Viadrina Center for Graduate Studies
How to Prepare and Apply
If you want to do an individual doctorate you need to find a professor who accepts you as a doctoral student and agrees to be your doctoral advisor. In order to find a doctoral advisor you should already have an idea about the thematic field and topic of your planned dissertation. You should take some time to search for a suitable topic. A topic for a dissertation must not only be scientifically relevant and novel, it must also be of interest for the potential doctoral advisor.
Finding a suitable doctoral advisor is a task that is essential for the success of the doctorate and thus has to be addressed carefully. In case of an individual doctorate, the doctoral advisor is the most important person for your doctoral studies. He accepts the topic, is your supervisor, mentor and also assesses the dissertation after it is completed.
In order to find a doctoral advisor, visit the website of the faculty of your research field and check the work areas, research interests, publications etc. of the professors (you find links to Viadrina´s three faculties in the box on the left). It is important that your doctoral advisor is an expert in the subject area of your proposed topic. After selecting a professor who might be suitable, you should gather some more information about his / her work and fields of interest, e.g. by reading some of his / her publications. In any case the professor expects that you already know something about his / her academic work before you contact him / her.
When first contacting your potential doctoral advisor by e-mail or formal letter you should provide him / her with
- information about your academic background and degrees;
- a short review of the relevant experience you have in the research field;
- a brief outline (max. 2-3 pages) of the proposed dissertation project, including information about your motivation to choose the topic, the main research question, the proposed method and a time schedule for your work.
For more hints on the form and content of your letter or e-mail to your potential doctoral advisor click here.
If your prospective doctoral advisor is interested in taking you as a doctoral student he / she might e.g. ask you to outline your research project in greater detail or start a discussion with you in order to specify and substantiate your topic. Please note that the professor may reject your request if he / she has no capacities available or the proposed topic does not match his / her fields of interest.
If you plan to pursue your doctorate in a more structured programme you may apply for a place in one of the graduate programmes (link in German) at Viadrina. In this case you should write to the professor who is the contact person of the respective programme and proceed as described above. Please bear in mind that your topic should fit well into the thematical focus of the graduate programme.
After being accepted as a doctoral student by a professor you should enrol with the Viadrina. For more information on enrolment click here (link in German).