Some 25,000 academics receive doctoral degrees in Germany every year – far more than in any other European country. And each year, more and more young international researchers are choosing to write their dissertations or join a doctoral research team in Germany. In fact, the number of foreign doctoral candidates in Germany has more than doubled since 1997.
There’s more than one way to get your doctoral title in Germany. Depending on the subject, research proposal and type of university, there are several possible paths to a PhD, the most common of which are individual doctoral studies and structured PhD programmes. The majority of doctoral candidates in Germany pursue PhDs through individual doctoral study, yet structured PhD programmes are becoming increasingly common.
Why pursue a doctorate in Germany?
Germany is one of the leading researching nations in the world. Its science and research sector is renowned for its outstanding infra-structure, a widely diverse spectrum of research areas and well-equipped facilities and institutes. In addition, many organisations offer numerous grants and scholarships to foreign doctoral candi-dates.
Language is not a barrier. If you cannot speak a word of German, you can still do research freely in Germany. Numerous research projects are currently conducted in English. The researchers are also recruited internationally. Therefore, the German language does not constitute an obstacle for you to do research in Germany. For more information, please click here.
Traditional or Structured -
2 Pathways to Doctorates
If you decide to do a doctorate in Germany, you should have completed your academic studies up to master’s level with above average grades. To gain a doctorate you can choose between two different approaches.
(A) Individual Doctorate
(B) Stuctured PhD Programmes
A) Individual Doctorate
The majority of doctoral candidates in Germany choose to pursue their doctorates through individual doctoral study. In this model, candidates must find a university professor who will supervise their work on their dissertation. Depending on the subject, the disserta-tion can be written independently or in collaboration with other re-searchers. Doctoral candidates are free to choose where they would like to conduct research – either at a university, non-university research organisation or in industry. The duration of an individual doctorate depends on one’s personal schedule – or the length of one’s research contract. The duration of individual doc-toral study usually ranges from three to five years.
In addition to individual doctoral study, candidates can also attain their doctorates in structured PhD programmes which strongly resemble those in Anglo-Saxon countries. In such a programme, a team of supervisors are responsible for advising the doctoral can-didates. The programmes offer a curriculum of accompanying courses which are usually interdisciplinary in focus and promote the acquisition of “soft skills” and additional qualifications. The sys-tematic and intensive supervision offered in these programmes allow candidates to complete their doctoral studies within three to four years.
PhD Germany – DAAD Platform for Doctoral Positions
Would you like to do a PhD in Germany? German higher education and research institutions are constantly on the lookout for qualified international doctoral candidates. In the DAAD database, you will find PhD positions specifically for foreign applicants.
You're interested in International Doctoral Programmes in Ger-many? This database by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) presents a selection of international doctoral programmes that are especially interested in attracting international doctoral students.
Before you can begin your doctoral studies in Germany, there are some preliminary steps you must take, for instance, getting your post-graduate degree recognised and applying for a residence permit. The following is an overview of the most important re-quirements and some practical advice to prepare for your doctoral visit.
In addition to scholarships and funding programmes, there are many other ways to finance a PhD in Germany. Click here to find out more about employment opportunities at universities, in indus-try and non-university research organisations.