Step by step
The foundation of successful doctoral studies is not only your fascination for your research topic, but also your ability to stay motivated and to be persistent throughout the academic and organizational challenges you will encounter in the course of your studies. The following questions can serve you as a guidance to ensure that you are well-prepared for this venture:
- Would doctoral studies be useful – or even essential – for my future career?
- Does the doctoral phase fit in with my life plan?
- How much time am I willing and able to invest in doctoral studies?
- How can I finance my doctoral studies?
- What type of doctoral studies is right for me?
Phases of doctoral studies
The overall course of doctoral studies can be divided into four different stages*:
The goal of the orientation phase is to become familiar with the topic, supervision, funding, and type of doctoral studies. This usually takes one to three months.
Basic knowledge of the current state of research is acquired in the introductory phase. This phase usually takes three to nine months.
The research phase is used to carry out and record the results of your own research. This phase can be completed in two and a half to three years. Depending on the culture in your field and on your doctoral degree regulations, individual components of your research can already be published during this phase.
The final phase includes an oral examination in the form of an oral defense, a Rigorosum, or a specialist examination. Your doctoral studies end with a written presentation of your findings for the public.
Tips and recommendations
- Choose a doctoral subject of great interest to you.
- Check whether if the topic is relevant to research and whether or not other research has already been conducted on this issue.
- Structured doctoral studies require more frequent presence at the university, as you will need to attend lectures. Individual doctoral studies allow greater independence, though this in turn means fewer opportunities to exchange with other doctoral students.
- Ask about open positions in the graduate institutions.
- Several higher education institutions offer workshops specifically to help you decide whether or not doctoral studies are right for you at this particular time in your life.
- The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has compiled extremely useful, comprehensive information on doing your PhD in Germany.
- Some universities run workshops to help you decide whether doctoral studies are for you.
- In Hamburg, doctoral studies are always subject to the degree regulations governing the formalities. These vary depending on the higher education institution and within the faculties of Universität Hamburg. Please refer to the doctoral degree regulations in good time.
* UniWiND Publications, Issue 6 (in German only)