Study PhD in Germany in 2021 – An Extensive Guide on all you need to know

Study PhD in Germany in 2020 - An Extensive Guide on all you need to know
Study PhD in Germany in 2020 – An Extensive Guide on all you need to know

Germany is a grand study abroad destination for postgraduate studies. That is why we put together all you need to know to study PhD in Germany. This guide explains the needed requirements to study PhD in Germany, available PhD programs in Germany, how you can study PhD in Germany with scholarships, the cost to study PhD in Germany and more.

We have answered all the questions that plague your mind on this topic, preferring solutions where necessary and providing links that will make your search easier.

Without further ado, let’s get started!!!


With over 3,600 international graduates completing their doctorate in Germany every year, Germany remains one of the most popular destinations for studying abroad.

The reason for the above is not far-fetched. Germany enjoys a global reputation as a world leader in technology innovation and research. It has a robust economy and an attractive quality of life, and a renowned tradition in fields such as engineering and manufacturing.

Germany’s historic (and highly ranked) universities make it an excellent choice to study abroad. For doctoral research, the country has much to offer. Having first introduced the PhD in the nineteenth century, German universities and specialist research centres continue to offer innovative, tuition-free postgraduate studies. One reason many international students study PhD in Germany.

Many of its universities enjoy a strong international reputation. 46 universities in Germany ranked within the top 1000 in the world in the QS World University Rankings® 2020. Among these, the prestigious research university Technische Universität München is ranked first in the country and 55th in the world, shortly followed by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in 63rd place.

Germany welcomes international students with low costs of study and good funding opportunities. PhDs in Germany rarely charge tuition fees. This and many more you will find below. The essence is to help you study PhD in Germany or seek other alternatives.

Read on to discover how you can study PhD in Germany with scholarships!!!

Why should I Study PhD in Germany?

If you’re looking for reasons to do your PhD studies in Germany, you will find many. The German higher education system is world class and has produced some of history’s most formidable thinkers, including theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.

Here are a few reasons to study PhD in Germany this year;

  • Germany is home to more globally ranked institutions than any other country outside the USA and UK–and eight of them feature in the current top 100.
  • Germany is also home to networks of dedicated research centres, including its prestigious Max Planck Institutes. So if you love research, Germany is your best bet to study PhD.
  • Most German universities charge no tuition fees for PhD students, regardless of nationality.
  • We know Germany as the home of PhD. The PhD (in its modern form as a thesis-based research degree) was developed in Germany
  • We know Germany as the seventh most visited country in the world.
  • They offer PhD programs in Germany in English.
  • With striking landscapes, medieval and modern heritage sites and seasonal events ranging from Oktoberfest to Christmas Markets, Germany is fun and interesting.

The most interesting thing fact that will make you study PhD in Germany is that you get to combine academics with fun and interesting events. It’s a long 2years to study in a boring environment.

Check out these PhD programs in Germany below!!!

Top German Universities for PhD programs in 2021

Germany is a home to over 53 universities. Finding the best one for you could be difficult. We have carefully outlined the list of top universities in Germany;

  • LMU Munich
  • Technical University of Munich
  • Heidelberg University
  • Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • The University of Tübingen
  • Humboldt University of Berlin
  • The University of Freiburg
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • The University of Bonn
  • Free University of Berlin

Securing a PhD program in any of these universities will be a plus. Owing to the quality of education offered.

Consider the cost to Study PhD in Germany below!!!

Types of PhD Programs in Germany?

Germany offers two ways to do your PhD. Before you start your search for a PhD place you should choose between “individual doctorate” and “structured PhD programmes”. These are two types of PhD programs in Germany.

  • The individual doctorate: You will identify a research project and pursue it independently with the guidance of an expert supervisor (Doktorvater / Doktomutter). The candidate chooses the institution where they would like to conduct their research: at a university or non-university organisation, or within a German company.
  • Structured doctoral programmes: These are conducted largely in English and are internationally oriented. You will complete additional training alongside your thesis, sometimes including collaborations and placements with external research institutes.

Check out requirements to study PhD in Germany below!!!

See Also!!!

What are the Requirements needed to Study PhD in Germany?

One way to secure a PhD spot in Germany is to put together the right requirements to study PhD in Germany. To study PhD in Germany, you will need to have completed a minimum of eight semesters of academic study prior to the doctorate. The final qualification you got must be equivalent to a German Master’s degree.

The Dean’s Office must also recognise your previous higher education degree/s (Dekanat) or Board of Examiners (Promotionsausschuss) at your university. Exceptionally well-qualified international students may be admitted into a PhD with a Bachelor degree (fast-track programme), for this you will typically have to complete an entrance examination.

Applications requirements to study PhD in Germany are;

  • A statement from your doctoral supervisor. If you are applying to complete a traditional PhD project, you must submit a statement from your chosen supervisor describing their intent to supervise your thesis.
  • Certified copies of certificates and academic transcripts from previous degrees
  • Proof of recognition: you must get recognition of your qualifications from the Dean’s Office or University Board of Examiners
  • 2 Academic references
  • English language proficiency such as IELTS or TOEFL. If you are studying or submitting your PhD in German, you may need to prove your proficiency in the language with a test such as the DSH or TestDaF.

Once you have supplied these materials, the department / doctoral committee you are applying to can confirm your eligibility as a PhD candidate.

Discover what the cost to study PhD in Germany below!!!

How much does it cost to study a PhD in Germany in 2020?

It’s wise and strategic to consider what the cost to study PhD in Germany is. Traveling to Germany without knowing what it takes financial wise will be disastrous. Not to worry, we have done research on the cost to study PhD in Germany, and here’s what we found.

Good news! Although tuition fees were reintroduced for non-EU students in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg in 2017, they exclude doctoral students from this. This means that PhDs remain free-for-all students at all public universities in Germany, regardless of nationality. This lasts up to the standard length of a PhD (three years).

Aside from this, you might be required to pay some fees. However, as with all levels of study in Germany, PhD students are also required to make a semester contribution of between €150 to €200 (~US$175-230) for administration and other costs.

This means that your major expenses will be the general costs of living in Germany. The cost to study PhD in Germany is almost free, therefore you have to consider the cost of living. This is actually where your finances will be spent.

Keep reading to discover how to study PhD in Germany with scholarships below!!!

What is the average Cost of Living in Germany as a PhD Student ?

Talking about cost of living, this solely depends on your level of extravagance, lifestyle and location in Germany. Some German starts are costlier than the others.

If you apply for a German student visa, they will ask you to prove that you have access to a minimum of €10,236 (~US$11,266) per year.

This money will cover living expenses, which include rent, food, clothing, transportation, working materials, recreation and other costs. You will require more than this to live in an expensive city such as Munich.

Look out for PhD programs in Germany!!!

Are there Scholarships to study PhD in Germany?

There are several scholarships available for international PhD students to help cover your living costs whilst you are studying within Germany. Scholarships are one way to finance yourself while studying. Here is a list of scholarships to study PhD in Germany;

  • Green Talents
  • Helmholtz Research School and Graduate School
  • Individual doctoral projects at Fraunhofer Institutes
  • Student grant–your supervisor may nominate you for a grant of €1,250 per month from the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutsche Volkes)
  • DAAD scholarships – the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) offers scholarships of €1,200 per month for foreign students to study a PhD in Germany
  • StipendiumPlus–provided by a group of 13 organisations that offer funding of €1,350 per month to international students in Germany

There are also various other funding programmes within Germany, making international PhD study an affordable option for you. If you’re applying for a structured doctoral degree programme, apply for funding along with your PhD. If accepted, you will receive a monthly allowance of €1,000-1,400.

Do well to apply for these scholarships to study PhD in Germany in time, many people are also seeking for it.

Check out the PhD programs in Germany below!!!

Apply for these scholarships too!!!

Are there Available PhD programs in Germany for 2021?

Well, yes, there are over 73 PhD programs in Germany. You just have to look and find a best fit for you. Here are some PhD programs in Germany;

These and many more are available PhD programs in Germany. If you have one in mind, you can check out if it’s available in Germany.

How do I secure a German Student Visa?

You will need a student visa to Germany to pursue your studies. There are two types of student visa:

  • Schengen Visa: Permits you to avail of a course in Germany for 90 days in particular. It costs just 60 EUR.
  • National Visa: Permits you to remain in Germany for over 90 days, alongside this you need to have a residence permit too. It costs 75 EUR.

The visa processing time takes about 25 days. Here is a checklist of documents you will need.

  • A duly filled application form and a cover letter stating the purpose and duration of your stay
  • A valid passport
  • Two recent photographs
  • Acceptance letter from a German university
  • Transcript of academic record
  • Language proficiency certificate( German or English depending on your course of choice)
  • Proof of valid private or public health insurance
  • Declaration of the authenticity of documents submitted
  • Criminal record(if any)
  • Proof of your economic status to study in Germany (EUR 8,700 per year)

This will help you get your visa at a German consular post in your country of residence.

Quick Read!!!

Frequently Asked Questions About PhD Study in Germany?

Do I need a student visa?

This will depend on your country of origin. Many students will find that they do not need a student visa, but need a residence permit. You can read more about obtaining a German student visa here, or find an overview of the countries for which a student visa is or isn’t required on the Foreign Federal Office’s website.

How long does a PhD take in Germany?

The duration of the PhD is not standard and is usually between 2 and 6 years depending on the research field. PhD in natural and exact sciences are usually between 4 and 5 years. In arts and humanities, they do a PhD for 4 to 6 years.

Do I need to speak German?

No–however, we’d recommend learning at least basic German to help you get by in your host country, especially if you’d like to work during or after your studies. If you are studying an individual doctorate writing the doctoral thesis can often be written in English, while structured PhD programs frequently allow students to complete their doctorate in English.

Can I Work while studying in Germany?

As an international PhD student in Germany, they permit you to work whilst studying; however, there are certain restrictions depending upon your nationality:

Citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland may work without a residence permit, with no restrictions on hours. However, if you work over 20 hours a week, you will pay national insurance contributions.

They permit other international students to work 120 full-days or 240 half-days per year. If you wish to work longer than this, you must seek permission from the local Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) and Foreigner’s Registration Office.

Do I need to have an Interview to seal my PhD application?

Interview: they will require you to attend a Skype or in-person interview. A panel with 2-4 admission committee members questions you about your academics, career goals, and other aspects.


Considering the cost to study PhD in Germany, you can seek for opportunities to study PhD in Germany with scholarships. This is one way to study PhD in Germany for free for international students. Consider the requirements to study PhD in Germany before sending in your application to any school website. Find out if there are PhD programs in Germany available for you.

Good luck!!!

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