Structured PhD/doctoral programmes
In addition to a traditional individual doctorate, Germany also offers the possibility of studying for a PhD/doctorate within a structured doctoral programme. There are some 700 doctoral programmes in Germany that are very similar to the PhD programmes in English-speaking countries, in which a team of supervisors look after a group of doctoral students. Generally, it is possible to gain a doctorate in three years.
Structured doctoral programmes often have a strong international orientation with English as the team language. Unlike the individual doctorate model that can be freely structured to suit the individual research project, here doctoral students and their research proposals have to fit in with an existing PhD programme. The PhD/doctorate frequently entails a clearly structured doctoral study programme with compulsory attendance at lectures or seminars and interim assessment (credit points). The programme frequently also covers academic and scientific methods or soft skills, such as presentation techniques. PhD Students work steadily at realising their research project within the team and with intensive support from a group of academic staff (often referred to as the “thesis committee”).
Over 700 PhD Programmes in Germany
There are currently over 700 of these programmes available in Germany, but the figure is steadily rising. Universities offer structured PhD/doctoral programmes primarily in research training groups funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) or at graduate schools supported by the Excellence Initiative. Additionally, there are programmes supported by German Länder at individual universities. In non-university research institutions participation in structured, usually interdisciplinary PhD/doctoral programmes is now almost the rule.