Doctoral studies at Heinrich Heine University (HHU)

There are several ways to obtain a doctoral degree in Germany and at HHU, depending mainly on the different faculties and research areas you belong to as well as the type of supervision. In general you can differentiate between an Individual Doctorate or a Doctorate in a Structured Graduate Programme. Independent thereof, undefinedHeine Research Academies and the graduate academies of the Faculty of Medicine (MedRSD), the Faculty of Mathematics & Natural Sciences (iGRAD), and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (PhilGRAD) provide a common framework of support and structured education for all doctoral researchers.

To obtain a Doctorate doctoral researchers must work independently on a research project, write a thesis and defend it at the end by an oral exam or a thesis defense. It normally takes between three to four years to complete a doctorate. The start of doctoral studies is not bound to the university semesters, it mainly depends on available funding of individual research projects.

Individual Doctorate
  • The Individual Doctorate remains the most common in Germany and at HHU. Here, a professor supervises a doctoral researcher who works mainly independent (but in consultation with the professor) on a research project. This form of doctoral research offers a great deal of flexibility, but demands a high degree of personal initiative and responsibility. To start a doctoral project you first need to find a supervisor at our university. Supervising a doctoral thesis is an individual agreement by both - the doctoral researcher and the supervisor. At HHU in some faculties (e.g. Faculty of Mathematics & Natural Sciences) an additional mentor (professor) is mandatory. 

    Independent thereof, Heine Research Academies and MedRSD, iGRAD, and PhilGRAD provide a common framework of support and structured education for all doctoral researchers.

    In case of an Individual Doctorate the doctoral researcher can be employed by the institute of the supervisor, which often requires to work on a specific project or take part in the teaching requirements of the institute. Job offers for this way to a Doctorate are often advertised at the research institute's website or can be found at the undefinedHeRA job portal.

    If the doctoral researcher is not employed by the institute, he/she might be responsible to organize undefinedfunding for the dissertation project, for example by a scholarship.

    How long an Individual Doctorate takes depends mainly on your own time schedule. Three to four years are in the normal range.

    You will find further information on how to apply to an Individual Doctorate undefinedhere.

Structured Graduate Programmes
  • In structured programmes doctoral researchers and their research projects are embedded in a larger scientific framework with emphasis either on special subjects or techniques and methods. These programmes are often interdisciplinary and/or have a strong international orientation with English as the team language. As a rule they offer a supporting curriculum and provide opportunities to acquire transferable skills and additional qualifications. Generally, in structured programmes supervision is provided by a thesis advisory committee.

    At HHU you have a broad spectrum of structured doctoral programmes in research training groups and graduate schools funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Excellence Initiative, the federal state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and HHU itself. Sometimes they include collaborations with other universities, non-university research institutes like Helmholtz Association or International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) or international partners.

    Normally, programme specific scholarships or jobs secure funding of the doctorate for at least three years. Further information on available scholarships or job offers can be found at the graduate programmes websites or and the undefinedHeRA job portal.

    Details on how to apply to graduate programmes you will findundefined here.

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