How to obtain a PhD in Germany

A doctorate is the highest academic degree that a university can award. In Germany, studying for a doctorate primarily means working intensely on a specific subject or research project for a long period of time. The length of time a doctorate takes also varies. Three to five years are typical.

Two ways to do your PhD

If you decide to do a doctorate, you can choose between different forms of study. Depending on your discipline, research area, personal circumstances and formal qualifications, there are two different paths:

  1. Individual doctorate
    The individual doctorate is based on independent research carried out alone under the supervision of one professor. This is the traditional path followed by over three quarters of all doctoral students in Germany.
  2. Structured PhD programmes
    These programmes offer a form of study similar to that found in English-speaking countries. Here, a team of supervisors guide their doctoral candidates.