The Defense / Doctoral Exam

The defense is a scientific debate about the subject of the doctoral thesis and relating fields. It will last at least 60 minutes and 120 minutes at most including a scientific talk of about 20 minutes about the thesis with a subsequent detailed discussion.

The defense is a public session open for university members, but the candidate may decide within one week after the written invitation that the public should be excluded.

The chair of the examination board moderates the defense, he also has to write the protocol ("Niederschrift"). It makes sense to clarify the use of media with the chairman in advance - in non-public exams the talk can be partly illustrated with posters and writing on a blackboard instead of the usual digital presentation.


The grading of the defense takes place after a common, non-public debate of the examiners. If the members of the examination board cannot agree on a uniform grading, the grade is calculated as the arithmetic average of the respective singular grades.

In order to pass the defense, a grade of 3.0 or better has to be achieved. Otherwise, if the doctoral exam is failed there is the possibility to retry the defense within a year after a formal application.

The overall doctoral grade is calculated as the sum of the double weighted thesis grade and the single weighted defense grade divided by 3. The chair of the examination board will announce the doctoral grade to the candidate after the defense.


Table of grades:

0 with distinction      summa cum laude
0.1 to 1.5    very good magna cum laude
1.6 to 2.5 good cum laude
2.6 to 3.0 satisfying rite


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