Structured PhD programs in Baden-Württemberg

Universities and research institutes offer many opportunities for structured PhD programs for international students. Find out where to apply.

Structured doctorate programs in Germany are very similar to PhD programs in English-speaking countries. They differ from the traditional individual research-oriented PhD programs in Germany and are – as the name says – more structured with a curriculum and a team with a supervisor.
Because it offers a great deal of guidance and a team to work with, the structured program is well-suited for international applicants. Structured programs have a strong international focus, and the team language is often English. In addition to the thesis, PhD students have to attend lectures and seminars and have to earn credit points.
The duration of a structured PhD program is usually 3-5 years and, in many cases, funding is available. The PhD work can be done at a university or a research institute.
PhD programs are offered at:

  • DFG Research Training Groups
  • Graduate Schools
  • International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS)
  • University-based Doctoral Degree Courses and Programs

International Graduate Schools

In 2005, the German federal and state governments launched the "Excellence Initiative" to fund and promote top-level research in Germany and to strengthen research institutions and universities across the country. As part of the three rounds of this competition, 45 proposals for new "International Graduate Schools" or Graduiertenschulen were selected, including 12 in Baden-Württemberg.

These graduate programs focus on training outstanding doctoral students within a supportive and dynamic research environment, allowing students to benefit from additional resources, training, and a strong sense of academic community. They were designed to transcend disciplinary and institutional boundaries, bringing together doctoral students with researchers working on the same broad area from a variety of perspectives. International Graduate Schools offer Doctorate and PhD programs in English, and most provide scholarships for accepted students.  Contact one of the 12 International Graduate Schools in Baden-Württemberg directly to find out more about their research areas, funding opportunities and application processes:

University of FreiburgSpemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine
University of HeidelbergGraduate School for Physics

Graduate School of Mathematical and Computational Methods for the Sciences

Heidelberg Biosciences International Graduate School (HBIGS)
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)Karlsruhe School of Optics and Photonics

Karlsruhe School of Elementary Particle and Astroparticle Physics
University of KonstanzKonstanz Research School Chemical Biology

Graduate School of Decision Sciences
University of MannheimGraduate School of Economic and Social Sciences (GESS)
University of StuttgartGraduate School of Excellence advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GSaME)
University of TübingenGraduate School LEAD (Learning, Educational Achievement and Life Course Development)
University of UlmInternational Graduate School in Molecular Medicine

DFG Research Training Groups

The German Research Foundation (DFG), the primary funding body for research in Germany, established the DFG Research Training Groups to provide unique opportunities to young and talented researchers. The goal of the DFG Research Training Groups is to prepare doctoral researchers for the complexities of future careers in research and academia and to encourage young researchers to begin to conduct their own independent research.
In Baden-Württemberg, there are numerous DFG Research Training Groups, covering a wide variety of research subjects.

International Max Planck Research Schools

The Max Planck Institutes, located across Germany and with 12 in Baden-Württemberg, are world renowned for their outstanding achievements in basic research. A major goal of the Max Planck Society is to improve the training of highly qualified young scientists. With this goal in mind, roughly 60 International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) have been founded at Max Planck Institutes. The 12 IMPRS in Baden-Württemberg work closely with their partner universities to provide outstanding research environments for their students.
The IMPRS offer structured PhD programs in innovative and interdisciplinary research areas such as molecular biology, neuroscience, demographics, plasma physics, polymer research and computer science. About half of the young scientists come from abroad and can choose whether to do their final PhD exam at a German university or at their home university.

Institute / UniversityInternational Max Planck Research School

International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Cosmic Physics
at the University of Heidelberg


Astronomy and Cosmic Physics

The International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS)
“From Molecules to Organisms”


From Molecules to Organisms
Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International LawSuccessful Dispute Resolution in International Law
International Max Planck Research School for Immunobiology, Epigenetics, and MetabolismMolecular and Cellular Biology
Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent Systems University of Stuttgart/University of Tübingen

Advanced Materials

The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics/University of TübingenGraduate School of Neural & Behavioural Sciences
Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology/ University of KonstanzOrganismal Biology
International Max Planck Research School for Precision Tests of Fundamental Symmetries in Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics, Atomic Physics and Astroparticle Physics at the Heidelberg UniversityPrecision Tests of Fundamental Symmetries

The International Max Planck Research School for Quantum Dynamics in Physics, Chemistry and Biology (IMPRS-QD)

Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK), Heidelberg University, the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPImF) (all in Heidelberg), and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research (GSI)

Quantum Dynamics in Physics, Chemistry and Biology
International Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment// Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg), the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt), the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Freiburg) and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle) as well as the University of Freiburg and the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment

International Max Planck Research School for Comparative Criminal Law

Comparative Criminal Law

Getting your PhD at a University of Education

As institutions dedicated to both teacher training and research, universities of education in Baden-Württemberg are characterized by intensive basic research in the field of education and in teacher training for specific subjects. Structured PhD programs at the universities of education reflect the state’s clear focus on supporting young academics in this field.
The following list includes structured PhD programs at universities of education in Baden-Württemberg that are funded by the state. More information about different options for earning your PhD at a university of education can be found on the individual websites of the Universities of Education in Baden-Württemberg (link in German):

University of Education FreiburgPhD programme „Pro|Mat|Nat“
in Cooperation with the University of Freiburg (information in German)
University of Education LudwigsburgPhD programme „Effektive Lehr-Lernarrangements“
in Cooperation with the University of Tübingen (information in German)
Universities of Education Heidelberg, Freiburg (host university), Ludwigsburg und WeingartenDoctoral programme “Experimentation in mathematic-scientific education” (ExMNU)

PhD Info from Individual Universities

Get information and assistance with finding and applying for a PhD program at individual universities in Baden-Württemberg:

University of Freiburg


  International Graduate Academy

University of Heidelberg


Graduate Academy

University of HohenheimGraduate Academy
Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruhe House of Young Scientists (KHYS)
University of KonstanzDoctoral Students Portal
University of MannheimDoctoral Studies
University of StuttgartGraduate Academy
University of Tübingen

Research Training Groups

PhD Networks
University of UlmDoctoral Research Training Groups