Research in Germany


Doctorate Studies

The importance of scientific research in Germany has made it the third country worldwide with the highest number of foreign doctorate students. This is obvious thanks to the number of international doctorate programmes and specialisation possibilities that German Universities offer.

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 ma-jority 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 researchBild 1 Why Germany _ _daad Volker Lannert
Bild 1 Why Germany _ _daad Volker Lannert
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.


You can choose either a traditional doctorate or a doctorate school. In the traditional type, you will work with a supervisor (Doktorvater / Doktormutter) who will supervise your research. Generally the language used here is German. The success of the research project will depend on the quality of scientific collaboration between the candidate and the supervisor.

If your doctorate falls under a structured programme you will be a member of a research group wherein you will have the possibility to swap information with other doctorate students during colloquiums and seminars. In this framework you can have one or many supervisors who are part of your doctorate school. The means of communication is usually English but knowledge of German may be of great advantage.

Individual doctorate

Bild 2 Individual _ _daad Volker Lannert
Bild 2 Individual _ _daad Volker Lannert

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.

For more information:

Structured PhD programmes

Bild 3 Structured _ _daad Volker Lannert
Bild 3 Structured _ _daad Volker Lannert
In addition to individual doctoral study, candidates can also attain their doctorates in structured PhD programmes which strongly re-semble 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 systematic and intensive supervision offered in these programmes allow candidates to complete their doctoral studies within three to four years.

For more information:

PhD Germany – DAAD Platform for Doctoral Positions

Would you like to do a PhD in Germany? German higher education and research Logo Phd Germany
Logo Phd Germany
institutions are constantly on the lookout for qualified international doctoral candidates. In the DAAD database, you will find PhD positions specifically for foreign applicants.

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International doctoral programmes in 2012

You're interested in International Doctoral Programmes in Germany?

Bild 4 International Programmes _ _daad Volker Lannert
Bild 4 International Programmes _ _daad Volker Lannert

This database by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) presents a selection of international doctoral programmes that are especially interested in attracting international doctoral stu-dents.

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Requirements & preparation

Bild 5 Requirements _ _daad Volker Lannert
Bild 5 Requirements _ _daad Volker Lannert
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.

Cameroonian candidates for doctorate studies in Germany should be holders of a DEA or a Masters II. Please note that DIPES II and other professional diplomas are not accepted for the admission in a doctoral programme.

Restrictive measures can be taken before the final admission of a candidate. An additional training can be required. The admission in a graduate school or the supervision by a German university professor is the basic requirement to obtain the status of doctorate candidate in Germany.

To get a supervisor you can visit various websites. The website of each University shows a list of lecturers with their specialisations. You can send your CV to any lecturer whose specialisation matches yours. Do not be discouraged if you have no reply after trying to contact a professor. Note that English is the most appropriate means of communication if you don’t speak German.

You can also visit the ‘hochschulkompass’ designed by the German Conference of Rectors.

For more information:

Funding opportunities

There are numerous funding opportunities for foreign doctoral candidatBild 6 Funding _ _daad Sigrid Lannert
Bild 6 Funding _ _daad Sigrid Lannert
es in Germany. The DAAD is Germany’s largest scholar-ship provider – especially to doctoral candidates from abroad. More information on funding opportunities for doctoral candidates:

• DAAD scholarship database:

• Selected funding programmes:

Financing your PhD

Bild 7 Financing _ _daad Volker Lannert
Bild 7 Financing _ _daad Volker Lannert
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.

Brochure: FAQs - Doing a doctorate in Germany

FAQ document with important questions and answers on doing a doctorate in Germany: formal requirements, structured programmes and Graduate Colleges, funding opportunities and many practical tips. Target group: foreign graduates wishing to do a doctorate in Germany.

Download brochure here!