PhD Process

General facts

  • All COMSYS PhD students are employed on fully funded positions and paid according to the TV-L salary guidelines. New PhD students typically start with TV-L E13/1 salary and a one-year entry contract. Towards the end of the first year, you will discuss your progress with Klaus and will usually get a two year extension to further continue and focus your work. The same process repeats at the end of the third year upon which you will get your final extension of up to three years, depending on your expected graduation date. The overall duration of your PhD is highly individual and depends, e.g., on your other responsibilities and the progress of your research.
  • The general framework of doing your PhD is covered by the latest doctoral regulations ("Promotionsordnung") of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences. For example, one important aspect is that you need to have obtained a Diplom or Master's degree before commencing your PhD.

COMSYS PhD Process

At COMSYS, we believe that personal growth, independence, and self-organization are core values of the whole dissertation process and our PhD process follows these ideals. For example, PhD topics are usually not assigned at the start of your PhD life but each PhD student spends their first time at the chair getting up to speed with topics of their choice and try to find a suitable topic for their dissertation. Once this topic is found, you will spend significant time on researching the topic of your choice even further, writing and publishing corresponding papers, and presenting your work at international conferences. You yourself then decide when your work is ripe for defending which you present to the rest of the scientific staff in an internal presentation -- your Go Talk. Having completed this hurdle, you will write down your thesis and, eventually, defend it to complete your PhD journey at COMSYS.


  • The COMSYS PhD process focuses on developing strong, independent personalities. You will have plenty of opportunities to develop and improve key professional and personal skills. In addition to doing your own research, you will develop leadership skills by supervising thesis students and guiding student helpers, and gather valuable project and/or teaching experience.
  • COMSYS PhD students regularly present their work at renowned international conferences. This give you great opportunities to broaden your horizon and to expand your professional network.
  • As part of RWTH Aachen University, COMSYS PhD students can attend courses offered by the Center for Young Academics, the Doctoral Academy and the Center for Staff Development free of charge and during work hours. The courses cover a wide range of topics and are designed for developing and improving your professional and personal skills. At COMSYS, we maintain a list of courses that we found most helpful.
  • COMSYS has one yearly chair retreat, chair excursions, as well as spontaneous events, often related to BBQ
  • The COMSYS PhD process prepares you for success and COMSYS alumni work at highly influential companies, such as Cloudflare, Google, and Akamai, or pursue their academic careers even further, becoming researchers or professors.  


You want to learn more? Do not hesitate to drop by your favorite COMSYS PhD student  or to contact us via phd[[at]]

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