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Organization of the SME Fast-Track/PhD Program


A Master’s degree must be earned parallel to the doctorate, on the basis of the examination regulations for the Master’s degree courses; this is required of all participants. Two selection procedures are held, one before the “Master’s stage” and the second before finally entering the “Ph.D. stage”. Candidates for whom the evaluation procedure, and thus the final selection for the “Ph.D. stage”, has not been successfully completed will remain in the Master’s degree program, culminating in the award of a regular Master’s degree. Those who advance to the Ph.D. stage must successfully complete the Master’s degree as well before entering the Ph.D. stage.

Organization of the SME Fast-Track/PhD
Organization of the SME Fast-Track/PhD

Fast-Track students subscribe to one of the Master’s programs offered by our faculty. They study the regular modules totaling 60 CP for two semesters (30 CP per semester) – the same as the regular Master’s students. During this time they maintain close contact to their selected Ph.D. supervisor’s group, working with their advisor in her or his research group as a student research assistant with a contract of 5 – 8 hours per week. The students attend working group meetings as well as the Fast-Track SME Graduate School meetings and classes. The concept for the Ph.D. thesis must be prepared together with the supervisor at the end of the first year, or by the end of the third semester at the latest. A project or research module must be completed during the third semester. This module prepares the student for the thesis topic and/or methods and totals 30 credit points. Usually a project report on the preparatory work is presented as the Master’s thesis.

Research Fields of the SME Graduate School
Research Fields of the SME Graduate School

Admission to doctoral studies is not contingent on a Master’s degree but is strongly related not only to the grades of the Master’s program but also to the evaluation of the work experience in the supervisory group and in the research project. In the doctorate studies, the Fast-Track candidate can draw on previous work and in so doing can either complete the Ph.D. thesis faster or treat the topic in greater depth. Nevertheless, to earn a contract as Ph.D. student, the applicant must successfully complete the Master’s degree, but can attend classes, etc., beforehand.

In the “Doctorate phase”, the Ph.D. candidates work in their supervisor’s department on a 50- percent contract (TVL-13) if they have successfully completed the Master’s degree and the evaluation by the committee. Fast-Track Ph.D.s must attend SME Graduate School Meetings and earn 20 credit points in the Ph.D. SME Program in addition to the regular 20 Ph.D. points and the Master’s-track credits.


Status of the Scholars:

  • The idea is to enable students to start research after their bachelor degree in parallel to their master studies, to gain first experiences (paper writing, presentation at conferences, research proposals), and therefore to be prepared for a Ph.D. afterwards.
  • Scholars are first employed as research assistant (Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft mit Bachelor). During their master studies they are already integrated in research projects at the chair as well as at the graduate school and are supposed to conduct own research as well. This phase includes also supporting tasks at the chair; however, the main intention is to be already confronted with all tasks of a research associate (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) and to be well prepared for a Ph.D. after the Master’s degree.
  • After the Master’s degree and a positive evaluation the scholars are employed as research associate to do own research and to finish their Ph.D.

More information is available at: SME Management Graduate School Fast-Track Ph.D. Program