Doctors of Medicine (MDs) can get directly into a PhD program in Germany “in general”

Three years after graduating from medical school, can a medical doctor have a PhD? In Germany, the answer is “in general” yes. In case a medical doctor is interested in doing a PhD, mainly in basic sciences, then he can directly enter into a PhD program in Germany. I was told that this is the “general rule.” Our certificates, MBBS (Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Surgery), are considered equal to master in Germany. In other words, you do not need to have done a master in order to enter into a PhD program. A German friend of mine told me this information, and I confirmed it in a famous Facebook page about higher studies in Germany (recommended by DAAD officials in Jordan). I asked my question in “German” here. To be 100% sure, they told me to check with individual universities to find if my MD degree from outside Germany is equivalent to master. However, they confirmed that the general rule is that it is equal. I was interested in a program in a University in Berlin called “Humboldt University of Berlin (wikipedia page).” Therefore, I mailed a department in it. For the year 2013/2014, according  to the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings (Powered by Thompson Reuter), this university is number 94 in the world:

Source: A page for the Humboldt University at the Times World Ranking Website.

For comparison, no Arab university is in the same year among the top 350 Universities in the World, ). The highest being King Abdulazziz university in Saudi Arabia ranking “351-400”.

I sent the following email to a department in this university asking if I can enter directly into a PhD program. They replied that my academic background (which is equal to that of all graduates of Mutah Medical School, and that of all graduates of medical schools in Jordan) makes me qualified to “apply for [their] PhD program.”


Dear Sir or Madam,

I hope that my email will find you doing well. I graduated last June from medical school here in Jordan, Middle East. I have a MBBS (Bacehelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) [Mutah University Graduates has MBBS. Source: The faculty’s page at Mutah Unviersity Website]. A German friend of me told me that in Germany, those with MBBS could directly do PhD. I asked this question in the Facebook group Research in Germany. They answered with yes… I am interested in a program of yours. May I ask if I may apply for it now that I do not have a master degree and only have an MBBS?

Best regards.


Dear Jameel K. Hijazeen,

Thank you for your e-mail and your interest in our program. It is correct that a MBBS is equal to a German Master’s degree. With your academic background you are qualified to apply for our PhD program.

If you have any further questions, you are welcome to send me another e-mail or give me a call.

Best regards,


• As I easily noticed, the language of teaching in most programs is in English (Amazing, huh?). As a proof of your English knowledge, universities require certain TOEFL or IELTS scores.  In one university, they wrote that it is enough if you can provide them with a certificate from a professor who says that you know a good level of English (I cannot remember the precise characteristics of such a professor).

• The requirements for each program are different. The competition is very high in some programs. In particular, one program asked that you pass an exam on Biology and Chemistry. Many details are present in the websites of each program. You can mail them, and from my experience, they reply quickly.

• The tuition fees are very little as universities are supported by the German goverment. In one PhD program, which consists of six semesters, the tuition fees of each semester are 280 euro, which covers free transportation ticket for the entire semester. Concerning living costs, in Berlin, for example, they estimate living costs to be around 1,000 Euro per month. I read and heard about estimated living costs ranging from 700-1200 euro per month. In one study conducted by HSBC bank, it was concluded that among 13 of the world top countries, it is chepeast for overseas students to study in Germany!!! The list of countries is shown in the figure below:

Living costs in 13 of the top world countries: Australia is the most expensive and Germany is the cheapest!

Living costs in 13 of the top world countries: Australia is the most expensive and Germany is the cheapest! Source: Website of HSBC bank.

• You can get sponsorship from different organizations. I know of two. One is called the KAAD. However, the most famous is called the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – German Academic Exchange Service). They offer thousands of scholarships every year. They have a central branch of them in Jordan: , ). They hold a free information lecture إستشارة طلابية each month. The lecture is very informative and the explanation is great. It is present by a Dr. Abdelnasser Hindawi. He is very nice, cooperative, and welcomes any questions on the email of DAAD Amman He replies quickly and with full details. The nearest lecture is today, Tuesday, 22.04.2014, at 05:00 PM in Goethe Institute, Amman, You can follow the DAAD Jordan’s facebook page for future lectures. The last 6-8 lectures Ads that I saw stated that the lecture would take place on a Tuesday). The last time I checked, the health-related scholarships they have were two master programs in Public Health. The master programs can be finished in one year. They require however a practical experience of at least two years, among other things. The tuition fees of one program, as I remember, are about 14,000 Euro. They are all covered by the DAAD. For full details of these two programs, and all other scholarships to Jordanians, see this PDF by the DAAD Jordan:

Doing a PhD does not mean that you will continue your life in teaching. This will be very important in your CVs. I know some people who took masters in order to increase their chances of being accepted for residency in the USA. However, some scholarship program will tie candidates with researching about a topic that will help his/her country and with showing “genuine” interest of returning back to his/her country. For example, Yousef Jameel Scholarships:

Humboldt-University is offering five doctoral scholarships with support of the Yousef Jameel Scholarship Fund. Students of Arabic countries, Malaysia and Indonesia are eligible for the scholarships. The scholarships are awarded for a period of three years and commence on October 1. The stipend awarded is in the amount of 1350 Euros per month, plus materials expenses. To be eligible for this scholarship, English and German skills are required. Women and disabled students are encouraged to apply. Applications should be submitted till 15th July 2014.


Yousef Jameel Scholarships at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Yousef Jameel Scholarships at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. Source: Link.


Yousef Jameel Scholarships at Humboldt University: Application requirement. Source: PDF file from the university's website. Click here to download it.

Yousef Jameel Scholarships at Humboldt University: Application requirement. Source: PDF file from the university’s website. Click here to download it.

• More scholarships and funding opportunities other than the DAAD and KAAD: Link.

• The DAAD website shows 61 medicine-related PhD programs. I think that this is a large number to choose programs to choose from.

 • How to search the DAAD’s website for a PhD Program (among other study options) and avaialbe funding options for studying in Germany.


• The below PhD positions were posted yesterday by the facebook page “Research in Germany“. They are all in Humboldt-University in Germany:

Source: A post in the website of the facebook page, Research in Germany.

Deutschland: Land der Ideen - Germany: The Land of Ideas

Deutschland: Land der Ideen – Germany: The Land of Ideas. Source: Webseite der Technische Universität München.

*** Note: I based little information above on my own short experience. I tried my best to put references where possible. Please feel free to make any corrections for the benefit of me and future visitors to this page ***

8 responses to this post.

  1. A question I received on FB:

    Sorry to intrude Doc.
    I wanted to know if Germany accepst students who just completed medical school for housemanship, and if Russian medical doctors are accepted


  2. I do not know what housemanship is. Is it like internship? I think that the answer is yes. Concernind russian medical doctors, I do not know if they are an exception. Why would they be? You can ask your question in any of the above facebook pages and authorities. Regards.


  3. The following is a question that I got on Facebook. Below it is my answer:
    good article,thanks bro, however, I would dispute that with you ,some points, correct me ,if I were wrong please! first of all ,three years is not a short time! secondly you will lose your clinical skills and even though your studies in ENGLISH,your German will decline or at least not improved ! if you mean increase your chances in Germany, then ,there is a shortcut for that you go to any residency in Germany easily as a guest doctor for one or two years , in this duration your German clinical experience improved significantly, your German language skills sharped, and then you look for paid position ,I believe ,this is a better choice. Also if you think of it 3 years for PHD plus five years for residency the best result German board. which is sadly not prestigious and respected at least not as much as AMERICAN or CANDAIAN one . if you mean outside Germany ,I disagree with you because you need uslmes and fresh graduate are preferred! also better to do research in use rather than in Germany if you intended to apply to use or other English countries, any English countries generally more prestigious than Germany. my regards . I hope . it helps!!

    Dear friend, Thank you always for your thoughtful and wise comments. The way you introduced your opinion is “sehr schön”.

    – German not improved after 3 years? I think that outside the teaching settings, you can forget that you know a language called English and only speak in German. Even in Study settings, I think that there will be many German students with whom you can only speak German.

    – Three years a long time? This is true. However, for a PhD, I think it is not long. You are saved from doing a master. However, the question if you will be recognized back here in Jordan.

    – Conerning paid positions as a visiting doctor: This is a good option. However, I think that with current trends, it is almost impossible to secure such a position. You will need months before getting such a position. If we imagined that you was able to get Mo3adaleh and have passed the language test.

    – Clinical skills decline? A university doctor at Mutah suggested to me that to do training in German hospitals at weekends and holidays. This is a good experience and certainly will prevent you from forgetting clinical skills. Even if they were forgotten, are they hard to retrieve? Is it rocket-science?

    – Conerning: “Also if you think of it 3 years for PHD plus five years for residency the best result German board. which is sadly not prestigious and respected at least not as much as AMERICAN or CANDAIAN ones”. Thank you. As I posted previously, the German boards is not prestigious as these other boards in Duabai (معاملة-البورد-البورد-الألماني-معاملة/). However, with residency in German University hospitals, I think that it should be equivalent!!! Don’t you think so? With PhD or Master, don’t you think that your chances of entering such a hospital will be much greater? Secondly and most importantly, Canadia and American hospitals are very hard to get especially for those students who did not study USMLE during medical school. You require a lot of money too compared with Germany.

    – Concerning the importance of German PhD outside Germany: I am not sure. But do you think if one did PhD in the University number 96 in the World, would not this be SOMETHING? Many German universities are among the top 100 in the world. In addition, I looked into the PhD programs of some universities, and it is really magnificient in terms of research skills taught. I think that this is the best research experience possible. If you did research in the USA, your chances of getting paid are very liittle not to mention that you will mostly end up with nothing more than a research assistant certificate or a mention in the acknowledgement section of a paper. Don’t you think it is worthy to add one or two years and end up with a PhD than with an acknowledgment?

    – Certainly, American and British universities are the best in the world. However, many German universities too. The above mentioned Humboldt University for example. Don’t you think so?

    You have some good points and I am not saying that doing PhD is a perfect solution. However, for doctors who are interested in learning how to do research and in getting a master or PhD, then I think that what Germany offers is great.


  4. Posted by Joel on 04/22/2014 at 16:17

    So assuming
    , i av all the requirements how do i start the application procsee as a fresh grad. from med schj


  5. […] Doctors of Medicine (MDs) can get directly into a PhD program in Germany “in general” […]


  6. During the previous weeks, I searched for PhD and master chances in Germany. A lot of position and funding opportunities are available. However, what let me down ist that they require a knowledge in the basic sciences and that doing a PhD will probably mean that you will continue your life in the academic field.

    A colleague of mine sent me an email inquiring about my what I have discovered so far. I wrote her the below message:

    Thanks for the reply. During the previous weeks, I searched for master and PhD chances in Germany. I attended also a lecture by DAAD’s director in Jordan at the UJ. It is not much different from the one we attended last time. It will be held again next Monday in Goethe Innstitute (

    ). However, there is a much interesting presentation. It is called “Research in Germany”. It will be held next Wednesday. I do not know if they will talk about master and PhD in particular. But I suppose that! (


    I almost lost hope in getting a Master or PhD in Germany. I searched for psychiatry-related programs. 95% of them require a mixture basic knowledge of physiology, anatomy, histology, and biochemistry. You are required also to pass an exam in these subjects. It is general information. However, it requires at least 1-2 months of preaparation. Concerning public health, I did not see such requirments. However, some programs require a proposal of around five pages.

    The last time I checked DAAD scholarships, there are “only” two Medicine-realted Master programs. Both of them require at least two years of working experience. What is more, they make conditions that your master thesis should be of benefit to people back here in Jordan. The costs of these programs are above 10,000 Euro and it is totally covered by the scholarship. They will not give you a monthly salary. You have to fund yourself. The good news is that this master program can be completed in one year.

    There is also the KAAD. It stands for Katholischer Akademischer Austausch Dienst. It is primarily for catholics, christians, and those from other faiths who are “committed to interfaith” dialogue (
    ). In addition, and this is most important, you are 100% required to go back to your country after your studies. Othewise, they wrote somewhere in thier site, the scholarship will turn into a loan.

    There are also multiple other oranizations. I did not dig deep into the requirements of each oen of them:

    Even if you did not get a scholarship, you can contact individual universities to ask them if they could secure for you a paid position as a “Research Assistant”. To contact individual univeristies, here are a group of open PhD positions (Because you have MBBS, you can directly enter into a PhD program):

    All in all, if you are going to continue your life in the academic field, then certainly choosing Germany as a destination for master and PhD is a great decision. However, bear in mind that you will be asked to prove your knolwedge of basic sciences.

    Let me know if you need anything else.

    Best regards.


  7. DAAD’s 2015/2016 Master Programs Scholarships for Jordanians:

    *** Note from me: There are only two Medicine-related master programs and thery are in Public Health (they are on pages 101-108 of the brochure below).
    – Prerequisites and Requirements for DAAD scholarhships:

    DAAD proudly presents its brand new brochure of its next intake for its Master portfolio “Developing-Related Postgraduate Courses”!!!

    The funding line comprises 36 English Master programmes at different German universities in the fields Economic Sciences, Development Cooperation, Engineering,Mathematics, Regional Planning, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Public Health, Social Sciences and Media Studies.
    All programmes are open for Jordanian applicants and there is full scholarships available.
    Note: Applications have to be directed to the respective university and NOT to the DAAD. All information on the programmes can be found here :

    Application deadlines differ from programme to programme but most deadlines are betwen September and October. Good luck with your application!

    Source: DAAD’s Jordan Facebook Page,


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