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Individual doctoral degree studies

The five steps to your doctoral degree

A road map for those interested or already embarked on the path to a doctoral degree - from admission through the examination to the awarding of the degree.

Our step-by-step guide to a doctorate is based on the Doctoral Degree Regulations of 22 February 2016. We suggest you familiarize yourself with them if you are planning to study for a doctoral degree at this University.

If you started your doctoral degree studies before 1 April 2016, you may be able to complete your doctoral degree based on either the Doctoral Degree Regulations of 2011 or the 2008 version of the Regulation. The University’s GRADUS Graduate Academy and the DoKUS Doctoral Students Advocacy Group can coach you on changes and transitional provisions.

Depending on the department, you may need to meet additional requirements for the doctoral degree. Please refer to the doctoral studies web pages of your respective faculty.

Differing regulations may apply for so-called structured doctoral degree programs of graduate colleges and schools. For more specifics, please refer to the respective program’s website. 

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You can study for a doctoral degree at the University of Stuttgart, if you:

  • Possess a university degree
    We recognize Master’s degrees, degrees from regular studies of at least four years’ duration or from a post-graduate program of studies.
  • Have found a supervisor and a thesis topic in the field in which you hold your degree.
    For this, contact a professor or lecturer at one of the Institutes. Refer to our research data base for information on a given Institute’s current research focus.  You can also get help with your search from the respective departmental dean’s office.
  • Studied or were employed for at least one year at the University of Stuttgart. You can also evidence your University membership by registering as a doctoral degree student during your doctoral studies.
  • Have passed a degree check to demonstrate requisite knowledge qualifying you to study in a doctoral field other than the one you majored in for your current degree.

Admission for FH, HAW, BA, and DHBW graduates

If you have a degree from a post-secondary technical college (FH), post-secondary institution for applied sciences (HAW), college of cooperative education (BA), or cooperative state university (DHBW) or from a bachelor’s studies program of less than four years’ duration and possess special qualifications, you can also study for a doctoral degree at the University of Stuttgart. However, you will first have to go through an aptitude assessment procedure.

Admission of foreign doctoral degree candidates

If you have a foreign degree, you may qualify for doctoral studies at the University of Stuttgart, provided that:

  • Your foreign degree is recognized as being equivalent.
  • You pass a degree check.

You will receive further information concerning the prerequisites for the doctoral degree, the degree check, or the aptitude assessment procedure from the respective dean's office of the faculty. The dean's offices will also help you to find a suitable supervisor for your dissertation project.

Once you meet all prerequisites for the doctoral degree, the next step is to apply in writing to the Examination Office for admission as a doctoral student by the Doctoral Studies Committee of your intended department. Please submit the following documents with your application:

  • Application for admission as doctoral student
  • Written doctoral studies agreement signed by your supervisor and you. It governs the scope and type of supervision and your individualized qualification program during your doctoral studies.
  • Resume (in German and English)
  • Diploma and leaving certificate (notarized copies)
  • If available: current employment contract with the University of Stuttgart (notarized copy)
  • If available: Proof of at least a one-year membership in the University of Stuttgart (Certificate of admission or copy of the employment contract) or a substantiated request for exemption.

If you cannot produce notarized copies, you can also present the originals, each with a copy, in person at the Examination Office.

Foreign degrees

If you wish to study for a doctoral degree at the University of Stuttgart as a foreign degree holder, begin by applying to the Examination Office for admission as doctoral student while still in your home country. You will need to furnish the following documents in addition to those required from graduates of German universities:

  • Bachelor's diploma (copy)
  • Translation of all diplomas into German, English, or French
  • A filled-out “Formal Equivalency of Foreign Degrees“ form. Have questions about getting your degree recognized? The University‘s Admissions Office for Foreign Citizens has the answers

To help organize your transition from home to Germany, you can simultaneously enroll in a two-semester non-degree short-term study program at the University of Stuttgart. It is designed exclusively as preparation for the doctoral studies program. You may need the admission letter for obtaining a student visa or residence permit.

Download the required applications and forms here:

When you apply for admission as a doctoral student (Step 2), you can choose to join the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS).

As a member of GRADUS, you enjoy the following benefits:

  • Networking with fellow doctoral students
  • Access to classes and courses comprising the GRADUS qualification program that help to build domain-specific and interdisciplinary competencies relevant to your profession.

You can find more information on what is required of GRADUS doctoral students and course announcement on the GRADUS homepage. Even if you choose not to join, GRADUS will provide advice on all matters relating to the doctoral studies program.

In consultation with your supervisor, you will now devote yourself to writing your doctoral thesis.

You submit the dissertation in German or English to your department’s dean in a package that includes:

  • the printed dissertation
  • a declaration that you wrote the dissertation yourself
  • a digital copy of the dissertation
  • if you belong to GRADUS: supervisor's written confirmation that you have met the minimum quality standards for the doctoral degree and that you turned in a progress report during your doctoral degree studies

Sign-up for admission to the oral dissertation defense happens automatically when you hand in your dissertation to the dean’s office.

Publishing your thesis

In Germany, you may claim the doctoral degree only when your thesis has been published. If you defended your thesis successfully during the oral examination and it received positive mention, you can prepare for its publication.

Delivering mandatory copies to the University Library

Depending on the type of publication, in general you will be required to deliver a prescribed number of copies to the University Library within one year of the dissertation defense.

The University Library [de] homepage has the details on the required physical format of the dissertation, what the publishing options are, and how many copies to hand in.

You did it! You succeeded in getting your doctoral degree and now you have your doctoral certificate to prove it. We wish you every success!