PhD in Germany

8 minute read
PhD in Germany

With its unparalleled focus on research, innovation, and development, Germany offers innumerable opportunities to individuals not only in STEM courses, but also in social sciences, humanities, and languages. Further, colleges in Germany are known for their outstanding faculty, internationally recognized 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 and 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.

Why Study for a PhD in Germany?

The PhD study in Germany epitomizes the country’s mastery of higher education. Let us examine the advantages of studying PhD programs in Germany in further depth:

Free Adult Education: In terms of higher education, Germany has distinguished itself. It offers free education to both domestic and international students. Compared to other international colleges, it only costs a student 310 EUR to cover the semester as well as travel expenses.

Immensely well infrastructure and facilities: After the United Kingdom and the United States, Germany has been ranked as the world’s third finest education destination, and its amenities reflect this. A multitude of non-university research groups contributes to high-quality Ph.D. education at German institutions.

PhD in Germany with Scholarship: Germany values all students’ knowledge, and as a result, they never allow anyone to stop researching due to a lack of funds. There are organizations whose major goal is to offer enough funding to ensure that the informed are loved eternally.

Types of PhD Courses in Germany

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

Individual Doctorates [3 to 5 Years]
Considered the most favourable choice for a 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, among 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 as DAAD. The curriculum may involve interdisciplinary studies along with an emphasis on scientific tools and techniques, and interpersonal skills.  

As far as a structured PhD is concerned, students need to complete several mandatory units 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 2 semesters – Wintersemester which runs from October 1 to March 31 with Christmas and Easter break; and Sommersemester which runs from April 1 to September 30 with breaks from 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 a direct approach to potential supervisors. On the other hand, for a structured doctorate, one is required to apply through official university portals.

  • Once you have supplied the documents highlighted above, the doctoral committee you are applying to will confirm your eligibility to pursue a PhD in Germany.
  • A personal interview may also be 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 to writing a proposal that underlines their 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:

UniversityPhD Courses
Ludwig Maximilian University of MunichAdvanced Medical Physics for Image-Guided Cancer Therapy 
Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyOptics and Photonics
University of GöttingenApplied Statistics and Empirical Methods;
Agricultural Economics;
Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology 
TU BerlinBerlin Mathematical School – PhD Programme (BMS course)
University of HamburgLaw
University of BonnTrinational Doctoral Programme: Literature, Art, and Music
University of SiegenSecurity and Safety in Industrial Environments;
Joint Channel Coding and Cryptography 
Humboldt University of BerlinEuropean PhD in Socio-Economic and Statistical Studies
University of StuttgartEnvironment Water
TU DresdenIntegrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste
University of BremenPhysics 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, 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 to studying for a PhD at public universities in Germany, there is no tuition fee charged to international students but you will be required to pay certain administrative costs which range from €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 the 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!

PhD in Germany with Scholarships

ScholarshipAmount (in EUR)
German Academic Exchange Service(DAAD)1,200 
Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation3,170
German Research Foundation1,350 
Green TalentsFunding for research
Helmholtz Research Scholarship3,700 

Visa Process for International Students to Germany

To continue your studies in Germany, you will require a student visa. There are two categories of student visas:

  • Schengen Visa: Permits you to take a 90-day course in Germany specifically.Visa Fee: 60 EUR 
  • National Visa: This allows you to stay in Germany for more than 90 days; you must also obtain a residency permit.
  • VISA Fee: 75 EUR

Can I work in Germany after my PhD?

  • Working in Germany after completing a PhD is governed by nationality.
  • Students from the EU and EEA will not require a work visa. You will have the same career opportunities as German citizens.
  • Students from outside the EU and EEA can prolong their stay for up to 18 months to look for jobs connected to their studies.

Work Opportunities

As an international student, you are permitted to work 120 full days or 240 half days every year while studying for 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, and demonstrating or leading tutorials.

Salaries after PhD in Germany

UniversitiesHighest Package Offered (Euro/yr)
Darmstadt Technical University47,000
Bonn University96,000
Goethe University128,000
Hamburg University240,000
Gottingen University129,000
Humboldt University of Berlin89,000
University of Mannheim109,000


Q1. Is PhD program free in Germany?

Ans. The majority of German institutions do not charge tuition for PhD programmes, and financing is available from numerous government agencies, research groups, and other organisations.

Q2. Do PhD students get paid in Germany?

Ans. A PhD professor typically earns a gross monthly salary of between 4,00,000 and 5,300,000 euros (INR 4 lakh and 5.3 lakhs). Do German PhD students receive compensation? Yes, PhD students may be paid in Germany thanks to the PhD Stipend.

Q3. Is it easy to get a PhD in Germany?

Ans. In Germany, getting a PhD is a little more challenging than getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree. This is mostly due to the fact that PhDs are offered in Germany by both accredited businesses operating in the industrial sector and universities.

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 the application to the arrangement of funding, the counsellors will assist at every step. and beyond so that you can take a step towards building a rewarding career.

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  1. Hi,
    The article is very crisp and informative. Well i would like to introduce myself as a curious learner and aim to pursue Ph.D from Germany for which i am looking for insight and guidance.

  1. Hi,
    The article is very crisp and informative. Well i would like to introduce myself as a curious learner and aim to pursue Ph.D from Germany for which i am looking for insight and guidance.