A research stay in Germany offers the chance to work with world leading universities, influential research institutions and connect with major players in German industry.
Germany’s reputation for quality, efficiency and innovation springs from close cooperation between industry and research facilities. Whether it’s the development of climate-friendly energy or mobility, artificial intelligence or virtual reality, Germany is successful in utilizing innovative technologies, products and services to benefit all. A cornerstone of this success is the government’s commitment to funding. The German government has consistently focused its policy on education, research and innovation and is investing more money than ever before.
Overall, science and research in Germany is supported by an excellent infrastructure, covers a wide variety of disciplines, offers well-equipped research facilities and competent staff from all over the world. For an ambitious researcher, Germany is one of the most attractive and dynamic research and innovation locations there is.
Doing a doctorate in Germany
The German doctorate has one of the best reputations worldwide with more than 4,000 international graduates completing their doctorate here every year. Generally speaking, Germany offers two models of doctoral training. You can choose either the traditional, individual route, or you may prefer our structured doctoral programmes.
- The traditional PhD model continues to be the most popular choice for doctoral candidates. This option allows you to choose your research topic and write your thesis or dissertation under the supervision of a professor. You will have the advantage of being flexible but it does demand a high degree of personal initiative and responsibility.
- Structured doctoral programmes on the other hand are similar to the PhD programmes in English-speaking countries when a team of supervisors look after a group of doctoral students. The duration of your studies is generally limited to three years, and there is usually a fixed curriculum within which you work toward your doctorate and write your dissertation.
Interested in doing a doctorate in Germany? Visit the “Research in Germany” website - section “Info for PhD Students” - for detailed information:
Career opportunities for postdocs and experienced researchers
Whether you come to Germany as a postdoc, a junior professor or a visiting researcher there’s a wide range of career options open to you. Universities, non-university research institutes and companies offer young international researchers excellent opportunities to gain research experience and qualify for the next step in their career.
- The first postdoc phase (typically two to four years after your doctorate) is the time to develop your research and, if necessary, teaching skills. This phase of your career can be at a university, a research institute or in industry. It’s also the time to publish your own work, engage in further training at conferences and further develop your soft skills. You may also wish to gain international research experience during this phase.
- Experienced postdocs can pursue prerequisites needed for a professorship. This phase is about showing evidence of other academic accomplishments. This can include work on your habilitation treatise, taking on a junior professorship or assuming a leadership position in a junior research group or in industry
- Leadership of an independent junior research group enables those outstanding junior researchers who have already gained post doctorate research experience to realise their own research project and qualify for a professorship or other leadership position. Germany significantly invests in research and large research organisations and universities often jointly fund the establishment of junior research groups with their own programmes. Support for these projects can also come from the German Research Foundation (DFG) or other funding organisations.
- The prerequisites for appointment to a professorship at a university are: a completed programme of higher education, the ability to teach and a particular aptitude for academic work which usually means an outstanding doctorate. You also have to provide proof of additional academic achievements.
- Germany also has universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) which have a more application-oriented approach. As a rule, a doctorate and several years of relevant practical professional experience outside higher education are sufficient to qualify for a professorship at one of these institutions of higher education.
- Also worth considering is a leadership position in research and development (R&D) at a research-oriented company. As a team leader, for example, you could manage an international team of researchers in application and project-oriented research. You can work on innovative solutions for concrete problems, develop standards or find alternatives to existing processes. And perhaps you will also have to present your research findings at international conferences.
Find out more about your career options in Germany. See the “Research in Germany” website for more information and details on your next steps:
Financing and funding your research work in Germany
Germany not only offers a great range of research opportunities for international researchers, there are also many funding opportunities. Germany places a high value on research that involves global cooperation meaning many organisations support international researchers and academics. In addition to this, research funding in Germany has the ultimate goal of financing the development of new ideas and technologies. The range covers everything from basic research in natural sciences and new technologies to structural research funding at institutions of higher education.
The largest organisations that award financial support to individuals are the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). However, a large number of charitable foundations are now focused on supporting research and junior researchers. When it comes to the support and funding of research projects, non-university research institutions and industry play a major role. They are a key part of our research infrastructure and particularly support young researchers with job offers or scholarships.
Find out about funding opportunities for you and your research project. See a selection of funding programmes for international researchers:
Keep up to date
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