PhD Thesis

The Ph.D.-Program is intended for candidates who hold a Master degree in Molecular Medicine or other areas within the biosciences, and who share enthusiasm for exploring the molecular mechanisms of disease. Students of the Master program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Göttingen may directly join the PhD program after one year of studying (“fast track option”), if justified by very good results in their examinations. The program is not intended for physicians or students of clinical medicine, unless they additionally hold a degree in experimental biosciences.

The candidates will perform experimental work supervised by one of the Faculty members of the program (listed on the adjacent page) leading to a PhD thesis within three years. In addition, a total of 20 credits (1credit corresponds to a workload of roughly 30 hours) of course work should be achieved throughout the attendance of the program.

Thesis committees advise each student and monitor progress throughout the doctoral studies. Each thesis committee consists of the primary advisor and at least two additional members who need to be independent of the supervisor and are from different departments. The appointment of external members is possible but requires prior approval by the program committee. The primary advisor is usually the leader of the research group in which the thesis is carried out. Doctoral thesis committees have two main functions (i) to provide critical feedback to the research progress and data interpretation, and (ii) to resolve conflicts if the doctoral candidate and the primary advisor disagree on essential aspects of the project or its supervision.

Progress Reports and Thesis Committee Meetings

Before each meeting, the doctoral students prepare progress reports and forward them in advance to the members of the thesis committee. In the meetings, the doctoral students present their work and discuss their progress and further plans with their thesis committee.
While meetings can be scheduled at any time, the following meetings are mandatory:

  • 1st Meeting (month 6): First evaluation of the progress. Re-evaluation of the topic and the experimental approach. Advice on individualized training schedule if required.
  • 2nd Meeting (month 18): Evaluation of the progress with regard to the potential for publication.
  • 3rd Meeting (month 30): Evaluation of the progress with regard to project completion and the submission of the thesis. Here, a timeline for the remaining experiments needs to be agreed upon between the student, the supervisor, and the other committee members.
  • 4th and 5th Meeting: Mandatory in the case of an application for extension of the thesis – two-month advance notice required.

PhD Thesis

  • in most cases, it is advisable that the student submits a full dissertation, meaning that the student tries to present her/his scientific work in a concise document that summarizes what she/he did. It allows the student to practice such presentations, which will be essential throughout the career. It also gives the opportunity to present writing skills and scientific understanding to the examination board. Thus, writing a full dissertation has many advantages that should be considered.
  • as an exception, students are entitled to submit a “cumulative” dissertation, meaning that a student makes her/his publications an integral part of her/his dissertation. If this is what a student wants to do, please keep in mind the following:
    • You first need to ask your supervisor and thesis committee. Only if they agree, a cumulative thesis is an option. It is advisable that you document this agreement.
    • You must have at least two accepted first author papers at the time you submit your thesis. These manuscripts need to form the central part of your thesis.
    • You still need to provide a summary of the thesis as a whole, as well as an introduction to the general topic and a discussion of the general conclusions.
    • For each of the papers that form part of your thesis, you must make it very clear what your personal contribution was. Did you write the paper? Did you write parts of it, and if so, which ones? Did you perform the experiments shown in all the figures? If not, which figures and which panels have been done by you in person? And who did the other experiments? This type of information must be attached in a list for each paper separately, and you must declare in writing and with your signature that this information is accurate.
    • You may add submitted but not-yet-accepted manuscripts on top of the accepted ones, but your personal contributions to such manuscripts must be clarified in detail, as for the accepted ones.
    • If you were not the person who actually wrote your first-author-paper(s), it is recommended that you still write a full dissertation. Otherwise, it is difficult for the examination board to judge whether you are capable of writing a scientific presentation.

Submission of a PhD Thesis

After a thesis has been submitted, the coordination office checks whether all requirements of the PhD program are met (accumulation of the required credits, submission of all progress reports, all required committee meetings have taken place,all required documents are submitted). Only after the coordination office has approved that all requirements are met, the thesis submission is completed. 

The further processing will start only after all requirements are met. In case that some requirements are not fulfilled – for example in case that the suggested Examination Board is not valid – the further processing will be interrupted until all requirements are fulfilled.

The minimum time from approval of complete submission to oral thesis defense is 7 weeks.

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