Pursuing doctoral studies is the first stage of independent research under the supervision of a professor (“Doktorvater/Doktormutter”).
It consists of two parts: The results of the research must be summed up in a dissertation thesis. An oral exam follows the dissertation. Details can be found in the respective department’s regulations for doctoral degrees.
In general, applicants should have a master's degree.
Doctoral studies are completed with the title "Dr." (Dr. rer. nat./ Dr. phil./ Dr. rer. pol./ Dr. med.). Some departments also offer the title "Ph.D."
Courses are often optional, but many supervisors offer regular colloquia. Pursuing a doctoral degree within a structured doctoral program courses are expected to be taken.
In Germany, a doctoral degree can be earned only at a university such as Freie Universität, but not at a university of applied sciences („Fachhochschule”).
A doctoral degree is not the highest academic degree in Germany. This is the so-called "Habilitation."