RUB Research School

How to Start a Doctorate at RUB

Information at a Glance

RUB supports you as a doctoral resarcher in making an active and relevant contribution to research. You can carry out your individual doctoral project in the research areas of all 21 RUB faculties. Working on a doctoral project with your own ideas and interests, you can gain research experience and an in-depth scientific qualification. When deciding on a doctorate, your personal motivation, initiative, and responsibility are important factors for your success.

You can either have your doctoral project supervised individually or pursue it within a structured doctoral program. This depends on your research field, the research project, and the faculty you belong to. Structured doctoral programs are offered by our faculties, Kollegs or collaborative research centers.

We would like to introduce you to the most important three steps in order to plan or start your doctorate:

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, you can describe your research interest in more detail, within a 1-2 pages document.

If you can agree with a researcher at RUB to be supervised in your doctorate you and your supervisor will sign a supervision agreement.

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

In order to do a doctorate, you should have a very good Master Degree or equivalent qualification on university level, with at least eight semesters of study (exceptions are regulated by the doctoral regulations of each faculty).

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 apply for acceptance as a doctoral researcher 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. You should sum up your research qualification and interests. In addition, you should show 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 become your supervisor
  • get acquainted with the faculty the chair of your potential supervisor is integrated in and its doctoral-degree regulations and requirements - do you fulfill them?
  • inform yourself about the formal steps regulated in the doctoral regulations of the individual faculties and their homepages for starting and completing a doctorate
  • if you are interested in a structured doctoral program, such as IGB, GSCB, IGSN 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
  • try to clarify your motivation to work independently, self-reliable and self-organised

After you could find a supervisor and agree upon the supervision of your doctoral project you should check the doctoral regulations and information of your faculty to sign a supervision agreement and to learn if you have to prepare an exposé.

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 (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 also become a member of RUB Research School and will get a Welcome Letter by Research School confirming your registration in the database and offering free access to all our activities and events.