How do I become an eligible foreign Ph.D. Candidate in Germany?

Before we jump into the focus, as we explicated in the foregoing article, we want to make sure you know that there are vigorous reasons why you or anybody else would pick Germany to chase dreamed doctoral education. Making it clearer, statistics showed that about 25,000 doctoral candidates graduate annually in Germany. Putting it in another way, this is not a wondering fact anymore, rather an indication of preponderating higher education and above all, in doctoral level that Germany enjoys.

What is essential to know is that the great position of German education and science is not the particular insignia of the country. Internationally identified for its outstanding research infrastructure and network, today, Germany leads the world in innovation. To give an illustration of the aforementioned, we want to point out the figures revealing about Germany, having at least 370 higher education institutions where 140 of them are entitled to offer doctoral degrees, with around 240, 000 international students among which 18, 000 enroll in doctoral studies and 26,000 engage in research work.

In this article, you will absorb doubts of becoming an alien entitled as a doctoral candidate in Germany by the information and tips that will help you reliably create a sound stream of high quality PhD studies and research in Germany.

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Other foreigners, same as you, often kept back by the volume of requirements and procedures, locking up their dream to sign up for their doctorate in Germany. Let us avoid this, endeavoring to pace these obstacles by utilizing the best of assistance and simplified information brought for your convenience.

As an alien seeking for enrollment in doctoral studies and research activity in Germany, you are a subject to meet entry and residence permit requirements. To do so, you have withal to ascertain you are an eligible applicant for doctoral or research studies. This involves additionally a consequential aspect, which is the recognition of earlier education credits, so-called credit equivalence, as a form to estimate the correspondence between foreign earned credits and German educational credits. However, do not be intimidated by the amount of requirements and procedures and keep your intention up, just make sure you consider the information and guidance to be offered in the following parts of the article.

What kind of visa would I need?

Disallowed as a foreigner to move in, or stopover in Germany, you are called to have an explicit and authentic intention of requiring German visa and residence permit. These are the only authoritative forms to ascertain you an eligible entering and stay for the duration of your enrollment as a doctoral candidate in Germany.

There are three categories of foreigners in Germany:

  • EU-foreign nationals who enjoy the freedom of movement within the Schengen area and consequently they can enter Germany anytime they want without any border check. However, they must register at Registration Office “Einwohnermeldeamt” or Residents’ Service Centre “Bürgerservice” to register, stating their intention of their stay.
  • Non-EU nationals coming from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, USA, the Republic of South Korea and New Zeeland they are entitled to enter into Germany without any visa restrictions. However, willing to reside longer than three months they are called to register at the Registration Office “Einwohnermeldeamt” or Residents’ Service Centre “Bürgerservice” and at Foreigners’ Authority “Ausländerbehörde” to apply for getting the appropriate residence permit related to their purport of stay.
  • Other non-EU nationals due to entrance restrictions are ineligible to enter or stay in Germany without visa and residence permit. German Embassy or Consulates in the home country are the single ruling bodies for issuing visas. Improved chances to get a German Visa take only candidates whose application placidity designate the intention for entering Germany, supported by the sufficient proofs with a focus on University admission notification – a document issued by the university attesting your admission to pursue doctoral studies in Germany. Registering at the Registration Office “Einwohnermeldeamt” or Residents’ Service Centre “Bürgerservice” and at the Foreigner’s Authority to apply for the residence permit related to their purpose of stay in Germany upon the arrival is obligatory for the enrollment in the University.

You can identify the procedures for getting a German visa in our article series: “How to get a student visa for my doctorate studies in Germany”.

What makes me an eligible Ph.D. Applicant?

In the spirit of prosperous doctoral study application, you must be aware and identify which are the prerequisites.

Making your earlier qualification recognized

Regardless of the higher education stage, as an immovable rule, anybody seeking to enter higher education studies in Germany must have the so-called “Hochschulzugangsberechtigung” or Higher Education entrance qualification. Caught in such a situation you have to make sure that your earlier qualification meets the requirements for making you an eligible applicant to pursue doctoral studies, and so, we advise bringing your complete attention on the following specifics.

Recognition of higher education qualification of you as an applicant seeking to pursue further education in Germany goes throughout “The Lisbon Recognition Convention” as the convention acting also in different other countries of the European Union. As such, you need to ascertain if your so-far qualification is enough and equivalent to German qualifications in order to make sure being considered as an eligible applicant for pursuing doctoral studies. Hence, Germany requires from the doctoral applicant to have the minimum Master Degree awarded after at minimum eight semesters of studies. The exception applies to applicants with a Bachelor Degree from Universities of Applied Sciences, becoming eligible to follow fast-track doctoral programmes, but before an examination to attest their knowledge takes place.

Being a foreign applicant coming from one of the countries that do not rely on the Lisbon Recognition Convention, you will be subject to following qualification recognition procedure. The most significant thing in this regard is to know early enough whatever that is suggested in this regard for country-specific – the country that you have ended your earlier education.  This is very stress-free procedure nowadays ever since there is an online database called “Anabin” – offering all-inclusive listed information about foreign country’s qualification equivalent to German qualification, followed by supporting instructions about what to do if your qualification is not sufficient to enter higher education studies in Germany.

Get more insights about recognition of earlier education on our article series “How can I make my earlier qualification recognized to enter doctoral studies in Germany”.

Electing one among two Ph.D. study types

Electing the field and the type of your studies is the second phase, is the first influence you might have on your studies, being called to require one amongst individual and structural doctoral programmes for your doctoral studies. This is a compulsory stair in advance for your application for the university admission.

The difference between two types stands for the independence of your studies. The individual type the same time the most preferred by doctoral candidates, involves picking your doctoral subject on your own preferences, deciding about the researcher to tutor your studies, boundless self-responsibility as regards time management and study activities, jointed with a greater consultation with your self-chosen mentor. Likewise, structural type of doctoral studies implicates integration of doctoral subject inside the doctoral or research studies, interaction with colleagues, stringent timeline and study activities based upon the programme’ curricula, and the last but not less important more than one mentor for tutoring studies.

Getting admitted by the University as a Ph.D. Candidate

As you were lucky enough to get your earlier education recognized and got the chances to find a mentor or a group of mentors to tutor your future PhD studies and you made the decision on your dissertation subject, the other important and significant pace is applying at the University for becoming a documented PhD Candidate. This sort of application is a process where you fill-in the application form, also does your mentor puts its statement declaring mentorship of your studies, supported with certified copies of your certificates and earlier higher education recognized qualification. Among requirements will be also proving you passed the examination of DSH or TestDaF, applying only if your University doctoral program involves writing the dissertation in German. Still, do not get discouraged if you lack the German language, as dissertation language typically is not obliged to be German.

You will be entitled as a doctoral candidate only after the good news of receiving University notification, which proves your successful admission upon your earlier application.

When have I officially joined up as a doctoral candidate?

Another important pace of such interesting life-journey is the enrollment as a PhD Candidate, meaning to start your activities concerning your doctoral studies. Some universities automatically give candidates such permission, once notified about admission based on their university application. On the other hand, if you classify in universities that require candidates’ official enrollment procedure, then you should prove a valid student visa, residence permit and health insurance (public or private) for the period of studies.

The last one to keep it in mind: “If you can dream it, you can do it”!

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