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
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.
The „Research in Germany“ portal informs about doctoral studies in Germany and opportunities for funding and financing.
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, 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: www.daad.de/international-programmes. The „Research in Germany“ portal helps you in finding the right doctoral studies programme.
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 thesis. 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 „Research in Germany“ portal explains how to successfully apply for a doctoral position in a German university step by step.
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Searches for scholarships in Germany (German, English)
Research in Germany
Why doing a PhD in Germany? (German, English)