Pay all doctoral programs

Doctorate: The way to a doctorate

It is the culmination of all academic activities, a sign of high self-discipline, scientific ability and, of course, great expertise in a certain area. In addition, it can also be an enormous career advantage. We are talking about a doctorate, which in Germany, despite some scandals, can offer numerous advantages and widely enjoys a very good reputation. But first she's waiting promotion on prospective PhD students. A long journey with high demands. As attractive as the doctorate may be: Whether a doctorate is worthwhile, depends on the individual goals ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Various paths lead to a doctorate

A doctorate is always a demanding and lengthy path. Doctoral students invest an average of three to five years in their doctorate before they are allowed to use the doctorate after passing the exam.

These years are characterized by extensive research and the, not always easy, work for a living. Anyone pursuing a doctorate needs a high level of self-discipline, intrinsic motivation and clear goals.

For the Path to PhD There are basically two options for prospective doctoral students:

  1. Individual doctorate

    In the most common type of doctorate, students look for a doctoral supervisor to supervise and accompany them on the way to their doctoral thesis. They prepare their dissertation largely independently and work together with other scientists, if necessary. The doctorate can take place at a university as well as at a non-university research institution or in industry. The duration depends on the individual design, the three to five years already mentioned are common.

  2. Structured doctorate

    The less common and well-known way is to participate in a structured doctoral program. Nationwide there are currently over 700 such programs in which prospective doctoral students can complete their doctorate. As part of these programs, doctoral students are accompanied by a team of supervisors. The programs are often internationally oriented, so English is usually used as the working language. The advantage for doctoral students: a curriculum accompanying the doctorate usually also teaches soft skills and important networking skills that become important after completing the doctorate.

The structured doctoral programs differ significantly both in terms of content and organization. Some are designed for specific research and disciplines, while others focus on working with specific scientists or researchers.

Unfortunately, there is no standardized database for doctoral programs and opportunities. A good place to go, however, is the Search for a doctorate by the Hochschulkompass - supported by the Foundation for the Promotion of the University Rectors' Conference.

Requirements for the doctorate

The Requirements for a doctorate are stipulated in the respective doctoral regulations of the various universities. Even if there is an overlap, there are unfortunately no generally applicable guidelines or standards.

Prospective doctoral students must therefore Inform directly about the requirements at the universities in question. Incidentally, a master’s degree is not always necessary; some doctoral regulations also allow entry with a bachelor’s degree.

However, some aspects can be found in almost all doctoral regulations. Prospective PhD students need:

  • A doctoral supervisor

    The supervisor is essential - at least for individual doctorates. Since there are no directories of supervisors, students are dependent on research in the academic environment. Dissertations that have already been published, experience reports from doctoral students, bibliographies of academic papers and alumni platforms are all suitable as research sources. In many cases, the university secretariats or student advisory services also provide information about possible doctoral supervisors or doctoral mothers.

  • A comprehensive synopsis

    The synopsis of the dissertation is not only relevant for the application to the doctoral supervisor. It also forms the basis for acceptance by the doctoral committee. The doctoral committee, which usually consists of several professors with doctoral experience from the respective university, ultimately decides whether a prospective doctoral candidate is admitted to the doctorate. The criteria for admission depend on the doctoral regulations mentioned above.

  • Above average academic performance

    Most doctoral regulations stipulate that only students with above-average academic performance are admitted to the doctorate. On the one hand, this criterion serves for quality assurance and is intended to ensure that only really capable students can pursue the doctorate. On the other hand, however, it is also a filter in the interests of the students. Only those who are passionately interested in their research topic and enjoy scientific work will go through with a doctorate.

These requirements make it clear that a doctorate places high demands on the doctoral students. These also arise from the often precarious economic situation during the doctorate.

Classic doctoral students work part-time as research assistants at the respective university during their doctorate. The pay is usually manageable, but the working hours are high. Those who do their doctorate in industry - on the job - usually earn better, but have even less (free) time for their doctorate.

Is a doctorate worthwhile?

In view of the high effort and the duration, the question quickly arises: Is a doctorate worthwhile? A look at various studies and surveys suggests a positive answer. The general knowledge is: A doctorate has a significant impact on the later payment in the job.

Some studies even show differences in salaries of up to 32 percent. However, these financial advantages are put into perspective on closer inspection, since graduates without a doctorate usually start their professional life much earlier and earn money accordingly earlier. Still, employees have a PhD overall better career and professional opportunities and mostly benefit noticeably from their doctorate. The number of doctorates, which has been increasing for years, also seems to underline these advantages.

So it seems strange that, according to various estimates, almost every third doctorate is abandoned. Anyone looking for tangible numbers here comes across a problem: Hardly any university publishes the number of dropouts in doctoral studies.

Still, there are surveys and scientific papers that deal with the Motives for dropping out of a doctorate deal. The Institute for University Research gives the following motifs, for example:

For many doctoral students, sooner or later the question arises as to whether the potential benefits of a doctorate really justify the enormous burden. In addition, many doctoral students receive lucrative offers from industry and business during their doctorate.

Dropping out of a doctorate does not have to be a career disadvantage - if doctoral students can clearly justify the step. For example, if there is an excellent job offer or doctoral students notice that they can develop more quickly in professional practice, the step is also understandable for future employers.

Doing a doctorate alongside the job: is that possible?

The burden and the effort for a doctorate are enormous. It becomes all the more difficult when work is also carried out at the same time and in this way one Double burden arises. In fact, more and more employees are opting for exactly this path, for example for financial reasons, in order to be able to earn money during their doctorate. But is it worth doing a PhD alongside your job?

There is no general answer to that. The motives and individual situations are too different. Exactly these should therefore also be the Basis for decision-making be. An off-job doctorate has to work for you and be right, which is why you should take a close look at your situation as you play with the idea.

In any case, it is possible to do a doctorate alongside your job and if this step brings you closer to your professional goals or is a great advantage on the job market, then it may be exactly right. So that the project really works, we still have some tips for her:

  1. Find a suitable topic

    If you have been working for a few years, it is not always easy to find a suitable topic. Good research and consultation with the supervisor helps here. Perhaps it is even possible to find a topic that is relevant to your own job. This is how you become an expert in your field. But the most important requirement is that you find a topic that interests you, since you will be occupied with it for a long time.

  2. Get your boss on board

    In order to be able to do a doctorate alongside your job, you should discuss your plans with your employer. Many companies even show understanding and support for the desire of the employee. Ultimately, the employer also benefits from the better qualification of the employee. Often you can take time off work or reduce your work to have more time.

  3. Stay disciplined

    It is really not easy to get up and motivate yourself outside of your job and to use the usually limited free time to read scientific texts, search for and browse further literature and of course write your own doctoral thesis. Here you need strong and sustained motivation and the necessary self-discipline to stay on the ball.

  4. Take enough time

    You should be aware in advance that it will take some time to do a PhD alongside your job. It is not without reason that doctoral students need several years to obtain a doctorate - even if they do not have a full-time job on the side. You should therefore plan enough time right from the start and make this clear to your employer. Getting a doctorate alongside your job is a long road, but it can be worthwhile for both sides.

When is a doctorate a stepping stone for a career?

So that the doctorate pays off and becomes a professional door opener, the following should: requirements be given:

  1. Doctorate Careers: The Industry

    A doctorate does not lead to a career boost in every industry. Before deciding on a doctorate, you should think carefully about which one Branch You want to work afterwards.

    It is necessary for ...

    • Chemists, biologists and other natural scientists. Here it is often a requirement for employment - especially for those who want to work in research. In doing so, they prove that they can independently carry out tests, document and publish them, and have international experience.
    • Lecturers at the university. If you are aiming for a university career, you will not be able to avoid a doctorate. It's the way to identify yourself as an expert in a specific subject area, to fill a research gap, and to make a name for yourself.

    The doctorate in ...

    • Management consultancy and tax audits
    • banks and insurance companies
    • Ministries and authorities

    For Engineers and business economists the doctorate is a plus, but not a must. Practical experience is often what counts here. An alternative that is also highly regarded and treated equally in many companies is the Master of Business Administration (MBA).

  2. Doctorate Careers: The Future Employer

    How big is the company you are aiming for? Family businesses and medium-sized companies are often put off by the doctorate, especially if the owner is not an academic. Applicants with the PhD will be viewed critically and as overqualified viewed. They are assumed to be unrealistic theorists and have no relation to practice. Here it helps to consider in advance which companies could be considered as potential employers.

    You should also think about which position you are aiming for. A doctorate is not absolutely necessary for a middle position, this is what counts Practical experience significantly more in the form of internships and stays abroad. Bear in mind that you will lack this if you decide to do a doctorate, as you usually only start your professional life in your late 20s or early 30s.

  3. Doctorate career: the topic of the dissertation

    The topic of your doctoral thesis can be decisive for your future job opportunities. Practice-oriented dissertations are better received in the free economy than very theoretical work. For this reason, it is important to know in advance whether you would prefer to stay at the university or plan to work for a company.

    It is also a question of how you sell your dissertation. Do you present yourself as a practice-oriented expert with specific specialist knowledge or as an accomplished theorist? It is crucial that you get your Key qualifications put in the foreground. These are the reasons to hire you.

Is a doctorate the right path for you?

If you are considering a doctorate and the formal requirements are not a hurdle for you, you should also take a look at your personal situation. You should think carefully beforehand whether you are embarking on the long road to a doctorate. The following questions can help you decide as Orientation aid serve:

  • Why do I want to do a PhD?

    It is one of the most important questions to ask yourself beforehand. If you start your doctorate for the wrong reasons, it is more likely that you will not hold out to the end and terminate the project prematurely. A discontinued doctorate leads to gaps in your résumé, for which you must have a plausible explanation for future applications. Intrinsic motives should also be behind your project - or in other words: you should act on your own initiative and really want the doctorate.

  • Can you be enthusiastic about your topic over a longer period of time?

    At first it might be easy for you to get enthusiastic about the topic of your doctoral thesis, but how about your enthusiasm in two, three or four years? The difficulty lies in being able to be permanently enthusiastic about a topic. Even if problems and hurdles arise in answering the research question. Anyone who was tired of the topic after page 30 of the master's thesis should seriously ask themselves whether they can hold out a dissertation.

  • Are you ready to put other things aside?

    Doing a PhD will take a long time and a large part of your attention. Other areas of life may be neglected or you have to decide which aspects you still have time for. You should be aware of this in advance.

  • Do you have the necessary support in the area?

    In the end you will do your doctorate on your own, but it is extremely helpful and important when you have family and friends to support you. It's not just about the necessary motivation and more stamina when things get difficult, but also about understanding when you have to withdraw and work on your doctorate.

  • Are you coping with the stress and strain?

    A doctorate involves a lot of work, pressure, stress and a huge challenge. Some people only really thrive with such an enormous workload, but by no means everyone can handle it.

  • How self-disciplined do you work?

    In a research project over several years, it is important to divide up the work yourself. You set the pace, but you also need to push yourself. Good self and time management are necessary in order not to drag out a dissertation unnecessarily.

  • What is your financial situation like?

    A doctorate is also a question of money: Do you have a chance of receiving a scholarship? Are you planning to do a part-time doctorate and work on the side? Before making a decision, such aspects should be clarified. This is the only way you can concentrate on the project and do not run the risk of having to abandon it for financial reasons. Student debts should also be considered in these considerations.

  • Where would you like to do a PhD?

    There are three options to choose from for a doctorate: the university, the graduate college or in business. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages:

    • At the university it is important to find the right doctoral supervisor. As a rule, doctoral students support the chair in teaching alongside their doctorate.
    • In one Research Training Group A scholarship enables doctoral students to concentrate fully on their dissertation.But the places are rare and very popular.
    • A doctorate in the economy is a combination of theory and practice. But depending on how specific the research question is, you block future job opportunities in other companies.
  • If you can answer these questions positively, the requirements for a doctorate are met. If you want to prepare your decision further, he can PhD test will serve you well.

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3rd November 2020Author: Nils Warkentin

Nils Warkentin studied business administration at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. On the career bible, he is devoted to topics related to studies, career entry and everyday office life.

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