After completing the “Aspiring Phase“, students are fully enrolled in the Graduate School and can participate in all the online and face-to-face activities described above. Participation is structured around the notion of the PhD as a research project that can be managed with to Project Management tools and divided into three stages within which students receive special support adapted to the goals of each stage:
- Project initiation: After the “Aspiring Phase” students are encouraged to partake in the EDELNet PhD Intensive Study Programme. This involves the previous completion of the e-courses in intercultural awareness, academic integrity, research project management and a module of their choice in legal research methods. This phase aims to equip students with the basic skills and knowledge necessary to design and plan their research projects. The main product of the phase is a fully-fledged research plan. In the case of students from the FernUniversität in Hagen who have made a supervision contract (Promotionsvereinbarung) with their supervisor, which generally encompasses a research plan, this stage takes the form of additional l;
- Project Implementation: After producing a first blueprint of their projects, students are expected to focus on the implementation of their research plans. For this purpose a PhD dissertation writing course will be developed. At the same time, in order to keep students connected and motivated through continuous scientific stimuli and exchange, they are given the opportunity to participate on a regular basis in guest lectures and micro-seminars. They are also encouraged to deliver their own peer-teaching as a chance to improve their organizational and public communication skills and get some useful feedback from other Graduate School members. The main product of this phase is the doctorate dissertation. Publication of original pieces in peer-reviewed journals during this phase will be encouraged;
- Project Finalization: Once their dissertation is written, students are invited to participate as peer instructors in the Winter Programme. At this point, advice and specific networking regarding dissemination strategies, incl. publication, are made available to the students;
- Alumni Network: Once students have completed the programme and obtained their PhD degree, they are invited to join the alumni network described above.
 In this phase, however, research plans are not conceived as static and rigid guidelines, but rather as a PM tool subjected to integrated change control that properly accounts for the whole project life cycle. See Project Management Institute (2008) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fourth Edition, pp. 15ff.