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Doctoral Process

The Göttingen Campus is aiming to provide doctoral candidates with the best possible training and professional development opportunities, of which the major part – supporting them to develop own ideas and strengthen their individual profile – is the role of supervisors.

The GAUSS Office in close collaboration with the GGNB Office and the Dean’s Offices of the faculties is offering a wide range of support and services for the doctoral candidates in mathematics and natural sciences throughout their stay. Doctoral candidates do not only have the possibility to choose from a broad qualification and training program but can also benefit from scientific networking, advice and counselling. Additionally, the structured doctoral process in GAUSS is aiming to facilitate administrative procedures to support the supervisors and doctoral candidates so that they can concentrate on their research projects and scientific development.

An overview of the different phases of the doctoral process in GAUSS including the corresponding required tasks and obligations by both, the doctoral candidate as well as the supervisor and thesis advisory committee, can be found in our Roadmap to a GAUSS Doctorate .


Please click on the different topics in order to see more details.

In general, prospective doctoral candidates need to have a university degree (Master, Diploma or equivalent state examination) in a relevant or related field in mathematics, natural and life sciences completed with above-average results.
For detailed admission requirements please see §4 of the doctoral regulations of GAUSS (German , English translation ) as well as the individual regulations of the different doctorate programs.
Decisions on the fulfilment of additional requirements for admission are made by the respective doctoral program.

International Doctoral students

Recruiting international doctoral candidates is supported by different services across the Göttingen Campus. The International Office of the University is in charge of the enrolment of all international doctoral students. For questions regarding visas and immigration, please contact the the University’s Welcome Centre, which can also assist with questions about living in Göttingen. The recognition of degrees from foreign universities is assessed by the respective doctoral program. In case of further questions, please contact the GAUSS Office or the program office.

Application steps

  1. Research topic, funding, GAUSS program
    The first step for interested doctoral candidates is to find an exciting research topic and a supervisor for their dissertation. It is crucial that both parties are discussing early on in the application process funding options. The prospective supervisor should also advise on the GAUSS doctoral program most suitable for the student.

  2. Compose thesis advisory committee (TAC)
    Thesis advisory committees are comprised of three members: the main supervisor and one additional examination accredited person (see list of GAUSS faculty members) as well as one further academic holding a doctoral degree.
    They advise the doctoral student and monitor his/her progress throughout the doctoral process. TACs serve two main purposes, (1) to provide critical feedback to the research progress and data interpretation, and (2) to mediate potentially upcoming difficult situations between the doctoral student and supervisor.
    For these reasons, a careful choice of TAC members should acknowledge (1) a sufficiently broad scientific background to be able to comment on the research progress from different and proficient perspectives and (2) the independence of each other to ensure impartiality.
    Usually, the first two members of the TAC serve as referees of the doctoral thesis. Due to the fact that at least one of the reviewers must be a Professor at the University of Göttingen (full professorship; not “apl. Professor” or honorary; see §11, doctoral degree regulations (German , English translation )), we would strongly suggest that theTAC is composed accordingly from the outset. If in doubt, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will advise you accordingly.

  3. Admission & supervision agreement
    The next step for each doctoral candidate is to request admission to the program of his/her choice. It is mandatory for the student to register for enrolment in GAUSS and to sign the supervision agreement, which you can find in a single form in English or German. If the PhD candidate has been enrolled at the University of Göttingen before, she/he has to login via eCampus to access the pre-filled form. This document also serves for the digital matriculation process and includes the mandatory doctoral student’s declaration.
    Applications have to be submitted within max. three month after start of the PhD - in the best case, already before.

The Role of the Graduate School
GAUSS is committed to provide its doctoral students with the best possible support and training to successfully complete their research work and dissertation. They are guided through the entire doctoral process including the examination ensuring high quality standards. GAUSS not only supports the doctoral programs and encourages scientific networks but also provides additional qualification, counseling and career advice for doctoral candidates. This enables the doctoral students to acquire important key skills to qualify for careers within and outside of academia.
The GAUSS qualification program is including a variety of methods and skills courses as well as language courses and statistical consulting. Thereby, it is completing numerous scientific events organized by the faculties, institutes and centers of the Göttingen Campus such as seminar series, invited lectures, journal clubs, and symposia.
GAUSS is offering financial support for retreats, symposia, career related events, emergencies and family-related and diversity schemes. For further information or additional services provided by different players on the Göttingen Campus, go to the section Doctoral candidates.

The Role of the Supervisor
As a PhD supervisor one of your integral roles is to mentor your students, apply your scientific expertise to promote their independence, and support them in making their achievements visible in the scientific community. It is crucial that you are available for regular scientific discussions and actively engage your abilities and experience in scientifically challenging phases. In close cooperation with the other members of the thesis advisory committee, you critically and supportively follow the doctoral process and give constructive feedback to regular progress reports and meetings. Together, you are the first point of contact for technical matters, career planning and cases of conflict (see also Rules of good practice for doctoral supervision in English or German ). This applies not only for scientific-related issues but also in other matters (e.g. health or family), in particular when they might affect the performance or success of the PhD. You should also support the student’s integration in the academic environment on the Göttingen Campus and beyond. If you have international students, please support them as much as possible in their social and cultural integration.
Challenging and promoting doctoral candidates is vital for their development, which should be well-balanced to prevent discouragement. Please take into consideration and respect family responsibilities, different work patterns and requests for further training. To avoid misunderstandings from the outset it is recommendable to agree on a time management plan for the doctorate including milestones and objectives where possible.
As you are mentoring your students for a few years, you are a vital part of their development into scientific independence and increased responsibilities.

Although all GAUSS supervisors and students should comply with the GAUSS Rules of Good Practice for Doctoral Supervision, there is always the possibility that difficulties arise. If you encounter conflicts you cannot resolve between you and your doctoral candidate on your own, you can contact the most appropriate person in the list below:

  • members of the doctoral candidate’s thesis committee
  • spokesperson of the doctoral program the student is enrolled in
  • GAUSS Managing Board
  • GAUSS Office
  • Central Conflict Management
  • GAUSS person of trust

If you are seeking advice, everything will be treated strictly confidential.
In case of a possible scientific misconduct, you can also contact the Office of Ombudsman and Good Scientific Practice for confidential consultation.
In case you are encountering mobbing or sex-related violence, please contact the Equal Opportunities Office.

Once the doctoral candidate has submitted the PhD thesis, the two referees (one additional external referee in case of a proposed summa cum laude; chosen by the program committee/dean's office - (§13 (6) ) have up to four weeks to evaluate the dissertation and submit a report including a recommended grade. Usually, the oral examination will take place four to six weeks after submission. The thesis defense lasts 60-90 minutes and is open to University members. The first 30 minutes are reserved for a presentation by the doctoral candidate placing his/her dissertation in a larger scientific context. This is followed by 30-60 minutes of questions, which are initially only permitted by members of the examination committee, followed by potential questions by the audience. Afterwards, the examination committee decides on an overall grade for the doctoral examination in a closed meeting.

The publication of the PhD thesis is mandatory and must not take place later than one year after the thesis defense date. In exceptional cases and upon written request only, this deadline may be extended once by one additional year. Prior to publication the doctoral candidate is obliged to discuss any modifications with the doctoral thesis committee and the supervisor has to sign the revision certificate (English , German ) on behalf of the committee.

Under specific circumstances and only for a good reason, the publication of the thesis can be restricted (embargo) by publishing via the SUB, which requires a joint written request by the supervisor and the doctoral candidate. In this case only the abstract of the thesis is publicly available, whereas the remaining dissertation is treated confidentially. For further information please see doctoral regulations §21 section 8 (German , English translation ) or contact the GAUSS Office. Approving the good reasons as well as the request for restricted publication / embargo of the thesis is solely incumbent upon the examination board. Once your application is granted, the thesis has to be published with the SUB using the restriction notice.