The doctorate in law: duration and financing

doctorate in law

After completing the first or second state examination, one has the option of completing a doctoral degree. What sounds promising at first can quickly become a problem financially. In addition to writing a doctoral thesis, a doctoral candidate usually does not have the time to pursue a full-time job. Nevertheless there are different possibilities of financing. The most important ones are presented and compared below.

How long does a doctorate in law really take?

Most doctoral students plan to complete their dissertation within two years. Whether this schedule is realistic depends on numerous factors. However, an important role is played here not only by the scope of the work, but also by its complexity. While some dissertations are only a little more than a hundred pages long, complex topics may require significantly more pages. As a rule, a doctorate in law will therefore take between one and five years to complete. The family situation as well as professional obligations can always upset the schedule.

Once the dissertation has been written, there are still some time hurdles waiting for the doctoral candidate. Once the doctorate has been completed, it is examined first by a first and then by a second examiner. This can take some time, as professors usually have commitments of their own, such as giving lectures. Finally, the disputation takes place. This is an oral defense of the dissertation. Some doctoral regulations also provide for a viva voce examination. In this case, doctoral students are tested in several legal subjects. Finally, they have to take care of the publication of the doctoral thesis. Because only after publication they are allowed to use the doctoral title "dr. Jur." Officially lead.

What financing options are available?

In the following, four different financing options will be presented and compared in this way.

Phd scholarship

Promotional scholarships are especially popular – and for good reason. The doctoral student receives monthly support and can thus concentrate fully on his or her research and education. Focus their dissertation. Doctoral scholarships are awarded, for example, by the studienstiftung des deutschen volkes (german national academic foundation) or party-related organizations. However, one should be aware that scholarships are only awarded to the very best exam graduates. But this is not the end of the story. Social commitment as well as internships also play a role in the awarding process.

Scientific work at the university

If a scholarship is out of the question, working as a research assistant at the chair of the doctoral supervisor or the doctoral supervisor is a good way to combine work and doctoral studies. In addition to a financing option, there are other advantages here. Especially at a university chair, scientific work is written in capital letters. At this point there is already a thematic reference. Furthermore, access to relevant technical literature is essential in the context of doctoral studies. Chairs as well as specialized libraries attached to universities are usually very well equipped. Doctoral students working at the chair can use this to their advantage. The professional exchange with other doctoral students as well as the proximity to the supervising chair are also advantageous. The supervisor is always available as a contact person.

Promotion besides the job

But not for everyone is – despite the many advantages – the work at a chair the right way. Those who already want to enter professional life parallel to the doctorate in law, so as not to miss the connection here, can also aim for a part-time doctorate. If one wants to do a doctorate after the first state examination, it would be possible to apply for a part-time position as a research assistant in a law firm. Doctoral students with two state examinations can even work part-time as a lawyer. The disadvantage here is the lack of a link to science. On the other hand, however, one has the opportunity to learn about scientific topics in practice. This in particular often makes a good impression in the doctoral thesis. Another nice side effect of an employment in the free economy is the usually better remuneration.

Financing through a student loan

If all three of the presented possibilities do not represent an option, there is of course still the possibility of financing through a student loan. Such a loan is offered, for example, by kfw. Doctoral students should be aware, however, that every loan must be repaid and that they are paying with their future labor. It should therefore be weighed up in advance whether this is worthwhile at all, especially from a financial point of view.

Health insurance during graduation?

If you are employed during your doctorate in law, whether at university or in the private sector, you have regular health insurance through your employer. There are no particularities to be considered here. If one receives however a scholarship, the thing looks again different. In the absence of an employer, students are obliged to take out voluntary health insurance. Optionally, one can also be insured in private health insurance. The amount depends on the amount of the scholarship and can therefore not be answered in a general way. However, in the statutory health insurance, one can assume 14.6 percent of the amount paid out.

Conclusion: set priorities during the doctorate in law

Which financing option is ultimately the "best" can certainly not be answered across the board. Everyone should decide for himself or herself what his or her priorities are. If it's especially important to you to acquire real-world skills and make money as quickly as possible, a dissertation alongside your day job may be the right choice. However, if these points are less of a priority, perhaps the classic option of employment at a university – combined with a primary focus on completing your doctoral thesis – is the way to go after all.