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Getting your doctorate at a university

Postgraduate studiesPostgraduate studies

If you want to obtain a higher academic degree after completing your Master's program, you have the opportunity to do a doctorate in Germany and thus obtain a PhD. Doctorate degrees can be granted by German universities and universities that are equally accredited; this currently does not apply to universities of applied sciences. Every year, a good 28,000 graduates successfully complete their doctorate degrees.

The doctorate essentially comprises the writing of a dissertation, a research paper in the respective field of study, and the defence of the paper before a commission, which usually consists of the doctoral supervisor and the second examiners. In the oral examination, the doctoral candidate presents evidence that he or she has worked independently and scientifically.


How much time one needs for a doctoral program depends on many different factors, but in particular on the subject area and the topic. On average, doctoral students need about 4.5 years to complete their doctoral studies. For this long period of time, which often does not allow for part-time work, a scholarship is the best option. This leaves the doctoral students more time to do the necessary research required. Others have the opportunity to work for the chair, which allows them to combine research with paid work.

Publication of dissertationPublication of dissertation

Once a dissertation has been completed in Germany, it has to be published (online, for example) and made available to the public. This concludes the doctoral process. The doctoral candidate receives his/her PhD and may call himself "doctor."

In medicine, the writing of the doctoral thesis can begin before the end of the study period. In most cases, the doctorates themselves are more similar to the scientific diploma theses/master theses.

Health insurance while getting your doctorateHealth insurance while getting your doctorate

Health insurance while getting your doctorate

Everyone who is doing their doctorate in Germany needs health insurance here.

There are various ways to obtain a doctorate in Germany. If you are permanently employed as a research assistant at a university while completing your doctorate, your work is subject to social security contributions and you will be insured through the public health insurance system.

Some students receive a scholarship for their doctorate. If this is not recognized as a salary, you have the opportunity to insure yourself as a student in the public health insurance system. The prerequisites for this are, however, that you are under 30 years of age and have not studied more than 14 semesters. Most doctoral students no longer fulfill these requirements.

In order to be covered by public health insurance coverage as a student, you must complete your first degree, which qualifies you for a profession. Since doctoral students usually already have a university degree, they are not regular students according to the Social Security Law. In this case and as long as you are under 35 years of age, you can insure yourself during your doctoral period for up to 5 years with a Care Student policy.

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