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

Doctoral center Sustainable and Intelligent Systems (NISys)

In October 2023, THWS was awarded the right to award doctorates by the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and the Arts for the doctoral center "Sustainable and Intelligent Systems (NISys)". The doctoral center is a collaborative initiative of THWS, of Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences (TH AB), and Coburg University (HSCO). It focuses on doctorates in the field of engineering. Thus, for the first time, doctorates no longer require cooperation with universities. The center continues the cooperation of the higher education institutions that was successfully established over years within the scope of the joint graduate center Promotionskolleg WIKE³.

By providing relevant qualification for academic experts and managers, the new cross-institutional doctoral center is intended to significantly contribute to solving one of the most pressing future tasks of our society: Establishing sustainable processes and value chains in all areas of economy, society and industry. These include essential sectors like energy, building, and transport, as well as industrial production.

Fields of application of the doctoral center

The three involved North-Bavarian higher education institutions HSCO, TH AB and THWS are characterised by their outstanding research performance in the field of intelligent methods and technologies, including artificial intelligence, which is also proven by extensive third party funding and numerous scientific publications. This method apparatus lays the building block for sustainable innovations in the fields of application:

  • Energy and infrastructure systems
  • Mobility
  • Production and materials

The doctoral center is currently being established. The launch is scheduled for spring 2024. We have collected the most important information for all people interested in doctoral studies and interested professors.

General information

The doctoral center only awards the degree Doctor of Engineering, the German "Dr.-Ing.".

For the launch of the doctoral center, the involved higher education institutions enter into a cooperation agreement and agree on the statutes of the doctoral center. At the same time, the doctoral degree regulations are finalised and relevant processes are established.

The doctoral center is scheduled to launch in spring 2024. Only then, members can be admitted.


Information for prospective doctoral candidates

The requirements for admittance to doctoral studies will be announced with adoption of the doctoral degree regulations.

Currently, access to doctoral studies for bachelor graduates, so-called fast track, is not intended.

There is no general answer to this question as various aspects must be taken into consideration:

  • the doctoral degree regulations of the university you are currently enrolled at
  • the regulations of the doctoral degree regulations of the doctoral center (yet to be adopted)
  • the progress of your doctoral project
  • disciplinary and inter-disciplinary achievements which can be accredited for the intended qualification programme of the doctoral center

It must be assessed for the individual case whether changing the institution it is formally possible, also whether it entails disadvantages for you that could influence your decision (e.g., time delay, lacking access to resources or required networks, etc.).

In general, three to five years are intended for doctoral projects in the doctoral center from acceptance into the doctoral center until the completion of the evaluation procedure. The doctoral degree regulations and the statutes of the doctoral center specify derogations for certain cases (e.g., illness, parenthood, extra-occupational doctoral studies, transfer of ongoing doctoral projects of another institution).

In the doctoral center, all doctoral candidates are required to complete a mandatory qualification programme. It consists of a set number of mandatory elements and electives that must be completed in these four modules:

  • Module 1: Interdisciplinary qualification across higher education institutions
  • Module 2: Specialist qualification in the fields of application of the doctoral center
  • Module 3: Networking within and outside the doctoral center
  • Module 4: Internationalisation

More details on the qualification programme will be released with the launch of the doctoral center.

The financing of doctoral projects in the doctoral center does not differ from the financing of other doctoral projects. Here are your options:

  • Employment as research associate with one of the three higher education institutions involved. For this, please check the job postings of the higher education institutions or contact potential supervisors directly. In general, this employment is financed through third-party funding, which the professors apply for with the funding parties.
  • Funding by a doctoral scholarship programme. Students or employees of THWS can find a compilation in the E-Learning course "Offers for prospective doctoral candidates and doctoral students". External prospective doctoral candidates may request the contents via e-mail to promotion[at]thws.de. The portal mystipendium.com also contains an extensive list of scholarships. The candidate is responsible for scholarship application.
  • Extra-occupational doctorate (see next question)
  • Financing by individual means (savings, family, ...)

Extra-occupational doctorates, i.e. completing the doctoral project alongside one’s principal occupation, are not excluded a priori. The professors involved in the doctoral center may individually decide which topic is suitable for an extra-occupational doctorate. They shall also take into account that the doctoral candidate must be able to manage the time and financial requirements to complete the research topic, to participate in the evaluation procedure and to complete the qualification programme.

In such cases, the doctorate is considered a continued personal qualification. Employers’ openness towards their employees’ continued personal qualification varies. Some doctoral candidates might thus receive extensive support from their employer (e.g., exemptions for THWS courses and events). Temporary reduction of working hours can offer you more time to focus on your doctoral project.

This is why we cannot give a general recommendation on whether or not you should inform your employer about your plans. However, if contents of your work and your doctoral topic overlap, you are urged or even required to inform your employer if you intend to include your employer’s intellectual property in your research.

No, doctoral projects at the doctoral center do not involve doctoral degree programmes. Hence no fees are to be paid. Membership in the doctoral center is subject to requesting membership. Required documents will be communicated in spring 2024.

Under "General information - which fields of expertise will be covered by the doctoral center?" you can find a list of future members of the doctoral center to select supervisors based on their areas of expertise.

With the launch of the doctoral center we will publish further information on services, e.g. the allocation of prospective doctoral candidates with suitable supervisors.

Please note:

Doctorates in the doctoral center are supervised by two professors, whereas the main supervisor must be a professorial member of the doctoral center. The co-supervisor is generally a professor at the same higher education institution or of one of the other higher education institutions of the doctoral center. In justified cases, non-members can take on co-supervision. The required pre-conditions will be laid down in the doctoral degree regulations.

After the launch of the doctoral center you can apply for doctoral candidate membership in the doctoral center. The requirements will be communicated with the announcement of the doctoral degree regulations.

The applications require at least an elaborate thesis proposal of the intended doctoral project and a confirmation of supervision by a professorial member of the doctoral center.

If you want to complete your doctorate with the doctoral center, we recommend the following procedure. You can already start with preparations. However, please note that you will only know the exact requirements for admission after issuance of the doctoral degree regulations.

  • Clarification of fundamental questions (motivation, framework conditions, doctorates in the doctoral center or cooperative doctorate), possibly in connection with initial consultation of a doctoral service center of the involved higher education institutions:
    • Students, employees, and alumni of Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences: Dr. Heike Bruhn
    • Students, employees, and alumni of Coburg University: Dr. Renate Lucke
    • Students, employees, and alumni of the Technical University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt: Dr. Simone Stork
    • All other: Dr. Simone Stork (Coordinator for the promotion of young scientists, THWS)
  • Explore a topic and develop first ideas of a doctoral thesis topic
  • Contact suitable professors of the doctoral center and acquire them as supervisors/keep an eye on job postings at the same time (list of professorial members is available at “General information -Which fields of expertise will be covered by the doctoral center?")
  • Narrow down the doctoral thesis topic
  • Write a thesis proposal

After the launch of the doctoral center and after the announcement of the doctoral degree regulations, you can take the next steps:

  • Enter into a supervision agreement
  • Compile additionally required documents
  • Submit the application for membership in the doctoral center

Information for professors

With the launch of the doctoral center, the professors involved in the application process with the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and the Arts become members of the doctoral center.

Other interested professors of member institutions can apply for membership. The requirements will be laid down in the statutes of the doctoral center.

The doctoral degree regulations will contain the criteria under which professorial members can supervise and review doctorates. Main and co-supervision are distinguished, the same applies to main and second evaluation.

The statutes and regulations will be announced after their adoption.

The professorial members of the doctoral center are expected to not only engage in supervision of doctoral candidates and evaluation of doctoral theses but to also contribute to the self-administration of the doctoral center and to participate in networking events. One of the main quality assurance components of the center is regular exchange among the members.