Offered by German Rectors' ConferenceOffered by German Rectors' Conference

Obtaining a doctoral degree in Germany

In Germany, doctoral degrees are conferred by universities or higher education institutions with equivalent status. This process is known as Promotion. Doctoral degrees are obtained through a specific process, during which an individual demonstrates his or her ability to carry out independent research. If the required examinations have been passed and all the formal prerequisites are met, the university or the faculty authorised by the university to award doctoral degrees confers the academic degree of Doktor supplemented by the appropriate field, e.g. Dr. rer. nat. or Dr. theol. Some universities also offer the academic degree of Ph.D.

The exclusively research-based nature of a doctoral degree distinguishes it from university and state examinations for which you prepare while studying or as a means of completing your studies. These examinations are vocational in character and are intended as preparation for an academically or scientifically oriented profession. In addition, the writing of a dissertation – and thus your own research – makes a substantial contribution to the state of knowledge in the relevant discipline.

If you wish to enrol on a doctoral programme and write your dissertation at a German higher education institution, you must have an academic degree, usually a master's degree, Staatsexamen, Diplom or Magister. It is sometimes possible to enrol with a bachelor's degree if you have successfully completed an appropriate qualification programme.

After the successful completion of doctoral training, doctoral candidates are awarded the degree of doctor by the university. This is described as being <i>promoviert </i>by the university. In everyday use the verb <i>promovieren </i>is often used to mean 'to obtain a doctorate', which is why this verb is mostly used intransitively in German in the Higher Education Compass.

After the successful completion of doctoral training, doctoral candidates are awarded the degree of doctor by the university. This is described as being promoviert by the university. In everyday use the verb promovieren is often used to mean 'to obtain a doctorate', which is why this verb is mostly used intransitively in German in the Higher Education Compass.

  • Doctoral phase

    The doctoral phase begins when you are accepted as a doctoral candidate. It includes the independent writing of a dissertation and an oral examination, which takes place after the successful assessment of the dissertation.

    Doctoral phase
  • Completing your doctorate

    The doctoral process is successfully completed when the dissertation has been accepted, the candidate has passed the oral examination (viva voce) and the dissertation has been published. After this the candidate receives the doctoral diploma and is entitled to use the title 'doctor'.

    Completing your doctorate