PhD program


General Information

The PhD program allows graduates to obtain a doctorate (doctor iuris, Dr. iur.). The doctoral degree can be awarded upon proof that the candidate is capable of in-depth scholarly work in the field of law. This proof is provided by the submission of a written scientific paper (dissertation) and an oral examination (defence).

The PhD process Expand entry

The PhD program at the Law Faculty is divided into several stages:

1. Supervision and topic search; organising the PhD project

The first step is to find a supervisor and a suitable topic for the dissertation. This is the most important step in determining the course of the PhD program. You should make thorough enquiries in advance as to which university lecturer would be a suitable supervisor for your research project.

Furthermore, you should determine how you want to organise your PhD project. In particular, how you intend on financing the period during which you plan to complete your doctorate (e.g. by means of a scholarship, part-time work, etc.)

2. Admission requirements for the PhD program

Finally, you should clarify whether you meet the formal requirements for a PhD at the Law Faculty:

In order to be admitted to the PhD program, the candidates must have successfully completed a degree in law at a German university. Applicants with an equivalent foreign degree in law must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the German language and the German legal system. This proof can be provided by successfully completing a postgraduate course (magister iuris, magister legum) at a German university or in an equivalent manner.

As a general rule, candidates are required to have passed the First or Second State Examination in Law with at least the grade "fully satisfactory". In justified cases, the Faculty Council may exempt candidates from this requirement if they obtained the grade "satisfactory" in at least one state examination. Usually, this will be the case if the applicant either completed a seminar at the faculty and received a grade not lower than "good" or is employed as a research assistant at a chair in the Faculty .

3. Enrolling as a PhD candidate

Once the topic of the dissertation has been determined, the candidate applies to the Dean for admission to the PhD program.

The application must be accompanied by copies of the required documents and certificates as proof of eligibility for the PhD program; external applicants must submit certified copies. Applicants must also provide an informal written statement from a full-time university lecturer working at the Faculty confirming their ongoing contact with the candidate in regard to the intended dissertation. The application must also include details of any exemptions that may be necessary (e.g. from the grade requirement).

The Dean decides on admission; in certain cases the Faculty Council must give its consent. The Dean issues a written decision concerning the application for admission to the PhD program.

The supervisor and the doctoral candidate then draw up a supervision agreement. The PhD candidate is required to register for admission via the online portal for PhD and doctoral administration at the FSU Jena (doc-in).

4. Writing the PhD thesis

The main task for the PhD candidate is to write the dissertation.

The guidelines of the faculty regarding the formal requirements of a term paper, seminar paper or scientific paper apply accordingly.

In addition, the principles of good scientific practice must be observed when writing the thesis.

5. Steps of the doctoral process

Upon completion of the thesis, candidates must submit an application to the Dean's Office to initiate the doctoral process. The application must include a number of documents, the details of which can be found in the information leaflet.

The Faculty Council decides on the application to initiate the doctoral procedure; concurrently, the members of the PhD Commission are appointed upon proposal of the Dean. The Dean notifies the PhD candidate that the PhD procedure has been initiated and provides the names of the members of the PhD commission.

The examining members of the commission provide a first and second report and recommend that the thesis either be accepted or rejected (non sufficit) and, if the former, a grade. The following grading scale applies:

  • summa cum laude = an outstanding achievement (0),
  • magna cum laude = a very good achievement (1)
  • cum laude = a good achievement (2)
  • satis bene = a satisfactory achievement (3)
  • rite = an achievement meeting average requirements (4).

The members of the commission can also require the work to be rectified or corrections to be made.

If both reports recommend the PhD thesis be accepted by the PhD commission, this is considered to constitute a decision by the commission to accept the thesis. When the thesis has been accepted, university lecturers and members of the Faculty Council holding a doctoral title have a three week period during which they can read the thesis and the reports in the Dean's office.

The Dean notifies the PhD student that the thesis has been accepted as well as the date for the oral defense (disputation).

6. Conclusion of the doctoral process

Once the doctoral process has been successfully completed, the doctoral candidate is obliged to publish the dissertation in an appropriate manner. Depending on the chosen method of publication, the required number of mandatory copies must be submitted to the Thuringian University and State Library.

If desired, candidates can apply to the Dean for permission to use their title provisionally. If no such request is made, the right to use the doctoral title only begins once the doctoral certificate has been issued. The certificate is awarded on Feuerbach Day (approx. mid-November each year).

PhD achievements Expand entry

Doctoral candidates are required to submit a written paper (dissertation) and deliver an oral defense (disputation).

Dissertation Expand entry

The dissertation must deal with a legal topic and must demonstrate the PhD candidate's ability to carry out independent scientific research and to contribute to the further development of jurisprudence, its theories and methods.

The dissertation may not be identical or partially identical to a paper submitted to the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena or another university for the purpose of obtaining an academic degree or as a credit for a state examination. The dissertation must have been written at least in part under the supervision of a professor, university lecturer or private lecturer of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena.

The typewritten and bound dissertation must be submitted in German. The Faculty Council may allow a different language in justified cases. In such cases, candidates must also submit a summary of their dissertation in German.

Defence Expand entry

The oral part of the PhD examination consists of the public defence of the dissertation (disputation) in front of the PhD commission. Generally, the defence takes no longer than 60 minutes.

The purpose of the defense is for the candidate to present the dissertation's main findings to the most part without notes. In the subsequent oral discussion, the candidate is then expected to defend their arguments. The third examiner who is from another discipline will assess the PhD candidate's understanding of areas of law unrelated to the subject matter of the dissertation, insofar as there is any relevance to the content of the dissertation.

Publication Expand entry

After the PhD process has been successfully completed, the PhD candidate is obliged to publish the dissertation in an appropriate manner. Depending on the chosen method of publication, the mandatory number of copies must be submitted to the Thuringian University and State Library.

Information regarding depositing the required deposit copies can be found here.

We recommend consulting the ThULB checklist before submitting the deposit copies.

Legal framework and relevant documents Expand entry
Further information Expand entry

PhD candidates can register as doctoral students at the University of Jena (Friedrich Schiller University). The student status comes with a variety of benefits such as student prices in the canteens and the free use of rail transport in Thuringia and local transport in Jena, Weimar, Erfurt and Gera.

  • For further details as well as information regarding PhD scholarships please refer to the Graduate Academy website.
  • The contact person for PhD candidates is Dr. FSU, the FSU PhD candidate council.