I'm in the last year of my MSc in computer engineering and I want to apply for a PhD in Germany. I have a reasonable resume and have a published paper and my master GPA is 16.5/20, but my bachelor GPA in not so good, it is 13.5/20.

Can you tell me how much is this important? Do I have any chance?

4 Answers 4


As flo said, it totally depends on the university.

In principle, you can become PhD student at any German university if you

  1. Have someone eligible (normally a professor in the department) who declares that she/he will supervise you, and
  2. You meet the requirements from the examination regulations for the PhD.

In the majority of cases, the examination regulations can be found on the web. Many departments do not list a formal "grade" requirements, but some do. Typically, the grades are only given in German style, so there is room for interpretation when translating foreign grades. GPAs are pretty much unknown in Germany. Admission officers will look at the grades (e.g., A-F, where F means fail) and if the institution where the grade has been awarded is "OK". Summary grades are expressed in the same system as the individual grades. To make this part of the answer complete, as you are probably aware, it is normally a requirement to have a Masters degree before you can start with a PhD.

Structured programs, such as graduate schools, typically have their own rules on top of these. Again, standard vary, and you should be able to find some information on the home page of the respective graduate school.

  • Yes,Thank you, I get my Master degree until September and I know that my thesis is powerful and sort of unique.It's my hope that with a such thesis I can impress Admission officers and they don't look at my low GPA in bachelor.
    – ali hakimi
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 9:37
  • 2
    Hi @alihakimi - are you planning to apply for a structured program? If not, the admission officer will only do a "bureaucratic" check that will yield "satisfies the requirements" or "not" - everyone who satisfies both requirements is admitted and the thesis topic typically makes no difference. The person to impress is your future advisor in this case, because she/he has the limited supervision capacity (and also the funding that you are probably looking for). As already said, structured programs are a bit different.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 9:59
  • Hi @DCTLib. i am looking for both structured program and individual program just related to my thesis and my interest.and yes I am looking for some funding. so that i understand from this argument that this work is totally charged with supervisor and i can impress her/him with my research work and don't be worry about my GPA.is that right?
    – ali hakimi
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 10:31
  • 1
    For unstructured programs, this is correct as along as you fulfill the minimum requirements outlined by the department. Well, at least this is the case in every examination regulation that I have seen. As already written, structured programs normally do care about grades and have their own rules.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 11:11
  • thank you my friend for your consideration...you helped me a lot.
    – ali hakimi
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 12:34

This totally depends on the university. There is no common rule for all German universities. Having good grades in field related courses may be the most important part, also the thesis being field related won't hurt either. Other than that it can depend on the university, the faculty, the chair, the potential supervisor and so on.

  • Thanks for your answer.That you say is right but because of my bachelor GPA I have so anxious that it torture me.
    – ali hakimi
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 9:04
  • 1
    @alihakimi Don't worry too much about it - if there are hard conditions about the grade, they will usually be applied to your master's GPA. Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 11:27

The exact requirements depend on the specific federal state ("Bundesland"), university, department and professor

Each federal state of Germany has its own university law ("Landeshochschulgesetz"), and that may impose limitations on the admittance to a PhD program, Additionally, each university can impose additional rules, and so can the department (usually "Fakultät") where you want to apply for a PhD. Finally, you must be accepted as a PhD student by a professor and he, too, may have additional requirements for accepting you.

In the end, you'll have to contact a department representative (usually the at the examination office/"Prüfungsamt") to check the formal requirements. Make sure you tell them your degree, GPA (and preferably also the interpretation of that GPA on the German grade 1-5 scale) and the country in which you graduated. This person should be able to check whether your are applicable to enter a PhD program, not only based on their department rules, but also based on university rules and state law.

You'll also have to contact the professor that you want to act as your PhD supervisor, and apply for a PhD student position (this may be a teaching position, a research project position, or a simple unpaid agreement supervision).

  • hum..then I think I understand this from your comment that I don't lose my hope and keep working,with this resume I can apply and having hope for getting Admission.
    – ali hakimi
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 11:02
  • 3
    Yes, exactly. One more point: German universities usually only care about your highest academical degree. So once you got your Master's, they won't judge you by your Bachelor's degree anymore. They may not even want to see the Bachelor certificate. An issue you may underestimate, though, is getting German universities to formally accept your non-German degree. While usually possible, it may require multiple formal steps such as an official translation of your degree certificate and some form of proof of equivalence to the German Master's degree. Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 15:01
  • I don't think I have a such problem about proof of equivalence my Master degree because as long as I know universities of Germany have no problem with IRAN universities. but yes, I need official translation of my degrees for apply. @Robert Buchholz
    – ali hakimi
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 16:07

Adding a detail to the other answers given.

According to what I have seen and heard at the (German) university I'm a student at, your Bachelor's degree is probably almost irrelevant as long as the Master's is okay.

I think you won't need to stress out over a low score there. Personally, in the unlikely case you're asked about it, I would try to point out the improvement since then, and how you plan to continue that improvement.

Also, at my university there is a grade translation table, which can be used to map between Germany and pretty much every other country. You should inquire if your targeted university has something like that, too.

  • thanks for your answer @mafutrct.It's so good.may i ask you what university you study?I saw your profile and I'm glad that both of us having the same field of study ;-)
    – ali hakimi
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 7:26

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