Doctoral degree programmes at Paderborn University

We appreciate that you are currently pursuing or are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree at Paderborn University. On this page, you will learn more about the general conditions for pursuing a doctoral degree and about the extensive support measures offered by Paderborn University.


Informationen and advice

Jenny Aloni Center for Early-Career Researchers:
information, training and qualification opportunities and advisory services for all faculties
Graduate Centers in our faculties:
faculty-specific information and services

Scholarships and funding for doctoral studies:
Information on financing schemes

Graduate Programmes:
Pursuit of a doctoral degree in an interdisciplinary research environment within the scope of a structured supervision and qualification concept

Research Services and Advice:
Advice on research funding, external funds management, legal issues and patents

Paderborn Center for Advanced Studies - PACE:
PACE works closely with UPB’s research training groups and graduate schools providing support with the professional management of graduate programmes.


Doctoral degrees – first steps

You have a good or very good university degree, have a passion and thirst for knowledge in your area of study and are able to conduct prudent scientific work? If so, you meet the key prerequisites for pursuing a doctoral degree!

You can pursue a doctoral degree at all faculties of our university, whereby you can choose between an individual doctorate or a doctorate within the scope of a structured programme. In both constellations, the doctoral examination procedure depends on the respectively applicable Doctoral Degree Regulations of the faculty (see the info box on the right) at which you write your doctoral thesis. The regulations specify in detail which qualifications are required to be eligible to pursue a doctoral degree.

International applicants interested in pursuing a doctoral degree are also welcome! At Paderborn University, there are many internationally aligned workgroups, graduate programmes and research training programmes that offer an excellent work environment for international junior scientists and researchers

The topic of your dissertation should be chosen from a field of research for which you have a passion and in which you have already obtained fundamental knowledge during your studies. The topic of your dissertation will then be further specified in close cooperation with your supervisor. We recommend that you also discuss your dissertation project with other experienced scientists in order to ensure that your topic is suitable as a doctoral degree project. Possibly, you will have the opportunity to present and discuss your planned doctoral degree project within the scope of a colloquium or a graduate conference.

If you are planning to pursue a doctoral degree in one of the Paderborn graduate programmes, your dissertation topic must be integrated into the overarching research theme.

In some subject areas, you will be expected to write a proposal in which you outline the topic of your doctoral dissertation in terms of scientific content and methodological approach. A good dissertation proposal is also an important part of your application for a scholarship (also see scholarships and funding for doctoral studies). The Competence Centre for Writing (Kompetenzzentrum Schreiben) offers doctoral students workshops that provide advice and assistance in writing a good proposal.

Your dissertation will be supervised by a university professor at Paderborn University, together with whom you will also define the topic in detail. If you are an external doctoral student, who wants to have their dissertation supervised at Paderborn University, you should first define objectives regarding the subject area in which you want to write your dissertation and then contact a professor, qualified to supervise your dissertation by virtue of their proximity to your topic. If you or your potential supervisor are not sure whether they may formally supervise a doctoral degree project, the Doctoral Degree Regulations of the faculty in which you are writing the dissertation shall be relevant.

It is important to not only discuss the technical aspects of the dissertation in advance, you should also discuss your mutual expectations on how the supervision will take place during the doctorate (see Supervision Agreement). And you should also seek exchange with other doctoral students in your workgroup regarding the working methods and activities of the institute (e.g. doctorate colloquium, participation in conferences, teaching opportunities, involvement in research projects).

The graduate programmes of Paderborn University offer already developed supervision concepts for the benefit of the doctoral students.

Apart from supervising your project, the Paderborn University Mentoring Programme for doctoral students provides you with impulses, new views and ideas on your professional career.

Mentoring offers the opportunity to learn about the different options for an academic career and consider them with the support and insight of experienced professors. The programme provides information about strategies for professional and career success and supports professional networking.

All doctoral students at Paderborn University must conclude a Supervision Agreement with their supervisor. This Agreement stipulates the general conditions of the doctoral project and your mutual expectations. Accordingly, the Supervision Agreement constitutes an important building block for a good supervision relationship. The relevant form is available in both German and English (For the version used by the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics click here.)

There are various ways to fund your doctoral studies, such as research assistant jobs at the university, a position in a research project, or a scholarship or grant. Discuss with your supervisor how you plan to finance your doctoral degree; we recommend that you inform yourself thoroughly at the end of your degree programme or when you start with your doctoral studies! Scholarship, grant and project applications take several months to prepare and complete and are subject to deadlines!

Further information on possible funding options can be found at the webpage for scholarships and funding for doctoral studies!

Doctoral students can enrol for a doctorate at their relevant faculties. Formal information regarding the enrolment in a doctoral degree programme is available here. Your contact for the enrolment in a doctoral degree programme is the Students Affairs Office. International Phd-students may get in contact to the International Office for enrolement.

During your doctoral studies

Many doctoral students are employed at Paderborn University either on a part-time or full-time basis. The term of the employment depends on the qualification objectives (also see the Agreement on Good Employment Conditions). Apart from pursuing your doctoral degree, your duties include research and teaching activities (in general four semester periods per week), involvement in the supervision of theses (however without an authorisation to assess) as well as where applicable participation in the area of academic self-administration.

The framework conditions for fixed-term employments aiming at a scientific or academic qualification are set out in the Academic Fixed-Term Employment Regulations. For information on personnel matters regarding salaried scientific or academic employees, contact the HR Department.

(Also, see the page on international mobility)

Academic stays abroad are an option during your doctoral studies, and in many scientific fields, international contacts are essential to a successful academic career. When planning a stay abroad, you should have a clear idea of the objective and purpose of the venture and use these as criteria when choosing a partner university. Ideally, the stay abroad is integrated into your doctoral project, e.g. in form of essential archive research work, the acquisition of methodological skills or specialised expertise gained from scientists or academics abroad.  

There are various scholarship and fellowship programmes available for covering the additional costs incurring during a stay abroad (travel expenses, maintaining two residences, and, if applicable, fees charged by the partner institution or university). The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, for example, are funding sponsors for international research stays. Among other things, the DAAD supports stays abroad for 1 to 12-month in its Research Grants for Doctoral Students. To a limited extent, Paderborn University awards travel grants for conference, information and research trips. You can find the application requirements in the Funding Guidelines for the Allocation of Funds from the Research Reserve. Please contact the dean of your faculty. Additional funding programmes for international stays can be found in ELFI, Service for Electronic Research Funding Information, and on the EU portal Euraxess. Furthermore, the staff of the Research Service and Consulting Office will also offer advice and information on the funding of international research stays.

Some graduate programmes already have an international alignment per se and have included stays abroad for their doctoral students as part of their supervision and support concept. This is in particular the case in the international graduate programmes (IRTG), international training groups (ITN) and the international graduate school (IGS).

The Doctoral Degree Regulations at Paderborn University generally also allow for bi-national doctorates. If you are interested in a bi-national doctorate, please discuss this with your supervisor. The Research Service and Consulting Office will assist you with the contractual and administrative matters related to the joint doctorate process.

An important purpose of the equality policy at Paderborn University is the promotion of junior women academics, researchers and scientists. In order to ensure equal opportunities at the level of junior academics, researchers and scientists, Paderborn University is active in both the doctoral studies and postdoc phases. In line with this aim, targeted measures and support programmes have been developed. An overview of qualification programmes offered at Paderborn University can be found here.

Paderborn University is committed to the rules of good research practice and fundamentally requires that academics and scientists working at the university enter into a corresponding voluntary commitment in all phases of their academic and scientific career.

The self-image of Paderborn University is anchored in the guidelines and procedures for safeguarding good research practice. The contact person for questions of good scientific practice or in case of suspicion of scientific misconduct is the Ombudsperson for good research practice.

Apart from the actual research work, doctoral students may also see themselves confronted with various administrative tasks which may be new to them. This includes teaching commitments, project management tasks, instruction of student assistants, organisation of conferences, etc. Paderborn University will support you in the completion of these tasks by offering various training and further training courses. Furthermore, doctoral students can also specifically prepare themselves for their further career steps in and outside the university by using our qualification opportunities and advice services. More information on the versatile offers is available under Qualification and Advice.

Completing a doctoral degree

At the end of your doctoral studies, you as a doctoral student will need to complete a doctoral examination procedure, in which your doctoral accomplishments will be accepted, examined and assessed. This procedure is based strictly on the respectively applicable Doctoral Degree Regulations of the faculty at which you are pursuing your doctorate. By now, you should be familiar with the Doctoral Degree Regulations applicable for you (see info box on the right) in order to be able to meet the expectations placed in you.

Basic doctoral degree performances are the independent preparation of a dissertation and an oral examination. You must prepare your dissertation independently and present a scientifically phrased contribution on your research in the area of your doctoral subject. In addition, the successful participation in a doctoral degree programme - as is the case at the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics at Paderborn University – may be mandatory the initiation of a doctoral examination procedure.

An important part of the oral examination is the thesis defense, in which you must demonstrate that you can defend the results of your work against questions and objections and place them in a wider scientific or academic context. In addition, you may be examined on other topics in your subject area as well as related disciplines. The subject area specific requirements in the oral examination are defined by the Doctoral Degree Regulations of the Faculty at which you have prepared your dissertation.

After you have successfully completed your dissertation and passed the oral examination or defense, the dissertation will be published for the scientific community. The publication will either be conducted by a professional publishing house or in electronic form via the publication service of the university library. The publication of the dissertation by a publishing house often involves costs, part of which the publishing houses pass on to the author. To cover these costs, you can apply for publishing grants from some funding bodies. An overview of these funding bodies is available at ELFI (Service for Electronic Research Funding Information) under the Section "Förderart/Zuschüsse/Druckkostenzuschuss".