FAQ

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How do I know if doing a PhD is the right thing for me?

We will be pleased to arrange a personal meeting with you to discuss the different aspects of the PhD process. Address your request for an appointment directly to the Graduate Center at the University of Bremen.

What conditions must I fulfill in order to be admitted to doctoral studies?

The specific conditions are contained in the respective regulations governing doctoral studies. Generally speaking, though, it is possible to say: You should have obtained your previous degree(s) more or less within the normally prescribed period and with a good grade, and possess the talent and motivation for the proposed research. Your specific area of interest and academic qualification should fit in with the research work of your proposed supervisor or PhD program. Your academic record to date should evidence a willingness to conduct research and accordant interest; ideally, you can show that you have already gathered experience of scientific work. There is no age limit applicable. 

How can I finance my studies? How do I apply for scholarship, for instance?

The team at the Graduate Center will be pleased to advise you on the various possibilities to obtain funding.
--> Information on advisory services and funding possibilities

Does a Bachelor Degree qualify me to apply for doctoral studies?

Usually not: The regulations governing PhD studies prescribe that doctoral candidates have graduated from a prior program of academic studies such as a Masters, Diplom, Magister or Staatsexamen.

As a doctoral student, must I be enrolled?

The Graduate Center recommends that you submit an application for enrollment to the Registrar’s Office as early as possible.

I want to enroll as a doctoral student. Must I then pay tuition fees?

Doctoral candidates do not pay any tuition fees. If you get enrolled as doctoral student (recommended!) you need to pay the standard student semester contribution and will receive all benefits (semseter ticket, reduced Mensa prices, ...)

How much time must I allow for the PhD process?

Once you have been accepted as a doctoral candidate you have a time window of 3-5 years to complete your dissertation. There may be differences depending on the discipline and type of doctoral degree. International students, though, must be careful to observe the statutory regulations concerning maximum periods of residence in respect of doctoral studies for citizens of other countries. The time you need for writing the dissertation also varies, depending on your area of research, the chosen methodology etc. Generally speaking, you can reckon with three years. Structured programs, e.g. graduate research groups, endeavor to shorten the PhD process.

Is it possible to change my research topic or supervisor once I have been enrolled?

According to the regulations governing doctoral studies, it is possible. Whether it makes sense or not is up to you to decide. In the event that you do change your topic or supervisor, you will have to repeat the application procedure. To be fair, you should always first discuss any proposed change with your supervisor.

Is it possible to obtain a doctorate as an external candidate?

Yes: Persons engaged in professional life outside the University or who have not previously been directly connected with the University of Bremen can be accepted as doctoral candidates. Dissertations submitted by external candidates that deal with topics derived from the business and public sectors are particularly useful for stimulating and opening up new research perspectives.

Can I apply for direct admission to doctoral studies if I obtained my prior degree in another country?

It first has to be checked whether the prerequisites are fulfilled (i.e. your degree and grade). It is not possible to reach any general conclusions and you will first have to submit all the necessary documents. Whether the submitted educational qualifications can be accepted depends on the individual case. Among other things, the criteria include the period normally foreseen for the degree course in question, whether your degree entailed a final thesis, your previous educational qualifications, and whether the awarding university is recognized and accredited. Please refer to the International Office for advice. By the way, more and more graduate research groups and graduate schools are now offering their programs in English – and English language courses are often available to international doctoral candidates.

Can I be accepted as a doctoral candidate if I have a degree awarded by a university of applied sciences?

In principle, yes: A degree awarded by a university of applied sciences makes you eligible for admittance as a doctoral candidate of the University of Bremen. However, we recommend that you first seek advice from the Graduate Center.

How do I choose an appropriate dissertation topic?

Your dissertation topic should lie within an area which you are interested in and for which you are qualified. Discuss your proposed topic first with experienced researchers and inquire about its feasibility and quality requirements. You should above all speak with your proposed supervisor to be sure that you will receive appropriate supervision. Even with the best preparation, in order to adapt to your research environment and interests, your dissertation topic is likely to undergo some sort of amendment during the PhD process. If you intend to study for your doctorate within a graduate research group or graduate school, your topic must fit in with the existing research framework.

How do I find a good supervisor for my dissertation?

The selection of supervisor depends in the first instance on your own research interests and the area you wish to research. In addition to this, you should consider the amount of time your supervisor can devote to you and how much experience he/she has in the supervision of doctoral candidates. It is recommended first to discuss these things with your prospective supervisor and also to meet up with some of the candidates he/she has supervised in the past.
Generally speaking, it is extremely difficult to foresee just how good the supervision is going to be. Like all inter-personal relationships, the supervisor/candidate relationship depends strongly on the dynamics that develop and the degree of understanding that emerges between the involved persons. You, too, have a responsibility to shape events. It is recommended to draw up a dissertation agreement that fixes the rights, objectives, expectations and responsibilities on the part of both sides.

What can I earn as a doctoral candidate?

If you receive a scholarship funded by the German Research Foundation, for instance, you will receive between EUR 1,000 and 1,365 per month, plus an additional amount of approx. EUR 100 per month for consumables. If you are eligible, you could also receive a child allowance. A number of projects, graduate research groups and graduate schools also fund salaried positions. You should inquire about conditions from the respective administration offices. The amount paid for such salaried positions are based on the payment scale TV-L E13 (50-100%) and are usually oriented to salaries for comparable positions in the location and in the discipline. (You can also obtain information on funding here)

What is the difference between a salaried position and a scholarship?

A scholarship does not constitute an employment relationship, i.e. neither the University nor the funding foundation is your employer. A scholarship is exempt from taxation and there are no mandatory social security obligations. In contrast, a salaried position entails mandatory social security, pension, and care insurance contributions. As a rule, it is possible to say that if you are a scholarship holder you will have greater opportunity to concentrate solely on your research and dissertation.