PhD Guide For Germany – A Complete Guide

PhD Guide For Germany – A Complete Guide

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If you are thinking to deepen your knowledge further and opt for a PhD and want to move abroad for the qualifications, Germany can be the perfect country. In this blog, we will tell you all the details you need to know for pursuing a PhD in Germany.

PhD in Germany

The PhD program in Germany aims to work on and publish a written doctoral thesis/dissertation. A PhD degree is awarded based on examination of the thesis, which must be published in journals specified by the universities and by an oral examination of thesis presentation.

  • Do your Phd from abroad

There are mainly two types of higher education institutions in Germany:

Universities that are research-oriented institutions and offer a wide variety of subjects. Many of the universities also award PhD (usually called doctorate in Europe) degrees.

Fachhochschulen or the University of Applied Sciences, also called FH, is practice-oriented institutions and offers courses mostly in engineering, business administration, social sciences, and design. They do not award doctorates.

Both types of universities offer Bachelors and Masters degrees. After completing a Masters from either institution, you can get admission to a PhD program at a University. In Germany, after an Undergraduate (Bachelors) degree, you can directly get enrolled for a PhD program at a University.

Germany is also known for its research institutions. However, these research institutions can’t award PhD degrees, but they host many PhD students for the significant part of their doctorates. They are jointly supervised by a professor in a university (Germany/abroad) from which the PhD will be awarded.

Types of PhDs in Germany

Following are the two types of PhDs in Germany:

1. The traditional approach with Individual Doctorate

Under the conventional method, you need to identify a supervisor at a German university who is willing to guide your research. And there will be no compulsory attendance, deadlines and curriculum. As you would primarily be working independently. The average length of this kind of PhD is 3 to 5 years.

2. Structured Programs with Doctorate in a Team of Researchers

In this program, first, your research proposal has to fit within existing PhD programs, unlike Individual Doctorate, in which your PhD can be more freely structured to suit your research project.

Second, you work as part of a group of doctoral students, and a group of supervisors guides all. This is one of the most common programs in Germany for PhD, often with an international make-up, with English as the team language. The average length of this kind of PhD is three years.

Study PhD in Germany – Procedure and Requirements

Fees and Funding – PhD Guide For Germany

There is no tuition fee for PhD program in Germany. However, you will be asked to pay a small administrative fee of €50 – €250, which is to cover service costs such as student governance and services, public transport etc., you will also be required to take health insurance.

So your main cost for a PhD in Germany is your living expenses. An average student in Germany needs about €820 per month to cover living expenses, including rent, food, clothing, transportation, etc.

You can start earning by doing part-time jobs. DAAD offers scholarships to international students for pursuing a PhD. Depending on the subject, there are also numerous organisations in Germany that award individual grants.

To get part-time work as an international student, please ensure that your residence permit allows you to take paid work. Under a structured program, you also need to include an application for funding in your PhD application. If you are accepted for a PhD, you can expect a monthly allowance of €1,000 – €1,400.

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements will vary between universities and PhD programs.  You must have a degree, which is equivalent to a German Masters degree, along with a high GPA. Each university has its own decisions on the admission of doctoral students.

Some universities may ask for proof of English language proficiency. They may ask you for TOELF or IELTS score.

How to apply for a PhD in Germany (PhD Guide For Germany)

If you are pursuing a Traditional PhD, you will need to find a suitable professor willing to be your supervisor. You should directly reach out to potential supervisors in your research interest. You should send a brief and well-structured outline of your PhD proposal along with your academic background and CV. However, this process is time-consuming.

If you are pursuing a Structured PhD, you should identify universities in your research area and contact them directly. You must complete the application procedure, as instructed on their websites and within the application deadline.

How To Choose A PhD Supervisor?

Admission procedures

Once you have a letter of acceptance from your supervisor or a confirmation of admission for a structured program, you should apply for formal admissions.

These vary depending on the institution. This usually involves completing an application that includes a statement by your doctoral supervisor, certified copies of certificates and the university degree that entitles you to engage in doctoral study.

Your application may also include an English or German language test result; however, this may vary accordingly. After your documents are reviewed and granted permission, you can start your doctorate.


Next is enrollment after a university accepts your application. Some universities may not require you to enrol at university officially. Enrolling secures you a better legal status as an international student. You must also make sure your Masters degree is recognised; obtain a residence permit or student visa.

  • Do your Phd from abroad
Language Requirements

You don’t need to be able to speak German for your PhD. For Individual PhD, your thesis can often be written in English, whereas for a Structured PhD, you’re allowed to complete your doctorate in English.

However, it will be helpful if you learn basic German as it may help you in better experience and job opportunities.

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Important FAQs

1. How long is a PhD in Germany?    

The average length of this kind of PhD is three years. The majority of doctoral candidates still complete a traditional doctorate.

2. What is the assessment procedure for a German PhD?

The assessment procedure for a German PhD depends on the type of programme you pursue. Students following a traditional PhD will submit a doctoral thesis and complete an oral presentation and examination of their work in front of at least two professors in related fields.