On the following page we want to give you some answers to the most important questions about your PhD in Göttingen. From "How do I get there?" to "How does the registration and enrollment work?" to "What do I need to know about my contract periods?" we want to give you a small overview of the bureaucracy.

Coming to Göttingen

Some gerneral information about Göttingen

Göttingen is a university city in southern Lower Saxony that was first mentioned in a document in 953 and has today about 130,000 inhabitants. 20% of them are students of the Georg-August University.

The Georg-August-University itself was founded in 1732/1734 by Georg II and inaugurated in 1737. It is the oldest university in Lower Saxony and with around 29,000 students, the second largest university in Lower Saxony.

Where is Göttingen located and what is the best way to get there?

Göttingen is located in the middle of Germany, in the south of the state of Lower Saxony (only 13 km from one of the calculated geological centers of Germany). Göttingen itself has no airport, but a main train station with good connections to the north and south of Germany. The nearest international airports are in Hannover and Frankfurt. Both cities can be easily reached by train within 1-2 hours. The German capital Berlin and the Hanseatic city of Hamburg are about 2.5 hours away, Munich about 5 hours. 

What kind of visa do I need and how long does it usually take to get a visa?

If you want to start your PhD here in Göttingen at UMG, you need a work visa (D-Visa for employment)! You will be enrolled as a student at the Georg-August University during your PhD, but you will also get an employment contract. Thus, your primary status is that of an employee. The work visa must be issued in the country of origin before entering Germany! In Germany it is not possible to apply for a work visa after your arrival, only the residence title is issued then.

Do I need a German health insurance or is the one from my home country sufficient?

How is the housing situation in Göttingen, can I get a room on campus?

Due to the large number of students in Göttingen, the housing situation, as in all university cities, is not always easy. There is no campus in the true sense of the word in Göttingen; the faculties and the student residences are spread all over the city.

The university itself offers comprehensive help and advice on the topic of housing with the “Accomodation Service” https://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/617883.html

What do I need to know about taxes in Germany?

For more information about the employment contract and a good overview of everything you need to know about payment, taxes, social security, see the following page:


Do I need a German language certificate to study in Göttingen?

Knowledge of the German language is not required for your work as a  PhD student in Göttingen, but international students will be offered opportunities to take German courses, which can be very helpful in daily life.

Making the PhD in Göttingen/Becoming a PhD in Göttingen (From the PhD program to defence)

When and how do I apply for a doctoral program?

You can apply at any time, there are no application deadlines. The application process is exclusively online: https://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/application-process/500326.html

You are eligible to apply to a program in GGNB if you have already secured a doctoral position with a GGNB faculty member. You have to apply for acceptance to the programme within 3 months after the start of the PhD project.

Which requirements do I need to meet to be accepted for the PhD in GGNB?

The GGNB office will check the formal requirements for admission upon receipt of the application for admission:

- Statement by (prospective) supervisor

- Master's degree with very good grades in the natural sciences or mathematics (or min. 150 C in natural science topics), including a Master's thesis with a minimum duration of six months.

Please note that due to the peculiarities of the German university system, medical degrees are not considered as equivalent to an MSc in the natural sciences!

- English proficiency / language requirements: Candidates have to be fluent in written and spoken English. Candidates whose mother tongue is not English can demonstrate sufficient knowledge of English e.g. by having completed MSc studies in English or by internationally recognized tests such as TOEFL or IELTS or equivalent achievements.

I do not completely fulfil the requirements. What does this mean for me?

In the case of MSc degrees from abroad or degrees that cannot be recognized as relevant to the discipline, the faculty may require that additional requirements should be met before admission to the doctoral program (e.g., an oral examination, a written progress report after 6 months, etc.).

I do not have a project yet, can I still apply to GGNB/PhD CVS?

No. An application without a firm project commitment is not possible!

Structure within the PhD

What is a TAC, how must it be composed and when has it to be done?

The Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) accompanies the doctoral student both professionally and personally throughout the entire doctorate.

With the application, but at the latest with the admission to the doctoral program, the TAC is determined, which consists of three members

- at least two faculty members authorized to examine the thesis (including the first supervisor) as well as

- one faculty member with at least a doctorate

Two of the members shall be appointed as reviewers of the dissertation. 

The doctoral candidate must report to the supervisory committee regularly, but at least once a year, in text form and in the form of a prompt subsequent discussion, in detail about the status of the doctoral project and the academic achievements to date. The first report should take place six months after enrolment.

Additional information can be found here (§5): TAC


What is a credit, what do I have to do for it and how many do I need in which areas for the PhD?

I. Credit Requirements and Guidelines for Credit Calculation

Minimum credit requirements: 20 C to be completed

  • Special lectures and colloquia and active participation in seminars: min. 5 C
  • Participation in methods courses: min. 2 C
  • Active participation in teaching: min. 4 C
  • Active participation in scientific meetings: min. 2 C
  • Participation in professional skills courses: min. 1 C

Mandatory for all GGNB doctoral students: Seminar on Good Scientific Practice (Should be attended in first year)

II. General guidelines for credit calculation

  • general guideline: 30 hrs total workload = 1 C
  • credits will be rounded (e.g. 0.2 C > 0 C, 0.3 C -> 0.5 C; 0.7 C -> 0.5 C; 0.8 -> 1 C)
  • one full day counts as max. 8 hours, not more

Further information can be found in the "internal area" (registration only possible for registered doctoral students)

What do I need to know about “registering for and attending workshops”?

Workshops are usually offered by GGNB or by your own doctoral program. The most important thing to know in advance: There are always more interested people than places for almost all courses, so it is worth registering quickly! However, this also means that there are long waiting lists for almost all courses, plus some courses cost several 1000€. Registering indiscriminately for courses, but then not showing up can therefore not be accepted and will have consequences: who does not cancel in time, is absent without excuse from a course or books overlapping courses will be blocked for the duration of one year for methods and skills courses and can also not collect credits in this area during this time.

What do I need to know about "contract period", "duration of the doctorate" and "financing” and which institute is responsible for what?

These 3 periods may or may not be the same!

The “contract period” is usually determined by the duration of the existing funding, the planned project duration, or the duration of the visa.

The “duration of the PhD” is regulated by the so called “Rer.Nat.-O” valid in Göttingen by GAUSS and is 3 years with the possibility of two extensions of 6 months each (if there are important reasons).

The “financing” is determined by the sponsor through which the project is financed, in the case of a GRK, for example, this is a maximum of 4 years. However, the duration can also be shorter. All questions in this regard should always be discussed with the supervisor first and foremost

Structure of the “institutes” involved

What is GAUSS, what does it mean for me directly?

The Georg-August University School of Science (GAUSS) defines the general regulations for all graduate schools and programs in mathematics and natural sciences in Göttingen, and formally approves all ordinary faculty members and each of the doctoral programs. GAUSS is the largest graduate school of the University of Göttingen with about 1,500 doctoral candidates from the five founding faculties (Biology/Psychology, Chemistry, Geosciences/Geography, Mathematics/Computer Sciences and Physics) and the Göttingen Graduate Center for Neurosciences, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (GGNB). GAUSS is responsible for the award of the degree 'Dr. rer. nat.' and the equivalent degree 'Ph.D., Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences' as well as for quality assurance of the offered structured doctoral programs.

The mission of GAUSS is to promote excellence by structured training and supervision of doctoral students in mathematics, natural and life sciences and support them in the development of scientific networks in an international environment on the Göttingen Campus and beyond.

What is GGNB, what does it mean for me directly?

The Göttingen Graduate Center for Neurosciences, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB) was founded in 2007. The center is a joint enterprise between four faculties of the University of Göttingen (Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, Physics), the Max Planck Institutes of Multidisciplinary Sciences (MPI-NAT), and Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPI-ds), and the German Primate Center (DPZ). GGNB is part of GAUSS, the degree-awarding body for all doctoral students of the mathematics and natural science faculties.

What doctoral programs are available in GGNB and which one is right for me?

16 doctoral programs are currently united under the roof of GGNB, including the MSc/PhD programs - International Max Planck Research Schools "Molecular Biology" and "Neurosciences" All GGNB programs share a scientific and/or methodical focus. GGNB provides a common interdisciplinary training platform for all qualified doctoral students in the neurosciences, biophysics and the molecular biosciences. All courses are given in English.

Your doctoral program should fit thematically and your supervisor should be a faculty member of this program.

What is “PhD Cardiovascular Science”, what does it mean for me directly?

Every natural science doctoral student who wants to do a doctorate in Göttingen must be enrolled at the university. Either directly under GAUSS or, most easily, in one of the 16 programs under GGNB. PhD CVS is one of them. Based on the cardiovascular focus of the University Medical Center Göttingen, we started the PhD program "Cardiovascular Science" in 2021. The training in the PhD program is designed to enable students to integrate knowledge and methods of all classical natural science research areas in the cardiovascular focus. All courses and training are taught in English and the research-oriented program is open to all students with a Master's degree (or equivalent) in the life sciences, natural sciences or related fields and who (wish to) pursue a primarily cardiovascular topic in their PhD.

Who is my contact person for what in the individual institutes?

Depending on what question you have, your two most important contacts are the GGNB office and the coordinator of your CVS PhD program: https://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/contact/489638.html

Which „Human resources“ department is responsible for me and when do I have to contact them?

The Human Resources department is there for all questions regarding your "employment contract". If you have any questions regarding your employment contract, please contact first the Secretary's office of the institute where you work.

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