Professor at a university of applied sciences

Researcher working with a machine

Another career opportunity for postdoctoral or senior researchers is a professorship at a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule/Hochschule) or other higher education institution. A professorship at a university of applied sciences places special emphasis on practice-oriented teaching. Increasingly, however, it is also focusing on research – especially in the engineering sciences. There is an increasing focus nowadays on research, however – especially in the engineering sciences.


Qualifications and application

Universities of applied sciences can offer an alternative to a professorship at a general university. However, the required academic profile is different.

  • Universities of applied sciences place special emphasis on the teaching of practical and application-oriented knowledge. That is why applicants require several years of relevant practical work experience outside the university.

  • The candidate’s academic qualification for a professorship is usually demonstrated by a doctorate.

  • Pedagogical experience is also required.

  • Candidates must also meet any relevant additional requirements of the respective position.

It is crucial in an application for a professorship at a university of applied sciences that you refer to the requirements outlined in the advertisement. You should pay special attention to the following:

  • As a rule, applications for a professorship must be submitted to the respective university of applied sciences.

  • In your application you should show that you have the formal and academic qualifications for the position.

  • In addition to a covering letter, you will generally be expected to submit a curriculum vitae, a list of publications and previous lectures/courses, as well as testimonials and certificates relating to your education and previous employment.

You will need to complete the relevant appointment procedure to become a professor at a university of applied sciences. The procedure can differ from institution to institution and state to state. Usually, the following steps are followed:

  • First, promising candidates are invited to present a test lecture, although the requirements can vary significantly from institution to institution.

  • Later, in an interview, candidates are questioned about their reasons for applying and their subject competence.

  • Next, the university of applied sciences compiles a shortlist of the three most promising candidates.

  • Then, the relevant committees and/or the responsible ministry usually appoint the person at the top of the list.

Responsibilities and salary

Working as a higher education teacher at a university of applied sciences is an interesting alternative to a career as a professor at a traditional university. You will find more information about what your duties would be and what you would earn as a teacher at a university of applied sciences here:

  • The main emphasis of your work as a professor at a university of applied sciences will be on practice-oriented teaching. This kind of professorship is usually linked with an obligation to teach for a specific number of hours.

  • In addition, you will also be expected to carry out general university duties and supervise students’ degree assignments or practical courses/internships.

  • At art colleges, master classes are supervised by the responsible professors who determine the content and extent of the instruction.

  • German universities of applied sciences are increasingly becoming involved in – usually industry-oriented – research. You should therefore take a closer look at the profile of the institution.

In Germany, professors are remunerated in accordance with what is known as W-Besoldung, a salary scale for scholars (W stands for “Wissenschaft”, which means scholarship or science). Germany is a federation in which the individual states (Länder) have jurisdiction over their civil servants’ basic pay. As a result, salaries vary depending on the state in which the higher education institution is based and whether the researcher is employed by the Federal Government.

In concrete terms, this means:

  • Professors at universities of applied sciences are normally paid according to the civil service W2 pay scale. Initially, the monthly gross basic salary is between approximately 5,300 euros and 6,600 euros.

  • Some higher professorships at universities of applied sciences are also paid according to the W3 scale. The monthly gross basic salary of a W3 professor is between roughly 6,300 euros and 7,500 euros.

  • The basic salary can also be supplemented by special performance-related payments and other allowances.

Please bear in mind that deductions are made from your gross monthly salary to cover taxes and possibly also social contributions for medical, unemployment and retirement pension insurance. These contributions enable you to acquire rights to the excellent benefits of the German social security system.

In most cases, as a professor at a university of applied sciences you will be appointed with civil servant status on a temporary or lifelong basis. Many professors at universities of applied sciences also work as regular employees. Their net salaries are far lower than those of lifelong professors.

The German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (DHV) presents information about the academic salary scales of the individual states (Länder) and the Federal Government on a special W-Portal (only in German).

Job search & funding

Professorships are advertised publicly. There are various ways of finding these advertisements. You can find more information here: