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Doing a doctorate at the Hochschule der Medien (HdM)

In recent years, the Hochschule der Medien has achieved a great deal in research. From a “Fachhochschule” with pure teaching, it has become a modern University of Applied Sciences (UAS) that actively participates in the scientific discussion in many scientific communities. This can be seen, among other things, in the amount of third-party funding and recognised scientific publications. Doctorates play an important role in this. Our aim is to enable our Master's graduates and employees to gain access to further academic qualifications in the form of a doctorate. There are various requirements and paths for this, which are explained here. The list of specific steps will help you to get orientation before and during the doctorate.

What does "doing a doctorate" mean?

What does "doing a doctorate" or "writing a doctoral thesis" actually mean? The official answer is:

"The doctorate serves as proof of the ability to carry out in-depth academic work and is based on an independent academic thesis (dissertation) and an oral examination" (LHG Baden-Württemberg, § 38).

A dissertation is an independent contribution to research in a specific subject area with the aim of providing new scientific findings. These findings are recorded in the doctoral thesis and must then be "defended" in an oral examination, i.e., explained and justified in response to questions from the examiners. It usually takes several years (approx. 3-5) to develop your own research question, carry out the research work and write up and defend the thesis.

Those who have successfully completed their doctorate may then use the academic title of "Doctor" (which exists in different specifications depending on the subject area, e.g., Dr.-Ing. for engineers or Dr. rer. nat. for natural scientists).

Requirements for a doctorate

What requirements do I need to fulfil to be allowed to do a doctorate?

As a rule, the prerequisite is a successfully completed Master's degree (Master's degrees from UAS – Universities of Applied Sciences – also count) or a completed degree programme with a standard period of study of at least four years (or 300 ECTS). If the duration of the degree programme is less than four years (or less than 300 ECTS), an aptitude assessment procedure may be carried out if the applicant has special qualifications. Foreign degrees must first be checked for formal equivalence.

In addition to these basic admission requirements, the doctoral regulations of the respective university or doctoral association (see "What options are available") may stipulate further requirements, e.g., for the acceptance of doctoral candidates from other disciplines or a minimum grade for the Master's degree.

Doing a doctorate at the HdM - what opportunities are there?

It is not only possible to do a doctorate at universities, but also at the UAS!

However, unlike the universities, the UAS (in Baden-Württemberg) do not have an independent right to award doctorates. This means that the HdM as an institution cannot award doctorates independently. For this reason, there are different ways of doing a doctorate at the HdM:

  • In co-operation with a university (in Germany or abroad):
    This was previously the only possibility to do a doctorate at a HAW. The doctorate is officially carried out at the partner university (which has the independent right to award doctorates), but the doctoral students are supervised jointly by the professor at the HdM and the professor at the partner university. In the past, the HdM has successfully completed doctorates in this way with a large number of universities in Germany and abroad (e.g., with the West University of Scotland or Swansea University). As the official doctoral procedure is carried out at the partner university, the regulations of the participating university also apply! These are laid down in the respective doctoral regulations and may differ from university to university (e.g., with regard to the conditions for acceptance as a doctoral candidate and/or the stipulated training programme and other requirements).

  • In summer 2022, the Universities of Applied Sciences in Baden-Württemberg were also granted the right to award doctorates. However, doctorates can only be carried out in an association of all UAS in Baden-Württemberg. A Doctoral Centre was founded for this purpose, through which all doctorates in Baden-Württemberg are officially carried out (unless there is a cooperation with a university). The doctoral association also has its own doctoral regulations, which regulate the acceptance of doctoral candidates and the implementation of the doctoral procedure (further information can be found on the pages of the Doctoral Association). Professors at the HdM who are strong in research can carry out a doctorate via the Doctoral Association if they are accepted as a member of this association (on application).
    The following HdM professors are currently members of the doctoral association: Prof Michael Burmester, Prof Arnd Engeln, Prof Ansgar Gerlicher, Prof Petra Grimm, Prof Gunter Hübner, Prof Yvonne Kammerer, Prof Johannes Maucher, Prof Richard Stang and Prof Gottfried Zimmermann. Prof Ansgar Gerlicher is also a member of the doctoral committee from Department III "Computer Science, Electrical Engineering".

Concrete steps to a doctorate at the HdM

  1. In order to be able to do a doctorate at the HdM, you first need a supervisor at the HdM, i.e., a professor from the department in which the doctorate is to be completed (often also called a supervisor). Suitable supervisors can be found via the HdM website - the overview of the degree programmes or the research lighthouses, which, in addition to a description of the content, also shows the professors involved, provide a good insight. If you have your own ideas and questions for a doctoral project, it is advisable to contact directly suitable supervisors. Before making contact, it is highly recommended that you already have concrete ideas or questions for a doctoral project that may be of interest to the relevant persons.
    On the other hand, a look at the job advertisements at the HdM can also help - positions for research assistants are always advertised that are very suitable as a basis for your own doctoral project. The advantage in this case is that (at least part of) the funding is also secured during the doctoral period (a point that should not be neglected when planning a doctorate.

  2. If the contact with the professor is successful, so that a doctoral project can be started, the question of the "path" must be clarified (see above): Is there a university that offers cooperation? What are their regulations? Or is it better to do your doctorate via the Doctoral Association, provided the supervisor is a member or has the prospect of membership?

  3. Once this point has also been clarified, a so-called “supervision agreement” is concluded between the doctoral candidate and the supervisor (or supervisors). This sets out the framework conditions for the dissertation project as well as initial agreements for a time and qualification plan to be updated, regular supervision meetings and progress reports. The exact form of the supervision agreement is provided by the cooperating university or Doctoral Association.

    Example for a doctoral agreement at the Doctoral Association Baden-Württemberg.

  4. Once all formalities have been settled, the research work can begin. The work on your own scientific research question is usually accompanied by a (sometimes obligatory) qualification programme, which prepares doctoral candidates for the requirements of a doctorate in terms of subject matter, methodology and organisation.

  5. The results of the research work are then recorded in the thesis - either in the form of a monograph (i.e., a "book" on this one topic) or cumulatively. Cumulative means that articles are published during the research work, which are then summarised at the end in a volume with an introduction and an overall classification of the results (exact rules can be found in the doctoral regulations).

  6. The thesis is assessed by at least two reviewers (usually the supervisors of the thesis). This is followed by an oral examination in which the results of the research work are presented and in which the doctoral candidate answers (critical) questions about their research work (and "defends" the thesis).

  7. Once all these steps have been completed, the doctoral thesis must still be published - then the doctorate is considered complete and the academic title "Doctor" may be awarded upon presentation of the certificate.

Contact and counselling

This information merely provides an initial insight into the various phases and steps of a doctorate - from decision to publication. We will be happy to advise you in detail and individually on all your questions - also on further career planning after a doctorate (e.g., a UAS professorship). Please feel free to contact us!

Barbara Teutsch
Human resources development for doctoral candidates
Hochschule der Medien
Nobelstr. 10
70569 Stuttgart

Phone +49 711 8923 2633