The final thesis was considered an independent, scholarly research project in line with the GDR’s general higher education system; it constituted the conclusion of the programs at the Academy of Law of the MfS (JHS), including the direct and distance learning programs as well as external studies. The thesis was on average 50 pages long and focused primarily on problems and tasks in the practices of the MfS. Thesis subjects were assigned to “Kursants” in accordance with the JHS program’s scholarly aims as well as the candidate’s future capacity in the Stasi.
After the completion, defense and grading of the thesis, it became the property of the JHS, and it was not rare for theses to end up unchanged in MfS instruction manuals. The title of the final thesis did not appear on the final degree certificate.
Beginning in 1968, those graduates who completed a diploma with the best grade at the Academy of Law of the MfS (JHS), or finished their studies with a main examination, had the opportunity to also study for a doctorate in their field. The “doctor of jurisprudence” degree corresponded to an A-level doctoral degree in the GDR higher education system. According to GDR regulations, a doctoral candidate had to demonstrate his particular scholarly qualifications with a doctoral thesis that had scholarly value; dissertations at the JHS focused strongly on MfS operations. Another part of the doctoral examination procedure was the defense of the candidate’s research results; unlike in the rest of the GDR, the defense at the JHS was not open to the public. Furthermore, the candidate had to demonstrate proof of profound knowledge of Marxism-Leninism as well as a foreign language (typically Russian).
This also applied for the second academic degree of doctor of science, which, according to the B-level regulations for a doctoral degree in the GDR higher education system, authorized graduates to hold the title of “doctor of the science of law and jurisprudence.” In addition to the provisions of A-level doctoral degrees, the doctoral candidate had to prove his ability to lead research groups and coordinate scientific research. This second qualification, which was awarded at the JHS beginning in 1981, was oriented exclusively to its own instructors and scientists.
The assignment of topics was aligned with the research plan of the Academy of Law. The focus however rested less on legal subjects than on political-operational subjects, such as “operations against the enemy,” anti-espionage efforts, and the like. The JHS awarded the title of doctor of laws to 378 people and the title of doctor of the science of law and jurisprudence to 98 people.