7 steps for a successful PhD/supervisor/vDSPL

7 steps to become a successful PhD/supervisor/vDSPL

The "7 steps" describe a step-by-step guideline to navigate the bureaucratic process during the execution of a PhD project at the VISESS Doctoral School. The guideline includes explanations on the tasks and duties for each of the actors in this process.


  • Faculty Open Presentation  (FÖP) = Fakultatsöffentliche Präsentation (FÖP)
  • Candidate = PhD student during the first year of the project and before the FÖP
  • PhD = PhD student after the FÖP
  • Mentor = supervisor(s) during the first year of the project and before the FÖP
  • Supervisor/supervisory team = official supervisor(s) after the approval of the PhD project at the FÖP
  • FÖP committee = Doktoratsbeirat
  • DSPL = Doktoratsstudienprogrammleitung = Director Doctoral Study Program
  • vDSPL = deputy DSPL (see above)
  • PhD Admission = Doktoratszulassung
  • SSC = Studien Service Center
  • Annual meeting = Jahresgespräch


Useful links

VISESS School:

PhD Admission (Doktoratszulassung)

SSC (SPL 45):



The bureaucratic procedures needed during the PhD require the participation and interaction of multiple actors including the PhD Candidate/student, their mentor/supervisory team, the (v)DSPL, and different FÖP and thesis committees, among others. In the following sub-sections, we describe in detail the individual roles of these actors as well as the  7 steps required for the successful execution of PhD work at VISESS.



PhD: The main subject of this program. The PhD is responsible to carry out the PhD thesis work as well as watch the different bureaucratic steps for the registration, FÖP, thesis submission, and defense of this work as well as fill all necessary documentation and pay attention to the corresponding deadlines. The PhD is first denominated “candidate” until the completion of their FÖP. After that, the PhD is then referred to as “PhD student”.

Main Supervisor: The main supervisor is the main responsible for providing the framework of the project and support to the student. The main supervisor should organize the regular meetings with the PhD, including annual meetings (Jahresgespräche). The supervisor is also responsible for designing a realistic project and timeline before the beginning of the PhD.

Co-supervisor: Co-supervisors provide additional support to the PhD in addition to the main supervisor. Co-supervisors must be registered using a specific form. Note that some incompatibilities depending on the position of the supervisor and co-supervisor may apply (see FAQ).

Supervisory team: Includes the main supervisor and, if so, all other co-supervisor(s). The supervisory team must provide regular support to the student. The supervisory team is referred to as “mentor(s)” until the FÖP while after they are named “supervisor(s)”.

(v)DSPL: The corresponding Branch (v)DSPL is in charge of supervising and verifying the bureaucratic steps associated to the PhD process. The (v)DSPL is responsible for checking and signing the documentation sent by the University (e.g., SSC, Doktoratszulassung, etc...). The (v)DSPL can assist the PhD in case of personal issues and can also mediate in conflicts between the PhD and the supervisory team.