Doctoral research | Counselling and coaching

Leuchtschild mit der Aufschrift 'Ask'
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Individual support during your doctorate

We will support you during all stages of your doctorate with interdisciplinary counselling and coaching. Do you face a challenge in your career planning or have questions about pursuing a PhD? Make an appointment with us! We offer individual advice according to your needs: on-site, by telephone, or via Zoom in German or English.

Counselling and coaching – what’s the difference?

Our counselling services provide you with information that is crucial for your individual planning before or during your doctoral studies, e.g., on how to find a supervisor or how to finance your doctorate.

In addition, our coaching opens up a complementary space for self-reflection. Professional guidance will help you look at personal challenges and questions, e.g., Do I want to stay in academia after my PhD? How can I deal with pressure and multiple expectations? How can I resolve conflicts?

Our counselling offers

Individual advice on all questions regarding the doctoral process

Is a doctorate the right thing for me? What requirements do I have to meet to be accepted as a doctoral candidate? Do I have to enrol as a PhD student at the UDE? How do I find a supervisor, and how do I contact her/him? How can I finance my doctorate? How can I find funding for a research stay abroad? What do I have to consider when coming to Germany from abroad? What career options do I have in academia and beyond?

These are typical questions related to the doctorate that might also be on your mind. Therefore, we offer personal advice on all questions concerning the start and course of your doctorate.

Make an appointment!

Your contact

Simon Kresmann
Fon +49 201-183-2015

Career counselling for female early career researchers

The proportion of women decreases at each career stage, both in academia and business. Therefore, our career counselling for women specifically addresses female Master's students, doctoral candidates, and postdoctoral researchers – regardless of whether you are striving for a career in research, science management, or the private sector.

During an individual appointment, we will explore your goals and options and develop your strengths accordingly.

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Learn more about this offer

Your contact

Stephanie Sera
Fon +49 201-183-3054

Our coaching offers

Vier Puzzleteile
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Coaching is a goal-oriented way to strengthen your problem-solving skills. You will gain clarity about your concerns and develop coherent solutions in an appreciative and dialog-oriented process. As coaches, Stephanie Sera and Valentina Vasilov will accompany you on your journey in a professional and confidential manner.

Both coaches have additional training as „Mental Health First Aider“ from the Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim. This enables them to identify and address mental health problems more quickly and to strengthen self-care. If necessary, they can provide competent information about relevant counselling and treatment centres.

Short profile of Stephanie Sera

Stephanie Sera is a person-centered integrative coach (DACB) and offers coaching on the following topics:

  • Decision-making along the academic career path
  • Being and staying authentic despite uncertainties in career planning
  • Personal resilience in the face of systemic hurdles and experiences of discrimination
  • Clarifying roles

Make an appointment

Short profile of Valentina Vasilov

Valentina Vasilov is a person-centered integrative coach (DACB, GwG, RTC). She offers coaching on the following topics:

  • Competence profiles and career development
  • Personal development, self-reflection of own values, and motivation
  • Decision making in ambivalent situations
  • Conflict resolution; shaping complex relationships
  • Dealing adequately with role plurality and new roles
  • Coping with stress, change, or crisis
  • Developing time-, goal- and self-management skills

Make an appointment

Eine Gruppe Menschen hält sich über den Köpfen an den Händen plus Logo Together
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Together - Peer group coaching for (international) doctoral researchers

Doing a doctorate can be fulfilling - and quite lonesome and frustrating at the same time. Working together with a group can bring in new perspectives, insights and options for action as well as clarity and increased motivation for goal achievement. 

The moderated peer group coaching for international doctoral researchers at the UDE therefore supports you on the path to your doctorate and in your further career planning through (self-)reflection, feedback and interdisciplinary skills development.

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Not sure, whether this format is the right support for you? If you have any questions, please contact Valentina Vasilov directly:


Process and application

The second peer group coaching cohort is aimed at international doctoral researchers of UDE and therefore held in English.  Before you apply, please check whether you are able to attend on the specified dates (section: "Dates", group 2) . The first appointment is on 19 August 2024.
You can apply for this cohort by 31 July 2024

The first peer group coaching started in March 2024 and will run until February 2025.

If you find this offer later and are interested in taking part in peer group coaching for doctoral researchers over the course of a year, please contact Valentina Vasilov directly (

Target group and requirements

For (international) doctoral researchers who want to work together with a group to...

  • reflect on their own professional role
  • focus on creativity, enjoyment of work and energy
  • gain clarity about your own resources
  • develop individual strategies and solutions for dealing with challenges
  • experience support and mutual motivation to achieve goals
  • exchange & network with peers
  • discover feedback and appreciation as a resource

In addition to regular attendance at the scheduled appointments, participation also requires the ability to reflect, to bring in one's own concerns and the willingness to cooperate in the group.


12 dates in total, each Monday 10:00-12:00 in room WST-B04.05, Berliner Platz 6-8, 45127 Essen:

Group 1 (for doctoral researchers of UDE, German langugage):

04.03.24 | 15.04.24 | 13.05.24 | 10.06.24 | 15.07.24 | 26.08.24 |16.09.24 | 28.10.24 | 18.11.24 | 09.12.24 | 13.01.25 | 10.02.25

Group 2 (for international doctoral researchers of UDE, English langugage):

19.08.24 | 09.09.24 | 21.10.24 | 25.11.24 | 16.12.24 | 20.01.25 | 17.02.25 | 10.03.25 | 07.04.25 | 12.05.25 |16.06.25 | 07.07.25


Valentina Vasilov is a person-centered integrative coach (DACB, GwG, RTC) and trainer for research integrity, career development, communication and psychosocial health. She has many years of professional experience in doctoral training as well as work experience in diversity management in an academic context. As a member of the GC Plus team, she offers consulting and coaching for scientists on their career path and designs programs and trainings for the development of interdisciplinary skills.

Coaching Hour

During the coaching hour, you can familiarize yourself with our coaching offer or reflect on your concerns in a short session.

The coaching hour can develop into a longer coaching process if required.

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Your contact person: Valentina Vasilov

Coaching on competence development, competence profile, and career planning

This coaching format invites you to reflect on your career goals, develop an individual career plan, and approach it strategically. In a first step, you will identify your motives, strengths, and potentials based on the UniWiND/GUAT competence model. Next, you will develop a distinctive competence profile that you can adequately communicate to potential employers within and outside of academia. On this basis, you can approach your further competence development in a direct manner and in line with your career goals. You will then develop initial ideas and steps for your career planning and identify potential hurdles as well as necessary resources and possible supporters.

Your contact person: Valentina Vasilov

At a glanceCounselling offers for doctoral researchers in the faculties and the UDE’s central facilities

Here you will find links to advisory services and contacts within faculties and other institutions at the UDE. The dean's offices and professors are your main contact for questions regarding subject-related and organizational aspects of doctoral studies.

Faculty of Biology

Faculty of Educational Sciences

Faculty of Chemistry

Faculty of Humanities

Faculty of Social Sciences

Faculty of Engineering

Faculty of Mathematics

Faculty of Medicine

Mercator School of Management

Faculty of Physics

Faculty of Economics and Business Administration

Other institutions at the UDE


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