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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together a list of frequently asked questions to provide you with answers to common queries on a wide range of issues to do with doctoral studies at HHU:

Who may be admitted for a doctorate at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences?

Students with a university degree in an appropriate study programme (master's, diploma or state examination) in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Pharmacy, Physics or Psychology are eligible to apply for doctoral studies.

Do I need to be registered at HHU before my doctorate?


Do I need to be registered at HHU while my doctorate?

Yes. Please note, that you have to be registered the entire time of your doctoral research!

Can I be admitted as a graduate of the FH (University of Applied Sciences)?

Yes. If you hold a Masters degree in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Sciences , Mathematics, Pharmacy, Physics or Psychology then you are treated in the same way as a university graduate. If you hold a different qualification, a Recognition Procedure Form is required, which is completed and signed by the supervisor. Once your study achievements have been assessed, evidence of appropriate studies in your doctoral subject in preparation of your doctorate may be necessary.

How can I do a doctorate at HHU as a foreign student?

First of all, you must find a full-time professor in the Faculty to supervise your doctorate. Unfortunately, we are unable to assist you with this. A recognition procedure then follows in which your prior study achievements are assessed. Following this assessment, it may be necessary for you to undertake studies in your doctoral subject in preparation of your doctorate.

How can I complete my doctorate at HHU as a foreign student?

First of all, you must find a full-time professor in the Faculty to supervise your doctorate. Unfortunately, we are unable to assist you with this. A recognition procedure then follows in which your prior study achievements are assessed. Following this assessment, it may be necessary for you to undertake studies in your doctoral subject in preparation of your doctorate.

Do I require written confirmation of admission from the Dean’s office of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in order to enrol as a doctoral researcher/auditor at the Student Registration Office?

Yes. For further details about the procedure please consult the Guidelines.

As a doctoral researcher, am I bound by any enrolment deadline?

No. As a doctoral researcher you can enrol at any time.

How long does it take until I receive my semester ticket from the Student Registration Office?

Depending on the workload of the person responsible, this can take up to 14 days. Please prepare for your visit to the office and ensure that you take all the necessary documents with you.

The enrolment forms of the Student Service Center are available here .

Do I require a mentor?


Is the mentor also the second reviewer?

This is normally the case, but formally speaking these can also be two different persons.

May the mentor come from another university or from abroad?

Yes. The Dean may grant an exception here. This is only possible if the supervisor is a full-time professor at the Faculty.

What is a fast-track doctorate?

There is an option to be admitted to a doctorate during a Masters programme for candidates who have demonstrated excellent performance throughout (average grade of 1.5 or better). The course-specific guidelines for ascertainment of excellence in the master's programme can be found in appendix 1 of the Doctorate Regulations.

What is an MD/PhD doctorate?

After graduating, students who have excelled during their study of medicine have the opportunity to gain the title Dr. rer. nat. in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences as part of the MD/PhD programme. You will find more extensive information on the rules and the structure of the programme here.

What is a binational doctorate?

This is a doctorate that you complete simultaneously at HHU and one of the HHU's partner universities abroad.

Which documents do I have to submit for my doctorate?

You will find a list of all documents that have to be submitted here.

My first supervisor or mentor is not a member of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. What should I pay attention to?

In accordance with §3 (2) respectively §3 (4) of the Doctorate Regulations you have to complete the Exception permit (version first supervisor, version mentor) and submit it with your 1st Registration (Registering as a doctoral researcher) using the upload option.

At what times can I submit documents?

You can find the consulting hours on our cover page.

Can I submit documents by post?

Unfortunately, this is not possible as you must personally present your ID document when submitting documents.

Do documents need to be notarised?

No, if you present an original and a copy this is not necessary. If required, the Dean's office can certify the authenticity of documents.

Do I need a police clearance certificate ("Führungszeugnis") in order to start the doctoral examination procedure?

Since the latest alteration (03.03.2016) of the Doctorate Regulations the police clearance certificate is no longer required.

How many copies of my dissertation do I have to submit?

Firstly you may deliver two bound copies and one electronic version of your dissertation to the University and State Library (USL) in Düsseldorf. A receipt from the USL confirming that it has received these documents must be presented to the Dean’s office.
Secondly you may deliver one bound copy of the dissertation each to the supervisor and the mentor. A formless confirmation from the supervisor and the mentor must be presented to the Dean’s office as well.
If you will be examined regarding the grade “summa cum laude” you may deliver a bound copy to the external advisor.
Please supply the Dean’s office with another bound copy, which you will retrieve after your examination.

If you will be examined regarding the grade “summa cum laude” you may deliver a bound copy to the external advisor.

Please supply the Dean’s office with another bound copy, which you will retrieve after your examination.

In which form should I hand in my dissertation?

Please submit bound copies of your dissertation (not spiral binding!).

When will I receive the examination appointment sheet and the list of examiners?

You will be given these forms after you have submitted all your documents to the Dean's office.

What do I do if I cannot locate a copy of my birth certificate?

You can hand your birth certificate in later, but please ensure this happens as soon as possible.

In which form should the summary of the dissertation be handed in?

Please submit a "loose" one-page (DIN A4) short summary of your dissertation when you hand in the other documents.

Which entries need to be made on the second page of my dissertation?

Please lay out the second page of your dissertation in line with appendix 3 of the Doctorate Regulations. The entry "Date of the oral examination" can be left open at the time of submission and added later.

What do I need the reviewer sheet for?

The reviewer sheet is the most important form and contains the names of the examiners who will review your dissertation as well as information on their specialist subjects. Please bring this form - completed and signed by your supervisor - with you when you submit your documents to the Dean's office.

Does the examination appointment sheet need to be signed?

No, since November 2020 signatures of the reviewers and the candidate are not longer requiered.  examination appointment sheet

Who should I enter on the examiner list?

In addition to the reviewers, you should also enter three further examiners on the examiner list, of which two should be active in the subject field of the doctorate.

What are the revision sheet and the certificate of receipt of obligatory copies actually for?

The revision sheet will be returned to the Dean's office by the reviewers after they have fully reviewed your dissertation and no more corrections or revisions are required. The certificate of receipt of obligatory copies will be signed by the reviewers as soon as they have received copies of your dissertation after the oral examination. As soon as the revision sheet for and the certificate of receipt of obligatory copies have been received by the dean's office, you can publish your dissertation. You will find both forms here.

When do I receive my permission to print?

You will get your permission to print as soon as both revision sheets are present in our office. It will be sent to your personal address you have stated. 

What to consider if my dissertation is related to a patent application?

In order to secure your patent application it might be advisable to sign a non-disclosure note (German). Thereby the publication of your dissertation will be deferred.

I am a doctoral candidate from the Faculty of Medicine. Who are my first and second expert assessors?

Your first expert assessor will always be your doctoral supervisor, who also issues you with your subject. The second expert assessor must be a full-time professor from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (not an Apl. professor or private lecturer).

How much time do I have to choose the co-supervisor from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences?

By the time you start your doctorate (i.e. the first day of working on your dissertation) you should have chosen your co-supervisor. Normally, your supervisor will help you with this process.

Does the co-supervisor need to fill out any forms?

Yes, he/she must complete the co-supervision confirmation.

Where can I find information about the educational programmes on offer at iGRAD?

You will find information about iGRAD's aims, courses and contacts here.

Do I have to attend a GSP seminar?

Yes. This is a compulsory seminar, which must be attended in the first or the second semester of your doctoral studies. There are no exceptions exempting researchers from attendance in this seminar. A description of the seminar and information about how to register are available here.

How long does the doctoral examination last and what is examined?

The examination consists of two parts (see current Doctorate Regulations): a presentation on the subject of your dissertation (30 minutes at most) and questions on the presentation (30 minutes at least).

Who will examine me?

The examination panel generally consists of the two reviewers of your dissertation, the chairperson and three further examiners.

What happens if I fall sick before the examination?

You will need to provide a doctor's certificate so that the examination can be cancelled and rescheduled to an alternative date.

What happens if one of the examiners falls ill at short notice?

In this case, your supervisor must organise a replacement.

What happens if one of the reviewers does not turn up for the examination?

In such cases, the dean will be responsible for deciding whether or not the examination will go ahead. Generally, the examination will be postponed.

Who can take part in a public examination?

If you have opted for a public examination, this will usually take place in one of the lecture theatres and anyone may attend as a spectator (parents, friends, colleagues, etc.).

What presentation options are available in the examination room?

Please take care of your technical equipment in good time and in a responsible manner and enquire what is available in the lecture theatre/seminar room.

What should I bring with me to the examination?

Please bring your laptop and any necessary accessories (e.g. mouse, mains adapter, remote control, laser pointer) to your examination.

How many slides may I use in a PowerPoint presentation?

There are no rules governing this, but bear in mind you will be judged on the content of your oral presentation not on the number of mouse clicks.

Which words should I use to begin my presentation?

You should start your presentation with a greeting, such as: "Good morning/afternoon, Mr. Chairman/Ms. Chairwoman", "Good morning/afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the examination panel", "Good morning/afternoon, ladies and gentlemen".

May I hold my presentation in English?

Yes, the presentation may be held in English or German.

What happens when the doctoral examination is over?

You will be asked to wait outside the lecture theatre/seminar room while the examination panel discusses your examination performance and decides on your grade. You will then be invited back into the lecture theatre/seminar room, where the chairperson will inform you of your overall grade and the justification behind it.

How is the overall grade determined?

The overall grade is derived from the grade for the dissertation and the grade from the oral examination. In cases where it is difficult to judge the performance uniformly (e.g. oral 2, written 1), there is no fixed rule in the regulations of promotion. The examination board will decide on a case-by-case basis.

Will I receive a certificate when I pass the exam?

Yes, after the examination the chairperson of the examination panel will give you a certificate detailing your overall grade.

Will I be allowed to see the expert assessments of my dissertation?

Yes. In accordance with the Doctorate Regulations, you may view these during the consultation period.

What happens if I fail the examination?

If you do not pass the examination, you will have a chance to repeat it. The resit will take place no earlier than three months and no later than six months after the failed attempt.

Once I have passed the examination, what do I still have to do?

In order to be eligible to receive your doctoral certificate, you must first publish your dissertation on the ULB document server. You will find detailed instructions on how to do this here. The publication must occur within one year of the oral examination.

Which date should I enter for the electronic registration in the ULB?

Enter the date that you registered electronically as the date of registration for the doctoral procedure.

Is it possible to extend the publication deadline of my dissertation?

Yes, but only you personally (as a doctoral student) in consultation with your supervisor can submit a reasoned request to the Dean's office.

Do I have to enter my supervisor's corrections in my dissertation following the examination?

Yes, any editorial amendments must be made. Only then will you receive the revision certificate.

When may I start using my doctor title?

After successfully passing your examination, you may ask people to call you "Doctor". Officially, however, you may not use the title (e.g. on your doorbell, post box, when answering the telephone or when signing documents) until you have been awarded your doctoral certificate. After publishing your dissertation, you will be presented your doctoral certificate at the doctoral award ceremony (usually in the last week of the semester).

What is the doctoral awards ceremony?

This is the concluding academic ceremony at which you will be awarded you doctorate as part of a small informal celebration. You will find a photo gallery featuring pictures of the last doctoral awards ceremony in our photo database.

Who can I invite to the ceremony?

You can invite anyone who is important to you (relatives, friends, work colleagues, etc.).

If I cannot attend the ceremony, how will I receive my certificate?

As the certificate is a sealed document, it cannot be sent by post. Please arrange an appointment at which you can collect your certificate in person from the Dean's office or appoint an authorised representative to do this for you.

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