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Reading the German universities' regulations on doctoral programs, one often comes to paragraphs about sanctions that can be demanded by the PhD board (Promotionsausschuss) as perquisites before they admit a candidate.

For example I have seen [updated to reflect the given answers]:

  • own publication(s) needed
  • take selected courses/modules offered by the university, which contents are related to the planned topic of thesis
  • submitting an exposé
  • letter(s) of recommendation
  • certificate of good conduct ("Führungszeugnis")
  • supervisor actually employed at the same university

Are there other common requirements demanded by such boards?

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Other requirements (not necessarily prerequisites) may include the attendance of doctoral seminars (i.e. presenting your work one or more times during your PhD and having a committee judge whether or not you can proceed as intended) and the presentation of a certificate of good conduct ("Führungszeugnis").

Source: http://www.inf.ovgu.de/inf_media/downloads/forschung/promotion/2013/Promotionsordnung_2012_12_19-p-4194.pdf

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Here you need a supervisor, i.e., a professor currently employed at the university and a letter where you state whether you have been involved in other doctoral programs before or if you even are currently involved in one. Other than that you have to write a formal application containing a curriculum vitae, credentials and a short abstract of what you want to do (which is usually already approved by your supervisor).

If the PhD board thinks that you need additional courses/modules you just have to do the additional coursework during your PhD. So at least at my current university it's not a prerequisite. But these courses are not necessarily related to the planned topic, e.g., if you have a Master's degree in mathematics and what to do a PhD in computer science (CS) the board may requires you to do some basic CS courses (if you haven't done anything in this direction).

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