I'm asking as someone who's planning to apply for a Master in Germany after an academic hiatus of 8 years for personal reasons. So, what I want to know is if I would find it very difficult/impossible to get accepted as a Phd candidate in Germany upon the completion of my Master. My subject is English Literature and I am an Indian.

  • 1
    I'm in STEM, doing my PHD in Germany and over 30, a lot of others at my institue are also doing their PHD with over 30, it is not that uncommon. But as @Roland said in their answer, in the humanities it is generally harder to find a position indent of age
    – Sursula
    Oct 6, 2023 at 6:34
  • 4
    Note that "getting accepted for a PhD" is typically an uncomplicated formality in Germany. The difficult part is securing a funded position, or, if one wants to do the PhD without a funded position, an advisor. Oct 6, 2023 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


I believe your age is not the main issue here.

There is only a tiny number of English literature PhD positions in Germany.

I would advise you to not focus exclusively on Germany. Once you've completed the Master's degree you would need to broaden your search for a PhD position at least to central and western Europe. Even under the best circumstances, finding a PhD position is a probability game. The smaller your number of tries, the more luck you need. I understand if English literature is your passion but hopefully you are aware that there is a much smaller number of jobs in that field than in STEM fields.

Networking during your Master's will be very important (and of course, you'll need to do well academically). But you definitely need to prepare a plan B.

  • 3
    The answer is correct as far as PhD positions are concerned. However, in the humanities in Germany, it's quite common to do a PhD without a position. The funding could then either come from a stipend or the PhD could be self-funded. One then still needs to find a supervisor. Oct 6, 2023 at 6:50
  • yeah it's correct but it also says nothing about the age of students who have better chances at finding a supervisor
    – carlo
    Oct 6, 2023 at 17:52
  • @lighthousekeeper Does that work for someone from abroad? Is a student visa sufficient?
    – user9482
    Oct 7, 2023 at 14:02
  • @Roland Apparently yes: "A residence permit in accordance with Section 16(b) on the Residence Act - AufenthG also applies to preparatory measures taken prior to attending a higher education institution, such as language courses, attending preparatory colleges or similar facilities or doctoral studies as part of a full-time program at a German higher education institution." (official German website for qualified professionals) Oct 7, 2023 at 15:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .