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Why study a doctorate in Germany?

Why study a doctorate in Germany?

Why study a phd in Germany?


Germany is one of the most popular destinations for studying abroad, with around 3,600 international graduates completing their doctorate there each year. Read on to find out how to apply for a doctorate in Germany

Why study a phd in Germany?

It is not difficult to understand why Germany is popular as a study destination. It has a worldwide reputation as a world leader in technological innovation and research, has a robust economy and an attractive quality of life, and a particularly renowned tradition in fields such as engineering and manufacturing.

Many of its universities enjoy a solid international reputation, with 45 ranked among 1000 best in the world in the QS World University Rankings® 2019. Among them, the prestigious research university Technische Universität München is ranked first in the country and 61st in the world, followed shortly after by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in 62nd place.

In addition to offering a high standard of living, Germany welcomes international students with low study costs and good funding opportunities. Doctoral students in Germany generally do not charge tuition fees (see below), and more than a quarter of doctoral students in Germany receive public funding.

What types of the doctorate are offered in Germany?

Individual doctorate

This is the traditional option and remains the most popular. In this type of doctorate, you will produce your thesis or your thesis under the supervision of a professor, but will mainly work independently. The duration of these doctorates varies, generally from three to five years. This option offers great flexibility, but also requires a great deal of personal initiative and responsibility. You are not limited to obtaining your doctorate by doing research work at a university; you can also carry out a project in a non-university research organization or a German industrial company.

Structured doctoral programs

You can also choose what is called a structured doctoral program. This implies that a group of doctoral students is guided by a group of supervisors. There are around 600 such programs available in Germany, often with an international composition, with English as the language of instruction. These programs differ from individual doctoral programs in that student research proposals must be integrated into existing doctoral programs, while individual doctorates can be more freely structured according to the individual research project. You will also be required to attend conferences and seminars, and you will normally have a mentor.

Which German universities offer doctorates?

Many universities in Germany offer doctorates. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers a database that you can use to find the doctoral program that is right for you.

How much does it cost to study a phd in Germany?

Good news! Although tuition fees were reintroduced for non-European students in Baden-Württemberg in 2017, doctoral students are excluded, which means that doctorates remain free for all students at all public universities in Germany, whatever their nationality, up to the standard duration of a doctorate (three years). Beyond that, you may have to pay a fee.

However, as with all levels of study in Germany, doctoral students are also required to take a semester contribution of between € 150 and € 200 (~ US $ 175-230) for administrative and other costs.

This means that your main expenses will be the general expenses of living in Germany. If you are applying for a student visa, you will be asked to prove that you have access to a minimum of € 8,700 (~ US $ 10,150) per year.

However, according to DAAD, this figure may not be a sufficient amount, since the average student in Germany needs around € 10,200 per year (or € 850 per month) to cover living expenses, which include rent, food, clothing, transportation, work equipment, recreation, and other costs. Even more, than that may be necessary to live in a particularly expensive city like Munich.

Are there funds available?

Most doctoral students work on a paid research project or receive a scholarship. If you wish to apply for a grant to cover your expenses, you may be able to find them on the official website of the university where you wish to study. You can also view our list of scholarships to study in Germany, including doctoral funding opportunities. Other good sources for finding scholarships are www.funding-guide.de and www.stipendienlotse.de (website in German).

You can also consider taking on a part-time job to supplement your funding, whether at university or beyond - but be aware of any restrictions. If you are a full-time EU or EEA student (excluding students from Bulgaria and Romania), there are no restrictions as to where or when you can work. If you are a full-time student from outside the EU, you will be limited to working up to 120 full days or 240 half days a year before applying for a work permit. When you gain paid employment in Germany, you must contact the German employment agency to find out more about the legal requirements.

What are the entry requirements?

Entry requirements will vary between universities and doctoral programs, but in general, you will need to have a good higher education qualification equivalent to a German master's. Alternatively, highly qualified international applicants with a bachelor's degree can be admitted as doctoral students via an accelerated program, which will involve passing an entrance exam and possibly attending an interview.

If you study your doctorate in English and it is not your first language, you will have to prove your mastery of English with an English test such as IELTS or TOEFL. If you are studying or submitting your doctorate in German, you may need to prove your mastery of the language with a test such as DSH or TestDaF.

How to apply for a doctorate in Germany?

There is no central admissions process or selection office for doctoral students in Germany, and the application process differs depending on whether you have chosen a traditional (individual) or structured doctorate - for the latter, you will simply have to apply directly to the university of your choice.

If you are applying for an individual doctorate, you will first need to find an appropriate professor who agrees to be your supervisor. You may be able to find a supervisor through contacts from your previous university, or by research institutes and research centers or teams that relate to your area of ​​interest. The following online search platforms can help you find a suitable supervisor:

  • DAAD
  • PhD Germany
  • Hochschulkompass.de
  • academics.de

Once you have found a research director, the responsible department or doctoral committee must confirm your eligibility as a doctoral student. This usually involves filling out an application that includes a statement from your doctoral director, certified copies of certificates, proof of recognition of your qualifications by the dean's office, academic references, and the university degree that allows you to participate in doctoral studies. Your request may also include an English or German language test result, if applicable. The student office of your chosen university will examine these documents and grant you permission to start doctoral studies.

The next step is to enroll in the university. To be eligible for registration, the university must first accept your request for admission to doctoral studies. However, not all departments require that doctoral candidates officially register. You can find all the registration requirements on the university's official website.

You must also ensure that your postgraduate diploma is recognized, obtain a residence permit and / or student visa, and ensure that you have adequate finances for your stay.

Do I need a student visa?

It will depend on your country of origin. Many students will find that they do not need a student visa but need a residence permit. You can find out more about obtaining a German student visa here or find an overview of the countries for which a student visa is or is not required on the website of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Do I have to speak German?

No. However, we recommend that you learn at least basic German to help you get by in your host country, especially if you want to work during or after your studies. If you are studying an individual doctorate, the doctoral thesis can often be written in English, while structured doctoral programs frequently allow students to complete their doctorate in English.


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