Information from GAUSS & GAUSS Career Service

Duration of doctoral studies

The new doctoral regulations introduced a few changes in the duration of the doctoral studies. As there have been some misunderstandings, we want to briefly summarise this aspect of the regulations.

Doctoral studies within GAUSS should in general last three years (see §6 section 6 RerNat-O). The three years refer to the time between the start of the work on the doctoral thesis/topic and the submission of the thesis. The oral examination or defense often takes place after the three years have passed. However, doctoral students have to be enrolled with the university until the day of their defense.

If the thesis cannot be submitted three years after the work on the doctoral project started, you have to apply for an extension of the thesis (usually for six month). The application has to be discussed with and supported by the thesis advisory committee (TAC). The TAC can approve extensions resulting in a total duration of doctoral studies up to four years. In case of an extension beyond four years, the examination board of the doctoral program or the deanery is deciding upon the approval of the application. You should notify the graduate school when an extension is approved.

We have prepared a handout and an application form to provide the necessary information on the application for thesis extension.


Doctoral candidates that are currently already exceeding the maximal duration for doctoral studies should discuss their doctoral project with their thesis advisory committee and decide upon a realistic time frame to finish the thesis. As a result of the discussion, an application for thesis extension should be prepared and send for approval.