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The Ph.D. [ piː‿eɪtʃ diː ] (also PhD , English Doctor of Philosophy , neo-Latin philosophiae doctor ) is the scientific doctoral degree in almost all subjects and the highest degree in postgraduate studies in English-speaking countries . In these countries, the Ph.D. degree is usually associated with the right to teach at a university independently and on one's own responsibility.

As part of the Bologna process , doctoral courses (graduate schools) were confirmed in Bergen in 2005, which are already anchored in some German state university laws and thus also at German universities for Ph.D. as an academic degree.


In the academic degree of Ph.D. it is a term for doctoral degrees that are acquired as a result of independently written scientific research (dissertation). The dissertation is regularly accompanied by an academic research doctorate or a doctoral degree with a usual duration of three to five years (depending on the admission requirements, see below) and an oral examination (Rigorosum, disputation). Despite the wording, the Ph.D. usually not a doctor of philosophy , but the doctoral degree for most subjects that is common in the Anglo-Saxon region. The subject is usually connected to in, e.g. B. Ph.D. in Economics or Doctor of Philosophy in Arts and Sciences, abbreviated as Ph.D. in Arts and Sciences . Some UK universities, e.g. B. Oxford and Sussex , the abbreviation used DPhil instead Ph.D . The Ph.D. must be distinguished from more practical and vocational qualifications (Professional Degrees) in the English-speaking world as the medical doctorate Medical Doctor (MD), which is partly awarded without further scientific qualification after successful completion of studies, or the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) , in which it is a practical professional qualification designation that includes written professional experience and therefore does not represent independent scientific research and the Doctor of Science (ScD), which is awarded after a comparable but more practical doctoral procedure.

After completing a bachelor ’s degree, the admission requirement is usually a master’s degree, at US, Canadian and British universities also the North American four to five-year university Bachelor with Honors with at least a cum-laude degree.

In practice, the possibility of admission to postgraduate PhD studies at North American universities depends heavily on the university ranking of the educational institution at which a Bachelor with Honors or Master's was obtained. Practically all of the top universities in North America , such as Harvard (USA) and McGill (Canada), generally require a two to three-year master’s degree from a very high research activity university with at least a cum-laude degree.

At universities in Great Britain , the admission requirement is a master’s degree or a bachelor’s first class honors or second class honors, upper division (or a national or international qualification recognized as equivalent) plus a further qualification level. This qualification level usually consists of first registering in an “ M.Phil. "Course takes place and after one year the student's supervisor, the" supervisor ", decides whether they can be accepted into the actual Ph.D. program. If this is the case, achievements from the "M.Phil" course can already be credited. The completed Ph.D. certifies "a scientific qualification at the highest level".

In general, Ph.D. programs at American educational institutions contain a higher proportion of courses and seminars. However, this is due to the different educational systems. In the continental European education system, these specialization courses often appear as part of the master’s degree (see US school system ). In the Australian education system, the Ph.D. no courses or seminars, only a research paper is written. In Great Britain, courses are often only to be taken if the Ph.D. study started immediately after a Bachelor's degree.

The Ph.D. is listed after the name, e.g. B. Franziska Smith, Ph.D . In accordance with current scientific conventions, a Ph.D. as Dr. addressed and the degree is optionally also listed in this form. The title as Ph.D. does not exist.

Not to be confused is the Ph.D. with the German graduate support program PHD of the German Academic Exchange Service ( DAAD ), the German Research Foundation ( DFG ) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research ( BMBF ), which also supports doctoral programs within graduate schools that do not qualify as Ph.D. to lead.

Ph.D. and Bologna

In the Bologna Process there is only talk of a doctorate, a distinction between Ph.D. and Dr. is not specified. Regarding the length of the doctorate, the final communiqué of the Bologna follow-up conference in Bergen 2005 states that the usual workload of the third cycle in most countries corresponds to three to four years of full-time study . With the Bologna Ph.D. there is no general entitlement to teach at a university; in addition to a Ph.D. the habilitation or teaching qualification is required.

Ph.D. in Germany

The responsible Ministry of Science in the respective federal state provides legally binding information on the relevant legal provisions and the procedure to be followed for the recognition or use of a foreign degree. Prerequisite for holding the Ph.D. is, as with all other foreign degrees, that the university is entitled to award degrees according to the law of the country of origin. Ph.D. degrees obtained in an EU or EEA country as well as doctoral degrees obtained in Australia, Israel, Japan or Canada can be listed in Germany as "Dr." without further additions or indication of origin. Ph.D. degrees obtained in the USA can also be listed as “Dr.” in Germany without further additions, provided that the awarding institution is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as “Research University (high research activity ) "Or as" Research University (very high research activity) ". For certain doctoral degrees in Russia, a guided tour is provided without additional subject matter, but with a designation of origin. By resolution of the German Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of April 14, 2000 ff., A uniform regulation for the form of management of the degree in the federal states should be created by 2005. This eliminates the nostrification procedure in Germany.

In principle, however, in the Federal Republic of Germany, a conventional doctoral degree (i.e. not a Ph.D.) acquired in Germany may not be used as a “Ph.D.”. Academic degrees acquired at a German university may only be used within Germany in the form in which they are named in the certificate. Failure to do so is committing a criminal offense and risking a fine.

The entry of the degree in official papers, such as B. the passport, results from § 4 PassG and § 5 PersAuswG (similar regulation to the "Dr.", since only the doctoral degree generally falls under the regulation).

The education ministries of the federal states often refer generally to the anabin database with regard to the use of foreign academic degrees . However, the anabin is only indicative and not complete. The creators assume no liability for the correctness of the information.

Ph.D. in Austria

In Austrian study law, the academic degree Doctor of Philosophy (abbreviated to PhD ) may be awarded if at least three years of standard study time are planned for the respective doctoral program. In contrast to an earlier version of the University Act 2002, the PhD is therefore not a “higher-quality” or qualitatively different degree than the doctor and does not necessarily replace it: The previously usual doctoral degrees (Dr. phil., Dr. techn. Etc.) can can continue to be awarded, this decision is left to the universities. In particular, PhD in Austria does not mean that a higher proportion of courses should be required.

Ph.D. in the Czech Republic and Slovakia

The doctoral degrees in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are largely identical in both countries due to the state that was common until 1992 and are regulated by law (Act No. 131/2002 Coll. In the Slovak Republic; Act No. 111/1998 Coll. In the Czech Republic). The Czech and Slovak doctoral degrees can basically be divided into four groups, namely the doctoral degrees of medical fields of study, the so-called "minor doctoral degrees", the doctors of science, the Academy of Sciences and the scientific research doctorate.

The scientific research doctoral degrees are obtained after a 3 to 6 year doctoral program . These doctoral programs include a. Regular lectures and seminars as well as study examinations and exams and are concluded with the taking of a state doctoral examination ( Rigorosum ) and the defense of a dissertation with a public disputation . After successfully completing the course, you receive a doctorate, abbreviated as Ph.D. , in Slovakia as a PhD. , the Doctor of Theology, abbreviated as Th.D. or as ThD. and the Slovak Doctor of Arts ArtD . The former equivalent, the degree of candidate of science ( Czech kandidát věd , Slovak kandidát vied ) for short CSc. , has not been awarded since 1998 (Czech Republic) or 2002 (Slovak Republic).

See also


  • Renate Simpson: The development of the PhD degree in Britain, 1917–1959 and since. An evolutionary and statistical history in higher education. Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston (NY) [u. a.] 2009, ISBN 978-0-7734-4827-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See e.g. B. State University Act Baden-Württemberg i. d. F. of January 1, 2005, § 38 (2) or Bavarian Higher Education Act i. d. F. of May 23, 2006, Art. 64 (2) and Art. 66 (2).
  3. Anabin country overview Ph.D. in Great Britain ( memento of July 18, 2012 in the web archive ).
  4. The European Higher Education Area - Realizing the Goals. In: Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Universities, Bergen, 19. – 20. May 2005. Retrieved September 1, 2019 .
  5. a b c d Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs Germany for the management of foreign university degrees. In:, [o. D.], accessed on July 4, 2019, and agreement of the federal states in the Federal Republic of Germany on favorable regulations in accordance with Section 4 of the "Principles for the regulation of the management of foreign university degrees in the sense of a general legal authorization through uniform statutory provisions of April 14, 2000" . (PDF; 87 kB) (Resolution of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs from September 21, 2001 in the version dated June 26, 2015). In:, December 14, 2015, accessed July 4, 2019.
  6. ^ Hermann Horstkotte : Doctorate: Doktorspielchen with the PhD. In: Spiegel Online . December 1, 2004, accessed November 13, 2016 .
  7. Consolidated federal law: Entire legal regulation for the Universities Act 2002, version of July 4, 2019. (PDF; 877 kB) Section 54 Paragraph 4. In: Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria , July 4, 2019, p. 45 , accessed on July 4, 2019 .