If you are unsure whether your degree will be recognised in Germany, check the information portal for foreign educational qualifications. This database provides information on the evaluation of foreign educational qualifications and supports authorities, employers and private individuals in their effort to establish whether a foreign qualification is recognised in the German system of education.
Furthermore, the Dean's Offices of the faculties will be happy to help you determine whether you are eligible for acceptance to a doctorate.
A journey in and through science can be focused on any of a wide range of subject matters! Please discuss the specifics with your designated supervisor.
Generally, such a journey can be roughly divided into the following phases, each of which comes with its own specific tasks:
- Orientation: In this stage you explore the options, alternatives, potential topics, supervision and general conditions (funding, for example).
- Familiarisation: In this stage, you familiarise yourself with subject matter and may have to draw up a thesis proposal (varies greatly, depending on the subject matter – if required).
- Research: This is the main phase during which you actually work on your topic.
- Completion: In this phase, you complete your manuscript, take the oral examination and prepare for publication.
In Germany, there are different ways of obtaining a doctorate. The following distinctions are made:
- individual or structured doctorate and
- internal or external doctorate.
Individually tailored or structured doctorates
Doctoral students wishing to pursue an individually tailored doctorate are obliged to organise everything themselves - select a topic, find a supervisor, set up a timetable and source funding, for example. Thus individually tailored doctorates require a high degree of self-organisation and thus self-discipline. Structured programmes offer a coherent, organised programme of courses for all participants. Doctoral students also have the option of pursuing their doctoral degree in one of Germany's major research institutions such as the Max Planck Society. These offer prospective doctoral students the possibility of pursuing both individually tailored and structured doctorates. They often include regular funding, and both start time and time of completion are clearly specified. In the structured option, however, many aspects of the organisation are taken care of for the doctoral student. At the same time, students are given much less license than in the individually tailored model.
Internal or external
Structured programmes are usually completed on site at a university, whereas individually tailored doctorates require the student to give some thought to where specifically they can do their research. Students have the possibility of completing doctorates while being closely tied in (employment, for example, which would qualify as internal) with a chair or even a professorship, in companies or from their home without any close university-specific or other attachment to any other organisation (and thus qualifying as external). A thesis can also be written in a private-sector company - as long as additional supervision by a supervisor at a German university is ensured.
There is no easy answer to this question. Possible points to consider could include:
- Title: In which fields of work is a title essential? Where is it more of an obstacle?
- Qualification aspect: Do you wish to qualify for research work? For other jobs? In which sector?
- Promotion opportunities: Would a doctorate - if you decided to pursue one - get you a senior position or a higher salary?
- Strengths and competencies: Would you be able to explain to someone 'outside of research' what specific competencies you were able to acquire in a doctorate?
- Resources: How much time, money and energy can you and would you want to invest?
- Practical experience: Where would your doctorate be credited as practical experience? Where would it not be recognised as such?
An ongoing series of publications by the German University Association of Advanced Graduate Training (UniWiND/GUAT) provides insights into the sector-specific standing of the doctorate.