International Doctoral Candidates

TUM aims to recruit the best talent from all over the world. Knowledge of the main legal regulations and intercultural contexts is helpful when working with international applicants. The TUM-GS Welcome Office is happy to help you with any questions you may have on this subject.

Degree from a higher education institution outside Germany

When an applicant with a degree from a higher education institution outside Germany applies for registration as a doctoral candidate, his/her degree undergoes a formal review to determine whether it is equivalent to a German university degree.

The TUM Examination Office reviews the degree in cooperation with the Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen (ZAB) in Bonn and makes a recommendation. Based on this recommendation, the dean of the relevant degree-awarding institution decides whether the applicant is admitted to doctoral studies. Because there are a large number of different degrees and it is always necessary to perform a detailed review to determine equivalence, applicants can, at most, be given a rough assessment beforehand, but not a definitive statement.

The office of the dean can also admit an applicant on a conditional basis. This is often done when applicants have studied for less than five years (meaning that they have earned fewer than 300 ECTS) or if they have completed their study programs without writing a master’s thesis.


Almost all foreign nationals from outside the EU require a visa to reside in Germany for a longer period. Doctoral candidates who have been hired for a position as a research or teaching associate typically require a work visa, while doctoral candidates who have received a scholarship, fellowship or grant apply for a student visa.

For a work visa in particular, the German embassies require that applicants present meaningful documents regarding their qualifications, their intended position (such as a specific job offer, job description, sample employment contract) and documents regarding where they plan to live in Germany (lease agreement or similar). 

In both cases, the visa is only issued if you issue a written invitation to the applicant. The TUM Graduate School cannot issue this kind of invitation. An invitation typically needs to include the following elements:

  • Title of the doctoral project
  • Estimated duration of doctoral study
  • Language in which the applicant will be working
  • Financing secured

Visas for international doctoral candidates who have received a scholarship, fellowship or grant are typically limited to the term of the scholarship, fellowship or grant. If the doctoral candidate has not completed his/her doctoral study at the end of this term, he/she may lose his/her residence permit and have to leave Germany. With this in mind, the possibility of extending the residence permit should be clarified early on. The candidate will have to provide proof of his/her status as a doctoral candidate and of further financing.


There is a general shortage of housing in Munich and the surrounding area, so many doctoral candidates have a hard time finding a place to live. It can take several months to find accommodation. Doctoral candidates who have their own families frequently need a two- or three-room apartment, which can easily cost more than the income from a typical scholarship, fellowship or grant.

Typical rents without utilities for unfurnished apartments:

  • One-room apartment (or rent, including utilities, in a shared apartment or house): approx. EUR 600 and up
  • Two-room apartment: approx. EUR 900 and up
  • Three-room apartment: approx. EUR 1,100 and up

Doctoral candidates often make arrangements for apartments with each other, including – and especially – for their first few weeks in Munich.

The Accommodation Service of the TUM Graduate School offers assistance with finding housing for international doctoral candidates. For help with finding housing, please refer international doctoral candidates to the TUM-GS Welcome Office early on.

Intercultural communications

National education and higher education systems vary in terms of not only their formal rules, but also their informal structures and culture. Depending on the country, the expectations that various groups at a university have with regard to each other can vary widely. 

This is especially apparent in dealing with hierarchies, which means it extends to the relationships between doctoral candidates and professors. Unlike in the European tradition, for example, some cultural settings view things like asking questions of a professor as disrespectful or as an admission of ignorance on the asker’s part, both of which are to be avoided.

Intercultural sensitivity is a highly important factor in tapping into international doctoral candidates’ full potential. Open, thoughtful communications with international doctoral candidates are important in order to prevent misunderstandings ahead of time.