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I live in Germany and want to pursue a PhD degree in Biology/Bioinformatics/....

I already have a Master's degree from outside the EU. However, it did not have a thesis or a research component. I do have practical experience as I have worked in a leading cancer hospital as a pathology lab technician.

As most PhD roles require a thesis and/or research experience. I'm finding some "Master Thesis" openings. Can I apply to them directly to bridge my thesis & research gap? Is it acceptable that I am not currently a student and not affiliated with any university here? If yes, how does it work?

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    I am pretty sure you have to be a) enrolled at a university to be eligible for such a position and b) might even need to proof that you have already amassed enough masters credits for some of them.
    – Sursula
    Commented May 3 at 9:32

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There is no such thing as "Master thesis position" in Germany (as far as I am aware of). If you want to pursue a Master's from Germany you have to enroll in a study program. There is no way to just work a Master's thesis without the study (at least I have never heard of such a thing - the universities where I have been certainly do not offer such a thing).

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    There are master Thesis positions in the sense that research institutions or industry will offer the opportunity to write the thesis with them on a specific topic they want to have looked into. But to actually get such a position you have to be an enrolled master's student.
    – Sursula
    Commented May 4 at 2:37
  • True. But, as you said, such a thing is neither sufficient nor necessary to be able to write a master's thesis. Also "position" may not be the right word here as one can not be paid for a master's thesis
    – Dirk
    Commented May 4 at 10:00
  • Sometime an topic by a company comes with an additional opportunity for an internship in parallel, but being paid by a company for writing a thesis is not allowed in Germany.
    – Dirk
    Commented May 4 at 10:01
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You first need to figure out how much of your non-EU masters degree is recognized in Germany. It could be recognized as equivalent to a masters degree, equivalent to a bachelors degree or not recognized as an academic degree at all. This depends on a lot of details so I can't give a general answer here.

Next, knowing what degree you have from a German standpoint, you can apply for a suitable continuation eventually leading to a PhD. Note that only universities or applied universities (Fachhochschulen) are allowed to give out masters degrees or PHDs, so you will have to apply at one of these.

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  • My Masters is fully equivalent to a German masters degree. Even though it doesn’t contain a research track
    – mjalajel
    Commented May 3 at 12:27
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    @mjalajel The question is not whether you or I consider it equivalent, the question is whether the German government does. The fact that it does not contain a research track may mean it doesn't but I don't know. If it does you can apply to a PhD program at a university the same way someone with a German masters degree could. That is the point of saying they are equivalent.
    – quarague
    Commented May 3 at 12:31
  • @mjalajel And if they really are considered equivalent officially, I am pretty sure that you might well be able to find a PhD position as is. Germany isn't the US, it is often much more important that you fulfill the requirements on paper (in this case hold a valid MA degree with good/very good grades) and show interest and enthusiasm than already have a ton of research experience.
    – Sursula
    Commented May 4 at 2:41

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