FHWS building at Sanderheinrichsleitenweg Würzburg

Students in park (c) Jonas Kron

Student at machine (c) Stefan Bausewein

Students working in a group (c) Jonas Kron

Becoming a doctor at THWS – Cooperative doctorate

You are interested in a doctorate at THWS? That’s great! Below, we provide you with the main information for your journey to become a doctor.

Doctoral procedures at THWS currently take place in cooperation with universities, as THWS is a (technical) university of applied sciences and does not have the right to award doctoral titles by itself. For this so-called “cooperative doctorate”, the doctoral candidates are supervised by both, professors at THWS and at the cooperating university. For doctoral candidates, this offers the advantage of a close connection to research and structures at THWS, often in the form of being employed as associates in a research project.

From spring 2024, doctoral procedures can also take place at the Doctoral Center for “Sustainable and Intelligent Systems (NISys)” without cooperation with a university. Further information is available on the FAQ website.


A doctorate means scientific work over several years with the goal of making an independent contribution to the research world. The findings need to significantly contribute to the current state of science or technology.

The research results are presented in a written doctoral thesis ("dissertation"), documented and discussed against the background of the international state of science. The dissertation is defended orally in the so-called disputation before the doctoral committee (and the departmental public). Afterwards, the dissertation must be made publicly accessible within a certain period of time ("publication obligation").

In contrast to a doctorate that takes place exclusively at a university, with a cooperative doctorate you will be jointly supervised by one professor each from THWS and the cooperating university. The cooperative doctorate also allows the universities of applied sciences to become involved in the postgraduate promotion of young researchers in research-intensive subject areas.

What are the advantages?

  • The possibility of completing a doctorate in an application-oriented research area at THWS.
  • Diverse, professional perspectives through the joint supervision through a university and a university of applied sciences.
  • Options for extracurricular qualification in two institutions.

What is similar to a conventional doctorate?

  • The actual doctoral graduation takes place at a university. You will receive your doctoral degree after successful examination at the university.
  • The formal admission requirements are regulated through the university’s doctorate regulations.

There are hard and soft requirements for a doctorate. The most important ones are: Meeting the formal requirements, organising supervision, and personal motivation.

The formal requirements for admission to doctoral studies are regulated by the doctoral regulations of the respective faculty or graduate school of the cooperating university. Generally, master’s graduates from universities of applied sciences and regular universities having an above-average degree can start a doctorate. If you wish to change from a different higher education institution to a university for your doctorate, additional requirements may apply. These may include, among others, the completion of certain courses, e.g. modules on specific scientific methods, or an even better average grade. In rare cases, an aptitude test may be required.

It is also of great importance for a cooperative doctorate to find your two doctoral supervisors, one at the university of applied sciences and one at the university. For a cooperative doctorate at THWS, it is recommended to first contact a THWS professor that is competent in the corresponding subject. In consultation with the right professor, a possible counterpart at a university is then selected and contacted.

This soft, but by no means minor requirement, cannot be proven through a certificate: Your motivation! Working on a doctoral thesis for several years requires a lot of perseverance and enthusiasm for the topic. During your doctoral studies, you are responsible for your own (semester) schedules. Supervision ensures that you become more and more self-sufficient. Motivation is one of the most important success factors for a successfully completed doctorate!

During a doctorate, you are often both – student and employee. However, it’s important to know: Even if some graduate programmes offer a structured programme and even require credit certificates, a doctoral programme cannot be compared to a Master’s programme.


  • There is currently no Doctor’s degree programme, so you don’t have to – and should not – enrol as doctoral candidate at THWS.
  • The great majority of doctoral candidates supervised by THWS professors is employed at THWS. The candidates are employed as associates in the context of research projects. Unfortunately, many jobs are only offered as part-time.
  • Membership of one of the graduate programmes in which THWS is involved doesn't mean you are a student.

At the cooperating university:

  • The doctoral regulations there regulate whether and at what time you have to enrol in a doctoral programme. Enrolment might be a requirement to be accepted to doctoral studies.
  • If you are already employed at THWS, you might not be employed at a university as well.

Surely, during your doctorate you have to make a living. Currently, in most cases, doctoral students at THWS are employed as research associates. Please take note of job advertisements by THWS and talk with the supervisor of your choice regularly. Actually, most jobs are not posted.

A further source of financing are scholarships. Via the THWS scholarship guide, you can search for the scholarship suitable to your doctorate, provided by German sponsorship institutions for young talents. In addition, students and research associates at THWS will find a detailed overview of scholarships and awards in the corresponding e-Learning course. These are also available for externals at request (simone.stork[at]thws.de). The scholarship programmes of the State Conference of Women's and Equal Opportunity Officers at Bavarian Universities (LaKoF) are also attractive for women; they support doctorates of women with professional experience and of UAS graduates.

If you are already working in practice, a part-time doctorate may also be an option. In these cases, it is advisable to discuss with your employer to what extent you can be given time for the doctorate (e.g. reduction of hours, fixed working hours for the doctorate).

That’s not the case, you don’t have to be member of a graduate programme to complete an excellent doctorate. A graduate programme for cooperative doctoral studies serves to jointly supervise doctoral researchers by a UAS and a university, offers doctoral researchers the opportunity for inter-university professional exchange, a more or less structured programme and often special funding opportunities. This may be advantageous, but is also connected to investing time, which may not be helpful for everyone. In addition, not all doctoral candidates at THWS can become members of such a graduate programme, as the number of memberships is limited.

On our websites you can also find an overview of all graduate programmes at THWS.

You can find and overview of contacts and further offers on our Support and Contact website.

Additional Information

For THWS students interested in a doctorate and THWS employees

In our e-Learning course you can find information on how decisions are made and on how to prepare:

  • Event programme for prospective doctoral candidates
  • Doctoral canvas and explanation of individual preparatory steps
  • Glossary and links
  • Ways to fund your doctorate

For external prospective doctoral candidates

If you are interested in a cooperative doctorate at THWS, please refer to one of our contacts. After an initial conversation, we will happily provide you with the e-Learning contents.

For doctoral students

If you are currently completing a cooperative doctorate at THWS and are interested in networking, further qualification and more information, please click here.

Research at THWS

If you wish to complete your doctorate at THWS, conduct your research with us! But first, you should know about the research fields at THWS. Research at THWS is organised in three research focuses:

Through a selection of current research projects you can gain insights into our research activities. Thanks to financing received through the Bavarian Hightech Agenda, THWS is currently strengthening its focus areas of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.