Doctoral Degree Studies and Admission (according to the Doctoral Degree Regulations 2011)

Gradus

Important information
1. Basic information
2. Five steps leading to your doctoral degree studies

2.1 Step 1: Meeting the requirements for the doctoral degree studies
2.1.1 The search for an academic supervisor
2.1.2 Recognition of your university degree
2.1.2.1 Admission as a doctoral student for graduates of a university of applied sciences (FH) (aptitude testing procedure)
2.1.2.2 Admission as a doctoral student for candidates with a degree from outside Germany
2.1.2.3 The assessment test
2.1.3 Enrollment or employment at the University of Stuttgart
2.2 Step 2: Admission as a doctoral student by the Doctoral Committee
2.3 Step 3: Membership and doctoral degree studies at the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) (optional)
2.4 Step 4: Writing the dissertation
2.5 Step 5: Admission to the examination and the doctoral degree studies

3. Further information
4. Financial support

Important information:

Changes after commencement of the new Doctoral Degree Regulations at the University of Stuttgart, valid from October 01, 2011.

According to the new Doctoral Degree Regulations at the University of Stuttgart, valid from October 01 2011, the following changes concerning the doctoral research projects of all candidates occur:

  • Admission as a doctoral student by the Doctoral Committee (new)
  • Doctoral degree studies at the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) and conditions of the Academy
  • Admission to the examination (formerly “Registration for the examination”)

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1. Basic information

The Doctoral Degree Regulations provide the legal basis for the doctoral degree studies. They also provide the basis of these guidelines. If you intend to pursue your doctoral degree studies at the University of Stuttgart, you should consult the current Doctoral Degree Regulations.

During doctoral degree studies, students are expected to work independently. There is no fixed timetable and, generally, no regular meetings with the academic supervisor. It takes between three and five years to complete a doctorate, sometimes even longer, depending upon the subject area, the topic of your dissertation and how well prepared you are.

The doctoral degree studies consist of a research paper (dissertation) and an oral examination (oral doctoral examination). The dissertation “must satisfy scientific demands, contribute to progress in science and be a piece of individual work by the candidate“ (cf. § 2 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations).

After the dissertation has been submitted, an oral examination in the respective subject area lasting for between one and two hours takes place. Afterwards, the dissertation has to be published; the form and number of copies are specified in the Doctoral Degree Regulations.

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2. Five steps leading to your doctoral degree studies

The five steps are as follows:

  • 2.1 Step 1: Meeting the requirements for the doctoral degree studies
  • 2.2 Step 2: Admission as a doctoral student by the Doctoral Committee
  • 2.3 Step 3: Membership and doctoral training at the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) (optional)
  • 2.4 Step 4: Writing the dissertation
  • 2.5 Step 5: Admission to the examination and the doctoral degree studies

Doctoral programs and graduate schools

Apart from the individual doctoral research, the University of Stuttgart offers supervised Doctoral Programs as well as Research Training Groups and Graduate Schools. You can find an overview of all offers on the following website:

The Doctoral Programs and Graduate Schools have different regulations for the admission as doctoral student. Please consult the relevant program or Graduate School for further details.

2.1 Step 1: Meeting the requirements for the doctoral degree studies:

2.1.1 Looking for an academic supervisor: supervision by a professor or lecturer who has been given the right as "reporter".

2.1.2 Recognition of your university degree: successful completion of a Master’s program or a study program of at least four academic years at a university and recognition of the degree.

2.1.3 Enrollment or employment at the University of Stuttgart: enrollment for at least one year at the University of Stuttgart or a similar period of employment as a member of the academic staff of this university. This requirement can be met whilst you are completing the dissertation.

2.1.1 The search for an academic supervisor

To pursue doctoral degree studies, you need
“the topic of your planned dissertation, approved by a professor, assistant professor or associate professor of the University of Stuttgart entitled to examine doctoral theses, or by a honorary professor who has been entitled to examine doctoral theses by the responsible faculty council, as well as the willingness of the academic supervisor to supervise the research that is associated with the thesis. In exceptional cases and with proper justification, the Doctoral Committee may confer the independent supervision of a doctoral thesis on exceptionally qualified postdoctoral researchers of the faculty, taking part in externally assessed development programs for outstanding young researchers (e.g. scholarship holders of the Emmy Noether Program), even if they did not habilitate.“ (§ 3 para. 1 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations)

The dissertation must cover a field which is sufficiently represented at the University of Stuttgart in both research and teaching. These fields can be taken from the list of faculties and institutes [de].

You can also look for possible academic supervisors on the faculty websites of the University of Stuttgart. Please contact the institute that best fits your planned dissertation project. You can find information on recent research projects either in the database Open Research Platform [de] or in the brochure Research-Development-Consulting. The Deans of the faculties may also help you find an academic supervisor.

When making the first contact, it is helpful to provide a detailed Curriculum Vitae including a description of the content of the relevant subject areas that you have studied as well as a detailed description of your proposed dissertation project.

The final decision of a potential supervisor to supervise your dissertation will not be taken before you have met. This means that it will be necessary for you to travel to Stuttgart. Travelling to Stuttgart will also enhance the processing of your application. Should you come from a country where it is compulsory to have a visa to enter Germany, please apply for an application visa (Studienbewerber/innen-Visum).

2.1.2 Recognition of your university degree

As a general rule, you will be accepted as a doctoral student if you comply with the following requirements concerning your university degree (cf. § 3, para. 1 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations):

  • a Master’s degree or a university degree of at least 4 years of study at a university, technical university or an equivalent university in the jurisdiction of the German Basic Law (Bachelor’s-, Diploma-, Master’s-, Magister- or Academic State Examination, except for the Bachelor’s programs taking part in the MINT-Kolleg Baden-Württemberg and comparable Bachelor’s programs integrating a propaedeutic course of lectures or course of study in the standard period of study or requiring less than 240 credit points).
  • the focus of your planned dissertation project is in accord with the subject you studied. (For graduates with a Magister or a State Examination, this must be one of the subjects that were studied as the main subject), as well as
  • examination results that “indicate that the candidate is capable of further scientific research”.
  • Candidates, whose subject studied is not in accord with the focus of the planned dissertation project, or who only studied this field as a minor subject, have to prove in-depth knowledge in this field. This is usually determined by an assessment test.
  • Special procedures apply to candidates who have earned their university degree at a university of applied sciences or a foreign university.

2.1.2.1 Admission as a doctoral student for graduates of a university of applied sciences (FH) (aptitude testing procedure)

Graduates of a university of applied sciences who do not hold a Master’s degree should first earn a Master’s degree or a degree at a university or technical university. Particularly qualified graduates of a university of applied sciences with outstanding degrees can apply for admission as a doctoral student to the Doctoral Committee after an aptitude testing procedure (cf. § 3, para. 2 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations) and a three-semester additional qualification.

The aptitude testing procedure proceeds as follows: Once you found a professor of the University of Stuttgart supporting your dissertation project, this professor will suggest to the Doctoral Committee which programs and examinations should be achieved during a three-semester full-time study, the so-called aptitude testing procedure. The Doctoral Committee will then determine the requirements you will have to meet. If you have successfully met these requirements, the Doctoral Committee will, according to its best judgment, certify the equivalence of your degree to a Master’s degree, and will grant you admittance to the doctoral procedures. From that date, you will be considered equivalent to a graduate of the University of Stuttgart, and will be subject to the Doctoral Degree Regulations.

If you have to pass an aptitude testing procedure to meet the requirements for the admission as a doctoral student, the admission may be granted, provided that the aptitude testing procedure will be passed within a time period fixed by the Chairman of the Doctoral Committee, or, at the latest, until the admission to the examination.

During the aptitude testing procedure, usually lasting three semesters, you can be enrolled at the University of Stuttgart if you are not in employment or apprenticeship, unless you can prove that you are able to sufficiently prepare for the aptitude testing procedure despite your employment. For more information, please visit the following registration pages:

The enrollment is not a prerequisite for the aptitude testing procedure.

The same applies to graduates of universities of cooperative education (BA) or the Cooperative State University, provided that their degrees are equivalent to a university degree, as well as to graduates of the Notary Academy Baden-Württemberg.

2.1.2.2 Admission as a doctoral student for candidates with a degree from outside Germany

Prior to commencing your thesis, you will need to clarify whether your degree is equivalent to a German university degree. You may only be exempt from the presentation of the results of a language examination with permission of your academic supervisor. The equivalence of the university degrees should be verified as soon as possible and has to be certified by the University of Stuttgart. The Admissions Office for Foreign and EU-Citizens is responsible for examining the formal equivalence.

The proceedings are as follows:

  1. Like non-mobile foreign students, foreign candidates have to apply for admission as a doctoral student at the Examination Office (Ms. Walz). The application will be passed on to the Doctoral Committee. The application can and should be carried out from the candidates’ home country. The required documents should be attached to the application in hardcopy form (cf. attachments to the Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student). The documents that have to be attached to the application include the filled form on the Formal Equivalence of Foreign Degrees.
  2. If the documents are complete, they will be passed on by the Examination Office to the Admissions Office for Foreign and EU-Citizens, where the formal equivalence of the foreign university degree will be determined.
  3. After the admission as a doctoral student has been approved by the Rector (cf. § 3, para. 2, 1a of the Doctoral Degree Regulations), the application including all attachments will be passed on to the Doctoral Committee of the responsible faculty. The Doctoral Committee will then decide on the candidate’s admission as a doctoral student, his or her rejection, or rather on the corresponding requirements, as well as on the equivalence of his or her degree.

Explanatory note:
Due to the principles of the Aliens Law and the resulting administrative burden, foreign candidates may enroll as non-degree students for 2 semesters prior to the admission as a doctoral student if they have a letter of invitation from their future academic supervisor. If you want to enroll as non-degree student, you will need to submit a copy of the letter of invitation and a copy of your Bachelor’s and Master’s Certificate to the Admissions Office for Foreign and EU-Citizens.

In general, your degree will only be considered to be equivalent to a German university degree if

  • it is a degree from a research university (the recommendations of the Central Office for Foreign Education, relevant equivalence agreements as well as university cooperations will be taken into account).
  • your degree qualifies you to undertake doctoral studies in your own country
  • your study program was equal to a German study program, especially concerning program or examination contents, and a thesis was an integral part of your degree (Master’s thesis, Diploma thesis etc.).

Even if your degree is evaluated as equal, you will in general need to pass an assessment test (cf. § 3, para. 2 and 3 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations).

Should you not hold a degree such as a M.Sc. or M.A. in the Anglo-American education system, which is considered equivalent to a German one, you will be expected to obtain a German degree (Diploma, Magister, M.A. or M.Sc.). After submission of all the required documents, the relevant Examination Committee will decide on which credit can be awarded for your previous studies.

2.1.2.3 The assessment test

Should your degree not be considered to be equivalent to a German university degree, the following regulations apply which must be met before you can be registered for doctoral degree studies (cf. § 3, para. 3 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations):

  • a larger scientific piece of work which is similar in size to a German Master’s thesis (between 75-100 pages)
  • two oral examinations, each of 30 minutes, in two different disciplines that are related to the dissertation that your are planning

Only in exceptional circumstances, the Doctoral Committee can exempt you from meeting these requirements. For further information and assistance, please contact your academic supervisor or the Dean’s Office of the relevant faculty [de].

2.1.3 Enrollment or Employment at the University of Stuttgart

The admission as a doctoral student generally calls for “enrollment for at least one year at the University of Stuttgart or a similar period of employment as a member of the academic staff of this university” (§ 3, para. 1 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations). If you have not already met these requirements by studying or by working as a research assistant at the University of Stuttgart, you need to enroll as a doctoral student. As a matter of fact, all others can enroll as a doctoral student as well. The enrollment is restricted on 10 semesters (a prolongation is possible).

To enroll as a doctoral student, you need to prove that you have been admitted as a doctoral student by the Doctoral Committee of the responsible faculty or institution.

2.2 Step 2: Admission as a Doctoral Student by the Doctoral Committee

As soon as you found an academic supervisor, you need to apply for the admission as a doctoral student to the Doctoral Committee by way of the Examination Office (cf. § 4 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations).

The application has to be filed before you start working on your dissertation. The admission as a doctoral student implies that the candidate meets the requirements for doctoral degree studies according to § 3 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations valid from October 2011.

If you have to successfully pass an aptitude testing procedure according to § 3 para. 2 No. 5 to meet the requirements for the admission as a doctoral student (e.g. in the case of qualified graduates of a university of applied sciences (FH)), or an assessment test according to § 3 para. 3 (e.g. in the case of candidates with a degree from outside Germany), the admission as a doctoral student may be subject to certain conditions. As a general rule, the Chairman of the Doctoral Committee of the responsible faculty or institution decides on the admission as a doctoral student.

You have to send a written application for admission as a doctoral student to the Examination Office (Ms. Walz). The following documents have to be enclosed with the application:

  • the Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student
  • an informal letter by the academic supervisor (Supervision Declaration) indicating that he or she is willing to perform this function together with the title of your doctoral thesis (working title)
  • Curriculum Vitae in German or English
  • a certified copy of the Final Grade Report (Diploma or Master’s Certificate) and the Degree Certificate*. Furthermore, in case of a foreign degree, a certified copy of the Bachelor’s Certificate as well as a translation of all certificates into German, English or French
  • in case of a foreign degree, the completed form of the Formal Equivalence of Foreign Degrees
  • in case of an employment at the University of Stuttgart, a certified copy of the employment contract
  • if available, confirmation of enrollment for at least two semesters at the University of Stuttgart (e.g. certificate of enrollment) or of a similar period of employment as a member of the academic staff (e.g. employment contract). Alternatively, an application for exemption, which will be transmitted to the Chairman of the Doctoral Committee, has to be enclosed with the Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student. In this case, an enrollment for two semesters or a similar period of employment as a member of the academic staff may be imposed on granting admission as a doctoral student by the Chairman of the Doctoral Committee.

If no certified copies of the required documents are on hand, please submit the original documents and a copy of same to the Examination Office in person.

The Examination Office ensures that all documents have been submitted and forwards the Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student to the Dean of the responsible faculty or the head of the responsible institution. In case of doubt, the senate decides to which faculty or institution the application will be transferred.

Once your documents are checked, you will receive a letter saying that you have been accepted as a doctoral student.
The respective deanery will send a copy of this letter to the office of the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS). If the admission is subject to certain conditions, these have to be defined.

2.3 Step 3: Membership and doctoral degree studies at the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) (optional)

The Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) offers to support the doctoral research projects of all doctoral students and all those planning to undertake doctoral studies. It also offers interdisciplinary advisory services on the opportunities for completing a doctoral degree at the University of Stuttgart. The services offered cover the planning, conducting and funding of a doctoral qualification. The GRADUS Graduate Academy is also a contact point for issues that cannot be clarified within particular doctoral research programs or with the candidate’s supervisor.

GRADUS wants to promote the interdisciplinary interaction between the doctoral students and provides a platform for academic exchange and communication.

A multi-faceted program and various offers for doctoral students of GRADUS are currently being planned.

If you are an individual doctoral student, you decide on becoming a member of GRADUS as soon as you have been admitted as a doctoral student (cf. step 2). Individual doctoral students are all those not taking part in existing structured programs (Graduate Schools or Research Training Groups). Doctoral students taking part in existing structured programs are automatically members of the Academy.

The following rules only apply to members of the Academy (cf. § 5 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations). It is possible to join GRADUS later, after a progress report has been successfully completed.

To ensure a high level of qualification during your doctorate, you will need to complete the following elements:

  1. successful participation in specialized scientific seminars at doctoral level yielding at least 6 credit points.
  2. participation in non-scientific courses at doctoral level imparting interdisciplinary key qualifications and yielding at least 3 credit points as well as
  3. participation in two lectures on interdisciplinary topics by the Graduate Academy (GRADUS). In exceptional cases, other equivalent achievements may be recognized by the Doctoral Committee, depending on the subject area.

Your academic supervisor has to determine the individual elements of your training and to write them down in a supervision agreement. A copy of this supervision agreement will be transferred to the Doctoral Committee. All elements of your training have to be completed until the progress report is due and have to be proven by a written certification of the academic supervisor when enrolling for the examination (cf. § 6).

At the latest 18 months after being admitted as a doctoral student, you should report the progress of your doctoral research project in a progress report. Thus, you as well as your academic supervisor are able to ensure whether your project is headed in the right direction or if you should reconsider the work on your dissertation project.

The progress report generally consists of an oral presentation of about 30 minutes, followed by a discussion of about 30-40 minutes. The progress report will be examined by the academic supervisor of the dissertation (cf. § 2 para. 5) and one further examiner appointed by the Doctoral Committee. The successful completion of the progress report has to be proven when enrolling for the examination.

The responsible Doctoral Committees of the faculties and structured programs may request different requirements for GRADUS-doctorates in their respective subject areas.

2.4 Step 4: Writing the dissertation

In agreement with your academic supervisor, you can now start working on your dissertation project (cf. § 2 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations).

The dissertation must cover a field which is sufficiently represented at the University of Stuttgart in both research and teaching.

The dissertation should be written in German, but can also be written in English. It can also be produced in any other language providing that this has been approved by the Doctoral Committee.

The finished dissertation has to be submitted to the Dean (deanery [de]) of the responsible faculty or to the responsible institution in agreement with the academic supervisor.

2.5 Step 5: Admission to the examination and the doctoral degree studies

You have to submit your dissertation in hardcopy form as well as in a machine-readable form to the faculty or institution of the University of Stuttgart by which you have been admitted as a doctoral student. This includes the admission to the examination (cf. § 6 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations). The Doctoral Committee may request your academic supervisor’s opinion on the completion of the dissertation. You will be admitted to the examination by the Chairman of the Doctoral Committee if you have been admitted as a doctoral student and have met any requirements possibly imposed.

If you are a member of the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS), you have to enclose to the dissertation a certification of your academic supervisor stating that the minimum quality standard has been met and that the progress report has been successfully completed according to § 5.

You have to enclose to the dissertation a declaration that the work has been created independently and that no source materials or aids other than those mentioned have been used. Furthermore, an affidavit may be requested stating that the dissertation is a piece of individual work.

During the oral doctoral examination (cf. § 11 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations), you have to prove that you have in-depth knowledge in the subject area to which the dissertation is related. The Chairman of the Doctoral Committee is in charge of the examination. The members of the Examination Committee act as examiners.

The oral examination may last for between one and two hours. With consent of the Examination Committee, the examination can be taken in a foreign language.

After the oral examination, a prescribed number of copies of your dissertation (“deposit copies”) has to be submitted for publication (cf. § 13 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations).

Concerning form and number of the deposit copies, please see the "Information for doctoral students on the form and submission of the dissertation" ("Merkblatt für Doktoranden über die äußere Form der Dissertationen") [de] (in the appendix to the Doctoral Degree Regulations)

If necessary, parts of the dissertation may be published in advance.

Upon successful completion of your doctorate and submission of the required number of copies of your thesis, you will receive your doctoral degree (§ 14 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations). The following doctoral degrees are awarded by the University of Stuttgart: Doktor-Ingenieur/in (Dr.-Ing.), Doktor/in der Naturwissenschaften (Dr. rer. nat.), Doktor/in der Philosophie (Dr. phil.) or Doktor/in der Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften (Dr. rer. pol.).

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3. Further information

You can obtain further information on studying for a doctoral degree from the Dean of the relevant faculty [de].

Foreign citizens can also contact Ms. Habel at the Office of International Affairs.

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4. Financial support

Several institutions offer scholarships for doctoral students:

 

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