Education at EC2/BIG-NSE is very diverse.

Scientific education of course plays the largest role.
However, other aspects of education also receive close attention.
Our students are offered a series of non-scientific activities such as a wide range of soft-skills courses, but also a variety of other activities aimed at developing the personality of our future researchers and managers.

In the following and in the sub-menus, we explain thetimeline of our PhD program and present further highlights of this program. Then we take a look at the daily program. Finally, we provide a list of our alumni, statistics about them, and details on the further course of their careers.

One of our students explaining his research

Educational program

The timeline of our PhD educational program is broken up into two phases:

a one year "curricular phase " starting with the "initial phase"

a two-year* "research phase" in which the students perform the necessary research experiments in the lab(s) of their choice.

* Usually a little bit longer, depending on the PhD student's ability to deal with her/his topic.

 A structured program

1) Curricular 1st year/initial phase

The curriculum starts with the "initial phase."
During the initial phase, which usually starts in October and finishes in mid-January the following year, the new batch of PhD students is offered a varied program, containing the following elements:

an introduction to the Cluster of Excellence "UniSysCat". This introduction starts with a 2-hour lecture summarizing all aspects of the cluster. In particular, this includes a brief account of the current research programs of the different groups (more than 50!), including the most interesting results. This introduction is complemented by a series of excursions to all labs participating in the cluster's research.

a series of "basic lectures" covering all aspects of catalysis dealt with in the cluster. Each lecture typically lasts 2,5 hours and is given in English in our rooms by a project group leader of UniSysCat.

a series of workshops and seminars, in particular on the following topics "Time management during the PhD," "Intercultural communication," "Scientific presentation."
Language courses: This includes German courses for non-German speakers in particular, but also scientific English or even introductory French for those who are interested.

But the educational program includes more than just courses and classes:

Social activities are also held regularly during the initial phase, in particular social evenings. They can be very simple, involving things like ordering pizza and beverages, consuming them together in our social rooms, and then playing games or just hanging out. We also regularly go out, for example to go bowling or ice-skating when the weather really gets cold. Shortly before Christmas, we also regularly visit the famous German Christmas markets. Needless to say, the EC2/BIG-NSE Christmas party has one of the nicest buffets at the university: full of international meals brought by our students from all over the world.

Excursion to one of the UniSysCat labs

A "basic lecture"

A cultural social evening

2) Research phase and further educational highlights

However, the program offered by EC2/BIG-NSE does not end with the initial phase. Even during the "research phase", in which our students join their individual research group to perform their PhD research, they regularly receive an invitation to take part in one of the following activities:

evening language courses, in particular German and English courses, for those who wish to continue improving their skills in these languages
further workshops and seminars on topics that might be interesting for PhD students, e.g. scientific writing, proposal writing, job search etc.
scientific colloquia, in particular the bi-weekly UniSysCat Colloquia organized by our cluster
diverse block courses
winter and/or summer schools
the annual EC2/BIG-NSE retreat
outreach events, like "The Long Night of Science," "Girls Day" or other public activities aimed at presenting what we do at the center/school.
the "alumni meeting," organized roughly every two years, where previous EC2/BIG-NSE students come back to Berlin to share their professional experience with the current PhD students
the graduation ceremony, which usually takes place on the same day as the alumni meeting

    Staged research scene...but a nice picture anyway

    Congrats guys! You made it!

    Initial phase: Daily program

    During the initial phase, the new batch of students takes part in a daily program consisting of language courses, lectures, excursions, soft skills seminars and social activities.
    This program is quite intensive but very rewarding. Once the students are finished with it, they know a good deal more about the cluster, catalysis and other essential skills.
    However, by that time they have also grown together into a team of friends which they will keep not only during the following years in Berlin completing their PhD but also possibly during their future career.

    To facilitate student participation, the planned daily activities can be found on the EC2/BIG-NSE website, in the "daily program" section.

    Click here for an overview of past programs [Old BIG-NSE website].

    The latest program can be found here [usually only visible from mid-September to mid-January every year).

    Excel overview of the daily program in WS2019

    Daily program: access from the old BIG-NSE website

    Alumni list and statistics

    The list of alumni can be found here.

    Statistics about our alumni, such as how long it took them to finish their PhD, how many publications they wrote, and what kind of positions they found after leaving the doctoral program, can be found here.