PhD in Germany

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A top go-to destination for PhD aspirants! 

Why Study in Germany?

Let’s Look at the Numbers!

  • Germany has 400 higher educational institutions and 1000 public and publicly funded institutions of research, development and science. Of these, 140 award doctoral degrees with an annual enrolment of 240,000 students. There over 500 networks for research and the country encourages a strong focus on international education, as 38,000 international faculty members teach at higher educational institutes in Germany.
  • As per QS World University Rankings 2023, 11 German universities are ranked within the top 200; among these, the prestigious research university Technische Universität München is ranked first in the country and 49th in the world, shortly followed by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in 59th place


Top Universities

  • Technical University of Munich
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
  • KIT, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Freie Universitaet Berlin
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin)


Powerful Reasons to Study in Germany

Top Quality Education Very Low Cost of Education International Exposure Long-term Employment Prospects
Outstanding research environment Zero to nil tuition fee Chance to learn German language Post-study work permit of 18 months
5000 international graduates complete their doctorate in Germany every year Excellent funding opportunities Safe & secure, very friendly; low costs & high standard of living Excellent work & internship opportunities; can travel to other European Union countries to conduct research or study


Types of PhD Programs

Individual Doctorate Structured PhD Programs
Considered the most traditional and popular option. Under this, a PhD student produces the thesis or dissertation under the supervision of a professor, however, will get to work independently; length of the PhD varies for three to five years; in addition to conducting research work at a university, a PhD student could also complete a project at a non-university research organization or at a German company in the industrial sector. A group of doctoral students are guided by a group of supervisors; students’ research proposals have to fit in with existing PhD programs; PhD students will need to attend lectures and seminars, and will normally have a mentor.


Popular Fields of PhD Study

  • Automotive and Traffic Technology
  • Aviation Technologies
  • Biotechnology
  • Energy Technologies
  • Health Research
  • Nanotechnology


Program Duration & Cost of Education

Duration Cost of Education (Tuition Plus Living)
Usually between two to six years

Duration of PhD in exact science – Four to Five years

Duration of PhD in arts and humanities – four to six years

Mostly Living Costs since full funding is mostly available (based on merit)

Average Living Costs – 800-900 Euros a month

A few funding opportunities include the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Research Foundation (DFG)


Students can legally work for 120 whole days or 240 half days while on the student visa. However, should a student accept a job as a student or research assistant, this 120 day limit can be exceeded. The average earning power of a student ranges from €5 to €15 an hour or € 450 a month. Wages are higher in bigger cities but the cost of living is also higher.


Eligibility Criteria for PhD Programs

Strong Academic Credentials Standardized Test Scores Strong Academic Profile
Successful master’s degree

Students with exceptional profile & undergraduate performance can directly apply for PhD with 16 years of education

Competitive GRE score

Many universities require GRE Subject Test scores as well


Academic & Research projects, Internships and/or publications


Language Proficiency:

Knowledge of the German language is preferred but not mandatory for pursuing doctoral studies in Germany. The curriculum is structured in such a way that candidates can finish their dissertation in English; however, certain universities require German language proficiency as well.


German Language Proficiency: If the university asks for proficiency in the German language, the student is required to successfully pass one of the following tests with proper certification:

  • German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, Level II (DSD)
  • German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants (DSH)
  • Goethe Institute German Language Diploma (GDS)
  • Test of German as a Foreign Language (TestDaF)


As a PhD aspirant, you need to properly network with a German professor (supervisor, mentor) who has accepted to supervise your research and thesis work. The first step is to send out networking letters to professors whose areas of expertise match your interests, and then wait for their reply.


Intake & Application Deadlines

German universities have only two intakes in the year:

  • Summer intake for the summer semester running from March to August or April to September; deadlines usually fall before January 15
  • Winter intake for the winter semester spanning September to February or October to March; deadlines usually fall before July 15


Universities set their deadlines at their own discretion and students are advised to apply at least four months in advance to give time to apply for a visa.


A Sneak Peek into the PhD Application Process

The following documents are required

  • College Transcripts
  • Detailed Resume
  • Scanned Copy of Passport
  • Some universities additionally ask for a research proposal
  • Application Form
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letters of Recommendation


Student Visa Terms and Provisions

The German visa process is long, so applying early application is highly recommended. Applicants who have secured admission to a German university should apply for a Student Visa and applicants awaiting confirmation from a university should apply for an Applicant Visa. A student visa costs about 60 Euros and applicants will be required to present all visa related documents during the visa interview.


International graduates from German universities have a chance to tap into the full potential of the abundant job market in Germany. After graduating with a master’s degree, students can work for a year and a half and gain valuable international work experience.

Manya – The Princeton Review offers end-to-end study abroad services encompassing admissions consulting services, test preparation, English language training, career assessment, and international internship opportunities to study abroad aspirants.

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