How difficult is a doctorate

Those who register for a doctorate have a long way to go: doctoral students spend an average of four and a half years on their work. Exactly how this path looks like can be very different from university to university and subject to subject, but there are some basic similarities.

If all formal and personal requirements for a doctorate are met, graduates can register for the doctoral procedure. While the doctorate literally denotes a "promotion" and actually means the awarding of the doctoral degree, the doctoral procedure comprises, on the one hand, the writing of the dissertation or doctoral thesis and, on the other hand, the subsequent oral examination.

The doctoral thesis is an independently created scientific work that makes a contribution to research in the respective subject area. Doctoral students usually create them over several years either on their own, at graduate colleges or in doctoral programs.

Most of the time, they work more or less closely with a doctoral supervisor who oversees the work. Prospective doctoral candidates usually look for him or her before registering for and admitting to the doctoral procedure. Ideally, it is a professor whose research area is close to your own topic and who you already know from your studies. But unsupervised dissertations are also possible in principle.

Do your doctorate externally or internally

The cooperation can look very different: Some doctoral students are already employed at the chair of their doctoral supervisor, support him in his work, hold seminars or lectures. Others do their doctorate externally, so it is up to them or the supervisor how intensively they exchange information about the progress of the work and how intensively the supervisor accompanies and shapes the dissertation.

While working on the dissertation, depending on the examination regulations, it may still be necessary to attend seminars and acquire certificates outside of doctoral programs. Participation in senior or doctoral seminars or the publication of research results in specialist publications is also expected in some cases.

How long each doctoral student is busy with his or her work and how many pages the dissertation fills at the end varies greatly from department to department. In medicine, dissertations are more like bachelor theses in other subjects in terms of time and scope. In the humanities, on the other hand, dissertations with pages in the high three-digit range are no longer uncommon.