Doctoral / PhD Programs
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WU's Doctoral and PhD programs are three year-programs and usually take at least 6 semesters to complete. In the course of your studies, you attend courses, pass examinations and write a dissertation.
The PhD programs are mainly intended for the university's academic staff. The doctoral programs can also be studied by students who are not working at the university.
Information about admission to a doctoral/PhD program is available in the chapter Application and Admission.
Preliminary confirmation of supervision
According to WU's statutes / degree program structures, you need to have found a supervisor at WU before you can enrol in a doctoral/PhD program (except PhD Finance and DIBT). The WU professor willing to supervise your dissertation signs the preliminary confirmation of supervision; you need this document for admission, as well as a short synopsis of your dissertation project. You have to find a supervisor yourself, the university cannot provide you with one. As many are interested to begin a doctoral/PhD program at WU, looking for a supervisor may be a difficult and time-consuming business.
Orientation for (future) doctoral students
Is it possible to do the doctoral program if I have a fulltime job?
The doctoral/PhD programs are full time programs during which the students not only have to write a dissertation, but also attend courses. All the courses are classes with continuous assessment of students' performance and have to be attended on a regular basis. While it is not possible to do the program as a distant study course from abroad, it is possible (but at the same time very demanding) to study the program sideline; however it will then in all probability take you longer than 6 semesters to complete.
Can I study the doctoral program as a distant study course?
No. There are numerous courses with continuous assessment of students' performance which have to be attended on a regular basis.
How long does the doctoral program take to complete?
It is possible to graduate in 6 semesters, but if you are employed on a full time or part time basis, you will probably take longer than the minimum time. Currently, the average duration until completion is 7 to 8 semesters.
Will the doctoral programs soon be changed to PhD programs? What is the difference between Doctor and PhD?
The WU already offers PhD programs, which are mainly intended for academic staff. It is not planned to discontinue the doctoral programs.
The PhD programs in Finance and DIBT have an admission procedure with interviews. For the PhD program in Economic and Social Sciences, the prerequisite is a close association with/workplace at the institute of the main supervisor, as its flexible structure requires constant coordination with the supervisor.
The PhD programs feature a greater number of courses than the doctoral programs, but also more flexibility in their choice.
The degrees "Dr." and "PhD" are equivalent regarding the academic level; both are doctoral studies according to ISCED-Code 8. The "PhD" title is maybe more familiar internationally, the "Doctor" is the more traditional title in German speaking countries. There is no difference with regard to career options after completion of the programs.
How do I find a supervisor for my dissertation?
By contacting the professors. You have to find a supervisor yourself, the university cannot appoint a professor to act as supervisor.
Every university professor with a habilitation is entitled to act as supervisor. Information on research areas of individual professors and departments can be found on the homepages of the different institutes; the better your intended topic fits into the research areas of a department, the easier you will find a professor to supervise your thesis.
If you contact professors with your suggestion, please send along a short concept (1 - 3 pages) about the intended topic. Please bear in mind that the professors receive many requests and may not reply to e-mails in which students simply ask if they would act as supervisor, without any information on the dissertation project they have in mind.
Are there topics for which one can apply, or do I need to find my own topic?
Some institutes have a list of possible topics of dissertations on their hompage; in most cases however, students apply for supervision with a topic of their own.
When and where can I enrol in a doctoral program?
During admission times in the study service center (building LC, 2nd floor). If you have not been enrolled in a program at WU before, please enter your data online.
In order to be able to enrol in the doctoral program, your diploma or master studies have to be completed. If you have completed your studies at WU, you do not need to wait for your "Sponsionsbescheid" (Decision of Conferral of degree); however, all grades have to be on your Consolidated Grade Record before you can enrol in the doctoral program.
Where do I find the courses on offer? How do I register for them?
Do I have to attend the classes?
Can I specialise in a main subject of my choice or is my choice limited, depending on the field I specialised in during my master studies?
The main subject is chosen from the list of subjects in the appendix of the degree program structures. The main subject is the subject you write your dissertation in and in which your supervisor did his habilitation. The specialisation/discipline you chose in your master studies does not limit your choice in the doctoral program, but of course it is easier to write the dissertation in a field you are already familiar with. Professors usually expect proof of previous knowledge in the field before they agree to act as supervisor of a dissertation.
Is a knowledge of German necessary?
Only the PhD programs in Finance and International Business Taxation are taught exclusively in English. The teaching language of the doctoral programs, however, is German. Applicants whose first language is not German have to submit proof of German proficiency before they are admitted to the doctoral program.
The doctoral program in Social and Economic Sciences can be studied in English if the supervisor confirms that Research Seminars are offered in English. In the subject "Philosophy of science and Research Methods" there is an "English Track", which enables students to do these courses in English.
The dissertation may be written in a foreign language, if the student and the supervisor are fluent in this language.