Preparatory phase

The preparatory phase generally lasts one-and-a-half years (or three semesters) and involves taking a broad range of graduate coursework as well as mandatory research work to prepare for doing their doctoral thesis. It gives you the chance to get acquainted with the research groups in Saarbrücken and both deepen and broaden your computer science background.
Discovering your exact field of interest and finding a thesis advisor is an important part of the preparatory phase.
Our program is targeted particularly towards candidates who are entering with a strong Bachelor’s degree in computer science who are expected to fulfill the full requirements of the preparatory phase.
If your previous degree is more than a Bachelor’s but not equivalent to a German Master’s degree in computer science, you will also be required to complete some graduate courses to fill in your academic background. The admissions committee evaluates this on a case-by-case basis to make sure each candidate receives the best education to further his or her interests.


Starting with the summer semester in April 2021, the preparatory phase has been adapted to allow for even more flexibility and specialization in the coursework and to leave more time for research. Please refer to the new program outline.

If you are joining us with an excellent Bachelor’s degree, you will be required to take a small selection of compulsory courses (three core courses from three different groups, and a seminar course) chosen from our Master’s curriculum, in addition to further core courses and specialized lectures and seminars that match your interests towards the remaining compulsory and optional electives. You will also have the opportunity to work with the research groups that match your interests. To select your courses and alongside the advisory support of the Graduate School Office, your provisional advisor or mentor, one of our faculty members, will discuss your background and interests with you and make recommendations. Of course, students entering with higher qualifications will have their course requirements reduced accordingly.

Transition to the Dissertation Phase

The main goal of the preparatory phase is to find a research area and a topic for your doctoral thesis work as well as an advisor who is willing to supervise and fund this work.
Therefore: A student may take the Qualifying Exam if 30 or fewer credit points remain to be completed and the student has found an advisor. The remaining credits must be completed during the dissertation phase before thesis submission.

Qualifying Exam

As part of the requirements of the preparatory phase, students must take the qualifying exam – a necessary step for all doctoral candidates before entering the dissertation phase and registering in the Faculty’s official PhD list. The qualifying exam evaluates the students‘ readiness to start with their dissertation and expertise. Students register for this after consulting with their future thesis advisor.