Orientation – Training – Profile-strengthening

As a postdoc at the University of Münster you have plenty of possibilities for advancing your research and shaping your career path. Our aim at CERes is to provide you with as much individual support as possible with offers of information, events and advisory services. We recognise that the term postdoc comprises researchers with a wide variety of experience, career objectives and needs.

Postdocs in the...
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Orientation phase

You have successfully completed your doctoral research and have taken up a new post – or you already have your sights on the next project? But what should your long-term aim be? No matter whether you wish to continue pursuing an academic career or want to embark on something different: we at CERes will support you in defining your aims as well as in drawing up and expanding your competence profile so that you can plan the next steps early enough.

Postdocs in the...
© Kunakorn Rassadornyindee/iStock

Profile-strengthening phase

The destination you envisage for your career path is clear, or you are already engaged in research with a long-term perspective? What do you need to reach your goals and further establish your research? We will be happy to help you to expand your network, (continue to) develop your career strategies, sharpen your (academic/scientific) portfolio, and strengthen your profile as a researcher in your specialist field.

Trustful cooperation
Trustful cooperation

Postdoc Network Münster (PNM)

You are looking to connect with other postdocs at the University of Münster? Get in touch with us! The Postdoc Network Münster (PNM) was established in 2020 and ever since provides a platform for postdocs to connect, learn from one another and feel supported. Whether you are brand-new in Münster or have lived here for years, the network is open to you.​​​

  • PNM Newsletter

    Once a month, we send out an e-mail with postdoc-related information, events and social activities. To receive the newsletter, just shoot us an e-mail: postdoc.network@uni-muenster.de


    To learn more about the network, visit the PNM website.
    E-Mail contact: postdoc.network@uni-muenster.de
    X account: @postdocnet

  • Social Hour

    You are invited to join us for socialising, leting off some steam built up over the week, and geting to know other postdocs from all over Münster. Once a month, we visit different bars and restaurants to enjoy all that the city has to offer! Please register for our meet-up via email to: postdoc.network@uni-muenster.de

    Every last Friday of the month at 7.00 p.m.!
    The location will be announced in our newsletter.


    To learn more about the network, visit the PNM website.
    E-Mail contact: postdoc.network@uni-muenster.de
    X account: @postdocnet

[T]he data continue to paint postdocs as academia’s drudge labourers: overworked, underpaid, appointed on precarious short-term contracts and lacking recognition for their efforts.
Linda Nordling, Nature's 2023 Postdoc Survey
Information, people to contact, support
Information, people to contact, support

Issues and challenges in the postdoc phase

Many issues which you already know about from the doctoral phase also play a role in the postdoc phase – but often under tougher conditions: there are fewer posts, acquisition of third-party funding is expected, there should be an increase in both the quality and the quantity of publications, your own research should be visible both in the community of specialists in your field and in society as a whole, tasks involve more responsibility and time pressure increases. At the same time, for many postdocs, security and stability in their private lives come increasingly to the fore. Together with many other people you can contact at Münster University, we at CERes are here to help you, taking a look at all the different needs and requirements thrown up by your individual career and providing support with our offers.

  • Funding & internationalisation

    In addition to a doctorate, one requirement for the postdoc phase is funding. Whether you have acquired your own position, have a term-limited or unlimited post at a university or a research centre, are involved in an externally funded project, or are receiving a grant: there are many possibilities for funding. In close co-operation with other institutions at the University of Münster, we at CERes are happy to advise you and, if necessary, refer you to the right contact person.

    Third-party funding which you have yourself acquired is important for broadening your portfolio – especially if you are aiming to be appointed to a professorship. So get support from SAFIR - Research Funding Support in finding appropriate funding opportunities and submitting a successful application. The SAIL funding programme can also help you in the systematic acquisition of international projects.

    And talking of ‘international’: networking with researchers all over the world is frequently not only essential for the success of applications for external funding, but also an enrichment for your research and its visibility. Please contact the Welcome Centre & Staff Mobility team if you would like to learn more about (funding) opportunities for stays abroad or, as an international researcher, funding for a research stay at Münster University.  

  • Publications & knowledge transfer

    To establish yourself as a researcher, not only writings enhancing your qualifications, but also further publications and editorships, are necessary. Over the past few years, moreover, there has been an increased focus on digital publishing and open-access publications. The University and State Library of Münster provides information on opportunities and guidelines. If you want to hone your writing style or writing strategies, you can benefit from the advice given by the Writing-Reading Centre (Schreibberatung des Schreib-Lese-Zentrums).

    Would you like to have some support in documenting and presenting your research activities – both within your specialist community and for the benefit of the general public? The CRIS.NRW staff at Münster University will be happy to advise you – or you can register now to update your profile. An overview of the University of Münster’s research profile can be found in the internally accessible Forschungsportal (research portal).

  • Biography & life planning

    Not only qualifications belong to an (academic) career. Biographical requirements and your individual life planning should also be given appropriate consideration. In our CERes careers advice, we always take an holistic view of careers, and our aim is to offer you support as closely aligned to your needs as possible.

    The phenomenon known as leaky pipeline – defined as the decreasing proportion of women in academia, the higher the qualification level – still exists. The Equal Opportunities Office at Münster University therefore offers a variety of opportunities for female researchers to network and increase their qualifications.

    If you not only work as a researcher but also have children to look after and/or care for family members, you can find the right person to contact in the Family Service Office.

    Ultimately, your personal well-being is also important for successful research. More information, offers and people to contact can be found on our focus-on-health page

Further academic qualifications
Further academic qualifications


Depending on the career objective, researchers with a doctorate need to think about the next qualification level. Although achievements equivalent to an habilitation represent a common pre-qualification in some subjects,  BuWiN 2021 (fig. B47) shows that an habilitation continues to be very important, across all subjects, for achieving a tenured professorship.

Find information on how things are in the culture relating to your subject, and feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

  • The habilitation thesis

    Depending on the culture prevalent in the subject area, and on habilitation regulations, the written work necessary for gaining an habilitation can be undertaken cumulatively or as a monograph. In many subjects, a higher degree of independent work and innovation in research is expected than is the case with a written doctoral thesis. Equally, a stronger focus on basic research can be required – because in order for you to be appointed to a professorship, your academic/scientific portfolio must demonstrate that you can handle the specialist breadth of the professorship in question. Contact a mentor from your particular discipline in order to gain information on the conventions and requirements specific to your subject.

    Are you looking for professional advice on writing?

    Then please contact the team of advisors at the Writing-Reading Centre (Beratungsteam des Schreib-Lese-Zentrums) at Münster University.

    Do you prefer writing in company to doing it alone?

    Then register for our writing retreat for postdocs and/or our regular co-working sessions.

  • The habilitation procedure

    Depending on the habilitation regulations for your faculty (see sidebar), there are different requirements that have to be met and processes complied with. The typical steps on the way to an habilitation are:

    1. Applying for admission to the habilitation procedure: submitting the written habilitation thesis and other documents.
    2. If all requirements have been met: opening the habilitation procedure.
    3. Appointing an habilitation committee in the faculty to assess the written and oral habilitation proficiency.
    4. After a positive assessment of the written habilitation thesis (taking into account the expert opinion obtained): a habilitation lecture open to either the faculty or the entire University, with a subsequent colloquium if required.  
    5. After a positive assessment of the habilitation lecture by the habilitation committee: undertaking a piece of teaching related to a course of study. 
    6. Assessment of the habilitation candidate by the habilitation committee. In the case of a positive decision:
    7. Completion of the habilitation procedure by conferring the qualification to teach (facultas docendi), possibly also the authorisation to teach the subject (venia legendi), and the issuing of the habilitation certificate.
    8. If teaching authorisation is conferred: giving an inaugural lecture, possibly with regular teaching obligations to obtain the venia legendi.
    9. Publication of the written habilitation thesis.
    10.  Entitlement to add “habil.” (doctor habilitatus) or “PD” (private lecturer: a lecturer who is not a member of the salaried university teaching staff). Depending on the habilitation regulations, this might be possible as soon as the habilitation certificate has been issued.
On the way to a professorship
On the way to a professorship

Next career objectives

When you have settled in as a postdoc and are aiming at a professorship, you’ll be faced with new, unknown processes. However, an appointment as a professor should not be something that you don’t start thinking about until you are a Privatdozent – because there are professorships which you can already apply for before your habilitation, or entirely without one.  Moreover, according to BuWiN 2021 (p. 150), it “can be assumed that the number of tenured professorships becoming available in the coming years will increase.” Also, the percentage of women being appointed doubled between 1997 and 2018 to 34%. 

  • Professorships

    If you take a look at professorships being advertised, you will soon notice that there are different models and salary grades. For postdocs who completed their doctorates just a few years ago, it is in particular the post of associate professor or research group leader that is likely to be the most interesting. In the early postdoc phase, the post of interim professor can also be a good way of gaining experience in professorial tasks and becoming more qualified. Learn more about the various options on the websites of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research:

    Associate professor (Juniorprofessur) (salary grade W1)

    Associate professor (salary grade W1) with Tenure Track

    University professor (Universitätsprofessur) (salary grade W2-3)

    Professorship at a University of Applied Sciences (FH-/HAW-Professur) (salary grade W1-2, less commonly W3)

    Interim professorship (Vertretungsprofessur) – only available in German at the moment

    Research Group Leader (Nachwuchsgruppenleitung): Although this is not a position calling for a professorial appointment, a post as research group leader is comparable to the position of an associate professor as regards the scope of duties and the qualifications for a tenured professorship.

  • Application/appointment

    If you apply for an (associate) professorship, there are some things you will need to note. There is a period of 1-2 years between an advertisement for a (new) appointment to a professorship and the position actually being filled. For this reason, it is usual to have several applications running simultaneously. To gain insights into how the processes run, it is recommended that you become involved as a member of an appointments committee before you make any application of your own. If you have any questions regarding applications and appointments procedures, feel free to contact us.

    Advertising posts & applications

    Besides the University’s own job portals, most professorships are advertised through the ZEIT newspaper’s jobs market (Stellenmarkt der ZEIT). It is extremely important that you read the advertisement very carefully. Usually, the texts of advertisements contain criteria which applicants must have/should have/are desirable to have, and it is often worth applying even if you are far from meeting all the criteria. As your application documents should also, as a rule, contain a teaching and a research concept, it is recommended that you begin working on the application at an early stage.

    The application procedure

    At the faculty or institute in question, an appointments committee is formed at an early stage which defines the selection criteria, sifts through all the applications received after the deadline for them has passed, and invites a selection of applicants to present themselves. The procedure includes a specialist lecture to be given, chosen by the applicant him or herself and open to the entire University, with a subsequent round of questions and a discussion with the appointments committee. After a further round of whittling down, external assessments are commissioned for the remaining candidates and, taking the results of these assessments into account, a list of (as a rule) between one and five candidates is drawn up.

    The appointments procedure

    After the list has been approved by the relevant University bodies (in most cases, the Faculty Council and the Senate), the person in 1st place on the list is offered the appointment, and the appointments procedure begins. As a result, negotiations relating to the appointment begin between the applicant and the selecting university – and possibly between the applicant and the university at which he or she is employed at the time the appointment is offered. If the appointment is rejected by the person in 1st place on the list, it is offered to the person in 2nd place, and so on. More information on negotiations relating to the appointment can be found on the website of the German Universities Association (Deutscher Hochschulverband) and of academics – both only available in German at the moment.

    Official appointment

    If the negotiations are successful, an agreement is drawn up in which, for example, the financial details, and the specifications relating to the rooms/premises and the personnel for the professorship are laid down. If the applicant then accepts the offer of an appointment, the appointment is documented officially by a certificate being issued. After this, the new professor can bear the relevant title and he or she can take up the position on the agreed date.