What is an application proposal for a doctorate

How do I apply for a doctorate or habilitation?


With the doctorate they reach the highest scientific degree
The decision to do a doctorate and write a dissertation should be carefully considered. But it gives them the chance to achieve the highest scientific degree in their field.

When you apply for a doctorate or habilitation, you create an application for a scientific activity at the interface between teaching and research and science at a university. With a doctorate you achieve the scientific doctoral degree and with the habilitation the highest scientific rank at a university with a teaching qualification. As a rule, the doctorate precedes the habilitation. The conditions for achieving one of the two academic degrees with a scientific thesis are quite different. Overall, the hurdles for a scientist to habilitation are higher than those for a doctorate. Both have in common that there is no single recipe for a successful application. Rather, the prerequisites and success depend heavily on the subject area, the respective university and the offices to which you submit your application.


Doctoral application via the doctoral supervisor


After successfully completing a degree, you can do a doctorate either with a Bachelor's / Master's degree or with a state examination. As a rule, by the time you apply, you will have already carried out intensive research on a key topic in your science. Before you apply, you should recapitulate exactly which scientific goal you are pursuing with your doctoral thesis. The more precisely you formulate your cover letter, the more you will attract the attention of those people who decide on admission or a doctoral scholarship. The rest of the procedure is very individual if there is a close relationship with the doctoral supervisor in advance. Often the award of a doctoral thesis is linked to an activity as a research assistant of a professor, from which the topic and supervision for a doctoral thesis result. A detailed synopsis or the writing of a CV are usually not necessary if the doctoral supervisor assigns the dissertation topic in an informal manner. In this way, maintaining good contacts is usually more important than perfectly formed application documents. When you have completed the doctoral thesis under the supervision of your doctoral supervisor, he will write an expert opinion for you. Further reports are usually also desired as an attachment to the application documents for the doctoral procedure.


Do your doctorate at the graduate school


You have further options for doing a doctorate at a graduate school at the university, through a foundation that awards doctoral scholarships, or through a company. The graduate school consists of a group of young scientists who research a specific topic and who work on a scientific thesis as doctoral students. If you apply for a doctoral position there, you should look for a topic from the area of ​​the research focus of the respective research training group. With scientific publications, for example in magazines before your doctorate, you can collect points here in order to be accepted. The more independent and trend-setting your publications are, the better they do in the application documents.


Find a scholarship for the doctoral project

If you have no other source of income yet, you can apply for a scholarship. Of course, their performance must be above average for this.

If you do not yet have a paid position as a research assistant at a university and no further income for the planned doctoral period, it is advisable to apply for a scholarship. In Germany there are numerous foundations that support doctoral projects with a monthly money transfer, usually over a period of three years. However, not all applicants are accepted and the selection bar is high. The foundations are very different in nature, and you should read the terms and conditions of each provider carefully beforehand. Your profile and that of the foundation as well as the topic of the planned doctoral thesis should match so that your application is successful. You can also apply to several foundations at the same time in order to increase your chances. If you are accepted, you will of course only receive money from one place. Foundations require candidates to submit a very precise synopsis in which the doctoral project is comprehensively presented and justified. You should complete the application documents with your curriculum vitae and a list of activities such as stays abroad and activities at the university such as student assistant, research assistant or research assistant. Some foundations also rate social activities in associations or non-profit organizations as a bonus for a commitment. You will also make a good impression if you attach a list of the material costs and travel expenses for your doctoral project to the application.


Find PhD positions in industry


If you as a scientist, for example in economics, engineering or natural sciences, are aiming for a career outside of university in industry, it may make sense to apply directly to a company. Many companies with research departments offer doctoral candidates attractive positions where you can earn money and work on your doctoral thesis at the same time. In such a case, the employer supports the doctorate and at the same time benefits from your research results. You can send a speculative application directly to a company that fits your profile or research project, or you can respond to doctoral positions advertised in the academic job market. A list of social activities is rather not asked for in such a letter of application for a doctorate on industry, unlike in the case of a scholarship. Rather, you should state your interest in the company, your scientific focus and professional ideas in the application letter exactly and precisely.


Develop initiative for the habilitation


To achieve a habilitation in Germany, you need a lot of staying power. In Germany, a successful application for this generally requires, in addition to a doctorate, several years of teaching at a university. Candidates who moved to industry after completing their doctorate and who have little or no teaching experience should therefore hold a series of trial lectures before applying. Otherwise, the habilitation is a purely academic award of a degree that is closely linked to the respective university at which it is to take place. Therefore, every university has a habilitation regulation with its own regulations, which can differ from one university to another. The initiative for a habilitation must always come from you as the habilitation candidate. As a rule, you will have worked as a research assistant or lecturer at a university in research and teaching for several years. However, you can also apply to another university if your research area is currently in demand there.


Make contact with scientists who have already qualified as a professor

To become a university professor you need a lot of patience

It is advisable to establish personal contact with another scientist who has already been a professor and who is in charge of your habilitation project. As a rule, the universities also require several positive reviews. Then write an official letter of application to the habilitation department of the responsible faculty at the university of your choice. You should have already completed your habilitation thesis by this point. In addition, a list of your teaching activities and your scientific publications is desired. The more of these you can show, the greater your chance of actually being qualified as a professor. In order to prove your personal suitability for a scientific teaching position, a current police clearance certificate must be enclosed with the application letter. Some universities also require proof of university didactic training. In contrast to a doctoral application, a fee for the habilitation has to be paid in different amounts for each university. The receipt for this must also be enclosed with the application documents. If you have collected and submitted all application documents, successfully completed the trial lecture and convinced the habilitation committee, nothing stands in the way of your career as a university professor.


Information can be obtained from the university's doctorate office or habilitation office


In order to prepare your application for a doctorate or habilitation at a university well, you can contact the doctoral or habilitation offices set up for this purpose at the respective universities. The contact persons are always the individual faculties that are responsible for the field of your scientific research. Each university has special representatives there for doctorates or post-doctoral qualifications as direct contacts for doctoral or post-doctoral candidates. There you will primarily receive tips and support for the formalities of the application letters and application documents.

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