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Teaching Fellow positions (Lehrbeauftragte/r)
Abbreviated Dr habil. A second dissertation or qualifying scholarly paper written after the Ph.D., which allows the candidate to formally teach at a German university. A Habilitationschrift is the thesis written to fulfill this requirement. Habilitation is a necessary step towards professorship in Germany. The degree is unique to Germany and several other countries (e.g. Doktor Nauk in Russia).
In the US system, habilitation could be compared to a postdoctoral university degree with lecture qualification.
It is possible to get a professorship without habilitation, if the search committee attests the candidate to have qualifications equaling those of a habilitation and the higher ranking bodies approve of that. However, while some subjects make liberal use of this (e.g. the natural sciences in order to employ candidates from countries with different systems and the arts to employ active artists), in other subjects it is rarely done.
Introduced in Germany in 2002, this position is modeled on the US Assistant Professorship. In theory, it supposed to substitute Habilitation and allow people to carry out independent research before attaining a tenured position.
In practice, because education and research are competences of individual German states (Länder), some states such as Bavaria and Baden-Würtemberg continue mainly offering the Habilitation, while others, like Lower Saxony, offer both Habilitation and Juniorprofessor.
Abbreviated PD or Priv.-Doz. After obtaining a doctorate, the Ph.D. holder is generally qualified to be a private lecturer, nominally attached to a university but unpaid by the institution. Scholars at this level usually work on their habilitation (Habilitationschrift). The Privatdozent is not allowed to supervise dissertations. After service as a Privatdozent, one may be admitted to the faculty as a professor.
Closest to Associate Professor in the U.S. system, this is an adjunct position in many German universities.
Full Professor, belonging to the ordo, or list of regular faculty.
Currently in Germany permanent positions do not exist below the level of professorship and temporary positions at universities can only be taken up to a maximum of twelve years (Section 57 b Hochschulrahmengesetz).
Becoming a full professor normally has two formal requirements: to have a PhD and Habilitation or to have successfully finished a junior professorship. However, the requirement of the Habiliation is sometimes relaxed if the competition for a professorship is less fierce. The Habilitation is a kind of second PhD that is often much longer than the first. The candidate has to have a formal supervisor who is a full professor. During the time of Habilitation, the candidate is formally associated with the supervisor's institution, most often as an academic assistant (wissenschaftliche/r Assistent/in) who teaches seminars in the realm of the supervisor and reports to the supervisor. At the end of the Habilitation and the end of the contract, the candidate gains professorial experience by replacing existing professors who might be on leave, typically for a year, at a university somewhere in Germany.
The German Universities of Applied Sciences are calling for foreign professors: the requirements are PhD- level and a minimum of five years practical executive experience in the respective field.
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A new type of position called Junior Professorship (Juniorprofessor) was introduced by German government in 2002. The idea was to introduce a position below that of full professors that would allow young scholars to engage in independent research at an early stage in their career, similarly to the lecturer (Assistant Professor) tenure-track model. A Juniorprofessor is co-financed at the federal level when the post is first installed and gets a three-year contract that allows the postholder to conduct research independently. After three years, there is a review; on successful completion of the review, the candidate gets another three years.
However, it’s important to note that education and research are competences of individual German states (Länder), some of which opposed the introduction of junior professorships by the federal government. Thus, some German states such as Bavaria and Baden-Würtemberg continue mainly offering the Habilitation, while others, like Lower Saxony, offer both Habilitation and Juniorprofessor.
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Many German universities offer a teaching fellow (Lehrbeauftragte/r) jobs. These temporary (and usually poorly paid) positions can be used for a short while to avoid a period of academic unemployment. Teaching fellows get semester contracts based on the number of hours that they teach, similarly to graduate teaching assistants in the UK for example. But the teaching fellow does not have an office or any institutional support for research. The high teaching load, which is necessary to make a living in these positions, makes research a distant prospect. Thus, this career option is not a good step towards a professorship.
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1. What is the academic calendar in Germany?
The official semester dates are:
Winter Semester: October 1 — March 31 (lectures and examinations end around January 20)
Summer Semester: April 1 — September 30 (lectures and examinations end around July 20)
However, these days may vary from state to state and from institution to institution. Many universities are going to introduce the international schedule. For a detailed academic year schedule, check the website of the German Rectors' Conference / Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK).
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2. Will my degree / professional qualifications be recognized in Germany?
Unfortunately, there is no generally valid answer to this question. Typically, this is less of an issue for senior faculty positions (e.g. associate and full professor) as researchers at that level already have an established reputation in the scientific community as opposed to PhD and Postdoctoral candidates. Before you apply for a position, especially at the PhD and Postdoctoral level, you should contact the institution / department and get clarification. The respective departments or faculties govern these questions independently.
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3. What’s the difference between "Universität", "Technische Universität", "Fachhochschule" and research centers?
"Hochschule" is the generic term used to refer to any institutions of the German higher education system. Generally all academic institutions are equivalent but different in their functions.
A "Universität" is a doctorate-granting institution with a wide variety of faculties. After completing an intermediate examination, Universität students work towards the final examination, leading to a Bachelor (3 years) or Master- Degree (max. 2 years), depending on the area of study. A "Promotion" (PhD - course) can follow.
The formely "Fachhochschule” today referred as “Hochschule” or “University of Applied Sciences” is an institution with emphasis on professional and practical training in a specialized area. After completing an intermediate examination, students work towards the final examination, leading to a Bachelor (3 years) or Master- Degree (max. 2 years). These smaller, more specialized institutions are becoming increasingly popular. Very successful alumni were admitted directly to the PhD – courses at universities. More than 70 percent of the engineer courses are offered at Universities of Applied Sciences.
A "Kunsthochschule" and a "Musikhochschule" are like fine arts schools or music conservatories. They offer curricula in the fine arts and music, respectively, or in related professional areas.
Research Institutions: Additionally, there are many respected institutions that specialize in advanced research only, for example the institutes of the Max Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Society, as well as several research institutions of federal agencies.
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3. How long does Habilitation last?
Habilitation typically lasts between 6-12 years after one receives a PhD.
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4. What are the academic positions leading up to full professorship?
After obtaining the Habilitation (which leads to the title Dr habil), researchers become eligible for the permanent academic positions graded in two steps: W2 - Professor (roughly equivalent to UK lecturer/senior lecturer or US assistant professor), W3 - Professor (professor/named chair or full professor). As a matter of principle, it is not possible to become a professor at the same university where the Habilitation was done. The Juniorprofessor will start with W1.
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5. What is Juniorprofessor?
Introduced in Germany in 2002, this position is modeled on the US Assistant Professorship. It supposed to substitute Habilitation and allow people to carry out independent research before attaining a tenured position.
The new junior professors essentially have the rights and obligations of the current C2 professors at a much younger age, only that their tenure will be limited to 6 years, with an evaluation of their research and teaching after half and full term. Those who fail the evaluation will be allowed an extra year to finish off their projects and look for jobs elsewhere.
The new system (vs. habilitation in the past) is designed to offer German researchers more independence and career opportunity earlier in their lives. It’s important to note that because education and research are competences of individual German states (Länder), some states such as Bavaria and Baden-Würtemberg continue mainly offering the Habilitation, while others, like Lower Saxony, offer both Habilitation and Juniorprofessor. The debate on the status and future of Juniorprofessor positions in Germany continues.
Also, under the new law, researchers have to change location once between their postgraduate work and their junior professorship. One way to do this is to accept a junior professorship at a different university directly after obtaining your PhD.
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Since 2005 the new salary system has provided academic institutions with more flexibility. The basic salary for W2 is around 3500 Euro per month, for W3 around 4800 Euro. Further payments are supplementary allowances for married candidates with children and according to the individual academic career and research reputation a negotiable bonus, which in aggregate with the basic salary is comparable to the salary level in the United States.