The AICES curriculum addresses some of the well-known concerns regarding doctoral-level education in Germany: the relatively high age of graduating Ph.D.’s, the comparative isolation during dissertation work, and insufficient international exposure.Some existing initiatives, such as Research Training Groups (GRK), Collaborative Research Centers (SFB) and their graduate student groups, already mitigate these concerns and improve conditions for doctoral studies at individual institutes. AICES aims at a reconciliation of the various existing efforts into a coherent framework to provide best benefits to the entire specialization field of CES. The graduate school will offer a program that is attractive to students with science and engineering degrees on the B.S. or higher level from all over the world.
The program will be tailored to lead directly to a doctoral degree in a "fast-track" curriculum. For the students in that program supported by AICES stipends, e.g. M.S. degree in Computational Engineering Science will be granted on the basis of 2–3 semesters of course work (depending on the B.S. degree) and a Master's thesis which also serves as the doctoral thesis proposal. The doctoral program will be designed according to the third phase of the Bologna declaration. One of the core elements of the doctoral training program is the mentoring team. The mentoring team comprises a principal doctoral advisor (typically an independent young researcher), a co-advisor (typically a senior faculty), a senior doctoral student mentor, and a member of the AICES service team.
This construct is tailored to (a) increase student-advisor contact and speed up the training schedule by assigning only junior research group leaders as principal advisors, (b) deliver true independence of the junior research groups by the same measure, (c) provide necessary mentoring to the young researchers in their advising role by assigning tenured faculty as co-advisors, and (d) foster interdisciplinarity by strongly encouraging teams that combine advisor and co-advisor from different departments.
The AICES program bears resemblance to Research Training Groups (Graduiertenkolleg) which have long existed in Germany; the distinguishing factors in AICES are the combined Master/doctoral tracks and a broader research area.