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Pursuing a Doctoral Degree

Photo: Swen Reichhold

The first step in pursuing a doctorate is choosing a topic and a supervisor. At this stage, consideration should be given to two options: first, writing your dissertation within the framework of a structured framework on a comprehensive topic or second carrying out your doctoral studies independently. The decision, whether to opt for a structure programmed or independent doctoral studies is closely associated with your funding possibilities. Structured programmes usually provide financial support in the form of a scholarship and/or employment. Independent doctoral studies have a wider range of funding opportunities, including employment as research assistants as well as scholarships provided by organisations and foundations.

In a structured programme, you will pursue your doctorate within a graduate school, a graduate college, or a similar format that offers a strong qualification programme and individual supervision by several university instructors. Teamwork, joint research projects with other doctoral researchers, and intensive exchanges are essential components of this type of doctoral programme.

Doctoral researchers, who pursue independent doctoral studies, need to establish a relationship with at least one professor who is responsible for supervising the dissertation (a so-called Doktormutter or Doktorvater). The doctoral work on a largely self-selected topic is carried out in a Faculty.

Once a topic and a supervisor have been chosen, doctoral researchers should register on the doctoral candidate list of the Faculty.

The option exists to pursue a doctorate in a bi-national programme (modelled on the French programme co-tutelles de thèse). These programmes allow one to simultaneously pursue a doctoral degree at a German University and a foreign university. Upon successful completion of such bi-nationally supervised doctoral studies, the doctoral researcher receives a shared doctoral degree that is awarded by both universities.

More information on bi-national doctoral degrees

Enrolment as a doctoral student

By enrolling in doctoral studies at Leipzig University, doctoral researchers receive student status and are members of the university. Doctoral students, who wish to enrol, must pay a semester fee; the fee is the same as that paid by undergraduates. Enrolment allows the doctoral researcher to take advantage of many financial benefits; however it is not compulsory for doctoral researchers to enrol.

More information on prerequisites for enrolling and the application process