Doctoral program


The doctorate is a scientific degree that documents the ability of a student to conduct autonomous scientific work in a specific field of research. In order to be awarded a doctoral degree, students need to provide a written dissertation in which they report their research activities according to the standards for academic publications and pass through an oral exam. Depending on their prior qualifications, the oral exam consists either of a Rigorosum or a Disputation. While the Rigorosum covers a number of different topics in different sessions, the Disputation is focused on the content of the dissertation itself. All doctoral students at the Institute of Information Systems work under the supervision of a professor. The professor supports them in their research activities and ensures their integration into the academic community. An overview of the steps leading to a doctoral degree at Friedrich-Alexander University can be found at the homepage of the university’s graduate center.

The Institute of Information Systems has established a structured doctoral program to ensure that the students can acquire all the expertise and skills they need as scientists. The doctoral program is not meant to provide a closed curriculum like the ones that the students know from their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It is also not meant to replace the interaction between the students and the supervising professors. Instead, the doctoral program offers additional guidance and orientation in the discipline of business and management studies and the field of information systems research, such that the students can find their own individual path to scientific excellence in the context of their own work.

Structure of the Program

The program distinguishes three different domains in which the students are expected to expand their knowledge and experience:

  • Academic work in general
  • Business and management studies
  • Information systems research

For each domain, it is mandatory to collect 5 ECTS in the course of the doctoral program. Furthermore, students need to collect an additional amount of 15 ECTS according to their own preferences.

Visual PhD Program Structure

To see how this looks in practice, you can find a typical example here.

Course Offerings

The Institute of Information Systems offers a large range of seminars and other events for doctoral students, which are either held by the professors and senior researchers of the institute themselves, or by the numerous leading scholars who visit the institute at frequent intervals.

Most courses are held in an interactive manner, such that the students have the opportunity to deepen their learning experience by contributing actively to the content.

Visiting scholars who contributed to the doctoral program of the institute include Prof. Anne Huff (Dublin), Prof. Alan Hevner (Tampa), Prof. Shirley Gregor (Canberra), Prof. Mark Wickham (Hobart), Prof. Viola Schiaffonati (Milan) and many others.

For further information about the courses at the Institute of Information Systems, click here.

For the elective part of the program, students are also encouraged to look for offerings outside the institute’s own courses, including events at conferences and other meetings of their scientific community. Their supervisors and the head of the doctoral program are happy to consult them regarding possible choices.


All questions related to the design and content of the WIN doctoral program should be directed at Dr. Verena Tiefenbeck. Questions regarding specific dissertation projects should be directed at the respective chair owner.