Finding a topic and a supervisor

The following information will show you how you can take the first steps towards a potential doctorate. It all begins with you finding a supervisor for the doctorate and to agree with him or her on a research topic

At Saarland University there are different ways to successfully complete a doctorate:

  • Individual doctorate – PhD candidates conduct their research under the supervision of a so-called "Doktorvater“ or „Doktormutter“ (a mentoring professor), for a research topic that was previously agreed upon and the PhD candidates are not bound by a formal mandatory programme. The research topic can either be selected relatively freely or may be narrowed down by the research focus of the professorship or the funding issued by a third-party funded project.
  • Structured doctorate – PhD candidates conduct their research as part of a structured doctoral programme including a supporting programme, usually as part of a larger group of students and with a superordinate research topic. This type of doctorate is only offered by specific faculties and subjects, for example as part of a DFG Graduateschool, Collaborative Research Centres, projects funded by the EU or the Saarbrücken Graduate School of Computer Science.

There are also several ways in which you can finance your doctorate. Most PhD students apply for a research assistant position for doctoral studies published by the university. These positions usually offer an employment contract with Saarland University that allows for time to conduct research for the doctorate. Another option is the application for a PhD scholarship, which is for example offered by the "Begabtenförderwerk" (Gifted and Talented Support Services) or by the Saarland Graduate Funding Programme (GraduSaar). Other sources of funding for the doctorate may of course be an option, too.

    The requirements for a doctorate

    Before you can become a PhD student, it needs to be verified whether your academic achievements thus far obtained are sufficient to begin a doctorate. This means that your diplomas will be verified and evaluated to determine whether your qualification is equivalent to a first degree diploma, i.e. whether you can be admitted as a PhD candidate right away or whether you may have to complete additional requirements first, such as passing classes from our degree programmes or an aptitute test for the doctorate.

    If you obtained your prevous degree(s) abroad the Dean's Office of the respective faculty will first have to determine the equivalency or your degree, before you can be accepted for the doctorate. You can use the Online Database Anabin to read up on your degree and to learn whether your degree generally would qualify you for a doctorate in Germany. However, the specific regulations of each faculty's doctoral regulation may differ from the information listed on Anabin, hence this research can only give you a first overview of the equivalency. While you prepare to become a PhD candidate, your supervisor therefore needs to be in close contact with the respective Dean's Office.

    Finding a supervisor

    The first and most important step to take is the thorough research about the different faculties and professorships at Saarland University and the research focus of the professors that work at the faculty. You can find an overview of all faculties of Saarland University on our website. By clicking on each faculty you will find and overview of all chairs and professorships.

    If you have found a professor whose research focus matches your interest, please contact them directly to learn whether a doctorate in his or her research group is possible,

    For international prospective PhD candidates there is information available on the search for a supervisor, summarized on the  webseite of Research in Germany.