Before you start your search you should know that there are different PhD models:
What's the difference? Check out our overview of the various ways to do your PhD in Germany and how to find your PhD position.
Once you have decided on a potential supervisor, you have to apply directly to the professor in question. Here are some useful tips that may help you succeed in your application:
In your application, you should provide information regarding your prior academic achievement, the topic of your master’s thesis and the subject area in which you wish to specialise. Your application should also include a well thought-out proposal for your doctoral thesis.
After you have found a professor willing to act as your supervisor, the responsible department or doctoral committee must then confirm your eligibility as a doctoral candidate. At some universities, candidates have to apply for admission to the doctoral examination at this stage.
Although it is not always necessary, it can be advantageous for international students to enrol as a doctoral student even when they have opted for a traditional individual doctorate. The prerequisite for this is admission to the doctoral studies programme.
You may need to present proof that you have passed the relevant German language examination. The International Office at the respective university can provide more details. The doctoral regulations on departmental websites also provide information about requirements.
©DAAD / Jan Zappner
When making your selection, you should focus on the following questions: Do the programme, the institution and the environment suit my doctoral proposal? What are the requirements? What is expected of doctoral students?
Once you have found a PhD programme, you should invest sufficient time and care in preparing your application. In some cases, there are application deadlines for admission to programmes. It is therefore advisable to begin looking for a suitable programme in good time before graduation.
For your application to be successful, your planned doctoral thesis must fit in with the main emphases of the programme and you will need a good or very good degree that is recognised in Germany. Initial contacts are usually made over the Internet.
The application procedure itself often involves a number of different stages, but differs from programme to programme.
When you have found a suitable programme, submit an application to one of the professors in the PhD programme or to the appropriate selection committee – depending on the programme or call for proposals. Here are some useful tips that may help you succeed in your application:
In your application, you should provide information regarding your prior academic achievement, the topic of your master’s thesis and the subject area in which you wish to specialise.
You should explain your reason for applying, describe your research project and possibly submit a position paper for your planned doctoral thesis. In some cases you will already be expected to know what you would like to do in your thesis and produce a research proposal on the subject.
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.