Is a self-financed doctorate allowed in Germany?

Where to do a PhD?
Where should and where may I do my PhD?

Where should I do my PhD?

Opinions have always been divided on one question: Should prospective doctoral students stay at the university they studied at, or should they change universities? Some swear by one thing, the other by the other. But what do experts say about it? A small academics survey showed that there is no clear answer to this question. Because there are good reasons for each of the two options.

The topic decides

"One advantage of a change can be, for example, that you get to know a different research environment and new research approaches," says Anna Tschaut, chairwoman of Thesis, an interdisciplinary network for scientists. This offers doctoral and PhD students the opportunity to exchange ideas - more than 600 scientists are now taking advantage of this offer. When deciding for or against the previous university, doctoral students should ask themselves whether the topic of their doctorate might be better off at a university with a different focus. "In addition, the completion of the degree represents a turning point in the training, professional and life course, which is certainly an opportunity for a change," says Tschaut.

Changing the environment costs energy

An argument against changing the university is that prospective doctoral students may already have made valuable contacts with professors at their previous university. At a new location, these would first have to be rebuilt. In addition, the doctoral students retain their social environment when they remain at their previous place of study. “These are resources that should not be underestimated and which can make getting started with a doctorate a lot easier,” says Tschaut. It takes a lot of energy to get used to a new environment and to build new networks.

Check carefully when changing universities

Before moving to a new institution, the following questions should be asked: Do research approaches and methods suit your project? How is the cooperation in the team? Do you feel comfortable with your colleagues? What support is there for doctoral candidates? And what is the importance of research? Thesis chairwoman Anna Tschaut: "Especially with the last question there can be relevant differences between the institutions".

It is not uncommon for the reputation of a university to play a role in the selection. "Here, too, of course, as everywhere, a good name can of course make an impression," says Tschaut. The reputation of a university could later act as an additional door opener - but what counts in science is what someone achieves during or after his doctorate. “You have to convince with this,” says Tschaut. The reputation or reputation of an institution plays a rather subordinate role overall.