CareerDesign@TUM: New career paths for mid-level academic staff

CareerDesign@TUM is a holistic personal development program for mid-level academic staff ("Akademischer Mittelbau"). The unique program implements five new qualification tracks and offers attractive alternatives to pursuing a professorship. Following the logic of lifelong learning as a fundamental understanding of education, CareerDesign@TUM promotes individualized, proactive and dynamic professional development by offering TUM scientific staff a structured part-time further qualification program.

Five fields of activity

Enabling participants to develop their talents and interests, CareerDesign@TUM opens up five attractive qualification paths. The CareerDesign@TUM-team supports participants to identify a suitable qualification track.

The qualification profile of the TUM Researcher is designed for participants who strive for a position in the immediate environment of a professorship but with reduced academic teaching. This profile has a particular focus on research participation & coordination, application management for third-party funding. 


The qualification profile of the TUM Lecturer addresses participants who strive for an activity as autonomous academic lecturer or “instructional designer” with research-oriented teaching contributions.


The qualification profile of the TUM Science Manager addresses participants who would like to focus on the supervision of science-supporting units (such as the management of schools / departments or research clusters) or central university services (such as the appointment of staff, TUM ForTe or International Center).


The qualification profile of the TUM Entrepreneurial Advisor addresses participants who strive for an activity in innovation and spin-off management. The program prepares them for the promotion of up-and-coming entrepreneurial talents. The program deepens understanding of how to support entrepreneurs in the preparation and implementation of bringing innovative ideas to life in the technology sector. 


The qualification profile of the TUM Technical Expert is aimed at participants who work in scientific and technical companies. This includes, for example, the responsibility for the operation and further development of apparatus infrastructures (e.g. large-scale devices, TUM Core Facilities), technology transfer (e.g. standardization, industrial consulting) and technical testing as well as activities in central laboratories, IT centers or an activity or the TUM Institute for Data Science.


Three-Level Qualification Model

CareerDesign@TUM builds on a three-level qualification model enabling particpants to develop from an Associate to Senior Level and includes an extra-occupational, structured qualification program. Each of the three levels has a different focus:

• The Asscociate Level focuses on professional competences and fundamental cross-sectional skills.

• The Promotion Level focuses on relevant management skills for the respective activity (e.g. change management, project management).

• The Senior Level focuses on the acquisition of leadership skills (e.g. personnel management, personnel selection, strategic leadership).

The qualification elements of CareerDesign@TUM consist of a combination of formal training units as well as a high proportion of guided self-study. Peer mentoring, projects and a number of individual qualifications ensure the direct transfer and adaption to the participants’ work context. After each of the three levels the participant gains certification of the acquired competence.

With CareerDesign@TUM we build on and encourage the following attitudes: entrepreneurial thinking and acting, innovative spirit, flexibility, loyalty, goal orientation, learning orientation and self-reflection.

FAQs CareerDesign@TUM

What is CareerDesign@TUM?

CareerDesign@TUM is a systematic and structured qualification program for mid-level academic staff. The unique program opens up attractive career options for TUM employees aside from professorship. Following the logic of lifelong learning, CareerDesign@TUM supports a proactive management participants’ own career and offers TUM mid-level academic staff the opportunity for further extra-occupational qualification.

Does CareerDesign@TUM represent a TUM-wide offer?

CareerDesign@TUM is a TUM-wide offer for all members of TUM mid-level academic staff.

Who is involved in the conception of CareerDesign@TUM?

CareerDesign@TUM was developed under the direction of SVP Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus. Interviews with the deans and members of the mid-level academic staff formed the basis for the rough concept of CareerDesign@TUM. A task force on talent management commissioned by the university's executive board contributed important impulses. The detailed conception of the qualification programs for the five career paths is currently in the hands of project groups consisting of representatives from the relevant fields of activity (e.g. ProLehre, UnternehmerTUM, TUM ForTe, the central academic institutions, and faculties). In the context of developing CareerDesign@TUM, intensive discussions with representatives of the mid-level academic staff have been and are being held. The project team is, among others, in exchange with the Research Associates’ Council of the TUM.

Are other universities planning similar programs?

CareerDesign@TUM is a qualification program unique in Germany, with which TUM, as part of the third round of the Excellence Initiative, is addressing one of the "central challenges for the German academic system" (Wissenschaftsrat, 2017). CareerDesign@TUM is a personnel-strategic key project of the TUM Agenda 2030 and for the first time introduces talent-promoting career paths for mid-level academic staff.

What qualification paths are planned for CareerDesign@TUM?

CareerDesign@TUM offers five qualification paths that enable the development of individual talents and interests:

  • TUM Lecturer: Activity as an independent teacher or learning professional integrated into existing teaching units with research-oriented teaching contributions
  • TUM Researcher: Autonomous research activity connected to the departments/schools or an activity in research management
  • TUM Science Manager: Activity in science-supporting areas within the departments/schools and centralized university services in science management
  • TUM Technical Expert: Activity in operation and (further) development of the technical infrastructure, operation and management of technical testing offices and central laboratories or activity in the IT service area
  • TTUM Entrepreneurial Advisor: Activity in the promotion of entrepreneurial talents, spin-off management, technology transfer and start-up consulting

Employees in mid-level positions often cover tasks from several tracks. How are such generalistically oriented profiles compatible with the possibility of specialization within CareerDesign@TUM?

The newly created qualification program CareerDesign@TUM offers for academic staff the opportunity to specialize and set priorities. CareerDesign@TUM is designed to enable participants to proactively shape their own careers and set priorities according to their own talents and interests. It is desired that, after the participation in CareerDesign@TUM, academic staff members will continue to pursue a variety of activities.

How will the unity of teaching and research at a university be ensured if there are going to be two career tracks (TUM Researcher, TUM Lecturer)?

The conjunction of research and teaching is a central quality feature of university teaching and is not intended to be weakened by CareerDesign@TUM. The tracks TUM Researcher and TUM Lecturer will focus on research (with autonomous research) and teaching respectively (autonomous teaching, development of teaching formats, management of teaching). However, the activity as TUM Lecturer will always have a research part and a TUM Researcher will continue to be involved in teaching.

How is the qualification program specifically structured? 

All five qualification paths are based on a multi-stage model that enables the development from the associate level to the senior level and includes a part-time, structured qualification program. Each of the three levels have a different focus: The first qualification level focuses on the teaching of professional skills and basic cross-sectional competencies. The second qualification level focuses on the attainment of management skills relevant to the respective job (e.g. change management) and the third qualification level focuses on the acquisition of leadership skills (e.g. personnel management, strategic leadership). The qualification elements of CareerDesign@TUM include formal training units and a high proportion of self-study phases. In the context of a development coaching participants work out their individual development plan. (Peer-)Mentoring, work shadowing and project work ensure the transfer into the working context.

Can already acquired competences be credited? 

CareerDesign@TUM merges previous offers in the areas of further education and personnel development at TUM. Accordingly, the participation in existing course programs and qualification measures (e.g. within the framework of ProLehre, TUM horizons, etc.) can be credited.

Can individual coaching sessions be arranged within CareerDesign@TUM?

Individual coaching sessions are an element of CareerDesign@TUM. The participants compile a personal development plan as part of a development coaching, in which individual interests and abilities as well as the requirements of the different career paths are considered.

Who is the contact person for CareerDesign@TUM?

You are welcome to send us your questions and suggestions:  careerdesign(at)

Can I recommend colleagues for CareerDesign@TUM?

You are welcome to inform your colleagues about CareerDesign@TUM. For questions please contact us: careerdesign(at)

Is the participation in CareerDesign@TUM voluntary?

The participation in CareerDesign@TUM is voluntary and requires a proactive application.

Who can apply for CareerDesign@TUM?

areerDesign@TUM is open to all members of TUM mid-level academic staff. A completed doctorate is generally required, an admission without a doctorate (but with several years of relevant work experience) is decided by the CareerDesign@TUM board. What are the admission requirements? In addition to a written application (letter of motivation and CV) for one of the five qualification paths, participants need a letter of recommendation from their supervisor.

What are the application modalities for CareerDesign@TUM?

The entry point to CareerDesign@TUM is a proactive application. The following application documents are required:

Associate level:

  • Written application including letter of motivation and curriculum vitae
  • A letter of recommendation from the supervisor

Intermediate level:

  • Written application including letter of motivation and curriculum vitae
  • A letter of recommendation from the supervisor
  • A second letter of recommendation from an executive of the TUM

Senior level:

  • Written application including letter of motivation and curriculum vitae
  • A letter of recommendation from the supervisor
  •  A second letter of recommendation from an executive of the TUM

Who decides on the admission to the program?

Admission to CareerDesign@TUM is granted after a positive admission decision by the CareerDesign@TUM Board based on the application documents.

Is the current occupation decisive for the qualification path to be chosen?

Scientific staff members are generally welcome to apply for all career tracks. The chosen qualification path should be oriented towards the current and future activities, a certain permeability is given. For the intermediate and senior level, several years of relevant professional experience in the respective field of activity is a prerequisite for an application.

How permeable are the individual tracks? Is it possible to work on several tracks in parallel?

Of course it is conceivable that the career goals of the participants change over the years. We consider a change of the chosen career path as an exception in justified individual cases and this requires a new application. The decision about changing to another qualification path and the crediting of previously completed qualification elements is made by the CareerDesign@TUM Board. In general, employees should assume responsibility for their own career path at an early stage by participating in information events, attending coaching sessions, and a structured self-assessment, so that the application for a qualification track constitutes a well-founded decision.

How do I decide which level is suitable for me?

Applicants can apply for a level according to the official guidelines in the CareerDesign@TUM Statute (currently in preparation). If the appropriate level is unclear, the team of CareerDesign@TUM in coordination with the CareerDesign@TUM Board will give advise on the appropriate qualification level in the respective career track.

Is CareerDesign@TUM also open to external participants?

The application is only open to internal TUM candidates. Single qualification elements are planned in cooperation with TUM-external partner organizations (e.g. Max Planck Society, corporate partners and partner universities).

Is it possible to apply for CareerDesign@TUM with a fixed-term employment contract?

CareerDesign@TUM is open to all members of the mid-level academic staff. The modular qualification program can, in the interest of providing equal opportunities, be completed flexibly in terms of time and in parallel to work. The prerequisite is an employment at TUM for the expected duration of the qualification level or the prospect of employment until the end of the qualification stage.

Are there any age limits for applying for CareerDesign@TUM?

No, there are no age limits.

Is CareerDesign@TUM also open to non-scientific personnel or members of the academic staff who are hired as "non-scientific"?

CareerDesign@TUM was primarily developed for mid-level academic staff (e.g. scientific employees with a doctorate) from E13/A13 onwards who are aiming for a career aside from a professorship. Generally speaking, non-scientific staff members who, for example, are active in management roles in areas supporting science can also apply. The CareerDesign@TUM team will be happy to advise you. The CareerDesign@TUM Board decides on the admission to the qualification program.

Is the approval of the supervisor required to participate in CareerDesign@TUM?

The support of the supervisor is central to the own career development. Accordingly, the TUM Board of Management, the deans and the team of CareerDesign@TUM will actively promote the further qualification of the mid-level academic staff. The CareerDesign@TUM team supports supervisors in advising and assessing employees (e.g. in writing letters of recommendation). The CareerDesign@TUM Board also advises and supports you in cases where the supervisor does not (initially) agree to the participation. Please contact us confidentially.