Doctoral Studies

Pursuing a PhD

Doctoral studies involve in-depth research with the aim to prove the candidate's ability to carry out independent scientific projects. As a rule, a doctoral degree takes approx. 3 to 4 years to complete. The doctoral phase is characterized by independent research on a chosen project and concludes with a written dissertation and an oral defense (presentation plus discussion).

Our structured doctoral program requires additional qualification measures.

Preparing for a PhD

The decision to pursue a PhD should be carefully considered. In addition to a lot of work and time a great deal of self-discipline and determination is required. Therefore, doctoral students should be fascinated with the research topic as well as motivated to conduct in-depth scientific research.

We have put together the most important information and basic requirements below.

If you have any questions, please do not hesistate to contact us.


Uta Diringer-Fischer
Uta Diringer-Fischer
Building 5903
Room 04
Phone +49 6722 502 6342
Uta.Diringer-Fischer(at) Details

Milestone I - Application Process

Application Process for Doctoral Candidates with German Academic Degrees

Application process for doctoral candidates with German academic degrees

The admission process begins as soon as all formal requirements are met, and the applicant has secured funding and found a supervisor at Hochschule Geisenheim University. The official application for admission must be filed via the Doctoral Office and submitted to the Doctoral Committee of Hochschule Geisenheim University at the beginning of the doctoral project, but no later than six months after start of the project.

In addition to the application form, the candidate must submit proof of an accredited degree entitling the holder to pursue a Doctorate with a minimum grade of 2.5 and enclose the documents listed below.

Application Process for Doctoral Candidates with International Academic Degrees

International applicants must meet the same requirements as candidates applying with a German academic degree. These requirements include:

  • Copies of your bachelor's and master’s degree (indicating the study program) including duplicates of your university entrance certificate and transcripts of academic records
  • Very good knowledge of German or English of at least B2 (C1) level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

Please note: Academic degrees earned at a foreign university must be accredited and, if applicable, transcribed, certified and translated in advance. Therefore, please contact the Doctoral Office prior to the application because this process takes several months.

Proof of English Language Proficiency must be provided as follows: 

- Proof of a university entrance certificate in one of the following countries: Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom, South Africa
- TOEFL test (at least 80 for the Internet-based test (ITB), for TOEIC 750-780 points). All components (speaking, listening, reading, writing) are mandatory. The TOEIC tests are valid for two years only!
- Completion of an English degree course
- Successful completion of language courses (120 hours)
- UNIcert level II degree
- Scores of the International English Language Testing System (6 IELTS minimum), which is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP:IELTS Australia, and the University of Cambridge
  ESOL Examinations (First Certificate in English (FCE) minimum)

Information and Required Application Documents for International Doctoral Candidates

Project Summary

The project summary (max. 6 pages) encompassing a work plan and timeline which is additionally visualized in a GANTT chart must include:

  • Working title in English and German together with the estimated duration of the entire project
  • Project funding (e.g. funding institution, type of funding, integration in a third-party funded project)
  • Work packages mentioned in the project summary should be listed in the GANTT chart with the same wording
  • Project background and research questions including hypotheses and objectives: enough time should be taken phrasing theses or hypotheses correctly (theses represent a simple assertion whereas hypotheses formulate a connection between at least two factors)!
  • Notarized copies of academic records for all completed university studies 

! Project summary, work plan and confirmation of supervision must be signed by both the doctoral student and supervisor. If you plan to publish your dissertation in English, the project description must also be submitted in English. Documents are to be submitted to the Doctoral Office as hard copies (printed single-sided and not stapled) as well as electronically as a single pdf file.

Confirmation of Supervision

This written confirmation must include the doctoral student’s name, title of the project in which the doctoral project may be integrated as well as a brief description of the funding plan or funding commitment. The confirmation must also include the second supervisor's contact details and the name of his/her organizational unit/department.
In case of a doctorate with a German non-partner university, a confirmation of the second reviewer must also be provided.

Confirmation of Second Reviewer

Your first supervisor - who is also your first reviewer - is a professor at Hochschule Geisenheim University.
If your second reviewer is a professor at an non-partner German university, a written confirmation of this second reviewer has to be submitted.

The name of the second reviewer is mentioned on the doctoral certificate issued by Hochschule Geisenheim University.

Supervision Agreement

Supervision Agreement and Consent to Scientific Integrity

This agreement between the doctoral student and supervisor must also be signed and dated prior to submission. It supports the structure and planning process of the doctoral project to ensure the successful completion of the doctorate. In addition, it defines the rights and obligations of the doctoral candidate and the supervisor as well as expectations with regard to scientific autonomy, which helps to make the supervision situation more transparent.

! This agreement is not to be confused with the Confirmation of Supervision

Milestone II - Research Phase

Seeking a doctoral degree is a challenging adventure that requires good planning, discipline and a huge amount of time. That is why rights and responsibilities should be respected right from the start. The general legal framework for pursuing a doctorate is outlined in the doctoral regulations. 

Rights of Doctoral Students
• Scientific advice & professional support from the supervisor
• Methodological skills training
• Access rights & authorizations
• Representation & participation
Responsibilities of Doctoral Students
Doctoral students' responsibilities
Publication, documentation & storage of research results In accordance with the principles of Scientific Integrity, the results and methods must be documented and stored for a period of 10 years. Scientific findings are to be published in order to make them available to the wider scientific community. Hochschule Geisenheim University’s library provides a broad spectrum of literature for all relevant fields and offers additional research support regarding citations, scientific writing, search of research data and management with Citavi (Citavi is licensed for members of Hochschule Geisenheim University -
Preparation of annual progress reports (APR) The annual progress report is to be presented to the Doctoral Committee by January 31 at the latest. The year under review is defined as the previous calendar year.
Adherence to the principles of Scientific Integrity All members of Hochschule Geisenheim University are obliged to adhere to the principles of Scientific Integrity and actively contribute to prevent scientific misconduct and apply professional standards. Strictly adhering to the principles of Scientific Integrity right from the beginning of the research project and writing process reduces the risk of misconduct in dealing with data and references, ensuring that your writing is beyond reproach. Scientific Integrity workshops for Geisenheim academics are offered on a regular basis by the Graduate School.
  Examples for Research Misconduct are: • Fabrication, falsification of data or research results and/or reports • Infringement of intellectual property rights (plagiarism, theft of ideas and knowledge, unauthorized publications) • Unauthorized use of (co-) authorship • Sabotage or manipulation of research materials, equipment or processes and removal of primary data • Joint responsibility for misconduct (participation in misconduct, neglect of supervisory responsibilities)) • Misconduct of reviewers or Committee members
  The Ombudspersons are elected in the Senate and are the main contact for questions and conflicts linked to Scientific Integrity. They offer advice and support to all members of the university.
Registration and data administration on the FIS research platform (for employed doctoral students only)  
Participation in Graduate School program  
Provision of short PR articles for Hochschule Geisenheim University  
The Dissertation

The dissertation is the cornerstone of the research project and the most important achievement of each doctoral student. There are two main types of dissertations: one is the monograph, the other the cumulative or paper-based dissertation and even a third option exists combining these two. In general, the dissertation can be written and published in both German or English. The quality requirements for all options are the same. The perfect option for your project depends on the research subject and should by all means be discussed beforehand with the supervisor.

! If the title or language of the dissertation has to be changed, you have to contact Hochschule Geisenheim University’s Doctoral Office!


Milestone III - Examination Process

Congratulations! Once the dissertation is finished, has been scrutinized together with the supervisor and all other requirements within Graduate School have been fulfilled and documented in FIS as well, you are ready to take one of the final steps of your doctoral journey.

Filing your Request to Open the Examination Process

The following documents have to be submitted to the Doctoral Office:

  • Request letter including the title, type and language of dissertation
  • Names and contact details of first and second reviewers as well as nomination of a third external reviewer
  • Confirmation of Graduate School regarding mandatory attendance record and FIS documentation
  • Application/disclosure of bibliographical data of scientific contributions for approval of a publication- / manuscript-based dissertation
  • Information and proof of first authorship
  • 8 hard copies of your dissertation as well as one digital copy (data stick) 
Opening of the Examination Process

The Doctoral Committee reviews the request and approves the opening of the examination process.

Where justified an opening of the examination phase can be passed by circular resolution.

Reviews of the Dissertation

The three reviewers are asked to assess the dissertation within two months of its submission.

Once all reviews are received, the Doctoral Office will inform all parties involved of the reviews and proposed grades.
In case of a positive grading the display phase begins. Otherwise, the Doctoral regulations will come into effect.

Display of the Dissertation

Once the three reviewers recommend that the dissertation be accepted, it shall be available for reading to academic members of Hochschule Geisenheim University at the Doctoral Office for three weeks (within the semester) and six weeks (partially or completely outside the semester). These entitled academic members of Hochschule Geisenheim University - and, if applicable, the respective academic faculty of the partner university - may at their own discretion submit an additional unsolicited review within the specific period. Such a review will have no influence on the grading, but must be taken into account by the Examination Committee. The doctoral student must be granted access to read the reviews prior to the oral defense.

In accordance with the doctoral regulations, only the doctoral student, the supervisors and members of the Doctoral Committee of Hochschule Geisenheim University or - in case of a doctorate with a partner university - the academic faculty of the partner university are entitled to inspect both the dissertation and the reviews.

! Upon the end of the display phase and receipt of all reviews, the doctoral student must file a written request for scheduling the oral defense and for the appointment of the Examination Committee.

Examination Committee / Oral Defense

Upon written request of the doctoral student and after proposal of the Chair, the Doctoral Committee shall appoint the Examination Committee - in accordance with the partner university, if applicable.

After the Committee Chair has set a date for the oral defense, it shall be announced to all members of the university.

In general, an oral defense takes 90 minutes. The doctoral student starts with a 30-minute presentation of the dissertation. The following oral examination – which may last up to 60 minutes - focuses primarily on questions relating to the research topic and its latest developments. Moreover, the discussion may also be extended to include issues related to the research topic.
This is also an opportunity to take up any remarks, questions or criticism mentioned in the reviews.
After the defense, the Examination Committee assesses the candidate's performance in a closed session and informs the doctoral student of the result and the grade. 

The Examination Committee also decides if any corrections or amendments have to be made to the dissertation before publication. If no corrections are required, the Chair of the Examination Committee or a delegated member of the Committee authorizes the printing. If amendments or corrections have to be made, permission for printing is issued after submission of a revised version.


Upon successful completion of the doctoral studies, the dissertation has to be published. This is a prerequisite for awarding the doctoral certificate entitling the doctoral student to bear the respective academic title. The deadline for publication of the dissertation is one year from the date of examination. This deadline has to be met under all circumstances.

Depending on the type of publication selected, the number of required copies to be submitted may vary (10 copies on average). The series “Geisenheimer Berichte” supports doctoral students in Geisenheim to publish their work quickly and in a high-profile manner.
Alternatively, all doctoral students have the opportunity to publish their dissertation electronically. Comprehensive information can be found on the OPUS Geisenheim webpage.

If, for publication purposes in a journal, publication series or book, changes have to be made in a dissertation that has already been accepted (e.g. texts have to be shortened or extended), prior approval of the supervisor(s) and the Doctoral Committee must be obtained.

Doctoral Certificate / Conferral

After the dissertation is published and all requirements have been met, the doctoral certificate will be awarded (traditionally as part of the university's graduation ceremony in the winter semester). Upon conferral of the certificate, the holder is entitled to bear the respective academic title.