I plan to do a PhD in Germany. I have read some material that said that:

"The most important formal qualification for being able to do a doctorate in Germany is a very good higher education degree that is recognised in Germany"

"What is" or maybe should I ask "How much is" very good higher degree?

2 Answers 2


Basically, you need to have a master's degree. If that master's degree comes from:

  • A German university
  • A university in any member country of the Bologna Process
  • A few other countries considered "equivalent" but not participating in the Bologna Process, such as the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan

then it is almost always automatically accepted. On the other hand, if your degree is from another source (such as India, China, Iran, Africa, etc.), or is from a German Fachhochschule, then the degree must be certified by the university as being at the same level as a German master's degree before you can be admitted. Also, after your admission, you may be required to take some additional courses to establish your candidacy (although this is usually on the order of two to three courses during your first two years).


The German grade scale at universities is:

  • very good (1)
  • good (2)
  • satisfactory (3)
  • sufficient (4)
  • fail (5)

Numerical grades are commonly considered to the first decimal digit. I'd interpret the requirement for a "very good" degree as an average of 1.5 or better. This seems quite strict to me though: my department has the informal rule that we are willing to admit PhD students with an average of 2.5 or better, i.e., a "good" degree. In order to compare from international grading systems, the so called "Bavarian formula" is often used, see e.g. http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/studium/pruefungen/anrechnungen/umrechnung-auslaendischer-noten/ .

Recognition of your university degree as equivalent to a German degree is another important factor. The anabin database would be a good place to start researching the situation for your specific case, if you understand a bit of German. (I really don't understand why this isn't provided in English.) @aeismail's also discusses this aspect.

  • 3
    This statement of "very good" grades is even stranger because they make it seem like a universal requirement in Germany, which is very much not the case! Grades matter, but not that much.
    – aeismail
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 12:48
  • @aeismail I know of at least one department that actually has a strict rule on the grade of the Master's degree (well, at least it had it 10 years ago). If the grade is too bad, one cannot become a PhD student. In that case, the grade can be the show-stopper. But you are right in that the "very good" in the statement that the OP found does not refer to such a formal requirement, as that would indeed be very strict. Sorry for commenting on a very old post.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 8:39

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