PhD Programmes


PhD in Germany

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?

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Germany is one of the leading researching nations in the world. Its science and research sector is renowned for its outstanding infrastructure, 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 candidates. 

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Individual doctorate

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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 dissertation can be written independently or in collaboration with other researchers. 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 doctoral study usually ranges from three to five years. 

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Structured PhD programmes 

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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 candidates. 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.  

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PhD Germany – DAAD Platform for Doctoral Positions 

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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.

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International doctoral programmes

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You're interested in International Doctoral Programmes in Germany? 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.

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Requirements & preparation 

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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 requirements and some practical advice to prepare for your doctoral visit.  

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Studying PhD in Germany, is also an online guide serving to all the international students seeking to study PhD in Germany. It covers an extended information about the university admission criteria, visa requirements, recognition of higher education, available PhD programmes, top university and non-university research institutions in Germany, PhD thesis, a successful post PhD career and much more.

Funding opportunities

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There are numerous funding opportunities for foreign doctoral candidates in Germany. The DAAD is Germany’s largest scholarship provider – especially to doctoral candidates from abroad. More information on funding opportunities for doctoral candidates:


Financing your PhD

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In addition to scholarships and funding programmes, there are many other ways to finance a PhD in Germany. To find out more about employment opportunities at universities, in industry and non-university research organisations, click here:

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!