For an individual doctorate, you will work on your dissertation project individually at a faculty, under the scientific supervision of a professor. A doctoral degree generally requires the writing and publishing of a doctoral dissertation and an oral examination.
In order to be admitted as a doctoral candidate, you will have to find a professor to supervise your dissertation on your own initiative or successfully apply for an available dissertation topic. The contact persons in the faculties’ offices of the dean will gladly help you in this regard.
How do I find a potential supervisor?
The selection of your academic supervisor depends to a large extent on your dissertation topic. Ideally, your doctoral supervisor should not only be a good match for you academically, but also on a personal level, in order for you to be able to develop a successful cooperation based on trust.
If you have initial concrete ideas about the topic of your doctoral project and have already thought about the methodology, you can start looking for a suitable supervisor. A professor or, in some cases, a junior professor or “Privatdozent” (non-tenured associate professor) can supervise you. You can find more details in the regulations for a doctoral degree of the respective faculty.
- You can search for academics in your research and subject-area on the website of the University of Potsdam. For your search, you should take into account the subject-specific connection between your own research interest and the main research topics of the professor.
- Take advantage of possible existing contacts from your university studies or ask your final thesis advisor for a recommendation.
Online search engines are another option and you can find some of them here:
- German Research Institutions GERiT by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) – data base with more than 19,000 departments at German institutions of higher education and non-university research institutions; filtered by geographic, subject-specific and structural criteria
- Higher Education Compass – data base with information on German institutions of higher education, contacts at the international affairs departments and Ph.D. opportunities in Germany
- Phdgermany – DAAD database for current PhD positions
How do I contact a potential supervisor?
If you found a potential supervisor, you can send them an articulate and informative e-mail.
The professors receive many supervision requests. Think of your e-mail as a letter of application intended to make you stand out from the vast number of other inquiries.
Your e-mail should contain the following information:
- name, home university, field, and, if applicable, publications or topic of the Master’s thesis etc.
- a short description of your Ph.D. project
- an explanation as to why you have chosen this particular professor
- a curriculum vitae in tabular form
- Ask for a personal meeting to discuss your project at the end of the e-mail.
At the beginning of the doctoral phase, some faculties require you to suggest a second supervisor. Your primary doctoral supervisor can help you with this choice. In most cases, members of other national and international universities and non-university research institutions can also be chosen as second supervisors or mentors.
What is the exact course of events for doctoral studies?
1. Once you have found an academic supervisor for your Ph.D. project, you will have to apply for admission as a doctoral candidate at the faculty that is responsible for your field of study.
For the specific admission requirements and achievements to complete for the Ph.D. degree, please refer to the valid regulations for a doctoral degree of the faculty that is responsible for your doctoral project. A doctoral degree generally requires the writing of a doctoral dissertation, an oral examination and the publication of the dissertation. If successful, you will be awarded a doctorate. The quality criteria developed by the Potsdam Graduate School are regarded as the minimum standards to be met for Ph.D. projects.
The seven faculties of the University of Potsdam are responsible for providing subject-specific supervision and carrying out the Ph.D. projects. If you have questions or need further information, please contact the responsible contact persons in the faculties’ offices of the dean.
Prospective or current doctoral candidates from outside Germany can also seek support from the Welcome Center Potsdam.
2. After successful admission, you can enroll as a doctoral candidate.
If you have already submitted all the necessary documents for admission to your faculty, they will be forwarded internally to the Office of Student Affairs at the University of Potsdam after your admission has been confirmed. Exceptions: Doctoral candidates at the Faculty of Science and the Digital Engineering Faculty will have to hand in their enrollment documents and their notification of admission from the faculty at the Student Administration Center/ Office of Student Affairs.
The Office of Student Affairs will then send you a request for the transfer of the semester fee. Upon receipt of the fee, your Potsdam University Chip Card PUCK will be created and mailed to you alongside further information material.
- Before taking up your doctoral studies, you can exchange ideas with others during information events at the University of Potsdam that deal with doctoral studies (such as faculty days, Perspektive Promotion etc.). Please also refer to the respective websites for more information.
- Supervision agreements are important. Conclude one with your supervisor to define rights and duties that apply mutually.
- Don’t forget to put together a supervision team. This is usually made up of a primary academic supervisor and a second supervisor as well as, ideally, an external reviewer. This will reduce the burden on your primary supervisor. The whole supervision team can also be consulted for possible solutions in case of conflicts. Choosing an external reviewer ensures that your dissertation will be judged impartially.