The organisation of doctoral-level studies
In Germany, only universities can award doctoral degrees. The doctoral research project may also be conducted at a non-university or industrial research institution, but the dissertation has to be submitted to a university.
There are two different doctorate models in Germany: the individual doctorate and the structured doctoral programme.
The traditional individual doctorate:
The doctoral candidate is assigned an academic supervisor (usually a university professor). The supervisor (also called Doktormutter / Doktorvater) is regularly updated about the progress of the candidate's dissertation and gives advice during the process. The doctoral candidate has the status of a research assistant, project staff member or scholarship holder. Research is at the centre of the doctoral candidate's activities and doctoral training is rather rare. The title of doctor can be granted after the submission of the dissertation and an oral examination.
The structured doctoral programme:
A team of supervisors or a supervising committee guide the doctoral candidate who has the status of a doctoral student. Research results are regularly presented to a larger audience and / or the supervising committee. Accompanying courses are offered in the framework of the structured doctoral programmes.
The average length of a doctoral programme is three years. The length depends on the type of doctoral programme and the discipline. The traditional individual doctorate often exceeds three years. Many structured programmes are designed in a way that doctoral candidates complete their dissertation within three years.
Within the natural sciences and especially engineering a doctorate is usually very project-oriented and offers contacts with the private sector.
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