up2date. Das Onlinemagazin der Universtiät Bremen

What Is a Doctoral or Graduate Program?

Around 23,000 people study and work in twelve faculties and several institutes and establishments at the University of Bremen. In this series, we want to offer an insight into the various areas.


Each year, more than 300 PhD students complete their doctoral studies at the University of Bremen. Some of them write their dissertations within structured programs: so-called graduate schools, graduate programs or doctoral programs. In these systems, national and international PhD students are able to work in an interdisciplinary research field and are not left alone with their questions. They regularly talk to other PhD students and communicate with their supervisors. Additionally, they take part in specifically designed courses and profit from innovative forms of supervision. These students also benefit from further support from the Bremen Early Career Researcher Development program (BYRD). BYRD offers consultations and help with all questions relating to advanced training in science.

Transferring Science into Society

In many doctoral and graduate programs, transferring science into society is an important goal. An example of this is an explanatory video that was produced by eight PhD students from the NanoCompetence graduate school from the Faculty of Biology/Chemistry. The aim was to give laypersons an insight into nanotechnologies. The video provides information on the topic of nanotechnology – some of which is playful and includes scenes with comics and Lego. For example, it is explained that nanoparticles are incorporated in many products such as t-shirts. In this function they can sometimes create the so-called lotus effect. When the t-shirt is wet, the liquid simply rolls off. Specific nanoparticles in sun cream ensure that your skin doesn’t burn. Those in wound plasters function in an antibacterial manner and help with healing.

The explanatory video also shows how three teams of early stage researchers process fundamental questions regarding the nanoparticles copper oxide and cerium oxide. There has been little research on these particles – especially in terms of the environment. Thus, they investigate how the nanoparticles influence the brain and how safety can be ensured when nanoparticles are used.

A Challenge: Breaking Down research into the Most Important Parts

“Thanks to working on the video, we were able to look at our research entirely differently with a focus on the aspects of comprehensibility and transferability,” says Jonas Fischer. The doctoral student helped with the film and also drew the included comics. The big challenge was breaking down research and still making the core of the scientific work prominent. “The techniques that we learnt by making the video are now regularly applied to our presentations – whether in front of a scientific audience or the general public,” states Fischer. The NanoCompetence graduate school is funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation, the City of Bremen, and the Chemical Industry Association.

New Graduate Program with the Jacobs University Approved

In the field of early career researcher support, the University of Bremen also works together with non-university research institutes. In November, the German Research Foundation (DFG) approved a joint Jacobs University and University of Bremen project, which is to take place at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS). BIGSSS is run by both of the aforementioned universities. In the frame of the research and qualification program, 14 young scientists can complete their doctoral studies in the fields of psychology, sociology, and political science. The first group of seven doctoral students will begin their training in 2020 and a second group is likely to begin in 2021. The DFG is financing the graduate program for a period of four and a half years with around three million euros. There are also cooperations in the area of natural sciences. Two examples in marine research are the Max Planck research School for Marine Microbiology MarMic and the Helmholtz Graduate School for Polar and Marine Research POLMAR.

Further informations:

Doctoral and graduate programs at the university of Bremen

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