Can a student with a Fachhochschule Degree pursue a Ph.D. in Germany?

Universities and Universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschule or FHs) are de-facto equal since the introduction of the Bologna process. Unlike Universities (and TUs), Fachhochschules don’t usually offer Ph.D. So, students who finish their Master’s in an FHs will have to switch to a university to pursue a Ph.D. This is possible as the Master’s degree from Universities and FHs are considered equal following the Bologna process. The process for applying for a Ph.D. is same as that for a university degree holder. It is described in this link: How to Get a Ph.D. in Germany (with funding possibilities)?

SEE ALSO: Universities in Germany – Universität and Fachhochschule (FH)

The unfortunate truth

FH graduates must overcome extra hurdles to get into a PhD in Germany. As a result, the number of FH graduates pursuing a PhD is quite low. The main reason for this is that at a university, students are usually asked by professors at the end of their studies if they want to do their doctorate. Sometimes a professor also offers a topic, perhaps one that the student has already studied. But, this is not an option for FH students.

It’s certainly a disadvantage if you do not know anyone and can not bring any contacts from the master’s degree program – Frank Simon, Press spokesman of the Hochschule des Bundes (HS Bund).

As FH students, you need to check the rules and regulations of the department (Fachbereich) thoroughly before starting a Ph.D. at a university; for example, some Fachbereich may have a clause saying that one needs to study at least 6 semesters at a University to be able to start a Ph.D.

Some Fachbereich may conditionally allow a student with an FH degree to a Ph.D. program. For example, the student must have an excellent Master’s degree. He/she must, in addition, participate in special courses during the Ph.D. and/or pass some exams.

Also, we have heard of unfortunate cases where it has taken longer to admit an FH graduate to Ph.D. program than the corresponding TU graduate.

The Bright-side

The number of FH students applying for Ph.D. is slowly increasing. as per the numbers from Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK), a total of 1,245 FH students took this path between 2012 and 2014 and successfully completed their doctorate, 30 percent more than in the previous survey over the years 2009 to 2011.

In order to make it possible for FH students to get a Ph.D., some FHs are now cooperating with universities. Both institutions make a binding agreement under which FH graduates can earn their doctorate. As a rule, the students are then supervised by a professor from the FH and a university professor. You can find information about this from FH websites directly.

There is a rising demand from FHs to have a right to award a doctoral degree. Each federal state decides on this individually. The ministers of education of Hessen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Schleswig-Holstein have already signaled that it will be possible for FHs in those statements to grant a Ph.D. Hochschule Fulda has already gained the right to award a Ph.D. in social sciences. However, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has a skeptical view of FH awarding a Ph.D. without any university involvement.

SEE ALSO: Which occupations are in demand in Germany? – Jobs in Germany

The pros and cons

  • Pros:
    • No discrimination against FH graduates when they apply for a Ph.D.
    • Degrees from FHs and Universities would no longer be equivalent only on paper but also in reality.
    • Application-related research would be promoted.
    • FHs not being able to award a Ph.D. meant the loss of research potential.
    • Cooperations with universities are limited to subjects that are of interest to universities. This will no longer be an issue.
  • Cons:
    • Meaningful division of tasks between universities and FHs would be repealed.
    • FHs are not set up for in-depth (theoretical) research.
    • Expenses for buying advanced equipment for the FHs would be immense.
    • There are already more than enough PhD students – even without a doctoral degree from the FHs.
    • Increasing competition would be at the expense of the FHs.

SEE ALSO: Can Ph.D. students in Germany get an EU Blue card?

Gautam Gala

After completing his Master’s degree from Technical University of Kaiserslautern in Germany, Gautam Gala continued as a PhD student at the same university. His research involves software for safety critical systems like Aeroplanes. He has a number of Scientific publications in collaboration with industries and other universities around Europe and is working with EU-supported projects like DREAMS and SECREDAS. A Mountain biker, Skier, Hiker, Globetrotter, Gentleman and Engineer, always hopeful of fun & adventure.

Published by
Gautam Gala

Recent Posts

Can I live/ sleep in the car in Germany?

If you want to save the money for an apartment/ hotel, sleeping in a car sounds like a good idea.…

November 12, 2019

15 things to know before you start working in Germany

With more opportunities opening up for job seekers to work in Germany, it becomes all the more important to understand…

June 19, 2019

Things to know before moving to Germany!

When I first moved to Germany for my Master’s, I was overwhelmed because it was a new country for me…

April 20, 2019

What don’t they tell you about moving abroad?

I come from India, where the perception of living abroad sums down to earning a lot of money and having…

April 5, 2019

Should I study Masters in Germany?

NO! It is not worth to study Masters in Germany. Living in Germany is a pain. Germany is a country full…

December 30, 2018

Masters in Germany – Do Students find a Job in Germany after graduation?

I have been asked this question several times, 'do students find a job in Germany after finishing masters in Germany?'.…

December 28, 2018

This website uses cookies.