What are the career prospects for finance doctorates

Mathematics PhD
The Road to a Doctorate: Tips for Mathematicians

Requirements for a doctorate in mathematics

Anyone wishing to do a doctorate must have successfully completed a university degree. On this point, the admission requirements are the same at all universities.

Special features are regulated in the respective doctoral regulations of the respective institutes themselves. For example, an above-average degree is often a prerequisite for taking up a doctorate. In some cases, however, other aptitude tests are also possible, such as recommendation by a professor.

Students who graduated abroad also have the opportunity to do a doctorate in Germany. In these cases, the doctoral committee of the respective mathematical faculty decides on the recognition of the work performed abroad.

Fast-track doctorate for undergraduate students

Diploma or master’s degrees are not always a mandatory requirement for a doctorate. Mathematics students with a bachelor's degree also have the opportunity to start their doctorate immediately after graduating. This is done through so-called fast-track promotions. As the name suggests, the fast-track doctorate offers Bachelor graduates the opportunity to shorten the path to obtaining a doctorate. However, this abbreviation is subject to certain conditions. At the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Faculty of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), for example, an overall bachelor's grade of 1.5 or better is required for admission to a fast-track doctorate. In addition, the Bachelor graduates have to prove themselves within a one-year preparatory course and achieve various milestones from the modules offered in the Master’s course. Only then can you start your doctorate.

The modalities for the fast-track doctorate are different depending on the university. A basic distinction is made between two models: At some universities, a master’s degree is obtained in parallel to a doctorate, at others - such as at the HHU Düsseldorf - this is not mandatory.

Is a doctorate worthwhile for mathematicians?

If you want to make a career in research, you can hardly do without a doctorate. The Institute for Mathematics at the University of Osnabrück emphasizes that a doctorate is a prerequisite for an academic career. Doctoral candidates prove that they can conduct research at an international level. The ability to present research results in an appropriate way is also an important part of a multi-year doctorate. In addition, the doctorate can also help in business and especially have a positive influence on the salaries of mathematicians.

Career prospects with and without a doctorate

Mathematicians do not have a fixed job description, they are needed in many areas and therefore have a wide range of opportunities for entry into the professional world. They are more traditionally placed in the insurance and banking sectors. There are also many other possible uses for mathematicians, for example in software development, IT security or logistics. The field is huge and even with a bachelor's degree it is easy for mathematicians to gain a foothold in the job market. Because the need for their skills is great.

But even if a bachelor's degree is enough to get started, there are good reasons to stay at the university after graduating. The higher the education, the better the prospects for a higher career entry. More than half of all doctoral candidates take on a managerial role in their first job, as a Destatis survey on the career paths of highly qualified people shows. The skills that doctoral students acquire during their doctorate are particularly in demand. Perseverance, self-motivation, organizational skills and communication skills are not only important for successfully completing a doctorate. They are also welcome qualities in professional life, for example to take on a job with personnel responsibility. And this personal responsibility is often reflected in a higher salary.

The duration of the doctorate for mathematicians

A doctorate takes three years - but this is only a guideline, if not an ideal. Because only very few complete their doctoral project within 36 months. As the results of the Kassel doctoral study show, mathematicians need the least time to complete their doctorate at 4.3 years of age compared to other scientists. However, this is only an average. The actual duration of a doctorate also varies greatly in mathematics.

Many different factors play a role on the way to the doctorate, such as the individual performance of the doctoral candidate themselves. The selected topic also has an influence on the duration of the doctorate. Because the effort involved in the accompanying work, such as literature research, data acquisition and processing, can be difficult to estimate at the beginning.

In addition, other requirements also play a role: Those who can concentrate on a doctorate full-time usually complete faster than someone who does their doctorate while working. The doctorate alone is difficult enough. Coping with it in parallel to the job, however, requires even more discipline and perseverance. And a full-time doctorate is only possible with the appropriate support.

Financing a PhD in Mathematics: The Scholarship as an Opportunity

Scholarships are one way of obtaining financial support during your doctorate. According to the Destatis survey, the rate of sponsorship among mathematicians is high: in the 2014/15 winter semester, one fifth of those surveyed stated that they would finance their doctorate with a scholarship.

There are numerous funding opportunities for doctoral students through scholarships - and there are different models. The doctorate is fully financed with a full scholarship. But there are also foundations that grant, for example, a subsidy for the printing costs of the doctoral thesis. Because these alone can quickly amount to up to 1,000 euros.

In order to get a scholarship, some hurdles have to be overcome, because the requirements are high. Outstanding performance and a quickly completed degree are actually prerequisites everywhere in order to start the application process. In addition, personal commitment is often required. Internships then play an important role, as do stays abroad or political involvement. In Germany, the largest organizations to promote the gifted come from political parties, churches and trade unions. Therefore, they are often political or denominational. The German National Academic Foundation is an exception. In order to receive a scholarship here, the candidate must first be proposed by his or her doctoral supervisor. In the second round, the candidates are then assessed in a personal selection interview before a decision is made on funding.

Those who make it through the difficult selection process can look forward to substantial financial support. The Studienstiftung supports its doctoral scholarship holders with 1,450 euros per month. This amount is made up of the monthly grant of 1,350 euros plus a research cost allowance of 100 euros. The funding period at the German Study Foundation is initially two years. The scholarship can then be extended up to two times for a further six months via an application combined with a detailed report on previous research efforts.

But that is just one of the numerous examples of the possibilities of a scholarship. In order to find your way around the multitude of offers, the scholarship guide of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research offers assistance in finding the right funding. Various parameters can be specified here in order to describe your own personal circumstances and to find the right scholarship. The search mask also offers the option of looking specifically for funding for a doctorate in mathematics.