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The five steps to gaining your doctoral degree

Individual doctoral degree studies

Your path to a doctoral degree – from admission to examination to being awarded your certificate.

Here we have compiled information in order to lead you through your doctoral degree studies step by step. They are based on the current doctoral degree regulations, which came into force on April 1, 2019.

If you began your doctoral degree studies before April 1, 2019, you can still continue in accordance with the doctoral degree regulations 2016 [de] and the doctoral degree regulations 2011 [de]. However, please bear in mind that interim regulations must be complied with (cf. § 21 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations 2019).

If you are studying in accordance with an earlier set of doctoral degree regulations, you also have the choice of studying in accordance with the Doctoral Degree Regulations 2019. To do this, you must make a request to the Office of the Dean in your faculty. If necessary, you can obtain information from the Graduate Academy (GRADUS).

Depending on the faculty, you will need to meet additional requirements for the doctoral degree. Find out on your faculty's doctoral degree pages.

In some cases, different regulations apply for structured doctoral studies programs, research training groups and graduate schools. You can find out more about these on the respective program websites.

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

  • have a university degree. This includes master’s, Magister or Diplom degrees, or state examinations from study programs with a standard period of study of at least four years or a postgraduate degree.
  • have found a supervisor and a topic for your doctoral degree in the subject area of your completed university studies. Contact a professor or lecturer directly from one of the institutes. The Office of the Dean of your prospective faculty will also help you in searching.
  • Those who want to study for a doctoral degree in a different subject area to their previous major must show evidence of in-depth knowledge of the new subject area in a recognition assessment. Information about this can be found from the relevant Office of the Dean.

Admission for graduates from other institutions of higher education

If you have a diploma from a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule), a university of cooperative education (Berufsakademie) a dual university (Duale Hochschule) or a bachelor’s degree lasting less than four years and you are especially well qualified, you can still study for a doctoral degree at the University of Stuttgart. You must however complete an eligibility assessment in advance.

Admission for prospective doctoral degree students from outside Germany

You can study for a doctoral degree at the University of Stuttgart with a degree gained outside Germany if:

  • Your foreign degree is recognized as being of equal standard and
  • you – if required – take a recognition assessment (the faculty will decide whether it is required in your case).

Additional information, whether relating to the requirements to study for a doctoral degree, the recognition assessment or the eligibility assessment, is available from the Office of the Dean of the respective faculty. The Office of the Dean will also help you to find an appropriate supervisor for your doctoral project.

If you meet all the requirements to study for a doctoral degree and have found a supervisor, you conclude an agreement on doctoral studies with them. With the completion of the agreement on doctoral studies, you are obliged to register with the University of Stuttgart as a prospective doctoral researcher. 

After registering, you submit an application to the Graduate Academy (GRADUS) for admission as a doctoral researcher. The application is processed and submitted to the doctoral committee of the faculty in which you want to study. The doctoral committee will decide whether you are accepted as a doctoral researcher or not. This may take some time, since the doctoral committees of each faculty only meet three times a semester.

You must enroll as soon as you have received the letter of acceptance from the doctoral committee. This brings you the following advantages:

  • You benefit from a discounted VVS Studiticket for public transport.
  • With a student ID, you can eat cheaply in canteens and cafeterias belonging to the Studierendenwerk (student services).
  • Your student ID likewise gives you discounted entry to a number of cultural institutions, cinemas or swimming pools.

For foreign degree-holders

If you want to study for a doctoral degree at the University of Stuttgart, you should submit your application for acceptance as a doctoral researcher to the Graduate Academy (GRADUS) from your home country. In addition to the documents required for graduates from a German university, you will also require the following documents:

In order to organize your move to Germany, you can enroll for a 2-semester (non-degree) course at the University of Stuttgart at the same time. This serves solely to prepare for your doctoral degree studies. You may need the letter of admission to be granted a student visa or a residence permit.

The application forms, as well as detailed explanations of what to do when registering and enrolling, can be found at: 

Information on registering, applying and enrolling

The doctoral degree regulations stipulate that you must attain at least 9 credit points during your doctoral degree (§4 Para 3). You come to an agreement individually with your supervisor what these credit points consist of in the agreement on doctoral studies.

As a doctoral researcher at the University of Stuttgart, you have the opportunity to gain some of these credit points by taking part in the Graduate Academy’s qualification program. By doing this, you can acquire academic, management and career-based skills in addition to your specialist qualification, and in doing so give yourself the best possible preparation for your current or future career.

You can arrange with your supervisor how many credit points you want to get from GRADUS courses and specify this in your agreement on doctoral studies.

When preparing your dissertation, you will work closely with your supervisor. Please get in touch with the Graduate Academy (GRADUS)) if you have any questions about doctoral degree studies or if you need any further advice.

When you have completed your dissertation in either German or English, submit it for assessment to the Office of the Dean of your respective faculty along with a declaration that you have completed the dissertation independently. The Office of the Dean will inform you if there is anything else you need to take into consideration.

You apply for admission to take the oral portion of your doctoral exam automatically when you submit your dissertation to the Office of the Dean.

Publishing your dissertation

In Germany, you may only bear the title of doctor after you have published your dissertation. You can prepare your dissertation for publishing after it has been evaluated positively and you have also passed the oral examination.

Submitting deposit copies to the university library

Depending on the type of publishing, you must normally submit a certain amount of copies of your dissertation to the university library within a year of your oral examination.

The University Library [de] tells you on its website what your dissertation must look like from the outside, what options exist for getting it published, and how many deposit copies you need to submit.

After that, you’re finished! You have successfully completed your doctoral degree studies and have been awarded the title of doctor. Congratulations!

This image shows Simone  Hawlitschek

Simone Hawlitschek


Doctoral Degree Admissions Manager (letters: A - L)

This image shows Rabia Boztepe-Burgert

Rabia Boztepe-Burgert


Doctoral Degree Admissions Manager (letters: M - Z)

This image shows Jürgen Hädrich

Jürgen Hädrich


Managing Director GRADUS

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