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 normal.

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. Around 90 per cent of doctoral candidates are following the traditional route.
  2. Structured PhD Programmes:
    These programmes offer a form of training similar to that found in English-speaking countries. Here, a team of supervisors guide their doctoral candidates.
Individual Doctorate

Individual Doctorate

The "traditional" or "individual" path to a PhD/doctorate remains the most common in Germany. An individual doctorate involves the thesis or dissertation being produced under the supervision of a professor. More Individual Doctorate

Structured PhD Programmes

Structured PhD Programmes

Structured doctoral programmes differ from traditional doctoral studies. In Germany, structured doctoral programmes are very similar to the PhD programmes in English-speaking countries, in which a team of supervisors look after a group of doctoral students. More Structured PhD Programmes

Doctoral examination

Doctoral examination

The precondition for initiating the doctoral examination process is the submission of a written doctoral thesis. A thesis is expected to demonstrate the candidate’s ability to engage in profound independent academic research. More Doctoral examination