Doctoral studies in Germany


Interested in research? In that case, doing a doctorate in Germany might be the right choice for you. While you are studying for your doctorate, you might be able to support yourself by working as a research assistant at a university, or by working for a company.

Residence permits

Residence permits

If you wish to pursue a scientific career at a German university or in a research institute, you do not need any special residence permit if you are an EU citizen. If you come from another country, all you have to do is to have your residence permit extended by your local foreign nationals' registration office. To do so, you will need your certificate of matriculation. Furthermore, you need to be able to prove that you have adequate health insurance and that you are able to support yourself.We recommend that you ask the foreign residents’ registration office which documents you need to bring with you. Some local offices provide information about this on the Internet too.

Doctoral studies as a university employee

Doctoral studies as a university employee

If you want to explore certain aspects of your studies in greater depth by doing a doctorate, the best thing to do is to contact the professors concerned. That way, you will get first-hand information about your chances of doing a doctorate in a given department – for example as a research assistant. You will also find openings for doctorate studentships on the Web sites of the different universities. On the "PhDGermany" platform of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), German universities and research institutes publish doctoral positions which specifically address foreign candidates. Prospective candidates can do targeted searches for suitable doctorates and apply directly via the DAAD portal. The "Research in Germany" portal offers further information about individual doctorates.

Doctoral studies with a company

Doctoral studies with a company

Some companies will let you work at the same time as you conduct your doctoral research. In that case, you will be an employee of the company. However, you will be supervised by university professors. Young researchers often use this option to help them onto the career ladder. You will find a list of companies in a number of different research areas on the "Research in Germany” portal.

Doctoral programmes

Doctoral programmes

Doctoral programmes, research training groups and graduate schools provide further possible ways of embarking upon a scientific career. When taking part in such doctoral programmes or research training groups, you are often a member of a research team and have numerous supervisors. Moreover, university events such as colloquia are often part and parcel of the programme. In this online database of the DAAD, besides around 300 of these "structured" doctoral programmes you will also find a list of the international bachelor and master programmes: You can find out more about structured doctoral programmes here.

How to apply

How to apply

If you want to obtain a position in a research training group or if you want a university professor to supervise you in your doctoral studies, you usually have to apply. Read the instructions for applying for the different research programmes carefully. A standard application will include a CV showing your academic achievements and research work (for example, the content and mark of your master’s thesis), your diplomas, and perhaps also your actual master’s thesis and an outline of your proposed doctoral dissertation. To be admitted to a German university as a doctoral student, depending on your line of study you need to have obtained a "Diplom", a "Staatsexamen", a "Magister" or a master’s degree. Before applying, find out which conditions you have to meet to be admitted. The DAAD explains how to successfully apply for a doctoral position in a German university step by step here (German).

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Information on the World Wide Web

PhDGermany publishes doctoral positions at German universities and research institutes which specifically address foreign candidates (Germany, English). 

Research in Germany
Information on doctoral studies and research in Germany and funding for international doctoral students (German, English)

Scholarships database
Search engine of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for scholarships in Germany (German, English, Spanish)

Uni assist
The university application service for international students (German, English, Spanish, French, Russian)

Higher Education Compass
Information about German universities and courses of study (German, English)

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Doing a PhD in Germany (German, English, Spanish)

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Database of international programmes at universities in Germany (English)

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Information about university projects abroad (Germany)

Anabin database
Information about recognition of foreign qualifications (Germany)

Network of the leading Institutes of Technology in Germany (TU9)
Information on studies, Research and PhD-Programmes in Germany (German, English)