Study PhD in Germany – A complete Guide in 2022-2023

PhD in Germany with scholarship
PhD in Germany with scholarship

Study PhD in Germany: Most PhD programs in Germany for international students come with a scholarship attached to help students cope with the cost to study in German Universities as long as they meet other requirements.

It’s unarguable that Germany is one of the countries that offer free education to both residents and international students in recent years due to the law set up by the German government for public schools in Germany.

Germany is one of the most popular destinations for studying abroad.

Every year German universities collectively graduate around 3,600 international students who have successfully completed their doctorate degree. 

The quality of education summed up with the fact that the cost of studying in Germany whether it is the bachelor’s, masters or graduate program is quite low compared to other countries makes it one of the most popular study abroad destinations.

Here is this article we will show you what it’s like to study PhD in Germany, the requirements and the available programs international students can enroll for at the moment.

Also, we have engineered this piece to answer the question of the requirements you will need to get ready if you want to study in Germany.

Although most Ph.D. programs in Germany come at little or no cost, we have also specified how much you get to pay if there is an additional fee for your institution or program of choice.

Lastly, we will show you how you can carry out your PhD program in Germany with a scholarship.

This information will help you make an informed decision on whether or not to go study in Germany for a PhD degree


Welcome Aboard Scholar!!!

Studying PhD in Germany: What Is It Like?

Studying in Germany is a great deal of achievement.

This is so because Germany is one of the most popular destinations for studying abroad.

Every year, international student doctoral graduates in Germany total about 3,600.

This simply states that Germany has a lot to offer PhD students which makes the number increase every year.

Basically, it’s not herculean to spot the reason why Germany is popular as a study destination.

Let’s break it down a bit as to why you should study PhD in Germany;

#1. German Universities Are Globally Recognised

Let’s start with the fact that Germany’s system of education is globally recognized as efficient, outstanding, and up-to-date.

Most German schools enjoy a global reputation as world leaders in technology innovation and research.

Also, Germany has a robust economy and an attractive quality of life that supports its traditional fields such as engineering and manufacturing.

#2. Most Universities in Germany Rank High In University Rankings

One way to measure the progress of every country’s institutional standard is where their universities stand in the ranking list.

The standards of education in Germany have earned many of its universities a strong international reputation, with 46 ranking within the top 1000 in the world in the QS World University Ranking 2020

This also includes Technische Universität München in #1 position in Germany and 55th in the world.

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München comes at 63rd place in world university rankings.

#3. Germany Offers International Students High Standard Of Living 

The standard of living for an international student is comfortable.

You wouldn’t really have to struggle with the cost of living because you will find something that fits your budget in Germany.

What you have to worry about is what it will cost you to study PhD programs in Germany.

#4. Germany PhD Tuition Fees Are Affordable And Sometimes Yiu Pay Nothing

The cost of PhD programs for international students in Germany, it’s very affordable.

That is to say; Germany welcomes international students with low costs of study and good funding opportunities. 

What this means is that PhDs in Germany do not usually charge tuition fees.

You can go through school in Germany as a PhD student and pay nothing for your studies.

How’s that even possible? 

Read on

#5. PhD in Germany Come with A Scholarship

Like you must have gotten a hint, Germany welcomes international students with low costs of study and good funding opportunities.

More than a quarter of doctoral candidates in Germany receive public funding.

Which makes it easier for international students to Study PhD in Germany with a scholarship.

At this point, you must want to get started off with your application to study a PhD program in Germany.

But first things first, you need to know the PhD programs available, the additional cost requirements, and how you can apply for any of these programs in Germany.

Not to worry, you will find those answers as you read on.

Do German Universities Offer PhD Programs?

Absolutely, if they don’t we won’t be helping you find a perfect school for you.

Many universities in Germany offer PhD programs.

Giving you a list will be a tasking job. But you can find out what schools in Germany offer PhD programs for international and local students just by going to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

There you will find a database that you can use to search for the right PhD program and school for you.

What Kind Of PhD Programs Are Offered in Germany? 

Unlike in most other countries, PhD programs in Germany are specified and put into categories.

Knowing what works in Germany will help you make a choice of school and know what programs you will apply for.

Here are the PhD programs in Germany;

#1. Individual Doctorate Programs

The individual Doctorate program in Germany is the regular kind of PhD program almost everywhere in the world.

It’s the most popular and most applied for in Germany.

All students enrolled in this program will work independently but under the supervision of a professor.

At the end of the program, they will produce a thesis or dissertation.

Although there is no specified duration for the individual doctorate program in Germany, from previous students we can deduce that it lasts between three to five years. 

Why this option is the most applied for is because it’s very flexible and students can choose any research topic of their choice

However, keep in mind that it demands a high amount of personal initiative and responsibility because you will have to work alone.

Also, students who enroll in the individual doctorate program have the opportunity to complete a project at a non-university research organization or at a German company in the industrial sector while they are gaining their PhD at the university.

#2. Structured PhD programs

Next on our list of PhD programs, you can study in Germany is the structured PhD program.

Unlike the individual doctorate PhD program, the structured PhD program involves a group of doctoral students being guided by a group of supervisors. 

In the structured PhD program in Germany, you have 600 programs to choose from.

These programs are naturally available in the German and English language as the language of instruction. 

The difference between this program and the individual PhD program is that all research to be carried out in the structured PhD program must be in line with existing PhD programs.

What Are The Entry Requirements To Apply For PhD In Germany?

Before you head on to apply for PhD programs in Germany you have to have the right requirements.

Applying with the right requirements makes you stand a chance to gain admission into any school of your choice.

But what are these requirements for PhD in Germany?

Entry requirements for PhD in Germany will vary between universities and PhD programs.

This is so because when it comes to school application requirements, what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander.

We often recommend you visit the school’s official website once you’ve made a choice of school in Germany and find out what it is they require or specify as requirements for PhD programs within their walls.

This will help you work with specificity and avoid mistakes when you apply for a PhD program in Germany.

On the flip side, we do know that before you apply for PhD in Germany, you will require the following application;

  • A good higher education degree is equivalent to a German master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree though it’s rare.
  • If you are studying in English you will need proof of English language proficiency through tests such as IELTS or TOEFL if English is not your first language. 
  • If you are studying in German, you may need to prove your proficiency in the language with a test such as the DSH or TestDaF.

These are the basic requirements to apply for PhD programs in Germany.

All other additional requirements are school specific.

Do well to affirm that on the school’s website.

How Do I Apply For A PhD In Germany? 

Just like the requirements for PhD in Germany differ from school to school, so does the process of application differ from school to school.

There is absolutely no one size that fits all the admission application process for doctoral students in Germany.

Besides school being a factor that contributes to that, the type of PhD program you choose to study will affect the application process.

For instance, if you’re applying for the structured PhD program, you will simply need to apply directly to your school of choice.

The individual PhD program on the other hand will require you to follow the following process;

  • Find a suitable professor who is willing to be your supervisor. You can do this by searching for institutes and research centers or teams which relate to your area of interest. You can start your search on these websites;
    • DAAD
    • PhD Germany
  • Let the doctoral committee confirm your eligibility as a doctoral candidate. By doing so, you will have to  complete an application the following application
    • A statement from your doctoral supervisor.
    • Certified copies of certificates
    • Proof of recognition of your qualifications from the Dean’s office.
    • Academic references.
    • University degree. 
    • Proof of English or German language proficiency. 
  • Once it’s reviewed, you have permission to commence doctoral studies.
  • Enroll at the university after the university must have accepted your application for admission to doctoral studies. 
  • Ensure your postgraduate degree is recognized.
  • Obtain a residence permit and/or student visa.
  • Ensure you have adequate finances for your stay.

Once all these are checked, you are done with applying to any German University for a PhD program.

How Long is A PhD Program in Germany?

A typical PhD program in Germany lasts for 3 to 4 years.

The length of your PhD will depend upon whether you are doing a traditional PhD (typically 4-years) or a structured doctoral program (typically 3 years).

This duration is how far the free tuition cost for PhD students in Germany will cover.

How Much Does It Cost To Study PhD Programs in Germany?

The issue of the cost to study a PhD program in Germany is very interesting. 

German public universities are free for both undergraduate and PhD programs.

In 2017, the state of Baden-Württemberg interfered with this law and reintroduced tuition fees for non-EU students in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

However, this did not affect doctoral students.

All doctoral students are excluded from the reintroduction of tuition fee payment in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Generally, PhDs remain free for all students at all public universities in Germany, regardless of nationality.

However, this only applies if you’re studying for 3 years.

After 3 years, you may be required to pay tuition fees.

Is there an additional fee I have to pay as a PhD student?

Well yes, no tuition does not mean you ain’t going to pay no money.

You sure will!!! Though a bit.

All levels of study in Germany are required to make a semester contribution of between €150 to €200 (~US$175-230) for administration and other costs.

Other costs you will attract as a student will depend on your personal lifestyle.

Can I Study PhD in Germany with a Scholarship?

Most students applying to German schools for a PhD program often wonder if there is any funding available.

Good news!!!

Yes, there is funding or scholarship for PhD programs in Germany.

Most doctoral students in Germany work on a paid research project and some on the other hand receive a scholarship. 

Scholarships are a great way to help with your expenses which are not taken care of by the free tuition law in Germany.

To find funding for PhD in Germany with a scholarship, you need to visit the official website of the university you wish to study at. 

Another option is to leverage our article on scholarships to study in Germany. Other good sources for finding scholarships include and (website in German).

You may also, consider taking on part-time employment to augment your finances, either at the university or elsewhere – but be aware of any potential limits.

There are no limits on where or when you can work if you are a full-time EU or EEA student (except for students from Bulgaria and Romania).

If you are a full-time student from outside the EU, you can only work 120 full days or 240 half days per year before you need to apply for a work permit.

Upon gaining paid work in Germany you should contact the German employment office to learn about the legal conditions.

What If I Don’t Get Funding Or A PhD Program With a Scholarship in Germany?

PhD programs in Germany
PhD programs in Germany

Without mincing words, scholarships can be difficult to secure especially in Germany where you don’t have to pay tuition.

There are other options to help fund your cost of living in Germany.

The first is to consider taking on a part-time job either within the university or outside.

However, keep in mind that your choice of part-time work should be within the specifications and regulations of your school. 

For instance, full-time EU or EEA students (excluding students from Bulgaria and Romania) can work anywhere at any time.

However, full-time non-EU students are limited to working up to 120 full days or 240 half days per year before you must apply for a work permit. 

All these will be regulated by your school according to the German employment office’s legal conditions.

What Universities in Germany Offer PhD Programs?

Here is a list of schools where you can apply for a PhD program in Germany;

  • LMU Munich   
  • Heidelberg University
  • University Of Freiburg
  • University Of Gottingen   
  • Free University Of Berlin
  • Rwth Aachen University   
  • Humboldt University Of Berlin
  • Technical University Of Munich
  • Karlsruhe Institute Of Technology   

Bonus point

List of German Universities without IELTS 2022

The majority of students wish to study in Germany without taking IELTS. There are numerous top-ranked universities in Germany that do not require IELTS or TOEFL. German universities are among the top in the world in terms of research quality and faculty. 

Here is the list of all German Universities that are not requiring IELTS test for admission in them.

  • University of Bayreuth
  • University of Bonn
  • Free University of Berlin
  • University of Koblenz and Landau
  • Esslingen University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule Esslingen)
  • The University of Applied Sciences, Ingolstadt (Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt)
  • Braunschweig University of Technology (TU Braunschweig)
  • University of Kiel
  • University of Kassel
  • Flensburg University of Applied Sciences
  • Anhalt University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Siegen
  • the University of Kaiserslautern
  • University of Giessen
  • Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences
  • Ruhr University Bochum
  • TH Köln
  • University of Freiburg
  • Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Koblenz Landau
  • Technische Hochschule Deggendorf
  • University of Passau
  • The University of Hildesheim
  • University of Siegen
  • Chemnitz University of Technology
  • Hochschule Stralsund
  • Mittweida University

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Study PhD in Germany

Do I Need A Student Visa For My PhD Program In Germany?

Whether you will need a student visa or not for your PhD program in Germany depends on your country of origin. 
Some students going to study PhD in Germany will need to have a student visa while others will need to have a residence permit.
Students from the following countries can study PhD in Germany without a visa:
The EU, EEA and Switzerland
Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA
China, Hong Kong and Macao (you must hold a Special Administrative Region passport)
Taiwan (your passport must have an identity card number)
Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine (you must hold a biometric passport)
Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino (you must not intend to seek separate employment before or after your degree)
International students from other countries must obtain a visa in order to enter and study for your PhD in Germany

Do I Need To Speak German To Apply For PhD at a University in Germany?

Not at all. Knowing the German language is not one of the requirements to study for a PhD in Germany.
Most of the PhD programs for international students in Germany are taught in English unless you specified to study using German as a major language instruction.
If you are studying an individual doctorate, you will have to write your doctoral thesis in English.
Structured PhD programs as well frequently allow students to complete their doctorate in English.
Although knowing the German language is not a must, we often recommend you learn at least basic German.
This will help you get by in your host country, especially if you’d like to work during or after your studies. 
Also, adding a new language to your already known language is a plus.

What’s The Average Cost of Living For PhD Students in Germany?

The average cost of living in Germany as a PhD student is people-specific.This means that how much you get to spend will depend on how extravagant or how shrewd you are with money.
As a PhD student in Germany, your main expenses will be the costs of living. 
To ensure you can take care of that, when you apply for a student visa you will be asked to prove that you have access to a minimum of €10,236 (~US$11,266) per year.
This money covers your living expenses, which include rent, food, clothing, transportation, working materials, recreation and other costs. 
So generally, the average cost of living in Germany as a PhD student is €10,236 (~US$11,266) per year which is about €867 per month.
If you’re a little more conservative with cash, you can spend less.
Also, you can spend less if you live in a city which is not as expensive as Munich.

Can I Study PhD at A University in Germany And Run Another Program?

Yes, you can run two programs simultaneously in Germany. But this option is only viable for structured Ph.D. programs.

With this, you can see that Germany is a place to study a PhD program.

But before you choose a school, ensure you find out their requirements and which of the PhD programs they offer in Germany.

Also, ensure you have enough finance to foot the cost of living or you can simply get a scholarship to help you with funding.

We hope you found this piece educational and helpful.

Do share with your friends and family.

Also, follow our Facebook page and YouTube Channel for more information about academic-related content that will help you make an informed decision on your academic journey.

Good luck Scholar!!!



You May Also Like