PhD in Atmospheric Sciences

The top academic degree – for students who are exceptionally independent, creative and persevering in their work and research. The direction of the PhD programme is closely interwoven with the current research topics at our institute in the fields of atmospheric dynamics, atmospheric physics/chemistry, and climatology/glaciology. Normally, a PhD student will work in and receive funding from a research project as a research assistant. However, it is also possible to obtain a PhD with funding that you secure for yourself.

  Curriculum, Examination Regulations, Recommended Course Schedule 

  Course Catalogue

  Dates of enrollment periods for courses

Information of the Dean of Studies 


To be able to apply for our PhD programme, you will need a Master's degree in Atmospheric Science, Physics, Mathematics, Earth Sciences or related fields. You are encouraged to look at our job openings on our news page to see whether we are currently filling PhD positions in research projects. Otherwise, please directly contact the faculty member for the research area, according to your preference to get your PhD. You will then have to start the admission process through the admission department of our university. Note that procedures vary for EU and non-EU citizens. Unless your Master's degree is in Atmospheric Science (or Meteorology), your application will go to the Associate Dean of Studies who will make the final decision whether you have the prerequisites for the programme and – jointly with your future advisor – whether you will have to take additional courses.

  Phases of the Programme  

The PhD programme has two phases: During the first half year (up to a year) you assemble your PhD committee together with your advisor and create your research plan, which you have to defend before your committee and the whole institute. A successful defence is required to be able to continue with the programme. During that time you will also take courses needed as stepping stones for your further Research. In the second phase you dig deeper to find answer to your research questions, you present your results to the scientific communities at conferences and in papers. Your PhD thesis consists of three papers in peer-review journals framed by an extensive introduction and discussion of the combined results. International experts, who are not members of your committee will evaluate your thesis. The final step is the public defence of the Thesis.


Find a mentor among the older PhD-students to help you get started and with whom you can talk when problems come up about which you do not feel comfortable enough to talk with your advisor. This is mandatory if you are new to the department and optional for students who have been at our department before.
Assemble your PhD committee together with your main advisor: at least one more person, more if extra expertise is required. (Who may serve as advisor on your PhD committee? See Paragraph 25 in this document in English oder auf Deutsch.
Write your PhD agreement, which the committee has to approve and sign. The form is available under the „forms“ section here. Then your main advisor can initiate the accompanying administrative setup on
Select the course work to prepare you for your research and as a scientist interactively with your main advisor and/or the other members of the PhD committee for the two modules: Core Skills and Generic Skills.
Write your PhD concept, which has to convince your committee of your ability to do independent research. IMPORTANT: You may not continue with the PhD programme without an approved PhD concept! You should defend the concept between 6 and 12 months from the beginning of your studies. Until you have successfully defended the concept, please enroll each semester in the appropriate group of the course "Development and Presentation of the Dissertation ConceptAnalysis and Discussion of Research Results " of the module PhD-Concept.

Doing original research and interacting with the scientific community

  • Once you you have successfully defended your PhD-concept use it as blueprint to do research and let your curiosity explore your topics. Please enroll each semester in the appropriate group of the course "Analysis and Discussion of Research Results" from the module Analysis and Discussion of Research Results as soon as . If necessary take additional courses.
  • You will be participating at conferences to present your (first) results and network with your peer researchers (module Participation in the Academic Discussion). Your main advisor has to send a list of them to examinations department and assign ECTS-AP. A week-long conference is worth 2 ECTS-AP.   
  • Prepare manuscripts and submit them to peer-reviewed journals. They will form the core of your PhD thesis.


  • Your thesis can either be a collection of 3 papers (preferred since it reaches the widest audience) or a monography.
  • A collection of 3 papers needs at least 2 accepted articles and 1 accepted extended abstract or submitted article. You must be first author of at least 2 papers. For the dissertation, you need to write a „frame“ around these papers consisting of
    • front matter: extensive discussion (more so than space provided by journals for that purpose) of scientific questions and current state of knowledge
    • back matter: extensive discussion of results of the (three) papers embedding them in previous research
  • No specific layout is prescribed but you may use a LaTeX-template provided here ( Download thesis_template_v2.0 and preview). The university has a recommended cover layout. You must include a sworn statement about having properly conducted your research.
  • If you are doing a paper dissertation be sure to comply with the copyright policies of the respective journals, which vary widely. From some you will need a written permission to be able to republish!
  • The necessary steps for the very last phase of your dissertation are summarized in this document with additional information given below.
  • Several months before your dissertation is finished, find 2 external reviewers (they must not be part of the committee) with the help of your dissertation committee and contact them whether they would be willing to do the review. Once you found them, fill out this form "Einreichung der Dissertation" and take it to the examination office („Prüfungsreferat“). Also take four hard-cover versions of your dissertation. A plagscan is not necessary for a dissertation consisting of several published papers.
  • To speed up the process, you can already informally send an electronic version of your thesis to the reviewers, which must be identical to the version the examination office is going to mail them!
  • Fill out the form for your PhD defence
  • Upload the pdf of your thesis to the repository of the university library
  • Once the date of your defence has been established, ask our secretaries to post an announcement on the ACInn homepage.
  • The defence consists of a public 45-60 minute presentation of your research results. At its end anybody in the audience may ask questions. Afterwards only the dissertation committee will examine the candidate (in the area of his dissertation) for up to an hour– again, the public is admitted.


  Associate Dean of Studies (assoc. Prof. Dr. Georg Mayr)

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