Research in Germany


Doing a Doctorate

A doctorate is a decision for life, an investment in your future – but also a time-consuming challenge that needs to be given careful consideration. A doctorate demands a great deal of energy, discipline and perseverance. In Germany some 25,000 graduates successfully complete the doctoral process every year – far more than in any other European country. And increasing numbers of up-and-coming international researchers are coming to Germany to write their doctoral dissertations or to complete their doctorates as members of research teams: Since 1997 the number of foreigners registered as doctoral students in Germany has more than doubled to just under 17,000.

The traditional way

Studis 001

At present the most common path to a doctorate in Germany involves working under the supervision of a professor. Everyone has to decide for themselves which field of research they want to pursue, and which universities and professors are on their short list. The potential doctoral student then has to apply personally to these university professors. It is important to do so in good time, preferably in person (or in writing) – and you should be well-prepared with information about your previous background and academic performance and your academic goals. "Well-prepared” also means that you should already have a brief synopsis of the doctoral dissertation you are planning to write. Then you have to convince your chosen supervisor to accept you. After all, the relationship between supervisor and doctoral student is supposed to last several years – usually three to five – and involves a lot of work for both sides.

To find an academic supervisor, it is recommended to use the "Research Explorer" provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG) or to search for PhD positions via the platform "PhDGermany".

Structured PhD Programmes

Recent years have increasingly seen Graduate Schools or PhD programmes (also called: International Postgraduate Programmes, Doctoral Colleges, Graduate Centres or Graduate Colleges) develop. These comparably new programmes have been introduced in order to facilitate interdisciplinary research and to guide and assist candidates and recent postdocs in the framework of a structured curriculum

Useful links for PhD student: (Research Explorer)

More information can be found in the following brochures:

Doing a PhD

The German Research Landscape

German Funding Programmes for Researchers and Scientists

Important Links 

Pocket Guide 

Doing a PhD in Germany- Placement and Funding

Doing a Postdoc and advanced research in Germany- Placement and Funding

Study and Research in Germany: Annotated Weblinks

Doing a doctorate in Germany

Preparing your Research Stay

Funding your Research Stay

The German Research Landscape

Email- Etiquette

How to find a supervisor

How to write a research proposal

" How to Develop a Research Project and Write a Research Proposal". 

Postdoctoral Research

Research fellows holding a PhD degree can apply to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for funding of research projects at German universities or research organisations. Research Stays for up to three months may also be funded by the DAAD. Some of the above mentioned research organisations may also announce postdoc positions.