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Completing your Doctorate

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Quick Facts:

  • To complete your doctorate, you need to submit your dissertation, attend an oral examination, and publish your dissertation successfully.
  • Your dissertation is usually graded by two independent reviewers, while the oral examination is evaluated by an examination panel.
  • Specific information on the doctoral process at your faculty can be found in the respective doctoral degree regulations.
  • A doctorate usually takes a minimum of three years, but most doctoral candidates need four to five years to earn their degree.

Working on your Research Project

Once you have been accepted as a doctoral candidate by the doctoral committee (Promotionsausschuss), you are ready to dive into your research and start working on your dissertation. Completing this original and independent research project will probably be the biggest challenge on your path to completing your doctorate.

Even though you are expected to work on your project independently, having a strong support network will help you to make the most of your doctorate. However, if you are pursuing an individual doctorate, you may feel quite isolated from the academic community, and your supervisor may not be able to meet with you as frequently as you would like.

Exchanging your ideas with other researchers and getting feedback on your work are important to excel in your studies. Especially if you plan to pursue an academic career, attending conferences and building a network are essential. On the other hand, if you would like to work outside academia later, you may need to gain additional professional skills.

LMU Munich offers useful resources to help you on your way:

  • Graduate Center: offers workshops and lectures on a diverse range of topics, such as good academic practice, responsible research, self-management strategies, and writing techniques. It also provides information on career paths inside and outside academia, as well as on gaining key qualifications and building networks.
  • Writing Center: supports students and doctoral candidates with their academic writing, offering consultations, workshops, and writing groups.
  • Career Service (Student und Arbeitsmarkt): offers classes and training programs to better prepare you for your future career. Ranging from IT and business classes to social skills workshops.

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Submitting your Dissertation

Once you have completed your dissertation, there are a few formalities to take care of. The details may vary from faculty to faculty and are specified in the respective doctoral degree regulations.

But in general, the first step is to officially request admission to the doctoral examination. Your faculty’s examination office usually has set deadlines by which you can be admitted. You will need to hand in a certain number of copies of your dissertation as well as further documents indicated in the doctoral degree regulations.

After you have submitted your dissertation, the doctoral committee will pass it on to at least two reviewers for evaluation, one of whom is usually your supervisor. You can usually suggest the second reviewer, but the committee makes the final appointment. Both reviewers will write an evaluation and propose a grade independently from each other.

After your dissertation has been reviewed and graded, it will be displayed at the examination office for inspection by qualified faculty members. After the specified time period has passed, you will be notified if your dissertation has been accepted.

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The Oral Examination

If your dissertation is accepted, the next step is the oral examination. This can be either a Disputation or a Rigorosum.

  • Disputation: an oral defense of your dissertation, which usually includes a presentation on your main theses and a subsequent discussion. Traditionally, this is open to the public.
  • Rigorosum: an oral examination on the research areas of your dissertation as well as your knowledge of the academic discipline.

Check the doctoral regulations to find out which format will apply to you. The oral examination will be undertaken by an examination panel, which is elected by the doctoral committee. The result of the examination will be announced at the end.

You will pass the doctoral examination if your dissertation is accepted and you pass the oral examination. Your final grade consists of the grades of your dissertation and your oral examination grade, with the former being weighted more heavily.

If you have come this far, you have almost made it. Before you can officially carry your new title, however, you still need to publish your dissertation.

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Publishing your Dissertation

In Germany, you are obligated to publish your dissertation within a specific time frame after your examination. The publication is an essential part of the doctoral procedure. It is not enough to hand in printed copies at your department; you need to make your research accessible to the public.

If you want to publish your dissertation as a book, you can do so through self-publishing or via a publishing house. While an academic publisher offers more powerful marketing tools and a better reputation, the publication process is costlier and may take several months. When choosing a publisher, you should carefully compare prices, evaluate all pros and cons, and make sure that you understand all contract terms.

To help you cover the costs of publication, you can apply for subsidies (Druckkostenzuschuss).

Apart from publishing your dissertation as a book, it is also possible to publish your dissertation online. If your doctoral regulations accept online publishing, you can publish your dissertation on the digital LMU repository “Elektronische Hochschulzeitschriften der LMU München”.

Each faculty’s publication specifications can be found in the respective doctoral degree regulations. The university library (DE) has also compiled guidelines on publishing your dissertation within and outside of LMU Munich.

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Finishing your Doctoral Studies

Once you have successfully published your dissertation, you are ready to receive your doctoral degree certificate. Upon receiving the certificate, your doctorate is officially completed. The certificate also gives you the right to bear the title “Dr.” in your name. Congratulations on this great accomplishment!

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