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Individual Doctoral Studies

The Individual Doctoral Studies | Supervision | Requirements | Enrollment | First Steps

The Individual Doctoral Studies

The most common model of doing a doctorate in Germany is the so-called individual doctoral studies. It demands that you have a high degree of autonomy and motivation. Generally, you are expected to find a supervisor (Doktorvater/Doktormutter) for your doctoral project by yourself. In some disciplines it is also expected that you suggest the topic that you want to work on (a proposal draft may be necessary). There is no compulsory curriculum within the individual doctoral studies, although certain achievements supplementary to the dissertation may be required according to the respective doctoral degree regulations. Beyond that you can take part in courses or general qualifications on an individual basis. There is no designated time frame for completing your doctoral studies.

In certain cases, doctorates can be completed with a university or faculty in another country (cotutelle). Where applicable, more details can be found in the relevant doctoral degree regulations.



An individual doctorate is possible at LMU Munich in over 100 different subjects. There is no central office that accepts applications for individual doctoral studies. As a potential doctoral candidate you are expected to be sufficiently informed about your research area of interest in order to identify potential supervisors by yourself. In general, professors and Privatdozenten (PDs) are entitled to supervise (depending on the respective doctoral degree regulations). Please inform yourself about the range of subjects on the faculty websites before contacting a professor or other potential supervisor. Sometimes the respective academic counseling provides support with orientation within a faculty.

When a professor has agreed to supervise your dissertation, you will either receive a confirmation of supervision from him or her or you conclude a supervision agreement.

It is advisable that you discuss the mutual expectations with the supervisor regarding supervision at the beginning of a doctoral project. While working on your dissertation you should stay in regular contact with your supervisor. Some supervisors, apart from providing individual support, also run regular doctoral seminars/colloquia, where doctoral projects are presented and discussed.



Depending on the respective doctoral degree regulations, you will need to fulfill specific requirements (e.g. suitable degree, additional performance records, etc.) for acceptance as a doctoral candidate and later for admission to the doctoral examination. Please inform yourself on the respective requirements at your faculty. For questions on the doctoral degree regulations, contact your respective examination office (please note that some faculties have joint examination offices).

On presentation of a confirmation of supervision or a supervision agreement (see above) and other documents you may submit a "request for acceptance as a doctoral candidate" at the examination office. If all conditions are met, you will receive a notification of acceptance as a doctoral candidate (possibly subject to conditions) from the examination office. This notification is a prerequisite for enrollment.



According to the Bavarian Higher Education Innovation Act (BayHIG), enrollment for doctoral studies may run for a maximum of eight semesters. However, the work on the dissertation is not limited to eight semesters. Whether enrollment is compulsory will depend on the respective doctoral degree regulations. Enrollment takes place either at the Office of the Registrar or at the International Office.

If at least one of the following conditions is met, please enroll at the Office of the Registrar:

  • You are a German citizen.
  • You have acquired your higher education entrance qualification ("Hochschulzugangsberechtigung") in Germany or at a German School Abroad ("Deutsche Auslandsschule").
  • You have completed a university degree program of at least six semesters ("Regelstudienzeit") in Germany.
  • You have completed a university degree program of less than six semesters ("Regelstudienzeit") in Germany and the degree is the required qualification for admission to doctoral studies.

If none of the above mentioned conditions are met, please turn to the International Office and fill out a "request for university admission". Following receipt of a notification of university admission from the International Office, you can enroll there.

Depending on the department, proof of proficiency in German may be required for enrollment. Proof of German language skills may be waived at the request of the supervisor (contact the examination office for further information). Even if you write your dissertation in a language other than German, it is useful to have at least basic knowledge of the German language so that you can understand the administration processes.


First Steps

  • Independent search for a supervisor (see above)
  • Receipt of a confirmation of supervision from the supervisor or conclusion of a supervision agreement
  • Request for acceptance as a doctoral candidate at the examination office (this requires a confirmation of supervision/supervision agreement and further documents)
  • Receipt of a notification of acceptance as a doctoral candidate from the examination office

Enrollment (if requested):

  • Enrollment at the Office of the Registrar (conditions see above):
    Presentation of the notification of acceptance as a doctoral candidate and further documents (Note enrollment deadlines!)
  • Enrollment at the International Office (conditions see above):
    Submitting a request for university admission (Note deadlines!) to the International Office; obtaining a notification of university admission from the International Office; then enrollment by the International Office on presentation of the notification of university admission and further documents. Please also note the FAQ.