The PhD Application Process in Germany

  Share by Email   Print this article   More sharing options  
The PhD Application Process in Germany - Image of male scientist wearing protective eyewear in a lab
PhD Application Tips - Image of a young woman looking through paper work at a desk
PhD Application Tips

German universities and non-university research institutes generally have their own admissions criteria to which you should tailor your application. However, there are some general features about the PhD application process to be aware of:

  1. Consider your qualifications. In most cases you will need an excellent Masters or equivalent degree to be considered for a doctoral programme in Germany. Your qualifications will need to be formally recognised by the institution you are applying to.
  2. Find a PhD. Whether you are searching for a position within a structured programme or as individual study, it’s a good idea to start making contact with potential supervisors as early as you can. Your own university may be able to help you with this. You can also search numerous PhD positions at the German Academic Exchange Service, through the Hochschulkompass or on
  3. Submit your application. There is no central admissions process so you will need to complete an application from each organisation you are applying to. On making contact it’s a good idea to submit a CV, a copy of your degree certificate and a very brief outline of your research goals. You may then be required to submit a more in depth application form with a detailed research proposal. If you win over the admissions committee in question you will then be asked to attend a face-to-face interview in Germany or over the phone/Skype. In some cases, admission to doctoral studies is dependent on a further examination that determines whether the applicant’s knowledge reaches the standard required for a German higher education degree
  4. Consider funding. If you are lucky enough to secure a place on a doctoral programme you will need to consider your funding options. Find more information about PhD funding.

For a more in depth look at doing a PhD in Germany, you can also download our ebook ‘A Guide to Doing a PhD in Germany’.