Pursuing a doctorate directly at a chair is the traditional and most common way to obtain a doctoral degree. It offers a high degree of freedom, but also requires the ability to work independently and in a structured manner and to motivate oneself. This form of a doctorate is also called individual doctoral studies because, unlike in structured doctoral programs, the doctoral students work on their dissertation projects independently and without a fixed curriculum. Instead, they are supervised by a professor they chose themselves.
Many doctoral candidates pursuing a doctorate at a chair are at the same time employed at the university as academic staff members and engage in teaching and academic self-governance processes as “internal doctoral students”.
Everyone who is not employed at a chair is regarded as an “external doctoral student” and needs to finance their doctoral studies with a fellowship, an employment at another institution than the university or through other sources. For that reason, this kind of doctorate is particularly suitable for all those who pursue a part-time doctorate alongside their regular occupation.
On average, it takes four to five years to complete a doctorate at a chair.
At the University of Mannheim, you can pursue a doctorate at a chair at all schools and departments, except for the Department of Economics. As a rule, students have to hold a master’s degree with a grade of “good” or better or, in exceptional cases, a very good bachelor's degree to be admitted as a doctoral student. Every school and department has its own regulations and procedures governing the doctoral dissertation stipulating the prerequisites and requirements as well as the doctoral process.
Please, make yourself familiar as soon as possible with the respective regulations and procedures governing the doctoral dissertation that apply to your dissertation project.
Which path to a doctorate is suitable for you – an individual doctorate at a chair or a doctorate within a structured doctoral program – largely depends on your field of study and the preference of the respective chair or your supervisor: At the University of Mannheim, it is possible to pursue a doctorate in a structured doctoral program in Economics, Business Administration, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Mathematics in Business and Economics. In addition, all schools and departments – with the exception of the Department of Economics – generally also offer the possibility of pursuing an individual doctorate directly at a chair. If you are interested in pursuing a doctorate at the University of Mannheim and already have a professor in mind as your supervisor, we strongly recommend that you establish contact at an early stage and find out about the possible paths to a doctorate offered at the respective chair.
Find out yourself which professor would be best suited to supervise your doctoral dissertation in terms of subject matter. Please refer to the websites of the respective chairs where you can find information about the individual research interests and research areas as well as on current dissertation projects.
To establish contacts, we recommend sending an e-mail introducing yourself and giving a brief summary of your dissertation project. Ideally, you should attach a curriculum vitae (CV) and a short research proposal of your dissertation project to your e-mail.
As soon as you have received an agreement on the supervision of your doctoral dissertation project from a professor, you will jointly conclude an advising agreement. This is intended to make the relationship between the doctoral students and their supervisors more transparent in terms of content and time and to define it by mutual agreement.
Apply for admission as a doctoral student at the dean's office of the school/
While working on your doctoral dissertation, always adhere to the regulations stipulated in the advising agreement and seek regular contact with your doctoral supervisor.
Make use of the possibilities to exchange with other doctoral students, for example by participating in the events offered at your chair or by attending the meetings and events of the doctoral students' councils.
While working on your doctoral dissertation, take part in conferences and join summer schools or workshops to network with other (early-stage) researchers and access the academic community.
Everyone who wants to take part in interdisciplinary workshops and trainings may choose from the various continuing education courses offered by the central university institutions.
Please submit your doctoral dissertation to the dean's office of your school/
Pursuant to the relevant valid version of the regulations and procedures governing the doctoral dissertation, the oral examination can be taken either in the form of an oral defense of the doctoral dissertation (Disputation) or as an oral examination to obtain a doctoral degree (Rigorosum).
The oral defense comprises a presentation of your dissertation project and is followed by a disputation with the examination committee in which you have to defend your doctoral dissertation. During the oral examination to obtain a doctoral degree you will be examined on additional topics related to your subject that go beyond the topic of your doctoral dissertation.
The final grade of your doctorate is composed of the evaluation of your doctoral dissertation and the grade you obtained for your oral examination or oral defense.
Pursuant to the relevant valid version of the regulations and procedures governing the doctoral dissertation, please submit the version of your doctoral dissertation to be published to your evaluators for approval and then request a print release at the dean's office of your school/
In accordance with the relevant valid version of the regulations and procedures governing the doctoral dissertation, please submit the mandatory copies of your published dissertation to the dean's office of your school/
Do you have any questions regarding the doctorate at a chair in a certain department? Please find more information here: