Can we do a doctorate after the master’s

To top off your academic career with a doctorate in distance learning sounds very tempting. But here you can find out why this is not so easy! Because we have all the information about doctoral and PhD distance learning: requirements, duration, possibilities.

Doctoral studies, also known as doctoral studies, lead to the highest academic degree in Germany, the so-called doctor. A doctorate can begin if you have a first university degree.

The doctoral program includes writing the dissertation and an oral examination at the end. The test is either a Rigorosum, in which your specialist knowledge from your studies or in a specific subject is tested, or a Disputation. This is a dispute in which you have to defend your doctoral thesis (or other topics). The grade consists of the doctoral thesis and the examination, However, you may only use the title “Dr.” once you have published your work. Before the publication there is a “Dr. des. ”(doctor designatus).

On average, the doctoral program lasts 4.5 years, but the exact duration depends on various factors, e. B. from the subject (a doctor in medicine usually goes much faster than a doctorate in the humanities) or whether you have a scholarship or work on the side and thus have less time for research. The doctoral thesis should make an independent contribution to scientific research in the respective subject and thus differs from the bachelor and master thesis.

In Germany, the doctorate is often awarded with a PhD (Philosophical Doctorate) equated. But be careful: the PhD is the highest academic degree in English-speaking countries, but it is not to be completely equated with the German doctor, because the path to a PhD is somewhat different from the German doctoral program. While the doctorate is fairly free depending on the subject and is very closely tied to a professor, the PhD program is a bit more structured and less person-centered, but more research-centered.
Since not every German doctorate is also a research doctorate, you shouldn't simply translate your “doctor” into a PhD for international applications. Conversely, it is usually not a problem to use a foreign PhD in Germany as "Dr.".
But: In terms of their value, the doctor and the PhD are on an equal footing.

Meanwhile, the The number of PhD degrees in Germany is increasing, especially through the cooperation between universities and universities abroad.

In addition to the PhD, there is also the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) and the EdD (Doctor of Education). These degrees are (still) relatively unknown in Germany, but they are not uncommon in English-speaking countries.

And the DBA plays a particularly important role for a distance learning doctorate, because many universities offer cooperation with a foreign university for a distance learning PhD. These are mostly geared towards topics in the field of business and management and therefore often offer a DBA as a degree.

Is there a doctorate distance learning program?

If you want to crown your academic career with a doctorate, but are very busy professionally or privately, a PhD distance learning would be a good option.

But is it even possible to do a doctorate by distance learning? The answer is: not really. Because actually only universities and equivalent colleges are entitled to award doctorates. However, these usually do not offer doctoral distance learning. You are most likely to be successful if you find out more from universities abroad, some of which offer doctorates via distance learning. Alternatively, a part-time doctorate can be considered, more on this below.

Doctorate at distance universities?

Distance universities are not on an equal footing with universities and are therefore not really suitable for a doctorate. However, some distance learning providers offer a corresponding doctoral degree as distance learning in cooperation with an agency / an institute or the like. and a foreign university, which will then issue you with a doctorate.

That sounds very good at first, but there are a few things you should be aware of: As a rule, it is a university from another EU country, so there should be no problems with the recognition of the title in Germany. But it can't hurt to inquire about this in advance. Because if you already invest time and money, it should be worth it. You should therefore pay close attention to whether you are allowed to put the title “Dr.” in front of your name after completing your doctorate.

For this it is important that the conclusion is assigned to the third stage of the Bologna Agreement. Because then you can be sure that the title you have obtained can also be used legally in Germany.

In cooperation with distance learning universities, you can often choose between a PhD distance learning course and a DBA as a degree.

But:Many of these offers are actually not pure distance learning, but include some face-to-face seminars that you have to attend. And at the latest for the disputation or the rigorosum, you have to be present at the university. If you are unlucky, you will have to travel abroad to do so. However, the cooperating foreign universities usually also have German centers where the seminars take place. Nevertheless, you should find out in advance whether and how often you have to travel to the actual university.

Distance learning doctorate at university?

Officially, universities do not offer doctoral distance learning. But especially in humanities subjects, a doctorate can come pretty close to distance learning. Most of the time, you mainly need literature, but no special machines or materials. The exchange with the doctoral supervisor can now easily take place via e-mail. However, there is a doctoral colloquium at least once a semester that you have to attend. You should therefore find out in advance whether and to what extent attendance appointments are required in the examination regulations.

A distance learning doctorate is not possible in the natural sciences, because you usually need access to a laboratory and / or specific equipment for your research object.

In principle, however, the following applies: You shouldn't imagine the path to a doctorate at universities too easy. Especially in the humanities subjects, the university is of secondary importance, primarily you have to find a suitable doctoral supervisor who will also take on your topic - especially if you are not already known there from your studies. You have the best chances if you were able to convince yourself of yourself during your studies.

In theory, however, it is also possible to write a dissertation without supervision. But this path is really only recommended to very few, as it is even more difficult to maintain motivation and to cope with any setbacks if you cannot communicate with anyone.

Free doctorate, graduate college or doctoral program?

For one free doctorate you are looking for a doctoral supervisor with a research focus on your own topic. In addition to writing the dissertation, you either work at the university as a research assistant or similar. (this procedure will internal promotion called), or you work outside the university and do your doctorate in your free time (external doctorate). If you have financial support, you can of course do a full-time doctorate.

In the meantime, however, there have also been other options: graduate colleges and doctoral programs.

Research training groups have a specific topic on which several doctoral candidates are researching. So there is a lively exchange because you work with like-minded people. This is a big difference to internal and external doctorates, where you are mainly on your own. In addition, graduate schools are much more structured: There are compulsory seminars, for example on methods or didactic writing. This has advantages, but in addition to writing the dissertation, it can also lead to increased stress. One advantage of graduate schools is that most doctoral candidates are supported by a scholarship. However, due to the obligations related to the place in the college, this variant is not suitable for a distance doctorate.

The same is even more true of doctoral programs that are being offered by more and more universities. Like the American PhD tracks, doctoral courses have a fixed sequence (often based on the ECTS system) with various seminarsthat have to be documented. In return, the exchange with the lecturers is much stronger, which should reduce the duration of the studies. The dissertation should be completed after three years, which is significantly earlier than for free doctorates.
Accordingly, a doctoral degree course is not suitable for distance learning either, but it can be implemented as a part-time doctorate. Because some seminars are offered as block seminars so that the doctoral candidates can still work on the side. This also ensures financing.

Main focus on economics and management

The offers for distance learning doctorates at foreign universities focus primarily on business and management. Accordingly, in addition to the PhD, there is often also the DBA as a degree, which is aimed primarily at people with several years of professional experience in companies or in management. So if you want to do a doctorate in history or literary studies, for example, you will probably not find what you are looking for in these collaborations.