature Research Society and the Leibniz Association. Sometimes joint professorships are advertised. This means that applicants will be embarking on a long-term academic career at both the university and the cooperating research institute.
Each professor is required to teach a certain number of hours each semester. At German universities, the teaching workload is usually measured in the number of hours taught per week, the so-called “Semesterwochenstunden” (SWS). W1-professors teach 4 SWS prior to and 6 SWS after their interim evaluation. Full W3-professors teach 9 SWS, whereas senior lecturers teach 12 SWS. Professors and lecturers can apply for a reduction of their teaching workload in very exceptional cases, however, it is the university’s policy to strongly encourage all scientists and scholars to teach their full load in order to ensure that as many of our students as possible are being educated by the mostly highly qualified researchers.
Only full professors (W3) at the University of Tübingen can apply for sabbatical semesters. They are entitled to take every ninth semester off from teaching and administrative duties in order to pursue specific research endeavors and improve their teaching offerings. For this period of absence, they must demonstrate to their dean that their classes will be taught by an adequate substitute from within the existing staff.
As a rule, German universities are self-governing. This means that professors are expected to be actively involved in governing their department, faculty and university in various capacities over the course of their career. Participation in university committees for teaching and research or faculty search committees as well as examination boards are traditional tasks of professors at German universities. Professors can also be elected into the Academic Senate, a body responsible for the overall development of the university. Some faculties at the University of Tübingen have established full-time deans, elected from among the professors, whereas others elect deans and vice-deans for shorter terms of office which they hold alongside reduced teaching duties. Applicants for professorship positions may therefore also be judged on the basis of their experience in management and leadership.
Professors enjoy full independence in their teaching and research. In fact, this freedom for the arts and sciences and as well as explicitly for teaching and research is guaranteed by the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. Though it is related, academic freedom must be distinguished from freedom of speech, which is also highly valued at the university (see the principles passed by the University Senate in 2020). Tübingen takes an uncompromising stance for academic freedom and will demand it from all academic cooperation partners as well, no matter where they are from. The same is true of good scientific practice.
The University of Tübingen expects all its researchers to adhere to the established standards to good scientific practice and to instill these values in their students and doctoral candidates. An affirmed commitment to good scientific practice is also important for the successful application of third-party funding on the national and international level.
There are several position papers by important funding entities and commissions which can be used as guidelines, as well as position papers issued by the University of Tübingen itself. Besides medical research projects involving humans, for which there is a separate Ethics Commission, animal testing requires particular sensitivity from researchers.
The University of Tübingen is home to an important Medical Faculty and a large University Hospital (“Universitätsklinikum Tübingen”, UKT). The Faculty of Medicine was one of the four founding faculties of the University of Tübingen in 1477. With its non-clinical facilities as well as its research and teaching area, it is one of the largest medical training and research institutions in Baden-Württemberg, corresponding to the organizational units of the University Hospital. The UKT welcomes patients from all over the world who are treated in the clinics and wish to benefit from its high standards in research, patient care and nursing.
Professors at the Medical Faculty and the hospitals are mostly expected to engage in patient care as well as in research and teaching.
The University of Tübingen is committed to diversity and continues to improve its support for its international staff. Official documents and forms are available in translation and numerous support services are run by English-speaking staff. You do not have to speak fluent German to be able to work effectively at the University of Tübingen. However, in the legal arena, the official language is German. The legally relevant version of official documents (including a letter of appointment with the results of negotiations) will therefore be in German as the only contract language from the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts (MWK) in Baden- Württemberg.
The central Gender Equality Office is headed by the university’s Gender Equality Representative (elected from within the tenured faculty), and supports the Senate Equality Committee, and the faculties’ own gender equality officers and committees. The office is also open to all other members of the university and external parties needing information and advice on the broad issues of equal opportunities for men and women as students, researchers, and faculty.
Among other responsibilities, the Gender Equality Office provides you with information on programs to foster gender equality in research, provides support for third-party funding applications under the specific focus of gender equality measures, it provides advice in cases of sexual harassment, guides to gender-sensitive language and implements the support measures for individual female researchers. Another focus of the equality work at the University of Tübingen is on structure-building measures aimed at creating favorable conditions for the equality of female researchers and students.
The Diversity Office supports the University of Tübingen in its goal of developing a university culture based on diversity and equal opportunity, in which all its members can develop and contribute their individual abilities regardless of gender, ethnic origin, age, social and religious background, disability or sexual orientation. This is anchored accordingly in the university's mission statement. It is responsible for developing and implementing a diversity policy that encompasses all areas of the University of Tübingen and takes diversity into account in all its dimensions. With this mandate, it is the point of contact for all questions related to the topic of diversity. It advises, supports and mediates in cases of disadvantage and discrimination in studies and in the workplace.
For further information on gender equality and contact please refer to: Gender Equality Office