I have a PhD acceptance letter from an institute in Germany. They have written that my salary would be according to TVöD (collective salary scheme for the German public service).

I searched about that, but there are different ideas.


The following answer applies to all public-service salary schemes (TVöD, TV-L, TV-H, etc.) that apply to PhD students. The information that is most likely missing is:

  • Your class (Entgeltgruppe): PhD students typically paid according to class 13, which is the lowest class for people with a master’s degree or equivalent. As even postdoc positions with class 14 are extremely rare, it’s safe to assume that this is your class if no further information is given.

  • Your level (Stufe): Unless you worked in German public service on this level before, you will have the following progression of levels:

    • first year: Level 1
    • second and third year: Level 2
    • fourth to sixth year: Level 3
    • after that, you hopefully finished your PhD

Now, the offer will have to state how much you are officially working. It’s usually somewhere between 50 % and 75 %, but may also be 100 % – this mostly depends on your field. This should give you all you need to obtain your gross salary (brutto) from the tables or calculators.

Keep in mind that taxes and insurance will be deduced from this, which depends on several aspects such as whether you are married, have children, whether you will use the German retirement provision (VBL) etc. However, a considerable portion of the taxes will actually be to your direct benefit (health insurance, retirement provision, etc.) and things that you would pay with your salary in many other countries.

| improve this answer | |
  • 6
    In computer science, the standard working time for PhD students is 100% in most places. – lighthouse keeper Dec 30 '17 at 21:29
  • 1
    @lighthousekeeper Also true for engineering in general. – aeismail Dec 30 '17 at 22:33
  • 2
    I can confirm that 75% contracts were the norm in Berlin as of last year, but it was my impression that there was a move away from 50% studentships and that anything under 66% was now frowned upon. Is that impression unfounded? – E.P. Dec 30 '17 at 23:40
  • To the question raised by @E.P.: As far as I remember, 50% were normal around the year 2010 in my field (mathematics) in Nordrhein-Westfalen, but around 2014-2015, new contracts usually were set at 75%. – Torsten Schoeneberg Dec 31 '17 at 3:15
  • @E.P.: When I was searching a job a few months ago, I saw a lot of 50 % contracts in various fields. I cannot remember any offers of 75 % contracts or higher – but then I wasn’t searching for a PhD position anyway. Anyway, this is usually given on the offer, so the asker should be able to find out themselves. – Wrzlprmft Dec 31 '17 at 9:09

More information is required to answer your question. However, I want to give some basic information.

  • Where are you employed? The TVöD consists of several categories, e.g., the TV-L (afaik used by most universities) as well as TVöD-Bund (used by some publicly funded non-university institutes (e.g., Fraunhofer)). Ask your employer for this information if it was not provided to you, yet.

  • Do you have a 100% contract / full time job? Depending on you employer and region in Germany, this might differ. I know guys who have a 50% contract, thus, there is 50% payment for 50% time. (Please note, that you will still be expected to be at your institute like a full-time employee).

  • (When are you going to start? The labor unions will negotiate an updated salary in beginning of 2018. So you might finally end up with a few more percent.)

You will most likely start at E13 in Level 1, as this is the standard payment for PhD candidates. There you can find a table for TVöD-Bund: http://oeffentlicher-dienst.info/c/t/rechner/tvoed/bund?id=tvoed-bund-2017i&matrix=1

So at E13 Level 1 at a 100% employment you will start with 3657.34€/month gross income. (Net income will be somewhere slightly above 2000€, depending on taxes).

| improve this answer | |
  • I was under the impression that 50% contracts were uncommon and frowned upon. Can you specify where this was (at least geographically), and whether this applies to recent enrollment? – E.P. Dec 30 '17 at 23:41
  • The contracts were quite recent, not more than a few years ago. While I have not encountered them in the south of Germany for engineers, I know guys who are living further in the north of Germany and do not have full time contracts. – J-Kun Dec 31 '17 at 10:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.