Paid PhD positions & part-time jobs

Student drawing with chalk on a board

In many cases, doctoral students work (part-time) as academic assistants or research associates (paid PhD positions) at German universities, in research training groups or at non-university research institutes



  • Working at a German university

    If you are completing an individual doctorate, employment at a university is common. Often, PhD students are employed as academic assistants or research associates on part-time fixed-term contracts at the institute of their supervisor, where they are usually deployed in teaching and/or in (usually third party-funded) research projects.

  • Paid PhD position at a non-university research institute

    Numerous support programmes and sponsorship organisations also support up-and-coming researchers outside higher education. Non-university research establishments – such as the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association and Max Planck Society – do not have the right to award doctorates themselves and collaborate with universities for that purpose. They offer doctoral students scholarships and/or (usually fixed-term) contracts of employment – or a combination of the two. However, support is also possible in the form of regular research posts, which are especially typical of Fraunhofer- Gesellschaft and the Max Planck Society.

    Many research institutes publish their job vacancies in online job portals and on their websites.

  • Paid PhD positions in industry

    Doctoral posts in industry usually offer PhD students fixed-term contracts of employment on a part-time basis, industry-related and application-oriented research opportunities and favourable prospects for the period after graduation. Research-based companies – for example, in the automotive industry – are especially interested in recruiting doctoral students. Additionally, cooperative partnerships between universities and companies also exist in the field of applied research. Here, the PhD student is normally employed at the university and works on a research project in a mixed team of company and university employees.

    Many companies publish their job vacancies in online job portals and on their websites. Here you can search for companies that work in your research field.

  • Part-time work

    PhD students also have the option of meeting their living costs with a part-time job. It is important here to observe possible restrictions. It is certainly advisable to seek the approval of the Aliens’ Authority (“Ausländerbehörde”) and/or the Job Centre, because many exceptions apply. The same also applies to spouses if they wish to work in Germany. Student services (“Studentenwerke”) at many universities have an employment exchange and can help students find work.

    More information about:

The German doctorate − A guide for doctoral candidates (2015, 40 pages)

This booklet for (prospective) international doctoral students presents the different options for doing a doctorate in Germany. It explains the formal requirements and gives some practical advice on finding the right supervisor or doctoral programme. It also outlines different sponsorship and funding options. Download (PDF, 9.4 MB)



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