Doctorate and beyond

With such a high density of excellent universities and research institutions, Baden-Württemberg is the perfect setting for doctoral scholars. Regardless of whether young researchers wish to pursue their research with the support of an expert Doctoral Supervisor, or to join one of the growing number of structured doctoral study programs, they will benefit enormously from the outstanding conditions which Baden-Württemberg has to offer.

Doctorates are awarded by nine state universities and six universities of education in Baden-Württemberg. Graduates of universities of applied science in Baden-Württemberg can also obtain a doctorate in cooperation with a University. Since 2011, it has also been possible to study for the highest academic degree at the private Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen.

Individual doctoral studies 

The most common way to obtain a doctoral title in Germany is still to pursue the individual doctorate route. This entails candidates devising and conducting their own independent research project in consultation with a supervising Professor. Supervisors can be found by searching the relevant literature in your area of study. Assistance is also available from the relevant Faculty office.

Graduate schools 

Structured Doctorate programs are usually offered by graduate schools in the various University faculties. Doctoral study programs usually take three years to complete. The language of study is English. The admission requirements and application procedures may differ considerably from University to University. It is therefore a good idea to inquire about the precise conditions which apply at the universities in which you are interested as soon as you have decided on the particular program you wish to pursue.

More information about these graduate schools is available on our partner site BW Career.

Research Training Groups 

Doctoral candidates in various disciplines come together in research training groups to work on defined research topics from a variety of different perspectives. The aim of these University institutions is to promote the education and training of up-and-coming young researchers within an interdisciplinary and specific academic context. Research training groups receive financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a maximum period of nine years.

In contrast to graduate schools, research training groups are project-specific research clusters which cover a defined project period after which they are required to make a renewed application to the universities. Graduate schools, on the other hand, offer subject-oriented doctoral degree courses which can be followed for an unlimited period of time. An overview of the research training group which currently exist in Baden-Württemberg can be found on BW Career

Baden-Württemberg is unique in that it has its own state-wide graduate colleges in which several universities participate with their own doctoral programs, such as the "BBW-ForWErts - Bioeconomy Baden-Württemberg - Exploring Innovative Value-added Chains" in the field of biological economics. The program's website offers more detailed information.


All doctoral programs and individual doctoral studies supervised by a Professor in Baden-Württemberg are free. No fees are charged. In most cases doctoral candidates can also retain student status while they are working towards their qualification. This enables them to continue to enjoy all the benefits to which students are entitled, such as reduced price entrance to swimming pools or museums, or a Semester Ticket for local public transport.

Students who are under 30 years of age are also eligible for lower rate contribution premiums in statutory health insurance schemes. Most graduate schools also offer young researchers their own doctorate scholarships. It is also possible to apply for one of the national Scholarship programs offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or by private or public foundations. 

Doctoral candidates wishing to pursue individual doctoral studies also have the option of taking on a position as a research assistant with their supervising Professor.