PhD Completion Club

The Mastermind for advanced PhD candidates who want to finish their project soon!

Why join the PhD Completion Club

The PhD Completion Club is a mastermind for PhD candidates who are in the final stage of their project. Completing a PhD project is a challenging but crucial milestone in any researcher’s career. Often, issues and situations arise during this final stage that make it difficult for PhD candidates to finish. It might be a tiny missing link or simply a fundamental mindset shift that is necessary in order to move towards completion. In this Mastermind, PhD candidates who are all in a similar stage of the PhD process mutually support each other. The Mastermind facilitates regular exchange among group members and our expert advisor, enabling them to find solutions and progress towards completion.

How will you benefit?

You will be welcomed by an open-minded group of fellow PhD candidates who will offer valuable advice and share experiences from their own PhD journeys. Engaging with the group under the supervision of our expert advisor will assist you in taking the necessary steps to complete your PhD studies.

The Mastermind sessions encompass group mentoring, discussions about participants’ goals and challenges and offer the advantage of having an accountability partner for one-on-one interactions. By being part of a supportive peer group comprised of smart and experienced PhD candidates, participants witness improvements in their progress. They gain insight into how others tackle challenging experiences, solve problems, and approach their goals. By presenting their own challenges to the group and receiving honest feedback, participants can simplify complex issues and discover practical solutions. Sharing a challenge with the group allows for fresh insights and ideas. Through this experience, participants undergo mindset shifts that help them approach their PhD work with a renewed perspective.

Who benefits the most?

PhD candidates who are in the 3rd year of their PhD or beyond and are committed to working towards completing their PhD (within the next year). You may want to rekindle motivation to finish or be stuck with a specific problem and dedicated to overcoming it. You are seeking a small community of like-minded PhD candidates in a similar situation for accountability, exchange, and support. In any case, you should be striving to complete your PhD!

What topics can we cover?

Each participant in the Mastermind sets their own goals towards completion and identifies problems they want to overcome. The expert advisor and other participants provide ongoing support in achieving these goals. During the live sessions, participants suggest topics or situations they personally experience that hinder their progress or completion of their PhD.

Examples include:

  • Experiencing low motivation
  • Feeling stressed or exhausted
  • Being stuck and not knowing how to move towards the finish-line
  • Having to wait overly long for feedback from supervisors/co-authors. 
  • Lack of spare time or time for oneself
  • Uncertainty about how to proceed with the dissertation
  • Unsure about what to include/exclude from accumulated data
  • Too little time for dissertation writing
  • Inefficiency and procrastination and time management challenges
  • Dealing with comments from peers, reviewers or supervisors
  • Effective communication with supervisors regarding completion
  • Slower than expected progress
  • Uncertainty regarding post-PhD plans
  • Dealing with anxiety or feeling depressed
  • Handling doubts about the quality of work
  • Imposter syndrome

About the Expert Advisor

Bärbel Tress (PhD) is an enthusiastic Research Career and PhD Expert. She has conducted research and taught at various universities and research institutes throughout Europe, served as an Associate Editor for an international peer-reviewed journal, and has regularly supervised students herself. With over 15 years of experience as a scientific advisor, she has coached hundreds of PhD candidates from diverse fields, helping them successfully complete their PhD projects on time. She is a graduate of Heidelberg University (Germany), obtained a PhD in Landscape Ecology from Roskilde University (Denmark), and has worked as a researcher and lecturer at universities in Wageningen (Netherlands) and Aberdeen (United Kingdom).

Bärbel Tress


How is the Mastermind organised?

The Mastermind group meets every three weeks for 90 minutes. During these virtual sessions, there is a check-in round for all PhD candidates to express their difficulties and obstacles on the path to completion. In each session, specific problems faced by participants are addressed.

Participants experiencing problems take the ‘hot seat’ and receive input and candid feedback from other PhD candidates and the expert advisor. The session concludes with each participant sharing their focus areas and goals for improvement until the next meeting. Resolutions, next steps, and exercises are suggested, and progress towards reaching goals and the envisioned submission date are reviewed in the following session.

In addition to the Mastermind meetings, each participant is paired with an accountability partner with whom they exchange weekly updates. They check on each other’s progress, provide feedback, and offer motivation to keep moving forward. The entire group is united in their efforts to complete their PhDs and support one another in the process.

The Mastermind consists of a group of 6-12 PhD candidates. They commit to joining for a minimum of three months and can extend their membership for as long as needed. Vacant seats in the Mastermind are filled with new PhD candidates.

Next possibility to join?

The Mastermind is an ongoing learning experience that one can join at any time. The dates for the live meetings are scheduled three months in advance. Participants are required to commit to joining the Mastermind for a minimum of three months, with the option to extend for as long as it helps them in their specific personal situation.


You want to join yourself?

As a PhD candidate, you can apply for joining the PhD Completion Club directly.


You want your PhD candidates to join?

As a PhD coordinator or supervisor, you can book places for selected PhD candidates from your institution.
Please contact us to inquire about seat availability and fees.


PhD candidates in 3rd year or beyond


Enter at any time (if seats available))




90 min session every 3 weeks


Dr. Bärbel Tress


Live virtual

Get Started Yourself

How we Helped Others with the
PhD Completion Club

A huge thanks to the PhD Completion Club, which definitely gave me the necessary push to finalise and turn-in my PhD Dissertation. The ‘force’ (in a positive sense) to fix a concrete date for handing-in and the perpetual reminders to adhere to this were particularly beneficial. I was also impressed by Bärbel’s ability to uncover my respective challenges and to come up with tailor-made solutions for my particular situation. The meetings in the small mastermind group have also contributed to put my own efforts in a bigger context and to realise that in the end PhD candidates in the final phase often have very similar difficulties – the encouragments of the group were always a bonus!

PhD candidate

Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany