The German doctorate enjoys a high reputation in the world. The country's universities, research institutions and research-based companies welcome international researchers and offer doctoral students excellent opportunities to complete their doctorates in Germany.

The German language is usually not a problem, as English is often the team language in the research groups.

Around 29,000 doctoral students complete their doctorates in Germany every year - far more than in any other European country. Among them are more than 5,500 international students who do their doctorate in Germany.

The doctorate is the highest academic degree that a university can award. In Germany, a doctorate primarily means to to devote oneself intensively and independently to a particular topic or research project and to write a dissertation on it to finally complete the doctorate by means of the doctoral examination procedure.

How long you need for your doctorate depends on various factors. The usual time frame is three to five years.

If you decide to do a doctorate, you can choose between different options. Depending on the subject area, research topic, individual and formal requirements, there are basically two paths to the doctorate:

1. The individual doctorate

With the individual doctorate, you work independently on your research topic and are supervised by a doctoral supervisor. More than three quarters of doctoral students in Germany take this traditional route.

2. Structured doctoral programmes (PhD)

In structured doctoral programmes - similar to the Anglo-Saxon countries - you are supervised by a team and take part in courses and events together with other doctoral students.

Doctoral examination procedure


The prerequisite for the opening of the doctoral examination procedure is the submission of the dissertation, the written doctoral thesis in which you present the results of your research work. The requirements are high: A dissertation is expected to demonstrate the ability to conduct in-depth independent scientific work. In addition, it must bring about an advance in scientific knowledge. It must also meet certain formal criteria, which are laid down in the examination regulations of the departments.

Oral examination

In addition to the examination of the dissertation, the doctoral examination procedure also includes an oral examination in the form of a viva vo ce or a disputation. This varies from university to university and from department to department. The oral examination usually lasts between one and two hours and can also be held in a foreign language, depending on the doctoral regulations.


The doctorate is only awarded after the dissertation has been made available to thescientific public by printing or equivalent reproduction within a certain period of time and a certain number of deposit copies have been handed over to the university. This gives the doctoral candidate the right to use the doctoral degree.