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Can German Hochschule offer a Ph.D.? I know that some of them can't, but does this apply to any hochschule or does it differ from one to another?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I should warn that I am not an expert on this, but this is how I understand it. Basically, there are different types of "Hochshule". There is the Universität, which always has the right to offer Ph.D.'s. Then there are the Hochschule and Fachhochschule. The latter in general is more oriented to learning a trade (as an electrical engineer, for example) as opposed to more research focused. The Fachhocschule don't have the Promotionsrecht, that is, that cannot hand out Ph.D degrees. As for the Hochschule, there it depends. Some are on the same level as a Universität. In that case, they can hand out Ph.D. degrees, otherwise not. Presumably the deciding factor is whether there is any substantial research component at the Hochschule or not.

More information can be found here: There you can also search if a specific Hochschule can grant PhD degrees or not.

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Things are getting complicated by the fact that "Fachhochschulen" use the translation "University of Applied Sciences"... (still, without "Promotionsrecht"). – Dirk Dec 29 '12 at 22:15
"As for the Hochschule, there it depends." <- No, it doesn't, they are Fachhochschulen as well and they do not have the right to give out doctorates (there might exist some very rare exceptions where they have a cooperation with a Universität and thus allow it). – superuser0 Apr 29 '13 at 12:35
@superuser0 Apparently it does depend. At least the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen offers a PhD. They also use "university" as translation of "Hochschule". – henning Jun 11 '15 at 9:57

One further note to clarify is that using "Ph.D." to denote doctoral degrees in Germany is somewhat nebulous, as many of the doctoral degree-granting institutions in Germany do not award Ph.D.'s. Instead, the range of doctoral degrees is somewhat broader. For instance, the institution where I work offers the Dr. rer. nat. and the Dr.-Ing., but not a Ph.D. In fact, we are not even allowed to use the term "Ph.D." in our advertising of our doctoral degree programs.

So, if you are asking "can German universities award doctoral degrees," Pieter's answer above is correct. However, if you mean literally "can German universities award Ph.D.'s," I'd have to say the answer is essentially "no."

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... although there are German universities where you can get a Dr. phil. (which is literally the same as PhD), typically in the humanities. – cbeleites Jan 11 '15 at 14:14

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