Research School » Advising Offers » Who we advise » Planning a Doctorate

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Dr. Ursula Justus

• Personal Competence Training
• Advising offers & Ombudsperson

Certified Coach (DGfC).

Room: FNO 01/142
Phone: +49(0)234-32-28070
Fax: +49(0)234-32-14912 

Office Hours:
Thursday 16.02., 15.00-16:00

And by appointment upon request

Planning a doctorate

Ruhr-Universität Bochum is one of the strongest research universities in Germany and hosts nearly all scientific disciplines on campus. Twenty faculties and numerous affiliated institutes offer a wide range of doctoral opportunities. You can realise your doctoral project in an international research environment and meet researchers from all over the world - get an overview over RUB chairs and faculties.

RUB supports you as an early career researcher who actively contributes to state-of-the-art research. You can conduct your individual doctoral research project on high standards in the research fields of all 20 faculties at RUB. You can use your own ideas and interests to work on a doctoral project and gain advanced research experience and individual qualification - driven by your personal motivation, initiative and responsibility. You will be fully integrated into the scientific community of RUB.

Depending on your research field, the research project or faculty you belong to: You can have your doctoral project individually supervised or implemented within a structured doctoral program. Structured doctoral programs are offered by the faculties, doctoral training groups or collaborative research groups at RUB.

With starting your doctorate at RUB you will become a member of the university-wide graduate school RUB Research School - check our information for freshman.

To plan or start your doctorate please follow the next 3 steps:

1. Finding a supervisor

Finding a supervisor is the most important - and maybe most challenging - first step to start your doctorate. To find a supervisor please check RUB chairs and faculties. Identify on the homepage of the faculties and chairs the research areas of potential supervisors by looking at their research profiles and match these profiles with your research interests (lists of supervisors do not exist).

Supervising a doctoral project is an individual agreement by both – the doctoral researcher and the supervisor. Therefore, it is required for you to contact a potential supervisor on your own initiative (e.g. by e-mail or personally) and explore the opportunities for a doctoral project. You should try to get in personal contact with a potential supervisor at RUB and agree upon the supervision of a doctoral project (please note that you cannot apply to the university or one of it's research institutions to start a doctorate).

Asking for supervision would mean to individually apply to a potential supervisor. Ask for supervision by presenting your academic performance, your research experience, by outlining the research field of your interest, describing your personal motivation to do a doctorate in that field, and explaining why you apply to that specific chair and supervisor. In addition, describe your research interest in more detail, within a 1-2 pages letter.

You could also start making personal contacts for your doctorate already during your study course by e.g. writing your Master theses in the research field you might be interested in for a doctorate or by making use of your network.

In general:

  • clarify your research interest and the research field you are interested in
  • describe your personal motivation to do a doctorate
  • show your academic performance and sum up your research experience (knowledge and methods)
  • check RUB's chairs and faculties to explore the options to do a doctrate
  • find a potential supervisor by carefully checking the homepage (do not forget the research projects and publications)
  • get in contact with your potential supervisor and try to explain why you are interested in specifically being supervised by him or her

2. General and formal requirements

In order to do a doctorate, you should have a very good qualification equivalent to a Masters Degree or Diploma on university level, with at least eight semesters of study (in exceptional cases you may abe accepted with a very good Bachelor degree of a fast-track program).

Degrees from institutes outside of Germany or studies in research subjects not represented at RUB, have to be recognised by the respective faculty. In all faculties, you should apply for acceptance as a doctoral candidate right at the beginning of your doctorate to ensure that you fulfill the formal requirements.

The formal requirements, responsibilities and procedures of a doctorate (including the application to be accpeted as doctoral researcher) are defined by the doctoral regulations of the faculty responsible for your field of research. Please check the doctoral regulations carefully. You can contact the dean's office of the faculty if you have questions concerning the formal requirements and the doctoral regulations.

Doing a doctorate also depends on your personal motivation and interest. Therefore, it could be helpful to claify your personal motivation to do a doctorate - related to your research qualification and interests but also related to your skills and strategies to work self-organised, self-reliable and with a high responsibility for advancing your own research project.

In general:

  • Get an overview of the research fields and areas at RUB and decide which professor you would like to be your supervisor.
  • Get acquainted with the faculties and institutes and their doctoral-degree regulations and requirements - do you fulfill them?
  • If you are taking part in a structured doctoral program, such as IGB, GSCB, IGSN, faculty-wide programs in Philosophy etc., check the regulations of this program in detail.
  • If you are not a native speaker, you should have English or German language skills enbling you to conduct your research project successfully in your research field and environment. You have to agree upon the language skills with your first supervisor right at the beginning. They will formally be proofed by the respective faculty.
  • Try to clarify your motivation to work independently, self-reliable and self-organised.

3. Registration

After you could find a supervisor and agree upon the supervision of your doctoral project you should check the doctoral regulations of your faculty if you should sign a supervision agreement.

After you agreed upon supervision you need to submit an application to the dean's office of your faculty to be accepted as doctoral researcher. The faculty will send a formal acceptance letter in return confirming that you fulfill all formal requirements - or in exeptional cases should fulfill additional requirements. You will find all details about your application to the faculty and the required documents in the doctoral regulations.

After you got the formal acceptance letter of your faculty, you have to enroll as doctoral researcher of RUB at the Registrar's Office (all doctoral researchers of RUB have to be enrolled following the enrolment regulations of RUB).

To complete your enrolment, you need to register in the Doctoral Database of RUB - this is an additional registration step to complete the formal enrolment at the Registrar's Office.

After your enrolment and registration in the doctoral database you will get a Welcome Letter by RUB Research School confirming your registration in the database and offering free access to all our activities and events. You will also get the login data to register for our workshops and events.