What are the working hours per week for full time PhD students in Germany? Also, how many holidays are granted in a year? How is the work-life balance for full time PhD students? Thanks!

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    If your funding gives you three years to do the whole thing, then you'll probably drive yourself harder than anyone else will. – aparente001 Mar 12 '17 at 3:32

You are typically paid for 50 or 65% to do work on some project, but that just means that the university graciously allows you to write your dissertation unpaid in the remaining 50 or 35%.

How much you really spent is hugely dependent on the discipline, the department, the advisor, and yourself. The best case scenario would be when there is a huge overlap between the project and your dissertation, both the department and the advisor are very supportive, and you are very disciplined and get a lot of work done in a short period of time. This does happen, but not everybody is that lucky.

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    For context, these percentages assume that 39 or 40 hours would be 100% (depending on your federal state/Bundesland). Also, computer science PhD students are often paid 100%, since industry has a strong demand for good CS graduates. – lighthouse keeper Mar 11 '17 at 15:48
  • Ah, thanks! Didn't know it varied from state to state. It's in an Engineering field (Mechanical) and in the Central region. – Das Mar 11 '17 at 16:26
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    Engineering often has full positions for doctoral candidates, but you also spend a lot of time on side projects. – Karl Mar 11 '17 at 21:07
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    Saying "typically paid 50 to 65%" is misleading at best. Although it varies and it may be that the total average in indeed in that range the average per field often differs. In engineering most positions come with a higher percentage (often 100%) while in other fields anything above 50% is rarely heard of. – Dirk Mar 12 '17 at 15:57
  • 65 is the standard set by the DFG. – Maarten Buis Mar 12 '17 at 17:28

Sorry, but there is not definitive answer to this question as it varies a lot between fields and even between different workgroups and then even between different students in a workgroup.

While "working fulltime" usually means 100% (which is 39.2h/week in my state but could be different in others), you may get a contract between 50% and 100% (I've heard about 16% contracts, but can not confirm this). If you are expected to be in the office for the whole time or not depends. Also, you may have teaching duties or not. You may have to work on a project which is not directly related to you thesis or not. The holidays depend on the state and on your age (or work experience) but in general there is plenty of holiday in Germany (should be somewhere between 25 and 30 days, so five to six weeks). The work-life-balance varies even more. You'll hear very different stories from "working my xxx of for a couple of years" to "had the best time of my life and managed to make great friends and learn another language"

  • Thanks! The answer helps a lot. Didn't know it varied from state to state. It's in an Engineering field (Mechanical) and in the Central region. There aren't any teaching duties associated. – Das Mar 11 '17 at 16:29
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    There are most certainly teaching duties associated, they just haven't told you yet. ;-) – Karl Mar 11 '17 at 21:12
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    @Karl There are institutions offering phd positions in engineering without teaching, e.g. Fraunhofer instituts. – Roland Mar 12 '17 at 9:57
  • Especially in engineering there are many PhD's working on projects only and no teaching is involved. To be sure, ask in advance. – Dirk Mar 12 '17 at 15:51
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    Fraunhofer cannot award a doctorate, only university faculties can. You need a regular prof as mentor, and I've rarely heard they let anyone off the TA train. Not least because the other profs and students are jealously watching that. – Karl Mar 12 '17 at 22:26

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