PhD Success Lab


Why join PhD Success Lab

Do you want to make it through your PhD on time successfully and without unnecessary stress and struggle? Join the PhD Success Lab and acquire all the skills necessary to do exactly that.

In our 12-week digital mentoring programme, you’ll hammer out specific objectives and divise a crystal clear plan for your PhD project that will guide you all the way through PhD completion. You’ll learn a sophisticated system to monitor your progress in regular intervals so you’ll never ever feel lost.

Time and project management
During PSL, you revamp the way you spend your time, developing a laser-sharp focus on key outputs so you spend your day and weeks on exactly those activities that move your project forward. We’ll train you to shed unhelpful beliefs about yourself, and you’ll adapt the mindset of a successful PhD candidate instead.

Dissertation writing
Difficulties with dissertation writing are a thing of the past after PhD Success Lab. We’ll show you how to plan the writing of your dissertation, including all activities that have to be completed until hand-in day. During PhD Success Lab, you’ll learn the specific writing approach that the most productive scientific writers use, and you’ll join an interactive writing exercise to get started right away – no matter how far you are in your PhD.

We’ll teach you the techniques you need to communicate with your supervisors in an efficient and reliable way. You’ll learn approaches to solicit better feedback, and you’ll get real-time advice how to tackle sensitive or problematic discussions. We’ll also show you how to bring your supervisors on board regarding your completion plans so they can support you in achieving a timely PhD submission.

Small weekly units
The entire programme is rolled out fully digital in short and specific weekly units, all video-based, so you can work on the lessons whenever it suits you. Implementation is easy and fun with our extensive accompanying course material. 

Life-time access
You’ve got 24/7 access to our course platform, including all videos, audio files and PDF worksheets. On top of that, you’ll enjoy live sessions with our dedicated instructor and PhD expert Dr. Bärbel Tress, who’ll be available throughout the programme. 

Next start: 8 May 2023!
Click to Pre-egister now!

What you’ll learn

  • Defining the PhD project and project goals
  • Identifying work packages
  • Estimating project duration
  • Scheduling project tasks
  • Monitoring and controlling PhD progress
  • Increasing personal organisation
  • Enhancing commitment
  • Identifying key outputs
  • Setting weekly goals
  • Planning daily work
  • Clarifying thesis requirements
  • Defining a timeline for dissertation writing
  • Adopting efficient writing strategies
  • Interactive dissertation writing challenge
  • Responsibilities of PhD students and supervisors
  • Organising productive supervisory meetings
  • Getting better supervisory feedback
  • Discussing difficulties with supervisors
  • Incorporating control tools in supervision


10 modules
27 lessons
5 live-support sessions
2 implementation weeks




Join alone or with your colleagues, any group size can enrol!


12 weeks, short weekly units
life-long access


Dr. Bärbel Tress


Whether beginner or close to completion, you'll benefit at any stage

Get Started Yourself

How We Helped Others With
PhD Success Lab

PhD candidate Magdalena Keindl, University of Bergen, Norway

“Even though I joined the PhD Success Lab in my final year of my PhD, it had the power to make a difference and increase my productivity. By spending about an hour per week on my PSL homework, I managed to get a better overview of my remaining PhD tasks and to structure my days efficiently. But most importantly PhD Success Lab gave me the confidence to finish my PhD in time. I am still impressed over how the tips and tricks I received in PSL magically eradicated my fear of writing and am now ready to dive into my thesis. PSL will not only help you to finish your PhD on time, but it does also teach you convenient project and time management tools which can be applied in any future job.”

Update from Magdalena, some months later: “I submitted my PhD thesis today, all according to the plan I made during the PhD Success Lab. I’m convinced that nothing would have run so smoothly without that course. It helped me with reducing my fear of writing, and forced me to make a plan and stick to it. So thank you so much for creating this course and helping so many PhD candidates.”

Magdalena, PhD candidate, Medical Science, Molecular Biology

University of Bergen, Norway

Susana PhD candidate

“The PSL course gave me the amazing opportunity to structure my PhD better and widen my set of management skills in order to head into my research project with an organized mindset. What I have enjoyed the most throughout the course was having generated a great roadmap in order to navigate the PhD waters better, while sharing and learning from the highly experienced trainer!”

Susanna, PhD candidate

University of Bremen, Germany

“It has been a pleasure learning from you over the past 12 weeks. I am a very different person now in comparison to when I started this programme. I am more focused, well-organized, and motivated. I have also gotten better at time management, I like the tool you provided us to manage our tasks. It was also a great opportunity to meet other PhD students and to know that I am not alone.Thank you for your time, support, and encouragement!”

Mahlet-Degefu Awoke, PhD candidate

Humboldt University of Berlin, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Germany

Corinna PhD Candidate

“Thank you for this really helpful and interesting course!! I really enjoyed it and with each module that I worked through I learned how to manage this big PhD project a bit better. Without this course I would have been lost in all my tasks and duties. I absolutely enjoyed the live sessions, in which we talked about the PSL modules, what we were working on. We also shared personal experiences with different kinds of struggles during our PhD. I really appreciate that I got so much helpful advice.”

Corinna, PhD candidate

University of Bremen, Germany

“I really feel that I progressed with planning my project and focussing on my most important outputs. With the tools we learned in the PhD Success Lab I feel I have a very structured approach now. PSL also put writing on my agenda and now I can see why it is important to already think about that in the beginning of a PhD and to develop a productive approach – thank you for that! Overall I can definitely recommend the course to anyone starting, it was very beneficial for me in knowing how to approach such a big project.”

Felix Auer, PhD candidate

Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

“What I am most thankful for learning due to the PhD Success Lab is how to organize and plan your weekly tasks. Believe me, this re-gained me some precious time! In addition to the project planning material, I enjoyed the regular “progress check-ups” so I can self-evaluate my progress and I am always ready to change: either to slow down or to speed up a bit to keep the PhD project on track.
My absolute favourite tool is the task-manager, where you can put down everything you need to do all week long and categorise it based on priorities. Nothing get’s forgotten or lost since I am using that tool!
Finally, I would like to say that I am impressed about the reactivity of Bärbel. You would think it is an online course so there will be no follow-up but that is definitely not the case. She follows up on your progress, your questions and enquiries. Which is something I have never seen in other online courses out there and that is actually refreshing. So a huge THANKS for that!”

Ferdaous Rezgui, PhD candidate

Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Germany

“I found it very helpful to realize that life is not only about the PhD. I tend to feel guilty not working all the time, not showing amazing results at the next meeting, etc. But the PhD Success Lab material about this really made clear that relaxing, free time, holidays, and to look after oneself is just as important to be more productive. I hence feel more relaxed during no-work hours or taking some time off. I really like the PSL programme since it makes you think about your self-management such that you do not blindly run into your PhD. PSL is practice-oriented – you can implement what you learned immediately with the worksheets. Thus, PSL helps to build your own organisational structure. Moreover, it is great to have someone to talk to. I appreciate the coordinator’s great commitment, that she actively asks people if they need help, provides tips, makes sure that she’s catching up on them. Thanks a lot for that!”

Yvonne Jenniges, PhD candidate

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany


“The PhD Success Lab has been great. Not just the content, but the contact with Bärbel and the other PhD candidates. We covered many topics that make you work more efficiently, but also about coping emotionally with juggling life, PhD, family.”

Fiza, PhD candidate

University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Norwegian University of Life Sciences - logo

“I’ve had so much help from attending the PhD Success Lab! During autumn I felt demotivated and frustrated by my own situation, feeling slow and not being able to take action. Now that I’ve worked on sharpening the objectives, planning the project in detail, and seen how important it is to plan the day and week ahead, I feel much more in control and I start believing that I can do this [PhD].”

Berit, PhD candidate

Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

“I’ve enjoyed the PSL programme, I think it was exactly what I needed for just starting a PhD, a nice general overview of all the tasks and challenges you should focus on in a PhD with tools and strategies to tackle them. The task manager is probably the most helpful tool, and I am glad you just suggested one straight away, as I am the kind of person who would spend way too long searching for the best one! Thanks for all your help getting me more comfortable with the PhD, it was very daunting at first but you’ve made it seem much more manageable.” 

PhD candidate

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

Sabrin, PhD candidate

“Before I started this course with Bärbel I was totally stuck with my PhD. I had never thought that steps to control my PhD are available in any form of courses. I have joined several courses prior to PSL, but this course gives you all information you need in an organised way. It makes every step on the way to the PhD more feasible just by following the advice in the modules and start to build up the suggested habits. I have benefited a lot from the lessons about project management. And also, how to communicate better with my supervisors so now I benefit more from meetings I have with them. Additionally, communication with my fellows in the PSL insiders discussion group and sharing stories to support each other were extremely helpful. After PSL I am now networking with other PSL participants and we are contacting and supporting each other. Moreover, I enjoyed our live discussions with Bärbel on how to apply the steps of the programme in the best way and about our individual problems that we were facing in our PhD life.
I can say that this course offered me what I needed – especially that you do not need to struggle; you can learn how to do a PhD with minimum stress. That is why I extremely recommend this course for international students especially. Thanks Bärbel for the amazing programme.”

Sabrin, PhD candidate

University of Bremen, Germany

“As a member of the graduate school GLOMAR (MARUM, University Bremen), I was given the opportunity to participate in the PhD Success Lab. The programme offers a great balance between organisational PhD project management and inner mindset development and support. All learning materials and tools are comprehensibly introduced by Bärbel (and Gunther) who are also extremely supportive, knowledgeable and have a high motivational power which is transported through their videos and live sessions. A great advantage of this programme is the possibility to work on the course content at your own pace in combination with unlimited access to the learning platform and all materials therein.
This well-structured 12-week programme equipped me with the tools and motivation to finalise my PhD according to my deadlines while managing and accomplishing all other additional tasks in an effective and sustainable manner. I highly recommend this holistic course to every PhD Candidate – to the one who has just hit the PhD road as well as to the one who is at the end of the long and challenging journey!”

Carolin, PhD candidate

Marum, Bremen University, Germany

Navya, PhD candidate

“I want to thank the entire PSL Team. PhD Success Lab is a great programme to learn about the PhD journey. It is a programme to manage the entire PhD life – starting with a project plan until writing the final dissertation. PSL helped me write more research publications in quality time. It guided me to understand my PhD objectives with SMART analysis and taught me to streamline myself towards my goal. PSL’s suggestions of task managers such as Todoist and Trello are of great help. The efficient writing strategies that were provided helped me immensely with my writing progress. All PSL modules are my favourites!”

Navya, PhD candidate

University of Oldenbrug, Germany

“I very much enjoyed the PSL course, it gave me a lot of new ideas, tools and strategies to implement, and especially helping me to work more structured on my PhD project. Also the tips for dissertation writing and strategies for optimizing supervision I found very helpful. During the live sessions, I enjoyed exchanging with others in the breakout rooms and I found the discussion of questions at the end of the session great since it helped to hear suggestions from other PhD students as well. Since I started the PhD only a few months ago, all the planning exercises were very helpful to plan my PhD project from the beginning. Thank you a lot for the great course. It gave me a lot of new input and strategies for my PhD!”

Cornelia Inauen, PhD candidate

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

“I enjoyed the PSL programme, because it felt good to know that once a week there is a task that is important for me personally! The small entities are really manageable and one is still flexible to schedule it as necessary. It is helpful just having such a course in the first place as a constant reminder, for getting motivation, and because it gives a feeling of stepwise accomplishment. The calculation of the PhD time was also an eye-opener for me. For the writing part, I have little problems with writing and I am used to doing it regularly bit by bit. But I realised that defining small manageable tasks beforehand is a really helpful step, also for larger non-writing tasks. It helps me not to get stuck in one task when it proves to be more work than expected. My greatest benefit: I now feel fully immersed in the PhD project and on track, even though there is still a long way to go for me.” 

Sara Preissel, PhD candidate

Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Germany