PhD in Germany

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PhD in Germany

With its unparalleled focus on research, innovation and development, Germany offers innumerable opportunities to individuals for not only STEM courses, but also in social sciences, humanities and languages. Further, colleges in Germany are known for their outstanding faculty, internationally recognised curriculum as well as bright career prospects both in enterprises and research organisations. Be it Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt or Cologne, German cities serve as hubs for manufacturing, international business and finance sectors housing headquarters of several giant companies. If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in Germany, this blog will help in breaking down its process.

Types of PhD Courses in Germany

In Germany, there are two broad categories in which PhD courses are divided into, namely, individual doctorate programs and structured PhD degrees. Read the following to know more:

Individual Doctorates [3 to 5 Years]
Considered as the most favourable choice of PhD in Germany, an individual doctorate, also called the traditional PhD is a more direct method of gaining a doctoral qualification. The process of application involves approaching a potential professor or supervisor who is teaching at the university directly, demonstrating how one’s research interests align with the professor and asking whether he is willing to act as a supervisor. Typically, this process requires a considerable amount of effort and time as it involves finding the right professor, proving that one’s experiences in prior degrees and experiences make him the right candidate and submission of a research proposal, amongst other steps. In a traditional PhD, learners have to submit a doctoral thesis focusing more on the research and an oral presentation and examination of their work testing their wider knowledge in the field.

Structured PhD Degrees [3 to 5 Years]
An individual opting for a structured PhD in Germany undertakes research work as part of a group of doctoral students who are guided by a team of supervisors. Structured PhD degree admissions and application process is done through online portals of universities such or through DAAD. The curriculum may involve interdisciplinary studies along with an emphasis on scientific tools and techniques, interpersonal skills.  

As far as structured PhD is concerned, students need to complete several mandatory units in order to achieve 180 to 240 ECTS credits that are essentially required in doctoral studies. They will be assessed on their understanding of course content delivered in seminars and lectures, besides submitting their thesis and completing the oral exams.

Academic Session

If you plan to study in Germany, your academic year will typically comprise of 2 semesters – Wintersemester that runs from October 1 to March 31 with Christmas and Easter break; and Sommersemester that runs from April 1 to September 30 with breaks July to September.

PhD in Germany: Admission Requirements

For pursuing a PhD in Germany, the documents to be submitted remain more or less the same throughout the universities in Germany. However, there can be some exceptions. Following are the required things you can’t miss while applying for a PhD:

  • Materials to be submitted at the time of application include aptitude scores like GRE or GMAT and  English-language proficiency scores of IELTS or TOEFL, research proposal, SOP, LOR, and CV, amongst others. However, these requirements vary from university to university.
  • Sometimes, traditional PhDs may require you to write a thesis in Germany, thus you may need to prove your German-language proficiency through TestDaF or DSH.

PhD in Germany: Admission Process

A strong research-oriented master’s degree in a relevant field of interest is a major prerequisite while applying for a PhD in Germany. As for the application process is concerned, the individual doctorate route is quite straightforward and requires direct approaching to potential supervisors. On the other hand, for a structured doctorate degree, one is required to apply through official university portals.

  • Once you have supplied the documents as highlighted above, the doctoral committee you are applying will confirm your eligibility to pursue a PhD in Germany.
  • A personal interview may also part of the application process. This is typically conducted by the supervising board for the program. You can refer to our blog on DAAD Scholarshipfunding as well as admission related information.

Writing Your Research Proposal

A staple part of the application process both for individual and structured PhD in Germany is the submission of a well-curated, coherent and concise research proposal. A research proposal is a document that outlines your research interests, at what points they match with those of your potential supervisors and what you intend to study and work under the guide. More often than not, applicants do not devote as much time as required in writing a proposal that underlines your achievements as well as what it doesn’t involve. It is important to not sway away from the research topic. Apart from including only the relevant details, it is important to make sure that errors and mistakes have not crept in. Getting it checked by your current professors and mentors is also an option worth considering. 

Top Universities for PhD in Germany

Germany is home to some of the top institutions in the world, known to offer quality education, scientific discoveries and technology. Below listed are the top universities to pursue a PhD in Germany:

University PhD Courses
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Advanced Medical Physics for Image-Guided Cancer Therapy 
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Optics and Photonics
University of Göttingen Applied Statistics and Empirical Methods;
Agricultural Economics;
Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology 
TU Berlin Berlin Mathematical School – PhD Programme (BMS course)
University of Hamburg Law
University of Bonn Trinational Doctoral Programme: Literature, Art and Music
University of Siegen Security and Safety in Industrial Environments;
Joint Channel Coding and Cryptography 
Humboldt University of Berlin European PhD in Socio-Economic and Statistical Studies
University of Stuttgart Environment Water
TU Dresden Integrated Management of Water, Soil and Waste
University of Bremen Physics and Electrical Engineering;
Micro, Meso, and macroporous non-metallic Materials

Note: This list is for indicative purposes and is not exhaustive. While some PhD courses in Germany are available throughout the year, the others are offered based on the number of vacancies and the semester chosen. 

Some Other German Universities to Consider

Cost of Studying PhD in Germany

When it comes studying a PhD at public universities in Germany, there is no tuition fee charged from international students but you will be required to pay certain administrative costs which range €150-€200 [roughly 13,100 INR-17,600 INR] (per semester administration fee). However, you will also have to keep the living expenses in mind while applying for a PhD in Germany as the living costs can vary largely from one city to another. While applying for the German student visa, you will be required to provide proof of sufficient funds of €10,236 [roughly 8,94,000 INR] as well. You can also use our exclusive Cost of Living Calculator to estimate your living costs and also check out our blog on cost of studying in Germany to get an overview of the major expenses you can expect while pursuing higher education in Germany.

Explore the popular German Scholarships for PhD Programs!

Work Opportunities

As an international student, you are permitted to work 120 full-days or 240 half-days every year while studying a PhD in Germany. In case you plan to work for longer than this, then you need to seek permission from the Foreigner’s Registration Office and Local Employment Agency. The student is sometimes employed by the university under student assistants or teaching appointments. The salary depends on the hours spent supervising the library, researching literature, demonstrating or leading tutorials.

Thus, building a successful career in Research needs hard work, dedication, and the right guidance. If you are planning to pursue a PhD in Germany or at any other study abroad destination but are not sure how to go about it, then Leverage Edu can guide you through the process. Right from application to the arrangement of funding, the counsellors will provide assistance at every step. and beyond so that you can take a step towards building a rewarding career.

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