Do German universities (specifically, Technical Universities) take mid-career professionals from other countries (i.e., the USA) for PhD studies?

I am trying to grasp how that process would work - or if it would work - for someone with family & in their mid-30s.

N.b., I am aware that the system is different, i.e., Funded PhD position chances for international students in Austria.

My field is computer science, if that matters.

  • 1
    I can think of no reason why they wouldn't, if you fulfil their admissions criteria. Jun 27, 2018 at 5:42

2 Answers 2


Yes, that is definitely possible (if you have a Masters degree as JayFromA mentioned).

Normally professors have their own funding and 100% control about who gets accepted into the PhD program. This means you directly apply to the chair and not to the university but if the professor is willing to pay you your other background does not matter.

The computer science community in Germany is very international (especially the TUs are very proud of this) and it should be no problem if your German is not that good.

If you do not have stipend your salary is fixed though and there is no room for negotiations (and its not really competitive to industry work). There will also be no relocation funds or anything. Teaching is normally included in your duties so you can not upgrade your pay with that.

The good thing for people with family is that most programs offer "Individualpromotion" which means you do not do course work but research independently (with the help of your supervisor). This is normally more time flexible and useful if you have small children.

  • Thank you. It seems that it may be so accepted that remarking on it in documents is not done. :) Jun 27, 2018 at 15:00
  • Good luck with getting a position! @PaulNathan
    – Claude
    Jun 27, 2018 at 15:11

Yes they do if you have a the necessary degree which is normally a Masters or something comparable.

When you talk about "PhD studies" also note that a PhD (in German doing a "Promotion") does not include course work. It´s thesis only while working on a funded project in parallel if you don´t have a stipend. (The only course work there is if you don´t fulfill the requirements of the university fully and they ask you to complete some exams before starting your PhD. Also there are more and more so called "Promotionskollegs" that require you to go to a handful of courses during the time of your "Promotion".)

If you want to do applied research also focus on so called universities of applied sciences (in German "Hochschule", "Fachhochschule"). I guess they also have a higher interest in people from industry. A notable disadvantage here is that they can not award PhDs so you need a partner university for a cooperation. (German "Kooperative Promotion") But usually they have such contacts and partner universities anyway so that is not a show stopper in virtually all cases.

  • 1
    Thank you. I regret that I can only choose 1 answer as a correct one. Jun 27, 2018 at 15:00

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