Doctoral Degree and Research Opportunities

Trier University offers international students the possibility to undertake degree-seeking doctoral studies in any of its departments. There are two basic options for doing doctoral studies: individually and structured. Individual PhD studies place special emphasis on the candidate’s individual research process as being supported by personal guidance of their supervisors. Structured doctoral programmes integrate candidates into the institutional network in various ways, follow a fixed time schedule and usually offer financial support.

Doctoral studies at Trier University

There are three options of pursuing a doctoral degree at Trier University:

Doctoral research stays

Research stays may be individually organised at any time:


Individual doctoral studies

Most doctoral studies in Germany are done individually. This means that the student’s research is individually supported by two supervisors in form of regular meetings and/or colloquia. Individual doctoral studies require students to work independently on their research project. An accompanying, obligatory curriculum is usually not provided.

Individual doctoral studies may be undertaken in any subject offered at Trier University. In order to access further information on the research areas of each department, please visit their websites.

The Graduate Centre of Trier University (GUT) offers a wide range of workshops that are meant to assist doctoral candidates in their research progress. According to their individual needs, doctoral students may choose to take part in the workshops; however, this programme is not compulsory.


Structured doctoral programmes

In addition to individual doctoral studies, there are also some departments at Trier University that offer structured doctoral programmes.

One option to pursue a structured doctoral programme is to do research within a “Graduiertenkolleg” whose research projects are usually externally financed for a limited timeframe ranging between 2 and 4 years. Such research projects are usually coordinated by several professors doing research in the same field and thus connect doctoral students to a network of professors and other PhD students. Students in structured PhD programmes are expected to attend a number of workshops and conferences besides working on their doctoral thesis.
The following link provides an overview of the currently offered “Graduiertenkollegs” running in various departments of Trier University.

Another option to pursue structured doctoral programmes are the specialised “Graduiertenkollegs” offered by some departments of Trier University. As well as working on their doctoral thesis, students are required to complete compulsory coursework that is organised by the department themselves. For instance, PROMT is one such structured doctoral programme that is currently being offered by the history department.


International doctoral studies

It is possible to link your doctoral studies at Trier University with an international institution.

Binational doctoral studies / Cotutelle de thèse

Binational doctoral studies – called Cotutelle de thèse – allow you to earn a joint doctoral degree at Trier University and a foreign university at the same time. Doctoral candidates are supervised by two supervisors of equal status (one from Trier University and one from the foreign university respectively) and need to be enrolled as doctoral students at both institutions.

A Cotutelle de thèse requires the organisation of individual cooperation regulations between the institutions in question. We thus recommend checking with the respective Dean’s office in advance whether or not it is possible to pursue a Cotutelle de thèse in the department of your choice.

European Doctorate of the University of the Greater Region

The University of the Greater Region offers doctoral candidates whose research has an international focus the opportunity to earn the ‘Certificate of European Doctorate’. Participating universities currently include the universities in Trier, Saarbrücken, Luxembourg, Nancy and Metz.


Research stays

If you are pursuing a doctoral degree at a foreign university and would like to spend some time in Trier to do research, you may individually organise a research stay in any of the deparments of Trier University.

Our research department (Forschungsreferat) provides an overview of the university’s main research focuses on their website. Furthermore, you may inform yourself about individual research strengths of our departments.

Your research stay at Trier University may take up to a maximum of two semesters. The most important requirement is to find a local supervisor who agrees to supervise your research during your time in Trier. More information on how to find a supervisor is given in the admission requirements section.