V. School of Mathematics and Science

Fast track at the faculties V and VI

Why Fast Track?

The Fast Track courses are combined M.Sc. and PhD programmes for German and international students with a Bachelor degree. Above all they are intended for:

  • Especially gifted and motivated students:
    These students should be given the opportunity to undertake early independent research within the framework of this coordinated programme
  • International students with special qualifications:
    The fast track program is designed for students from countries in which taking doctoral studies on the basis of an accepted Bachelor's degree is common, to make it easier for them
    to start a doctorate in Oldenburg under familiar conditions.

What is the Fast Track programme?

Fast Track is only possible in conjunction with a Master degree and a corresponding doctoral degree course or programme. The Fast Track consists of two phases; firstly the “Master phase”, which takes two to three semesters, secondly the actual “Doctorate phase”, which is usually three years. A Master degree is acquired parallel to the doctorate, on the basis of the examination regulations for the Master degree courses. Two selection procedures are held, one before the “Master phase” and the second before the “doctorate phase”. If the selection procedure to the “doctorate phase” is not passed then the candidates remain in the Master degree programme.

The Fast Track students enrol themselves in the Master degree programme and usually study subject specific modules totalling 60 CP for two semesters (30 CP per semester) the same as the regular Master students. During this time they will be closely connected with the group of their future supervisor, will take lectures there and e.g. attend the working group meetings. The concept for the thesis must be prepared together with the supervisor in the first year. A project or research module totalling 30 CP should be completed in the third semester, which prepares for the thesis topic and/or methods. Usually a project report on the preparatory work is presented as a Master thesis. An oral examination is held, as in the regular Master degree. Admission to the doctoral studies is not dependent on a Master’s degree. In the doctorate studies the Fast Track candidate can draw on previous work and in so doing can either complete the thesis faster or handle the topic in more depth.

What does an applicant need?

Applicants must have a Bachelor degree with the ECTS grade A or be in the top 10% of the degree course at that university. They must have the required qualifications for the respective Master degree programme. Applications may also be submitted by someone who can prove 120 credits (equivalent to four semesters) and an average grade of 1.5 or better at the time of applying but has not yet completed the degree programme. For the application it is also necessary to include a letter of motivation and proof of English language skills, at least level B2. The proof does not apply if the applicant is a native speaker or if the university entrance test was in English or if the last degree was in English.

What are the obstacles?

1. Entrance examination to the Master phase

An application for a Master’s degree is submitted with the addition “Fast Track”. The applications for a Fast Track degree have to be submitted before the Master’s application deadline, i.e. 1st March. This early deadline is necessary because of a two-stage test.

1.1 Written Application

Certificates and other documents from training and further education, which make it apparent that the applicant has in-depth subject-specific knowledge and the necessary skills, must be submitted with the application. In addition, a letter of motivation is necessary stating why the applicant considers her/himself to be suitable for a doctorate in the Fast Track degree course on the topic being offered. Furthermore, it must be clear how the person identifies her/himself with a scientific job in the respective research area, how far she/he has learned to work scientifically, and that she/he has sufficient English language skills. The application must also specify the intended PhD programme after the “Master phase”.

On the basis of the documents submitted the best-rated applicants will be invited to the second stage of the aptitude assessment, the

1.2 Assessment Interview

The assessment interview should show that the applicant has an above average motivation as well as a realistic judgment about the specific requirements of the Fast Track programme. It should become clear that the applicant has the subject relevant fundamental knowledge and an above average knowledge of the experimental and theoretical techniques. The interview will be at least 20 minutes. It will be carried out by two lecturers who are also authorized to take examinations. These must be lecturers from the relevant Master degree course, of which at least one is also an examiner in the respective PhD programme. The assessment interview is usually carried out four to six weeks after the application deadline. The interview takes place either in Oldenburg, in the form of a telephone or video conference or is held at a partner institution abroad. The procedure and the result of the interview are recorded in a log that contains an assessment of the written documents.

The suitability for the Master phase will be reviewed and evaluated by the Fast Track admissions committee based on the result of the assessment interview. This committee is in contact with the admissions committee of the Master degree courses and can be advised by members of the faculty PhD admissions committee or PhD programme admissions committee.

2.       Entrance Examination for the Doctoral Phase

The prerequisite for entry to the independent research phase is that the examination results of the Master were far above average. There is a consultation with the prospective supervisor and at least one person who was involved in the assessment interview. The applicant must submit the thesis topic, a work plan, the supervisor’s confirmation of support and the proposed thesis committee. The members of the thesis committee may attend the consultation, at the request of the candidate.

Eligibility is determined by the admissions committee of the corresponding PhD programme.

What happens if someone fails the selection procedure?

If a person is rejected when applying for the Master phase, she/he can keep the application for the regular Master's degree programme. This is possible because (at least at the University of Oldenburg) the application deadline for the Master's degree programmes are significantly later than the decision for admission to Fast Track is made. If the applicant does not object, the documents will be passed on to the Master admissions committee. If a fast track student is not admitted to the doctoral phase, she/he remains in the Master's degree programme and ends it with a regular Master's degree. No study time is lost and a degree in the standard period of study is possible.

Which offers are there?

Fast Track is only possible if there is a Master degree and a suitable PhD programme in that subject. In 2014 the range includes the following programmes:

Master Degree Programmes:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Hearing Technology and Audiology
  • Microbiology
  • Neurocognitive Psychology
  • Neuroscience

PhD programmes

  • Environmental Science and Biodiversity
  • Interface Science
  • Neurosensory Science and Systems
  • Renewable Energy
  • Mathematics and Fundamental Physics

Are there deadlines?

Application deadline for the Master phase of the Fast Track is the 1st March for the winter semester of the same year. The assessment interview is usually carried out in April or May. The dates of the PhD programme admissions apply for the doctoral phase.