Advisory services for MMM members
The Minds, Media, Machines Integrated Graduate School (MMMIGS) supports doctoral candidates and supervisors associated with the interdisciplinary high-profile area Minds, Media, Machines at the University of Bremen. As one support measure for supervisors, MMMIGS offers advisory services to MMM members who plan to set up a structured doctoral program, to apply for recognition of their new or established structured doctroal program, or to apply for third-party funding for their program.
On this website, we provide information about structured doctoral programs in general, the internal recognition procedure for such programs at the University of Bremen, and relevant third-party funding schemes. Questions regarding these topics may be directed to MMMIGS coordinator Lena Wollschläger, who is also available for telephone, virtual or in-person consultation.
What is a structured doctoral program?
A structured doctoral program is characterized by a thematically focused research program and a complementary study program. As a rule, at least five university professors are involved in such a doctoral program. Ten to fifteen doctoral candidates each form a cohort and go through the doctoral phase together. The accompanying study program provides them with technical and methodological knowledge and prepares them for a career within and outside academia.
Doctoral candidates participating in a structured doctoral program benefit from being supervised by a team consisting of professors, postdoctoral researchers and sometimes also fellow doctoral candidates. The members of the so-called “thesis advisory committee” share the responsibility for supporting the candidate and assuring the quality of their research work and submitted thesis.
Furthermore, because each cohort starts the program together and their research topics are grouped around a thematic focus, a comprehensive technical and methodological training can be provided without placing too much weight on individual candidates or supervisors. The same is true for career orientation and qualification measures implemented towards the end of the cohort’s doctoral journey.
Since training of doctoral candidates in doctoral programs and graduate schools is common in other countries, especially in UK and the U.S., the University of Bremen seeks to increase its attractiveness for international master’s students and doctoral candidates by initiating further structured doctoral programs. In fact, it is one of the goals the University has set itself in its strategy 2018-2028.
The support provided to doctoral candidates and their supervisors by structured doctoral programs as well as graduate schools and academies pay into the institutional responsibility of the University for its early career researchers. In this regard, the preparation for a career outside of academia is particularly important, given that the number of PhD graduates vastly exceeds the number of available permanent positions within academia.
Further support structures
As an umbrella organization for structured doctoral programs associated with the high-profile area Minds, Media, Machines, the integrated graduate school MMMIGS provides cross-program qualification events and networking opportunities. Additionally, it offers financial support for conference visits, research stays and other measures that the doctoral candidates undertake as part of their project.
The graduate academy BYRD (Bremen Early Career Researcher Development) is the general support center for doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers at the University of Bremen. They offer consulting for early career researchers as well as a comprehensive transferable skills training program.
Internal recognition at the University of Bremen
In February 2020, an internal recognition procedure for structured doctoral programs has been implemented at the University of Bremen by the research commission of the Academic Senate. The application guidelines formulated for this purpose include minimum standards that make transparent what is considered a structured doctoral program at the University of Bremen and what requirements are placed on the participating principal investigators. Third-party funded doctoral programs are recognized as structured doctoral programs automatically, that is, without additional application.
Benefits of the internal recognition
The internal recognition can strengthen international collaborations and joint applications for third-party funding. Furthermore, it supports qualification of doctoral candidates on a subject-specific level, facilitates quality assurance, and allows for exchange of best practice examples between the doctoral programs.
Minimum standards for internal recognition
The minimum standards for internal recognition of a structured doctoral program are set out in the application guidelines. Among other things, they require information about the research and qualification program, the supervision strategy, and concepts for career development and quality assurance.
Further information and support offers
Third-party funding for doctoral programs
Various research funding organizations provide financial support for structured doctoral programs. The funding programs of foundations and research organizations are mostly topic-specific. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the European Commission (EC), however, have open topic funding lines specifically for doctoral programs.
DFG (International) Research Training Groups
Research Training Groups are structured doctoral programs funded by the German Research Foundation DFG for up to nine years. If integrated into a Collaborative Research Center, funding for up to 12 years is possible. While normally located at a single university or equivalent higher education institution, research training group applications of consortia are possible or – in the case of international research training groups – even mandatory.
Funding may be requested for doctoral and postdoctoral researcher positions as well as travel and material costs. Similar to the internal recognition procedure at the University of Bremen, proposal requirements include both a research program and a qualification program. Additionally, a visiting researcher program should be integrated into the qualification program, contributing to its internationalization.
MSCA (Industrial / Joint) Doctoral Networks
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) are the European Commission’s funding program for doctoral education and postdoctoral training of researchers. Funding for structured doctoral programs is provided for up to four years under the action Doctoral Networks. International consortia of at least three different institutions or organizations from at least three different EU member states or Horizon Europe Associated Countries can apply.
Besides standard Doctoral Networks, two variants are promoted: Industrial Doctorates, where candidates spend at least 50% of their time outside academia and are jointly supervised by the academic and non-academic partners, and Joint Doctorates, where candidates are enrolled in a joined program of two or more academic institutions, are jointly supervised, and are awarded a joint doctoral degree or multiple doctoral degrees after successful completion of the program.