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Step by step through your PhD

Here you will find all the important information on how to make it through your doctorate step by step.

Step 1: Check the Formal Requirements

There are some set admission requirements for the applicants of a doctorate at the Faculty of Engineering. These requirements are fully described in the doctoral degree regulations. It is advisable to study the requirements at an early stage, in order to make sure one fulfills all admission criteria.

For an admission to a doctorate, the applicant has to have

1. a qualifying degree from:

a) a master's program at a German university,

b) a study program at a German university or a college of education with a minimum study duration of four years,

c) a study program based on an undergraduate degree program at a German university, a college of education or another university with the right to award doctorates

in the field of computer science, mathematics, in an engineering field or in a natural science field.

2. The applicant must not be already admitted as a doctoral student in the same scientific field at another faculty or university. In addition to that, the applicant must not have already passed a corresponding doctoral examination in the same scientific field at a university.

Step 2: Finding a Supervisor

If you want to pursue a doctorate at the faculty of Engineering, you initially need to find a supervisor. The first step is therefore to contact one of the professors in the field where you intend to pursue your doctoral degree, in order to find out whether they are interested in your proposal and whether they may be available to provide supervision.

Step 3: Application for Acceptance as a Doctoral Student

Once you have received a confirmation of supervision for your thesis project, you and your supervisor need to conclude a doctoral supervision agreement.  Before beginning to work on your dissertation, you should apply for acceptance as a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Engineering as soon as possible in order to secure your legal status as a doctoral candidate.

The application for admission as a doctoral candidate has to be initially done via the online system Docata. Please note that you need to first activate your UniAccount for Docata.

For any further information regarding the activation of your UniAccount, please refer to this Wiki page. Once your UniAccount is activated, you may log into Docata with it.

After completing your online application for admission as a doctoral student in Docata, you need to print it, sign it, and submit it to the doctoral examination committee of your faculty, together with all other required documents. It is necessary that you submit your application on time, as it must be ensured whether you fulfil the general entry requirements according to the doctoral degree regulations.

After receiving acceptance by the faculty, you must register/ matriculate as a doctoral student by submitting the certificate of acceptance from the Faculty of Engineering and the application form for registration/ matriculation at the Student Registration Office (German Doctoral Candidates) or at the International Admissions and Services (IAS) (international doctoral candidates).

Step 4: Compulsory Enrollment or Registration at the University of Freiburg

Since March 30 2018, doctoral candidates must enroll or register after being accepted as a doctoral candidate by the faculty, according to § 38 Abs. 5 of the Landeshochschulgesetz (LHG). The Service Center Studium is in charge of this. You may find further information here.

Step 5: A Monograph or a Cumulative Thesis?

The dissertation is usually to be written as a monograph. Upon application, the Doctoral Committee may also authorize the submission of several related scientific papers by the doctoral student as a cumulative dissertation.

The application for writing a cumulative dissertation must be submitted before the dissertation is submitted.

The prerequisites for a cumulative dissertation are regulated in § 8 (3) of PromO 2016. In particular, it requires that the papers that form a cumulative dissertation must have originated from a common scientific question and have been published in peer-reviewed, internationally recognized journals or have been accepted for publication. In the case of computer science, the papers must have been published in conference volumes of internationally recognized conferences or have been accepted for publication.

The doctoral committee currently examines if one meets the conditions to write a cumulative dissertation as follows:

Microsystem Technology: if at least three of the papers are published in a journal of this list, the condition is fulfilled.

Inatech / SSE: If at least three of the papers have appeared in a journal of this list, the condition is fulfilled.

Computer science: if at least three of the papers have been published in a conference or journal of category A / A * according to the CORE'18 ranking, the condition is fulfilled.

In all other cases, a closer examination will be made and, if necessary, a statement of opinion from the supervisor will be obtained. The doctoral committee reserves the right to decide differently in individual cases.

We emphasize that the § 8 Abs. 3 of PromO 2016 and the above mentioned procedure only check the minimum standards. The actual quality control of the work is done during the assessment and the defense.

Step 6: Application to Initiate the Doctoral Examination Procedure

As soon as you have finished the thesis, you may submit an application to initiate the doctoral examination procedure in accordance with § 7 of the doctoral degree regulations of the Faculty of Engineering. Please address your application to the PhD-board of the Faculty of Engineering and submit 4 bound hard copies of your thesis and a digital version (in PDF format) together with the documents mentioned on the application form to Ms. Baghi. The PDF file can easily be sent via email as an attachment or a download link.

The corresponding forms can be found in the download section of the website. The dates of the doctoral committee meetings can be found under Dates.

Step 7: Plan of Procedure

  1. Your case will be discussed in the next meeting of the Ph.D. committee. This meeting will take place on the same day as a meeting of the Faculty Council during the lecture periods, i.e. once a month. During lecture breaks, the dean will coordinate further meetings once a month. The Ph.D. committee will define your Ph.D. examination committee (reviewers, chairperson and further examiners).
  2. You should however submit a proposal of the composition of the examination committee. This proposal should be coordinated beforehand with the prospective members, and ideally by your supervisor.

    If the proposal comprises external members (not members of the Faculty of Engineering), your supervisor will be asked to defend the proposal at the Ph.D. committee meeting or to submit a convincing statement in written form. Otherwise, the PhD committee may not be able to take a decision.

     The Ph.D. committee examines the proposals and retains the right to define a more suitable examination committee due to professional and regulatory reasons.

  3. Only after the Ph.D. committee has agreed to your examination committee, the reviewers will be asked to evaluate your thesis. The reviewers then have 2 months to write their reports.
  4. Once the reports have reached Ms. Baghi, your documents will circulate among the professors of the Faculty of Engineering for 2 weeks, respectively 3 weeks during lecture breaks. Only after the completion of the circulation, the defense can take place. 
  5. You will then be notified that the defense can take place. Please coordinate a date for the defense and inform Ms. Baghi.

Please note:

  • In view of the times allocated for the various steps above, if you fix a date for your Ph.D. defense with a prospective examination committee which has not yet been approved by the Ph.D. committee, this will be at your own risk. The PhD committee will not be influenced by seemingly accomplished facts.
  • From the point of view of the dean’s secretariat, there is no possibility of any kind to speed up the process, such as decisions regarding the initiations of the examination procedure before the case is officially discussed in the meeting of the PhD committee. In view of its growing duties, the dean’s secretariat is not able to consider special requests.
  • Therefore, it is your duty to organize your Ph.D. examination process well in advance subject to these boundary conditions.

Step 8: Thesis Defense

In the defense (oral examination), which can be held in both German or English, the doctoral candidate defends his / her thesis in the presence of the examination committee; he / she should prove his / her scientific qualification. The defense has a duration of approximately 90 minutes; It begins with a 20-minute report from the doctoral student about the thesis (§10 PromO).

The defense is open to members (students and faculty members) of the University. The examination committee will receive the invitation to the defense session, approximately 14 days before the defense.

Immediately following the defence, the doctoral candidate will be informed of the overall grade of his/ her PhD.

Step 9: Publication of the Doctoral Thesis

You are required to publish your thesis within one year after the defense. (§ 13 PromO). After the thesis has been published, you will receive the doctoral degree certificate and a certified copy of it. Currently, the certificates are sent by post.

Please note that the seal of the university may be used on the title page as well- to see a sample title page, please also refer to the website of the university central administration.

The names of the dean and the reviewers, as well as the date of the oral examination as the day of the doctorate are to be indicated on the backside of the title page of the thesis.

Information on the electronic publication can be found on the website of FreiDok Plus of the Universities Library.