The University of Passau welcomes international early career researchers! As the German research landscape might differ from the system you have come to know so far, we summarise the most important information for you here regarding:
If you are not yet familiar with the German research infrastructure, the following portals may convey a sense of its 'inner workings':
- Research in Germany: information platform and contact point for all looking to find out more about Germany's research landscape and its latest research achievements
- Research in Bavaria: a guide to career, research and funding in Bavaria
- German Academic Exchange Service: hands-on tips on how to prepare a research stay in Germany (including how to finance your stay)
After an A-level ("Abitur"), a bachelor's (3 years) and usually a master's degree (2 years), there is no directly consecutive PhD course (with taught classes or a fixed programme) as such. Therefore, you cannot 'apply' for 'doctoral studies' as there is no centralized allocation system for doctoral positions - neither on a federal, nor on a regional or university level. This also means that there is no admission test. Instead, you will have to fulfil the admission requirements of the doctoral regulations (see below).
At the University of Passau, doctoral projects are usually carried out on an individual basis. That is, you will write your thesis under the supervision of one professor with a high level of autonomy and responsibility. Some faculties, however, may impose requirements with regard to an additional study programme. If there is a comprehensive programme (such as research training groups by the German Research Foundation), you will in fact have to apply for a place in the programme. These programmes are usually clearly labelled and their vacancies advertised. The Graduate Centre does not assign these positions.
So generally, the first step to do a doctorate is to find a supervisor at the faculty that covers the discipline you are interested in. Please directly contact the professor whose research field corresponds best to your research interest to find out whether he or she is willing to supervise your PhD project (see below).
Although theses can generally be written in English, too, German languge skills will help you cope with day-to-day issues. At the University of Passau, you have plenty of opportunities to learn German.
After their bachelor's and master's degrees, graduates are expected to show a certain degree of initiative and thoughtfulness. Therefore, designated supervisors might expect well-rounded preliminary considerations (for example, in the form of an abstract). You might want to invest some time and effort both in your search for a suitable supervisor and in your first e-mail. It might be advisable to
- send personalized 'applications' instead of mass mails.
- demonstrate your interest: show that you know the potential supervisor’s research field (see below: faculties' chairs, professorships and research fields).
- choose the subject of your thesis in a way that fits in with the academic orientation of your supervisor.
- give details of your own experience in this research field (e.g. prior academic achievements like your research papers and the topic of your master’s thesis).
- give explicit reasons why you would like him or her specifically to supervise your thesis.
- show that you are well informed: you know the requirements for a doctorate in Germany (also see below: faculties' doctoral regulations).
Online course 'How to apply for a PhD in Germany'
If you want to further explore this subject, you might be interested in an online course on 'How to apply for a PhD in Germany' by the German Academic Exchange Service. You will learn more about the following aspects of doing a PhD in Germany:
- where to find a PhD position,
- application requirements and how to write a good 'application',
- characteristics of the german research landscape,
- and how to convince a supervisor of your project.
If their doctoral regulations are not available in English yet, you can contact the respective dean’s office to find out whether your degree fits the requirements for pursuing a doctorate at the University of Passau.
The German scholarship system is rather diverse. Although there are foundations focussing on doctoral scholarships, there is no centralized scholarship system or government-funded scholarship that automatically comes with a doctoral postion. Likewise, the University of Passau does not offer any full-time scholarships at the moment. You can, however, apply for current vacancies.
Doctoral 'students' in Germany usually
- work (part-time) as academic assistants or research associates,
- receive a scholarship by one of the foundations (specific application procedures) or
- find other ways of financing their doctorate.
For general information on how to finance your PhD you can consult the information for international researchers from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).
The German Academic Exchange Service also offers the "Hilde Domin programme" for (doctoral) students at risk. The programme serves to support students and doctoral candidates from across the globe, who are at risk of being formally or de facto denied educational or other rights in their country of origin, and to provide these students and doctoral candidates with an opportunity to begin or complete a study or research degree at a higher education institution in Germany. You can submit your application at the International Office of the University.
The German research landscape for postdocs is vibrant and diverse. There are multiple ways to continue your research, options to consider, funding programmes and career paths. The portals indicated above can give you an overview of your options.
Ways of finding a mentor for your postdoc project may vary with faculty, discipline and professor. Generally, designated mentors expect a high level of independence and responsibilty. They also might expect well-rounded preliminary considerations. Therefore, you might want to invest some thought both in your search for a suitable mentor and in your first e-mail.
As there is no standard procedure, do not hesitate to contact us should you have questions.
For general information on how to finance your stay as a postdoctoral researcher you can consult the information for international researchers from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). As there are multiple ways into a postdoc project, we suggest you contact us if you are interested in a postdoctoral research stay at the University of Passau.
Advisory services for international researchers are offered by our Welcome Centre. Please note that the Centre cannot offer support in finding a supervisor or on other matters directly concerning your doctoral or postdoctoral research. The university's Welcome Guide may help you get your bearings.
Should you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact us!