Requirements for German Ph.D. Studies If You Are a Foreign Student

Exploring opportunities to purse doctoral studies in Germany? If yes, then you must be aware of the requirements you need to fulfill as a foreign student. Read this article to know everything about applying for Ph.D. studies in Germany.

University Requirements for German Ph.D. Studies – Everything You Should Know as a Foreign Student

If you’re planning to pursue doctoral studies, there’s no better place than Germany. It is indeed the most excellent way to inculcate worth to your persona and career path.

Germany – world’s leading space for research and doctorate, is the perfect place that can pave the way for a bright future and fantastic career growth.

The excellent education and research environment provided through the assistance and exceptional dedication of the qualified faculty of non-university research institutes, universities, and the industry are a blessing. When combined with the high-level study and experimentation foundation pulsated through different, exciting research projects, they make Germany a much-desired station for many international students exploring to accomplish their goal – the doctorate.

Germany, as a country, is also recognized for the importance given to the research education or practical training, facilitated through the inspired combination of academia with research institutes and industry.

There’s Not Just One Factor That’ll Pull You Towards Germany

Another attractive characteristic of Germany as a host for global education is its broad focus on global students, primarily at the doctoral level – a fact verified by numbers showing that one out of seven doctorate scholars in Germany belongs to a different country.

This is also backed by the evidence that many doctoral programs in Germany use English as the primary language. The list of benefits that Germany has to offer as a nation is endless. You'll be stunned to know that the universities do not charge a tuition fee.

Also, there are incredible career prospects that you can explore as a Ph.D. student from a German University.

We’re Here to Help You!

As an international student who is struggling to fulfill the university application necessities for doctoral studies, you should never overlook the fact that it can sometimes be a frightful process demanding time, energy, a flood of documents and much more. However, in this article, we will be describing all the steps involved in filing a successful application, providing the credible evidence and sources.

By answering your reasonable questions about the terms and requirements of a foreign student to get enlisted in a doctoral program in Germany, we will provide the greatest of information your convenience.

University Requirement – An Overview

Despite your enthusiasm to complete doctoral studies from Germany, there are many pre-requisites that you are expected to fulfill for becoming an eligible doctoral applicant. If you succeed in qualifying by satisfying the terms and conditions and enter doctoral studies – upon the completion of the program, you get awarded with a Ph.D. Degree that is globally recognized.

An essential requirement that you need to meet, to qualify as an applicant for the university admission, or to apply for various funding openings is demonstrating that you a German lecturer (supervisor or mentor is willing to oversee your study and thesis work throughout the Ph.D. studies.

There are hundreds of institutions providing higher-education and research institutes where you can submit a query for becoming a doctoral student.

Irrespective of the universal rules applicable to students on a quest to enter a doctoral program in a German university, each university has the freedom to have the university-specific requirement, terms, and conditions.

Even though these rules and regulations do not vary enormously across universities; they might characteristically vary with regards to study and thesis dialect.

Applying to an academy is generally a step that you take once you have decided your study program and found a supervisor for your doctoral studies. However, it's best to keep your eyes and ears open and collect all the necessary documents and proofs required to complete the applications.

Since the requirement across several universities is somewhat similar, we will talk about a standard list of requirements and conditions that you need to fulfill as an international student. If you manage to sail through the application process comfortably, you'll be cordially invited for an interview where you can give your best shot and compel the university to enroll you as a student for their Ph.D. program.

Let’s look at the requirements, one by one and dive deep into each of them.

1. Curriculum Vitae or CV

Curriculum Vitae is a paper where you present in short, your educational background and work history. Your CV must be brief with relevant dates, names of the organizations, degrees awarded, your designations in different companies along with a summary of your job role in each and other details of past educational history. Certificates and other documents should support all your claims.

2. Outline of Doctoral Thesis

Your doctoral thesis is one of the primary documents for your campus application. When applying to a university for Ph.D., you need to present the outline of your thesis accurately.

The points that you should cover are – your purpose behind the research and study, an explanation of the opportunity and research question, your recommended procedure of research and study, the result the study, the timeframe set for the fulfillment of research and thesis paper.

3. Relevant Qualification

You and all other international students looking forward to entering a doctoral program in Germany must be holding a University Entry Qualification as a confirmation of the parity of your education with the education system in Germany.

The accepted degree for enrolling in the doctoral program in Germany is a master’s Degree – obtained by finishing at least eight semesters of your Master's Degree.

A Master’s Degree is a requirement to pursue a Ph.D. from Germany. Also, once you get a Master's Degree, you can decide to either transit in a specialized occupation in Germany or begin your next educational qualification, a Doctoral Degree.

In some cases, coupled with a Master's Degree, a three-year Bachelor's Degree is also considered appropriate for enrolling in doctoral scholarships in Germany. As an international student who has not pursued the master's degree from a university in Germany, you need to ensure that your education should be in sync with the requirement of German universities.

If you’ve gained education from a country other than Germany and would like to pursue further education from a German University, you are provided with an opportunity to get your foreign degree recognized under the recognition procedure which is in accordance with the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

If you have credits of a master diploma equivalent to the German qualification, you’ll have to send the respective credits, certificates, and diploma to the international office of the university you are applying in. Once the international office goes through your documents, they will inform you if your diploma is recognized or whether you need to undergo a specific procedure to make your diploma recognized.

4. Proficiency in English or German

​German is not a mandatory language for doctoral studies in Germany. English is widely used for the thesis and learning sessions in the doctoral program. However, some universities demand the knowledge of German.

Knowing the German Language

​For proving your proficiency in the German language, which is a requirement in certain German Universities offering the doctoral degree, you must own one of the following certificates and should have cleared any of the following examinations:

• Test of German as a Foreign Language
• Goethe Institut German Language Diploma (GDS)
• German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants

Knowing the English Language

If the university which you are eyeing for your doctoral studies offers the thesis and degree in English language, then you'll be required to prove your proficiency in the English language. If you have cleared on the following exams and have a certificate in hand, then you are good to go:

• Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
• The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

5. GMAT or GRE

A few universities also require you to have cleared the Graduation Management Admission Test (GMAT) or GRE with certain scores that are announced every year.

6. Self-Motivation Document

Some German universities also ask for a motivation letter, i.e. a document with details of your achievements, future goals, career decisions and your reason for pursuing a doctoral degree. Please note that it should not exceed 400-500 words.

7. Letter of Recommendation

You must have at least two-three letters of recommendation by your teaching staff or professor from a previous college or university. It will be a great proof of your potential to pursue doctoral studies and be fair to the degree.

The Journey Towards a Successful Doctoral Degree Application

An individual doctorate study form is the best pick for leveraging an independent doctoral degree, choosing your doctoral thesis subjects and planning your doctoral study schedule. In this section, we will guide you in selecting your doctoral field and picking the right study form for your doctoral degree. Read on to know more.

Selecting the Right Subject for Your Doctoral Degree – the First Phase

The first step towards your doctoral degree in Germany is choosing the field and subject for your doctoral study and thesis and bring together a team of mentors or supervisors to support your doctoral dissertation or research.

These are two important aspects of beginning your doctoral program. Even though there are specific data reserves for doctoral programs in Germany, the top-rated places to find your preferred doctoral programs are Ph.D. Germany and Research Explorer where different types of information are available for students applying to a doctoral program. You can also make the most of Facebook communities, Google search engine and various student’s forums for getting the desired information.

Since there are large number of universities and colleges in Germany offering the doctoral degree, it’s important to narrow down on the best choice and see if the program is catering to the below questions:

• Does the program suit my already existing qualification?
• Is this the doctoral program I was looking for?
• Will I be able to meet the application deadline?
• Do I have the language proficiency required by the university?
• Will I be able to find a mentor or supervisor for my thesis?

If you are able to find answers to each of the questions mentioned above, you’re good to go. You can finalize the university and start the application process.

Selecting the Right Study Form – the Second Phase

There are two study forms of the doctoral program that you can choose from in Germany – the individual doctorate or the traditional doctorate.

The Individual (Independent) Doctorate

The individual doctorate is a great choice for international students who are love independence and would like the same during their doctoral studies. You have complete freedom to select your doctoral dissertation subject or look for a mentor for your dissertation.

Also, popularly known as the Master-Apprentice Model, the individual doctorate paves the way to independence, irrespective of the schedule of the doctoral sessions and activities. It is the most prevalent doctoral degree study form in Germany and allows candidates to get employed as “research executives or associates.”

On the other hand, the traditional form or the structured doctoral program expects the doctoral students and their proposals for the research to fall into the defined structure of the Ph.D. program.

Finding a Supervisor or Mentor for Your Doctoral Program

It is not easy to find a suitable supervisor or mentor for your doctoral program. However, if you dedicatedly create a list of contacts and get in touch with them with your request, you’ll surely end-up finding one.

You should begin your research at research centers, university colleges and non-university institutions where you will come across several faculty members, professors, and supervisors who are allowed to award doctorates. You can also take the help of search engines like Google, student communities, and social media platforms to find prospective supervisors and mentors.

The best way to get in touch with the mentors and supervisors is via email. Ensure that you keep the email well-structured, formal, and focused on the subject.

Here are some tips to draft a compelling request email:

• Keep a check on the grammar and ensure that the tone of the email is entirely formal
• Talk about a previous achievement of the supervisor in the email or cite a few examples of their successful students
• Personalize every email. Cut, copy, paste won’t do you any good.
• Use a powerful and crisp subject line
• Don’t use unnecessary jargons in the email
• Try to cover the intention of the email in the first paragraph itself
• Instead of a casual “Hello or Dear” begin with “Respected Sir/Madam”
• Keep the email concise. Long-emails are a put off for many.
• Don’t forget to attach your CV

The Structural Doctorate

The Fixed Structure Doctoral Program, also known as Structural Doctorate consists of international doctoral programs, graduate schools, or research student groups. The orientation of this doctoral program is more international and involves English as the primary language.

The doctoral degree is elaborately structured with compulsory attendance in sessions, seminars and training classes. The program also involves scientific and academic approaches and skills like presentation skills. The students get ample support from the staff and mentors. The duration of the doctoral degree is a maximum of three years, and there is a fixed study structure within which you conduct your research and complete your thesis.

To get enrolled in a Structural Doctorate program, you first need to submit your CV, verified copies of your Degree or Diploma, an outline of your research dissertation, and a Letter of Motivation. Next, you need to submit a detailed description of your dissertation – timeline for research, references from the faculty, proof of your proficiency in English, and your health insurance details. Lastly, once the review of the documents submitted before is complete, the admission board will invite you for an interview.

The Bottomline

Now that you have adequate knowledge about the university requirements for enrolling as an international student for doctoral studies, you must remember everything on your fingertips and take each step carefully.

Keep track of the deadlines and ensure that your paperwork in complete. If you don't have a mentor, start searching for one now. The time is ticking away, and the applications won't wait for you.

Hurry! Get started now and do let us know if you have any more questions.

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