Pursuing a PhD in Germany is an honor as it adds worth to your career by providing you the best skills in the world. There is no doubt in it that pursuing doctoral studies in Germany gives you a good career and a good lifestyle. This is because Germany provides the best research facilities in the world. Germany is home to doctoral students because of the best professors who provide the best education, great research facilities, cooperation by non-university research industries and institutions to help students in different research projects, etc. So, if you have decided to pursue doctoral studies in Germany then you have made the right decision.
Moreover, Germany is also well known for the fact that it gives great significance to practical education through the collaboration between industry and research institutes.
Another thing which makes Germany attractive is that it has a great focus on international students. Moreover, this fact is confirmed by the statistics which show that every, one doctoral student among the other seven in Germany has a foreign nationality. Additionally, this is because most of PhD. courses in Germany are offered in the English language. On the other hand, Germany does not takes tuition fees from the students which makes it an attractive study destination. Lastly, Germany is popular among the students because it provides great career opportunities to doctoral students after the completion of the studies. As in Germany, there is a great collaboration between industry and academia.
While applying for doctoral studies in Germany, keep in mind that you have to undergo the hectic process. As the process of application submission requires a lot of time, a number of documents, and a lot of energy. However, in this article, we have described all the steps which you have to take while applying for doctoral studies in Germany.
In the following article, we have tried our best to give you all the answers about a doctoral application which are listed below.
Requirements of the German Universities for PhD Degree
When applying for the PhD studies in Germany you have to keep in mind some conditions which you have to satisfy before becoming a doctoral student. However, if you meet all the conditions then you can enter the doctoral studies and can have an internationally recognized degree from the best institutions in the world.
One of important conditions you have to satisfy while applying for a successful PhD application or to get a funding opportunity is to find a supervisor. A supervisor is a mentor who will be a professor at the German university and will be ready to facilitate you in research and studies. Moreover, you can always address your supervisor for any query at any time. Apart from this, each university in Germany has the specific requirements which you have to fulfill if you want to have an admission to the German university. However, these requirements may vary from university to university but maybe not very different.
You apply for university admission in a doctoral study once you choose your program of study and have found a professor to mentor you.
When it comes to the requirements asked by the university then there is a list of documents which you have to provide. If you provide all the documents and meet all the requirements then you are asked for the interview. This interview is very important as it is your ticket for doctoral studies at a German university. Anyhow, following we have listed the documents you need to provide while applying for the doctoral studies.
- Curriculum Vitae
It is one of the most important documents you have to provide while applying for doctoral studies. It should be of a maximum of two pages giving information about the history of your education and work. Your CV should be very precise consisting of accurate dates and names of your educational institutions. Moreover, it must also contain extracurricular activities and work experiences. Additionally, you must also show the certificates proving your claims. However, the common format for CV is Euro-pass format which is accepted by most of the universities.
- Doctoral Thesis Outline
A proper outline for the doctoral dissertation is needed to be provided with the application. This is one of the important documents in your application and for that purpose, you have to make sure that it is very well written. It must cover everything you propose to do in your PhD.
The document should contain very precise information as universities have a lot of applications to check. Your thesis outline must cover the intentions of study and research, explaining everything about the scope of research and different research questions. Moreover, it should also contain your proposed methodology of how you will conduct your research. Additionally, it must answer the impact of your research and must contain the timeline of your research.
- Credits Equivalency
To get admission to the doctoral program, you must have an entrance qualification. And this qualification must be approved to check if it is equal to the German education system or not. However, to get into the doctoral program, you must have a master’s degree. And it should be equal to eighteen years of education as it is the most important requirement for study in Germany. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree with three years of qualification and a two-year master’s degree is also taken under consideration for doctoral studies in Germany. Most of the times the students in Germany choose a professional career after the completion of the master’s degree and some move towards the next qualification.
If you are an international student coming from the country which has no connection with the Lisbon Recognition Convention then you have to undergo some qualification procedures. You have to know the country-specific guidelines so you may know the procedure depending upon the country from where you have done your previous education. However, because of the Anabin which is a database, the procedure has become very easy and stress-free. This database provides all the information about the country-specific guideline to check if your previous qualification is equivalent to German qualification or not. Moreover, there are also specific guidelines for the purpose if your qualification is not equal to the set standard.
You can also take help from the university to check if your master’s degree is equivalent to what is needed by the German university. For this purpose, you have to send your documents such as your transcripts, diploma or certificates to the university’s international office. Once the university checks all your documents it will notify you, if your previous education is according to the education needed by the university. Or the university will also tell you that if you have to undergo some kind of examination to prove your education or not.
Moreover, if you have a master’s degree from a German institution abroad then your degree or diploma holds the same value as the degrees of German residents.
- German and English proficiency
For the doctoral studies in Germany, you don’t have to provide the proficiency of German language in most of the cases. This is because there are many English language doctoral programs in Germany for foreign students. Moreover, the German institution also gives the opportunity to the students to write their thesis in the English language. But there are some exemptions in which universities require you to provide proficiency in German language
- German language proficiency
To prove your German language proficiency as a requirement set by the German university then you can prove it by showing the language proficiency certificate. There are many types of certificates by which you can show your language proficiency. Some of the widely accepted ones are listed below.
- Test of German as a Foreign Language (TestDaF)
- German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants(DSH)
- Goethe Institute Diploma of German Language (GDS)
- Diploma of German Language, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, Level II (DSD)
- English Language proficiency
If your desired doctoral program is in the English language then you have to provide the English language proficiency proof. This is necessary for universities to asses the skills of a student in a certain language. There are many English language certificates but some of the widely excepted are listed below.
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
- The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- GRE or GMAT
There is a possibility that universities in Germany want their incoming doctoral students to provide the scores of standardized tests such as GRE or GMAT. These are necessary to check the aptitude of the student.
- Motivation Letter
The letter of motivation is the most important document in your doctoral studies. It is a personal document in which you state your goals, your accomplishments and your motivation for studying doctoral studies in Germany and at a specific German institution. Moreover, the letter of motivation must not be more than the 500 characters.
- Recommendation Letters
The letter of recommendation is provided to you by the professors of the institution from which you have done your previous qualification. They must be two in number and must proof your capability for doctoral studies.
- Successful university application
Once you have collected all the documents needed for the doctoral application it is time to select whether you want to do an individual doctorate or structured doctorate. The individual doctorate is the most popular option as it gives the student the freedom of choosing the supervisor and research activities.
- Preferred study program
The very first thing you have to do when you have decided to pursue your doctoral studies in Germany is to choose the field of study and a supervisor or group of supervisors. Don’t worry it is not the hardest thing you have to do as currently there is a lot of information in the online databases which may help you. However, there is not a single database that provides all the information about the doctoral programs in Germany. you can always search the information from the best channels such as PhD Germany or Research Explorer. You can always get the best information about the calls which are open for the doctoral applicants. Moreover, you can always search google, student platforms and Facebook for more information.
As there are so many offers of PhD studies from different institutions and universities in Germany we suggest that you should narrow down the offers based on some criteria. This criterion should include that if your chosen field of study relates to your previous one or not, will you be able to satisfy the program requirements, or can you meet deadlines or not. You have to see if you meet the language proficiency requirements or not. If you understand all these questions then you’ll have the idea of whether you will be awarded the admission or not.
- Study form
After choosing the field of study you have to choose what type of doctoral studies you want to pursue. In Germany, there are two types of doctoral studies i.e individual or structured doctorate.
Individual Doctorate Research
An individual doctorate is a type of doctorate in which the student has all the freedom. The doctoral candidate has the freedom to choose a supervisor for mentoring and the topic of thesis on which the doctoral candidate has an interest. The individual doctorate is also known as “Master-Apprentice-Model” as the student has the freedom of choosing his own schedule for study and research activities. Moreover, it is the common type of doctoral study among the students pursuing a PhD. in Germany. Additionally, it also allows the students to do the job of research associates at the university.
An individual doctorate is also known as the traditional form of doctorate and you yourself are the caretaker of all the matters of study and research. You have to find your topic of the thesis and have to plan the research activity by the advice of your own chosen supervisor also known as Doktorvater/Doktormutter in German. Moreover, you also have to submit the acceptance letter from the supervisor at application time so that you get admission to the doctoral program.
Finding a supervisor meeting your interest is not an easy job to do. You have to give your full potential, concentration, and energy in the process of finding the right supervisor. But always keep in mind that giving your time in finding the right supervisor for yourself is always worth it. To find a supervisor to mentor you, always start searching the professors of the university or people working in the research institutions. In a research institution, you can find a lot of people to supervise you as they have many doctoral seats available. You can also find the supervisors from the online databases from where you have got the information about the opening of the doctoral programs. You can always take the contact emails from those websites and contact them to get the supervision. Furthermore, you can also take information from The Higher Education Compass.
After you have selected the supervisor, contact that person. The easiest and common way to contact a supervisor is through an email. You must keep in mind that this email should be very formal, well structured and focuses on the topic only. As many talented students do not know how to communicate with professors they end up having no supervisory from them. So, we suggest that you keep the following things in mind while making contact with the supervisor.
- Make sure your email does not contain any grammatical errors and must be written in a formal language.
- Before you compose an email, make sure you read the previous work of that supervisor so that you can relate your proposed research work with the professor’s previous work.
- Try to compose a personalized email for each professor as sending one email to every professor is never recommended.
- Create an informative and catchy subject of the email.
- While creating a formal email do not use the words like Hi or Hello instead use the word Dear with Mr or Ms and use the professor’s last name.
- The very first paragraph must state your research area and your contact reason.
- In the following paragraphs, you must explain the methodology of your research and must ask the alternative opinion from the professor.
- Lastly, you must always attach your curriculum vitae with email in which all the information about you is given in a very precise manner.
Once you get the consent of the supervisor for mentoring your doctoral studies, try to get his or her consent in written form. Moreover, also make sure that you get the admission letter from the university or respective department.
Moreover, if you get selected for the Ph.D. studies, then you can also have the opportunity to get the job of a research associate. It is a part-time job that involves dealing with research, teaching or some administrative tasks.
Structural Doctorate Research
The second form of the doctorate is the structured doctorate. It involves the process of following a fixed structure which includes graduate schools, international doctoral programs, and research groups.
Research training groups involve the team of supervisors and scientists enabling the doctoral students to work on their projects. Under the research training group, you have to work under the team of supervisors without having the independence of choosing your own thesis topic.
Apart from this, graduate schools are the educational institutions residing in the university providing the programs in a foreign language which is English.
The structured doctorate program is a modernized doctorate program. It involves the students to follow a fixed structure including attending the seminars, interim assessment, and lectures as they have fix credit points. The students carry out their research on the project designed by the supervisor and scientists also known as academic staff or thesis committee. Moreover, structure doctorate also involves the development of skills in many research methodologies and techniques. Additionally, the students pursuing a structured doctorate can also carry out research on their own projects in different industries and research institutions. Furthermore, the supervisors are always there for the support of students in the bureaucratic issues.
The process of applying for a structured doctorate involves the submission of certain documents. First, you have to submit your CV, Research Thesis Outline, Copies of Diploma which should be certified and the letter of motivation. Secondly, if the university shows interest in you then you have to submit the detailed research plan involving the timeline for a research project, two or more references from the professors, your certificates copies, your previous dissertation project, health insurance, and the English language proficiency proof. Thirdly, if the admission committee considers you then you will be called for the interview for which you have to be prepared in advance.