External Doctorate

At the Technical University of Munich (TUM) you may also pursue your doctorate as a so called „external” doctoral candidate. In an external doctorate, you are employed either by a non-university research institution (for instance a Max Planck Institute or a Helmholtz Center) or a company while the academic supervision of your dissertation is provided by TUM. 

Please note the "Recommendations for doctoral projects in cooperation with universities of applied sciences, non-university research institutions, and companies"

Non-university research institution

Non-university research institutions, e.g. the Max Planck Society, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft oder the Helmholtz Association offer an excellent research environment and research conditions. However, in Germany non-university research institutions do not have the right to award doctoral degrees themselves and therefore have to collaborate with universities entitled to such an award. TUM has excellent relations with non-university research institutions, some of them even located on TUM’s largest campus Garching-Forschungszentrum. TUM with its TUM Graduate School actively promotes close scientific collaborations of researchers with those from non-university research institutions through joint Graduate Centers and joint doctoral research projects. These joint doctoral research projects are supervised by both a senior researcher from the non-university research institution and from TUM. 

Doctoral candidates based at non-university research institutions will usually be employed as research associates at the respective institution or receive a doctoral scholarship. Open positions and doctoral programs are announced directly on the website of the institutions.

Please note that in case of successful application at a non-university research institution, you still have to have a TUM professor who will supervise your dissertation at TUM. Usually, your new research institution will support you with finding a suitable TUM supervisor. However, sometimes you still have to search for a TUM supervisor yourself. Kindly consider our information sheet on “How to find a supervisor”

Please also note that you always have to apply for doctoral admission at TUM. Further information on how to apply for a doctorate can be found in the section “application”.   


You may also do your external doctorate at TUM while working at a company. In this case, your doctoral project may or may not be related to your actual job.

Many companies offer job positions in research and development that are generally suitable for doctoral projects. These doctoral research at companies are often very hands-on, and let you become part of the industry at an early stage. However, the strong focus on applicability also means you do not have the same level of academic freedom or academic depth as when performing basic research at a university. In addition, external doctoral candidates are less involved in the work of their TUM chair/research group. Due to the fact that companies are not entitled to award doctoral degrees, you need to have a professor at TUM who will supervise your work academically and who will take care of your involvement in the TUM academic environment.

Please note that you need to find a TUM professor who will supervise your research project. Kindly consider our information sheet on “How to find a supervisor”. After you have found a supervisor at TUM, please apply for doctoral admission by the entry into the doctoral candidacy list. Further information on how to apply for a doctorate can be found in the section “application”.