Do Your PhD in Baden-Württemberg

One of the most dynamic developments at universities in Baden-Württemberg has been the recent diversification of the various pathways to a doctoral degree. Doctoral students now have several options to choose from, depending on their personal preferences as well as their own unique style of conducting research and learning. Whatever pathway they decide for, doctoral students in Baden-Württemberg will be able to work at some of the top universities and research institutes in the world, build a global network of contacts for their future careers in academia or industry, and enjoy an unparalleled quality of life.

Explore the following sites for more information on structured and traditional PhD programs.

Why Choose Baden-Württemberg for your PhD? 

You’ll spend several years on the road to your doctoral degree, so you clearly want to make sure that those years will be both enjoyable and rewarding in terms of real results for your career. In Baden-Württemberg, we are as proud of our quality of life as we are of our top research institutions, reputation as a global economic powerhouse and history of innovation. Our unique location has drawn top students and scientists from around the world for centuries—and we welcome them with open arms.

Top Reasons to Study in Baden-Württemberg

  • Baden-Württemberg offers the most diverse landscape of higher education and research in the whole of Germany, with major research universities as well as over 100 independent research institutes.
  • We have the most sunshine of any state in Germany and are located right in the heart of Europe, bordering Switzerland, France and Austria.
  • The universities in Baden-Württemberg regularly achieve top rankings within Germany and are also highly recognized in the international academic context.
  • The people here are friendly, open-minded and generally speak at least one foreign language. Making new friends and contacts will be easy for you, even if you don’t speak German.
  • Baden-Württemberg is an economic giant. World-famous companies such as Porsche, Bosch, and Daimler, as well as thousands of small and medium-sized companies, form one of the strongest economies in Germany. There is close and frequent cooperation between our universities and the private sector.
  • You can feel safe in cities and towns; the crime rate is the lowest in Germany—which is already low by international standards.
  • In your leisure time, you can enjoy our beautiful landscapes, experience our rich cultural life and heritage, and take advantage of all kinds of sports opportunities, from skiing to hiking to biking up mountains or around crystal-clear lakes.
  • We try hard to keep bureaucracy to a minimum regarding admission procedures, residence and work permits.

How to Earn a PhD in Baden-Württemberg 

In addition to the variety of traditional and structured PhD opportunities at universities, doctoral candidates may also conduct research for their degree at companies or with "non-university research institutes" such as the renowned Fraunhofer, Helmholtz, Leibniz and Max Planck Institutes. These external research institutes work closely with local and international universities. While they cannot grant doctoral degrees themselves, they have established pathways for a student to earn a doctoral degree.
There is a long-standing tradition in Germany of a "master-apprentice" style of doctoral study at universities. Doctoral candidates work—either alone or as part of a research group—with a professor (Doktorvater or Doktormutter) on an independent research topic for three to five years. Unlike in the US, there is little if any formal coursework, and the candidate focuses entirely on research and his or her final publication. Doctoral candidates may work part time and even remotely, checking in with their professor only every few months, or be an integral part of a research group.

Most doctoral degrees granted in Germany are still earned through this traditional system. The section on "Traditional PhD Programs" will help you find out how to identify a supervisor, how to apply and more.
The newer "Structured PhD Programs" may take several shapes, but all involve extra levels of support for doctoral candidates who are more likely than their independent counterparts to work full time and on campus. These programs are often interdisciplinary, bringing together faculty and doctoral candidates from across the university who are working on aspects of a broader research topics. Candidates generally take part in seminars and workshops, including "soft skills" building in areas such as securing funding, presenting, and writing academic papers.

Financing Your Doctoral Studies 

Applying for a Job
There is no tuition for doctoral studies in Baden-Württemberg, and full-time doctoral candidates secure funding for their living expenses by applying for open positions at universities or research institutes to research, teach, or do some combination of the two. In fact, German universities often advertise open slots for PhD candidates as “job announcements.” This is almost the reverse of how it works in the US, for example, where a potential student would apply for a program and the program would help them secure funding.

Scholarships offered by PhD programs
Many of the structured PhD programs offer scholarships of around EUR 1,000 to EUR 1,300. They are tax free and generally also guaranteed for three years. Scholarships do not come with any research or teaching requirements, although a PhD candidate will be expected to uphold certain standards and participate in certain activities.

Further scholarships options
Various organizations also offer scholarships and grants to help cover living costs for doctoral students. DAAD, in particular, offers a large number of scholarships for highly qualified doctoral candidates from outside Germany. Two important resources for researching scholarships for PhD study are listed below—you can search by discipline and by home country to find programs for Germany that can be used in Baden-Württemberg:

DAAD’s Scholarship Database