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Doctorate: The hard way to a doctorate

For physicians, the doctorate is compulsory, in other subjects still the culmination of an academic career. Of course, a dr. in front of your own last name a charming destination. But the years as a doctoral student are hard years, because for a doctorate you spend on average four to five years time. Depending on whether you were able to get a job as a doctoral student at your university, it is also years of financial renunciation. After all, you could be both with both legs in professional life and cash in a fixed salary. The way to the promotion is therefore not suitable for everyone.

What does a promotion mean?

Around 195,000 doctoral candidates are in Germany. Most of them are mathematics and science students, followed by engineering and linguistics and cultural studies. They all have one thing in common: if they last through to the very end, they will be allowed to serve as Dr. in the future. rer. nat., dr. phil., dr. rer. pol., dr. med. or Ph.D. Ph.D is in English speaking countries the common term for a doctoral degree. The doctoral degree is the highest academic degree before a habilitation.

Doctorate regulations and procedures

The path to the doctorate is clearly defined in Germany. There is the so-called doctoral regulations, which you will certainly find on the website of your university. This specifies the rules and admission requirements for a promotion. Currently, German students can only do a PhD if they have already completed their studies with a Master, Magister or Diploma. Also, you can only do a doctorate at a university, not at a college.

The actual procedure of a doctorate regulates the doctoral procedure. It defines what services have to be provided to obtain the doctorate in a particular subject. The requirement for a doctoral thesis is the same in all departments: The doctoral candidate performs his first independent research work as part of his doctoral thesis. He is supervised by a “doctoral supervisor” or a “doctor’s mother”.

How does a promotion work?

The procedure of a doctoral procedure is similar in all disciplines – with the exception of human medicine, because human physicians often already write their dissertation during their studies. The scope here is often no more than 60 pages. Thus, the doctoral theses of physicians are hardly comparable with those of other disciplines. If medical students invest about four semesters in their dissertation, there are four to five years in other subjects.

The course of a doctoral degree in non-medical subjects usually takes place in these eleven steps:

You decide on a topic and go in search of a supervisor

These two aspects usually go hand in hand. Each professor has special research areas and only accepts dissertations that are not too far removed from them. So you are looking for a subject that interests you first and then talk to the right professor, if and on which topic a dissertation could be supervised by him. Since each professor only mentors a certain number of doctoral students, one often has to have already noticed positively during the studies in order to be able to score later with a potential supervisor. Of course you will have a hard time if you have below average scores in your previous diploma.

You are applying for acceptance as a doctoral student

Here, there are different forms to do from university to university. Most of the time you have to apply in writing to the doctoral committee of your faculty for acceptance as a doctoral student. You will need to submit your final diploma, an agreement with your supervisor, and a resume.

You will be admitted to the doctoral procedure

Once you have submitted all the necessary documents, you will be admitted to the doctoral procedure.

You write your dissertation

Of course, writing your doctoral thesis is just the pinnacle of your research as a doctoral student. Until you start writing, you have to gain insights and that’s the hardest part of a PhD. Not a few doctoral students fail because even after years of intensive research, they do not achieve tangible results that justify the scope of a dissertation.

You are applying for the opening of the doctoral procedure

Once your research project has been completed and you have put all your findings on paper, you apply to the doctoral committee for the opening of the doctoral procedure. At some universities, this step already takes place with the acceptance as a doctoral student. In addition to a few other documents (evidence of acceptance as a doctoral candidate, affidavit, summary of the dissertation, and possibly a certificate of good conduct), you now have to hand in your doctoral thesis mostly in six copies.

Your dissertation will be examined

A first and a second reviewer will take a close look at your dissertation. The first reviewer is usually your supervisor or your doctor’s mother. Both reviewers decide on the acceptance of the dissertation and award a grade.

The examining board accepts your doctoral thesis

According to the recommendations of both reviewers, the examining board must then formally accept your dissertation.

You defend your dissertation in an oral exam

The oral defense of the doctoral thesis is a challenge for many doctoral candidates. Ultimately, of course, it also serves to check whether the doctoral student did the work independently and without outside help. In recent years, there have been many negative headlines about plagiarism in doctoral theses. Since the universities have become cautious.

You will receive the print release for your doctoral thesis

Before you publish your doctoral thesis, the so-called imprimatur takes place in a formal step. This means that your reviewer confirms that he has no more change requests and your work can now be printed.

You publish your doctoral thesis

Many postgraduates today do without an expensive publication in book form and publish their thesis online. Whether this is possible depends on the conditions of your university. In any case, you have to hand over a few copies to your faculty.

You will be awarded the doctorate

After the publication, you will receive your doctoral certificate. Congratulations! From now on you can take a doctorate. Which title will be added to your surname in the future depends on your field of study in which you have a doctorate.

What does the doctoral title bring you?

First and foremost, the doctorate is the prerequisite for a scientific career and habilitation. If you are looking for a career as a professor or a professor, you will not pass a doctorate. Whether the doctoral title pays off for a non-academic career is controversial and depends on the field in which you are doing a PhD. For mathematicians and scientists with good opportunities on the job market anyway, a doctorate often pays off financially.

In contrast, a doctorate in the humanities often be detrimental. Many language and cultural studies students have to apply after graduation for lack of suitable jobs, on posts in press departments, publishing houses or in the marketing. For such positions, however, a doctoral student is quickly considered to be over-confident and over-qualified. But if you want to work as an expert or curator with a degree in art history, you’ll need a doctorate again.

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