The doctoral examination comprises the evaluation of the thesis and an oral examination. Doctoral candidates are advised to read carefully the rules specified below, as their input and collaboration is required in scheduling the examination process.
With the submission of the dissertation, the candidate is required to apply for admission to the doctoral examination. Please do so by filling out and signing the form Application for Admission to the Doctoral Examination at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science. We also require
- A Criminal Records Bureau certificate (or valid work contract in the German public service)
- An updated Curriculum Vitae et Studiorum
- Proof of fulfillment of any additional course requirements
The thesis is evaluated by (at least) two reviewers, one of which is the (principal) doctoral advisor, and one of which must provide an independent assessment of the scientific quality and originality of the research results. For interdisciplinary research projects, the co-advisor will write an additional review to evaluate the aspects of the thesis related to the field of application. If the candidate was otherwise jointly supervised, the co-advisor may (but does not have to) provide an additional evaluation. In either case, we require an independent, preferably external, evaluation of the thesis from within the field.
The independent reviewer may be nominated by the candidate and the advisor but must be confirmed and contacted by the Dean for their written report. All reviewers must be professors or scientists with habilitation at the Faculty, or hold an equivalent position at an external institution. The independent reviewer should be a specialist on the subject of the thesis, and must not be in any conflict of interest with the doctoral advisor or the candidate, as stipulated in the relevant guidelines. In particular, a direct financial interest, an advisor/advisee or mentor/mentee relationship between the reviewers within the last 7 years, or a low-degree personal relationship, marriage or partnership are examples of circumstances that will be perceived as conflict of interest. The reports must be prepared independently from each other.
The written reports recommend acceptance or rejection of the thesis, and (in case of acceptance) grade it with a mark in the range of 1 (very good) to 4 (adequate) in steps of 0.5. Special rules apply if any reviewer rejects the thesis, or if all recommend a summa cum laude distinction.
The reports are confidential until after the oral examination, at which point the candidate may request a viewing permission.
We ask that the reviews be submitted within a month's time. The doctoral office will follow up with the reviewers, but cannot guarantee that the deadline is respected. Once all reviews have been received, faculty members have access to the dissertation and the reviews via a web-based system for four weeks during lecture period and up to six weeks during semester break. The termination of this timespan is communicated to the doctoral candidate via email, and he or she can arrange for date, time and place of the oral examination after contacting all anticipated examiners. This date has to be after the termination of the above circulation time, but there is no formal guarantee of any kind that it can be respected.
The oral examination is formally scheduled only after receipt of the written reports and circulation of the thesis amongst the faculty. The examination committee is appointed by the Dean, and composed of the doctoral advisor, and up to three further examiners representing diverse specializations within the given field of research. The requirements for Mathematics and Computer Science, and their interdisciplinary variants, are specified below. The co-advisor and the external reviewers may (but do not have to) be members of the examination committee. The candidate can propose the composition of the committee, but is not entitled to any particular choice.
It is the responsibility of the candidate to arrange a time and location for the oral exam. The candidate is advised to send out a reminder of the oral exam shortly before the date of examination.The anticipated date of the oral examination should be communicated in writing (email) to the doctoral office as early as possible.
The oral examination lasts between 1 and 1.5 hours. It begins with a brief presentation of the thesis (maximum 20 minutes), and is followed by questions from the examiners about the thesis, and questions about their field of specialization (minimum of 10 minutes per field). The examination may be attended by other doctoral candidates, and by the Chair of the doctoral committee.
The grading scheme for the oral examination is the same as for the thesis itself. The final grade is calculated as an average of both, dissertation and oral examination. The degree will be conferred magna cum laude for an average grade up to 1.5, cum laude for an average grade up to 2.5, and rite for an average grade up to 4.0. The exceptional honor summa cum laude requires, in addition to a perfect score of 1.0, that this recommendation be made by all reviewers, an additional supporting external report, and unanimous confirmation by the oral examination committee.
It is the candidate's responsibility that the sealed envelope (containing the examination papers and complete documentation of all documents and correspondences concerning the individual's procedure at this faculty) for the examination is collected at the doctoral office on the day of the defense (or before on request) and resealed and returned after the examination as soon as possible.
Field specific examination requirements
Specific requirements for a degree in Mathematics
The reviewers should be professors or scientists with habilitation at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Sciences or hold an equivalent position at an external institution.
For non-interdisciplinary work, the doctoral examination is held by three examiners who have to represent the two specializations
- applied mathematics
- pure mathematics
The third examiner can be chosen from either subfield. The doctoral advisor is one of the examiners, but the second reviewer need not. Two of the examiners have to be members of the faculty. The exam is chaired by a member of the faculty.
For interdisciplinary work, one, or even two, other fields of specialization can be subject of the examination, which then has to cover three subfields represented by four examiners. These fields of specialization have to have a reasonable relation to Mathematics (see Promotionsordnung Appendix § 10). It is then not required that both pure and applied mathematics be represented by the examiners. The main subjects of the interdisciplinary project should be covered by the reviewers of the dissertation.
Specific requirements for a degree in Computer Science
The reviewers of the thesis should be professors or scientists with habilitation at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science or the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy representing the field of Computer Science or hold an equivalent position at an external institution.
For non interdisciplinary work, the doctoral examination is held by four examiners who have to represent three of the following four fields of specialization:
- practical and applied computer science
- machine learning and image processing
- computer engineering
- theoretical computer science
The fourth examiner can be chosen from any of the above fields. Two examiners should be the reviewers of the dissertation. At least two of the examiners should be members of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science or the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. The exam is chaired by a member of the faculty.
For interdisciplinary work, and upon the candidate's request, an alternative field of specialization can be subject of the examination. Again, the doctoral examination is held by four examiners representing three different fields that have to have a reasonable relation to Computer Science. It is only required that at least two fields of Computer Science are represented by the examiners. Two examiners should be the reviewers of the dissertation, one reviewer has to be a member of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science or the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. At least two of the examiners should be members of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science or the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. The main subjects should be covered by the reviewers of the dissertation.