Doctoral Degree Studies and Admission (according to the current Doctoral Degree Regulations as of 22.02.2016)

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 Searching for an academic supervisor
2.1.2 Signing the Doctoral Degree Agreement
2.1.3 Recognition of your university degree
2.1.3.1 Admission as a doctoral student for graduates of a university of applied sciences (FH) (aptitude assessment procedure)
2.1.3.2 Admission as a doctoral student for candidates with a degree from outside Germany
2.1.3.3 The assessment test
2.1.4 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 doctoral thesis
2.5 Step 5: Admission to the examination and the doctoral degree studies

3. Further information
4. Financial support

Important information:

The Doctoral Degree Regulations of February 22, 2016 are applicable to Doctoral Students who have been accepted as such by the Doctoral Committee after April 01, 2016. Doctoral Students who have been accepted or applied for admission before the Doctoral Degree Regulations of 2016 came into effect can conduct their doctoral research according to the Doctoral Degree Regulations of September 01, 2011 until March 31, 2024. More information can be found in §21 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations of the University of Stuttgart valid as of April 01, 2016.

Important changes after coming into effect of the revised Doctoral Degree Regulations at the University of Stuttgart as of April 01, 2016. 

A substantial change after the coming into effect of the Doctoral Degree Regulations of February 22, 2016 is the establishment of a Doctoral Degree Agreement. It should be signed at the beginning of the doctoral research by the Doctoral Student and the Supervisor(s) and should be attached to the Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student (more information on the minimum content of the agreement and a respective template can be found under section 2.1.2).

An annex to the Doctoral Degree Agreement is also a description of an individual qualifications programme with a minimum scope of 9 credits. The Doctoral Student thus has the opportunity to acquire academic key qualifications such as competencies in the fields of research and teaching (more information under section 2.1.2).

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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.

Attached to the published on the document server OPUS Doctoral Degree Regulations is the “Information for Doctoral Students on the Form and Submission of the Doctoral Thesis".

Doctoral Degree Regulations (September 01, 2011) [de] and Amendment (June 16, 2014) [de]

Students are expected to work independently during their doctoral degree studies. There is no fixed timetable and the familiar structure associated with the previous studies is also lacking. You will need to create and sketch one of your own in agreement with your 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 (doctoral thesis) 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 the rights to be an examiner.

2.1.2 Signing the Doctoral Degree Agreement: a written agreement between the Supervisor and the doctoral Student according to §38 Para. 5 of the University Law of the State of Baden-Württemberg with the respective minimum content.

2.1.3 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.

2.1.4 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 doctoral thesis.

2.1.1 Searching 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, private or other higher education institutions 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.

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 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 only be taken after a meeting in person. 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 Signing the Doctoral Degree Agreement

The Doctoral Degree Agreement should be signed at the beginning of the doctoral research by the Doctoral Student and the Supervisor(s) and should be attached to the Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student (see Step 2). The University Law of the State of Baden-Württemberg prescribes the following in relation to the minimum content of the agreement:

  1. A rolling time plan for regular consultations and update reports adapted to the research project and living circumstances of the Doctoral Student,
  2. information about an individual qualification programme,
  3. a mutual obligation to comply with the rules of good scientific practice,
  4. definition of the appraisal deadline after submission of the doctoral thesis and
  5. conflict resolution regulations.

The binding template of the Doctoral Degree Agreement [de] encompasses the legal minimum content and was drafted along with the Doctoral Degree Regulations by the Senate of the University of Stuttgart. Please use this template when signing the Doctoral Degree Agreement (note: the expansion of the agreement with additional regulation aspects is possible at any time).

An annex to the Doctoral Degree Agreement is also a description of an individual qualifications programme with a minimum scope of 9 credits. Thus, the University of Stuttgart aims at improving the quality management of the doctoral research, as required also by the University Law of the State of Baden-Württemberg and university-related organisations such as the HRK, the Science council and the DFG. The Doctoral Student thus has the opportunity to acquire academic key qualifications such as competencies in the fields of research and teaching. In relation to this, the Doctoral Degree Regulations envisage that the Doctoral Committees in coordination with representatives of the Doctoral Students establish regulations for appropriate activities and events in their respective fields which comprise the individual qualification programmes.

2.1.3 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):

  • the successful completion of:
    a) a Master’s degree from a higher education institution in Germany or
    b) a course of study of at least 4 years at an university, pedagogical university or art academy (Bachelor’s-, Diploma-, Master’s-, Magister- or Academic State Examination) or
    c) a postgraduate course of study at an university, pedagogical university or an equivalent university which is entitled to award doctoral degrees in Germany;
  • examination results that indicate that the candidate is capable of further scientific research;
  • enrollment or employment as a member of the academic or scientific staff  at the University of Stuttgart for the duration of at least one year before or during the writing of the doctoral thesis;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
  • 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.

2.1.3.1 Admission as a doctoral student for graduates without a Master’s Degree (aptitude assessment procedure)

In case of especially qualified Bachelor graduates of a higher education institution, who do not fall under §3 Para.1 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations, and especially qualified graduates of a diploma course of study in a technical higher education institution or a university of applied sciences, professional academies or cooperative academies can apply after an aptitude assessment procedure (cf. §3 Para. 2 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations) and a three-semester additional qualification provided their degrees are equal to university degrees.

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 assessment procedure (cf. §3 Para. 2 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations) and a three-semester additional qualification.
 
The aptitude assessment procedure is implemented 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 assessment 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 assessment procedure to meet the requirements for the admission as a doctoral student, the admission may be granted, provided that the aptitude assessment 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 assessment 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 assessment procedure despite your employment. For more information, please visit the following registration pages:

Information on the enrollment as a doctoral student

The enrollment is not a prerequisite for the aptitude assessment 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.

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

Foreign degrees must be proven equivalent to German university degrees. The equivalence of the university degrees should be verified as soon as possible. The equivalence of your international degree must be certified by the University of Stuttgart in written. The Admissions Office for Foreign and EU-Citizens is responsible for examining the formal equivalence.

The procedure is as follows:

  1. International candidates have to apply for admission as a doctoral student at the Examination Office just like German graduates. 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 a 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 how many credits can be awarded for your previous studies.

2.1.3.3 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 you 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.

2.1.4 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.  Everyone else can enroll as a doctoral student as well. The enrollment is restricted on 10 semesters (an extension 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 find an academic supervisor, you need to apply for admission as a doctoral student with the Doctoral Committee through the Examination Office (cf. §4 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations).

The application has to be filed before you start working on your doctoral thesis. 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 April 2016.

The admission may be conditional in case you have to meet the requirements for the admission as a doctoral student by successfully passing an aptitude assessment procedure according to §3 Para. 2 No. 5 (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 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. The following documents have to be enclosed with the application (see also §4 Para. 3):

  • Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student
  • a written Doctoral Degree Agreement between you and your Supervisor, as per §38 Para. 5 of the current version of the University Law of the State of Baden-Württemberg with the minimal content prescribed therein.  The Doctoral Degree Agreement must contain special provisions for an individual qualifications programme with a minimum scope of 9 credits. The provisions follow the guidelines established by the Doctoral Committees in coordination with representatives of the Doctoral Students. The Doctoral Degree Agreement comes into effect provided that the requirements as per §3 are fulfilled and the Doctoral Committee has approved the Application for Admission as a Doctoral Student.
  • Curriculum Vitae in German or English
  • a certified copy of the Final Grade Report (Diploma or Master’s Certificate) and the Degree Certificate*; 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 forwarded 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 together with a copy 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.

Applicants will be informed in written if all requirements for admission as a doctoral student have been met and whether they have been accepted as a doctoral student.

The respective Dean’s Office 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 in planning.

If you are an individual doctoral student, you can 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.   

Detailed information on the GRADUS Qualification Program and Application [de].

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 forwarded 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 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 have different requirements for GRADUS-doctorates in their respective subject areas.

2.4 Step 4: Writing the doctoral thesis

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 (Dean’s Office) 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 application for admission to 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 from your academic supervisor stating that the minimum quality standards have 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 one to two hours. With the consent of the Examination Committee, the examination can be taken in a foreign language.

After the oral examination, a multiple 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 [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 be awarded your doctoral degree (§ 14 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations). The award of the doctoral degree depends on the respective research area (faculty) of the doctoral research. 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

An overview of the contact persons [de] for all relevant aspects of the doctoral research.

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

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4. Financial support

Several institutions offer scholarships for doctoral students:

 

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