Master’s & PhD in Germany: Curricula & Requirements


To get a master’s degree or a doctorate in Germany, you need to take preparatory courses that will increase your chances of being accepted into a university and help you achieve your dream studies.

It’s not hard to see why Germany is such a popular study destination. It has a great reputation as a world leader in innovation and technological research, has a strong economy, and has solid expertise in fields such as engineering and manufacturing. It is all of these assets that attract international students to study for master’s and doctoral degrees in Germany.

Choosing the right university for master’s studies

In fact, it may seem difficult to choose the ideal university for a master’s degree, especially since there are many different options in Germany.

The decision will be made based on the subject you are really passionate about. Of course, the most important thing is whether you want to focus on academic studies. In this case, we recommend that you choose a research university or a technical university.

On the other hand, if you want to gain new work experience or skills for a new vocation, you should probably choose a university of applied sciences.

Art, film, and music students will benefit greatly from Germany’s artistic heritage by applying for a postgraduate degree in Germany.

Master’s Programs and Course Organization

Higher education in Germany follows a common European formula developed in the Bologna process.

This means that German Master’s degrees are “second cycle” qualifications. In general, they follow a bachelor’s degree (first cycle) and can prepare a student for a doctorate (third cycle).

In addition, most Master’s degrees are taught in Germany in the form of courses. There is first a series of course modules to be completed and then a thesis or project to be validated.

Duration of a Master’s degree in Germany

Depending on the class and the subject studied, the master’s courses can vary from one, one and a half to two years.

An academic year consists of two semesters. In addition, the master’s degree will also include your final project, called a thesis, for which you will have to work with a mentor.

Postgraduate research, which is completely independent in Germany, only takes place at the doctoral level.

The two types of doctorates in Germany

The individual doctorate

This is the traditional and most popular choice. In principle, in this type of doctorate, you prepare a thesis or dissertation under the direction of a professor.

However, most of the time, you will work independently. In addition, the duration of this doctorate varies. Generally, it lasts between three and five years.

This option offers great flexibility, but it also requires a lot of initiative and personal responsibility.

To obtain your doctorate, you will not only do research at a university, you can also conduct a project at a non-university research institute or in a company.

Structured doctoral programs

You can also choose what is called an organized Ph.D. program. Normally, this program involves a group of students who are led by a group of supervisors.

About 600 such programs are offered in Germany. Indeed, these programs differ from individual doctoral programs in that student proposals must fit into existing doctoral programs.

On the other hand, individual PhDs may have more freedom to fit an individual research project.

You will also be required to attend lectures and seminars, and you will normally have a mentor.

Admission requirements for PhDs in Germany

Admission requirements vary by university and Ph.D. program, but in general, you will need to have a good university degree equivalent to a German master’s degree.

In addition, well-qualified international applicants with bachelor’s degrees can be accepted as doctoral students in the Fast Track program. This program includes the entrance exam and possibly participation in an interview.

You will need to demonstrate your English language skills through a language test such as IELTS or TOEFL.

In addition, if you wish to enroll in a doctoral program in German, you may need to prove your language skills through a test such as the DSH or TestDaF.

Applying for a Ph.D. in Germany

There is no central admission procedure or selection office for doctoral students in Germany.

In fact, the application procedure varies depending on whether you have chosen a traditional (individual) or a structural doctorate. In the latter case, you can apply directly to the university of your choice.

If you have applied for a doctorate, you will first need to find a suitable professor who agrees to be your thesis director. You can find a thesis supervisor through contacts at your previous university, or by searching for research institutes and centers, or teams related to your field of interest.

Finally, to finance your master’s and doctoral studies, you can apply for a scholarship related to the program if you are eligible.