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.


2 Answers 2


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 positions requiring 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): You will have the following progression of levels based on experience:

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

    You will start on the first level – unless you already worked in the German public service on this level before (or on a job that is acknowledged as comparable), e.g., on another PhD position.

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 public employer's retirement provision (VBL) etc. However, a considerable portion of the taxes will actually be to your direct benefit (health insurance, statutory retirement provision, etc.) and things that you would pay with your salary in many other countries.

  • 8
    In computer science, the standard working time for PhD students is 100% in most places. Dec 30, 2017 at 21:29
  • 1
    @lighthousekeeper Also true for engineering in general.
    – aeismail
    Dec 30, 2017 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, 2017 at 23:40
  • 3
    Since this has just popped up on the start page again, please allow me a brief nitpick on the sentence "class 13, which is the lowest class for people with a master’s degree": More precisely speaking, class 13 is actually the lowest class for positions that require a master's degree. It is possible to hold a master's degree, but to work in public service in a position that does not require that degree; in such a case the salary will typically be lower than class 13. Jun 21, 2021 at 1:23
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    @JochenGlueck: Corrected, though it should be irrelevant here.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jun 21, 2021 at 5:13

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).

  • 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, 2017 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, 2017 at 10:57
  • I did not get the part about being expected at the work place as a full-time worker though. Is not the worker supposed to fulfill amount of hours written in the contract? Sep 12, 2021 at 12:26
  • @holmesherlock: Well, PhD positions are weird. The usual justification of this is that you are working for your job half of the time and for your PhD the other half.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 12, 2021 at 17:12

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