Becoming a chemist has always been a dream to me. Joining TU Graz as an international and enrolling in the Master’s programme in Chemistry has fulfilled all my expectations. But does the journey have to stop here?
My study programme
The Master’s degree programme in Chemistry at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) consists of compulsory lectures and elective subjects in the broad field of chemistry, which thus still allows the students to orient themselves and find their way. I personally found it hard to choose the right elective subjects for me from all the available ones. Moreover, while doing an internship at a company, you experience chemistry from a wholly new perspective.
The teaching staff at TU Graz encouraged me to connect with the industry, to obtain skills that are necessary while working for a company. I personally recommend everyone to go for it, since the experience will tell you a lot about yourself. Ask yourself: do I want a research career or work in the industry?”
Why apply for a PhD position?
So why do I want to apply for a PhD position? The main motivation comes from within, to work in the scientific field that I love the most. There is still so much to discover for me, and the best way for this is to learn and collaborate with the best researchers around the globe, and TU Graz is certainly one of the best choices in this respect. My PhD position is not strictly speaking a study programme, but a combination of the doctorate with a university job where I get a salary and work between 30 and 40 hours per week.
About PhDs at TU Graz
The doctoral studies are organised and divided into so-called “doctoral schools”. Based on your research field, you will be attending one of this schools and two different titles are obtainable: Doctorate in Technical Sciences and Doctorate in Natural Sciences. The duration is three years generally, but can be extended by a maximum of two "tolerance semesters". This allows you to prolong your studies for a whole academic year without any financial or bureauctratic consequences.
What will you do? Only research? Well it depends. From personal experience there are many ways to obtain a PhD. The PhD positions can be funded either by industry, by the Austrian government or directly by TU Graz. And that ultimately determines what you will do beside your doctoral research, for instance – carry out experiments for the company which founds your PhD position.
So, if you obtain a position, you’ll have the chance to make a name for yourself in your research community. Work involves conducting research and discussing it with teaching staff and students. Academic work involves, for instance, supervision of laboratory courses and helping master’s students with their theses. You will also attend lectures specific to your research field, and also learn how to accurately write scientific papers and even how to get them published. And even more, you will perform studies for extern companies and give advice to them as well.
The best way to get a PhD position is to start early and connect with your professors. Ask them what the opportunities are, present your ideas, and perhaps there will be a spot open.
There are currently 14 Doctoral Schools at TU Graz and some of them are organised together with the University of Graz as part of the NAWI Graz (which is short for “Natural Sciences Graz”) programme. To put it short, as a NAWI Graz student you can visit seminars and suitable lectures at both universities and also cooperate with University of Graz also on your research topic.
Check out the website for Doctoral Schools, where each of them is presented.
Registration for doctoral studies
The first step towards doing your doctoral studies is to go through an admission procedure. First find a supervisor and discuss with him or her in detail what you want to do and what your thesis will be about. Then you should register at the TU Graz Registrar’s Office with a confirmation letter from your supervisor. That completes the admission part.
If your master's degree was obtained at a different university, you will get additional information about the documents you need to provide at admission.
After the admission procedure has been finalised you will have to sign an educational agreement.
More information about the training agreement can be found on the TU4U intranet under Doctoral Studies (after entering the password).
And that is it for admission. Once you start your journey, you’ll have to submit a report on your progress each year. Additionally, make sure you choose the right courses and broaden your spectrum of knowledge also by attending fairs and online conferences.