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Doctoral candidates

Letter of support and supervision agreement

A letter of support ("Betreuungszusage") is a signed form or short, informal statement by a professor, declaring that he or she is willing to supervise your thesis project. Such a letter is usually required for admission as a doctoral candidate in the faculties.

Most graduate schools and doctoral programs require a more detailed supervision agreement ("Betreuungsvereinbarung") between the supervisory team and the doctoral candidate. For individual doctoral students, a supervision agreement is recommended as well. A supervision agreement documents the jointly agreed rights and obligations of doctoral candidate and supervisor(s). It clarifies expectations on both sides and helps to transparently define the supervisory relationship.

Supervision agreements vary in length depending on number and details of the aspects covered. At least, they should contain the preliminary title of the dissertation (or topic of the doctorate), a statement from the supervisor agreeing to receive regular progress reports from the doctoral candidate as well as a statement from the doctoral candidate agreeing to give regular progress reports to the supervisor. The form and an adequate frequency for these reports should also be defined.

Additionally, supervision agreements may contain more detailed rights and obligations, agreements on auxiliary training, a specified plan and timetable for the completion of the doctoral project, as well as regulations on working conditions (place of work, Internet access, laboratory access and other resources). All of these agreements are rooted in the awareness that efficient supervision and frequent interaction are crucial for a candidate’s development and the overall quality of his or her dissertation.