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Preparing your Doctorate

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Quick Facts:

  • There are two models of doing a doctorate in Germany: individual doctoral studies and structured doctoral programs.
  • In both models, you have to apply directly to the program or the potential supervisor on your own initiative.
  • The Graduate Center can offer you general advice if you have questions about doing your doctoral studies at LMU.

Is doing a doctorate in Germany right for me?

A German doctorate can open many doors for an international career, as it is widely recognized as a sign that you are capable of independent research and have acquired specialist knowledge in your field.

On the other hand, doing your doctoral studies in any foreign country comes with its own challenges, adding up to those related to completing a long-term, independent research project.

Questions you should ask yourself before making a decision:

  • Am I prepared to organize my doctoral studies independently and proactively in a university system which is unfamiliar to me?
  • Am I aware of possible language and cultural challenges I might have to overcome next to accomplishing my daily workload?
  • Am I able to get the necessary funding for the whole course of my doctoral studies, taking into account all living expenses? Especially the cost for accommodation is quite high in Munich.

More aspects to consider, including career-related questions, can be found on the Graduate Center's website. Also, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has compiled five reasons to do your PhD in Germany.top

Why should I do my doctorate at LMU Munich?

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München is one of Europe’s leading research universities with an over 500-year-old tradition. At the same time, it is a cosmopolitan university, home to students from over 130 different countries.

In 2019, LMU Munich has been awarded the status of a University of Excellence for the third time by the German Excellence Initiative, a highly competitive funding program created by the federal and state governments. Since the first funding period in 2006, this has led to the creation of four Graduate Schools and four Clusters of Excellence, which provide outstanding research opportunities for doctoral candidates. Moreover, as part of the LMU’s Excellence Strategy, the Academic Career Program was initiated in order to promote early-career researchers.

LMU Munich also offers extensive support services for doctoral candidates:

  • LMU Gateway is here to help you with all questions regarding your move to Munich, ranging from information on entry requirements, accommodation and registration as a doctoral student.
  • LMU Graduate Center has been called into life to assist you with general questions regarding our doctoral studies, offering individual advice and numerous workshops to help you succeed.top

How do I become a doctoral student at LMU Munich?

Once you have put your mind to doing your doctorate at LMU Munich, you will need to decide which model you want to pursue – your individual doctoral studies or a structured doctoral program.

  • Individual doctorate: This is the most common model in Germany. It requires you to find your own supervisor, who will be your main advisor for your research project. This model demands a high degree of independence and self-motivation, as there is no set curriculum or designated time frame to guide you through your studies.
  • Structured doctoral programs: This model can be compared to PhD programs in Anglo-Saxon countries. They are ideal if you desire a structured curriculum and a more intensive supervision by a team of professors. Many programs are geared towards internationals and may include funding options.

Further information, including some general advice on how to get into the respective models, can be found here.

After you have successfully secured a supervision agreement or a place in a doctoral program, you need to get accepted as a doctoral candidate by the faculty’s doctoral committee. Once you have been accepted, you are usually ready to apply for a visa if necessary.

Depending on the doctoral degree regulations or specific visa requirements, you may also need to apply at the International Office for admission and registration.

Please see the Application Guide for Doctoral Studies for step-by-step information on the application process.

NOTE: If not required by doctoral or visa regulations, student registration is optional.

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How can I finance my doctorate?

Although there is no tuition for doctoral candidates, it is important to have enough funds to cover your living expenses throughout the course of your doctoral studies.

There are different funding options available, which largely depend on your field of study and the doctoral model you are pursuing. While some structured programs come with a scholarship and/or a paid research position, others may require you to obtain your own funding. If you are doing your individual doctorate, this may or may not include a position as a research assistant to your supervisor. Thus, it is advisable to stake out your funding options before applying for your doctoral studies.

The following funding options are possible in Germany:

  • Employment as a research assistant at your department
  • Employment by the university outside of your department
  • Non-research-related employment outside the university
  • Scholarship by a German or international organization
  • Research position at a company

Which funding option works best for you largely depends on your individual situation. On average, an international doctoral student in Germany has an income of about 1,200 € a month.

NOTE: Your funding situation will influence the type of visa and residence permit you need to enter Germany.

What is the cost of living in Munich?

Munich offers a high standard of living and attractive job opportunities, drawing in people from all over the world. For this reason, the cost of living and rental prices in particular in Munich are the highest in Germany. Therefore, the biggest share of your expenses will therefore go towards accommodation.

Here is a breakdown of living expenses for a single student in Germany. In Munich, you can expect to spend about 1,000 € a month, depending on your needs and lifestyle. If you’ll be coming with your partner or children, your expenses will increase.

NOTE: If you are employed, you will also have to pay taxes and social security contributions.

In addition, if you want to register as a student, you will need to pay a mandatory semester fee to the Munich Student Union, which recurs every semester. It includes a basic public transportation ticket for the whole semester (Semesterticket). However, since this ticket is only valid during limited hours, so additional costs for public transportation may apply.

Registering as a doctoral student also has other benefits: You can eat for reduced prices at the university cafeterias, get access to the university’s sports facilities for a lower fee, get student discounts at cultural institutions, etc. This can reduce your overall living expenses.top

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