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PhD in Germany (Names of Universities)

  1. Jan 30, 2014 #1
    I wanted to ask about universities in Germany (top in Theoretical Physics) and I am here talking about PhD degree knowing that I have M.S degree (an American one).

    So, I would be grateful if you give me names so I can get in contact with professors there.

    Great thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2014 #2
    You might want to clarify what field you are interested in. Despite popular belief (and even naming conventions of physics departments) thereoretical physics is not really a field. Either way, my recommendation would be to google-up interesting groups yourself, or ask around the people in your field you know (assuming you want to stay in the same field you did your research in so far). Whether you do your PhD in Leipzig or Munich does not really matter (except to the people graduating in Munich :rolleyes:).
  4. Jan 30, 2014 #3


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    Well, while you do your PhD it might matter that the average rent for a flat in Munich is about three times as high as the rent for a flat in Leipzig. ;)

    But you are of course right. There is theoretical particle physics, solid state theory, soft matter theory and many other specializations. Contrary to the situation in the US, there is less emphasis on having all the excellent groups in one place and drowning them with money. Excellent groups are more delocalized and you will find that most universities have a few groups which are excellent in their field. Accordingly, the place where you do your PhD indeed is not as critical as it is in the US.

    Therefore, it is rather important that the first poster in this thread has a clear idea about the field he wants to work in first and then goes on to identify the groups which match his interests.
  5. Jan 30, 2014 #4
    Thank you for your reply. I actually haven't decided if I want to continue my PhD in a way that suits my M.S degree (not the same field).

    I would rather want to get involved in astronomy, high energy Physics, general relativity, etc..

    I haven't decided yet and how much does the rent cost really doesn't matter to me for I will be living at my relative's.

    I just wanted a name to start with. As for googling, it seems to me that either I do not know how to google such stuff or google just doesn't answer University ranking in Germany (Theoretical Physics).

    Please, any thing you post will be of great importance.
  6. Jan 30, 2014 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    If you don't know what subfield you are interested in, how do you expect us to recommend schools strong in that subfield.

    Germany is a big place. Do you have relatives everywhere?
  7. Jan 30, 2014 #6
    No I was talking about munich. And I know what fields am interested in but haven't decided over one. I gave examples.
  8. Jan 30, 2014 #7


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    The point is that you are saying fields (plural) while the responders are saying field (singular). If you already have an M.S. in physics, you should already know which specific field you are interested in (astronomy and high energy physics are wildly different). I am also puzzled as to why you are so interested in getting a Ph.D. in Germany if you don't know any Universities there. What is so special about Germany?
  9. Jan 30, 2014 #8
    Circumstances will lead me there. I was asking about Universities that are top in theoretical Physics. I wanted different names dealing with different fields. I mean each university is special about one or more things. All I anticipated is a name of am outstanding university. (Outstanding in such a way that it out stands other universities - I though this was easy to fetch if one knows Germany well)

    Thank you on either ways.
  10. Jan 30, 2014 #9


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    If you have Munich in mind, you could also do your PhD at a Max Planck institute, although formally you will belong to one of the two universities in Munich (TU Muenchen (Top University of Munich) and LMU Muenchen (Lower Munich University)) :-). Astronomy is quite strong at the campus in Garching, as there are some Max Planck institutes related to astronomy and also the ESO (European southern observatory). Interesting is also the Max Planck institute of Quantum optics.
  11. Jan 30, 2014 #10


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    As I said before, the German research landscape is (at least not really at the moment, although some politicians might disagree) not about focusing stuff at outstanding universities.

    Some "traditional" universities which are kind of renowned are Heidelberg, Göttingen and Tübingen. But they are more or less big names because they are old universities and there are plenty more.

    You might also be interested in the Max Planck institutes. These are non-university research centers, which receive quite a good amount of funding. Most of them can be considered as outstanding in their field. As the leading scientists are always coappointed profesors at some university, they also have the right to give out PhDs and attract a lot of PhD students. In contrast to a PhD at a university, you are usually not required to do teaching at these institutes, which might be beneficial if you do not speak German fluently.

    Here is a list of those institutes. You can check yourself, whether you find something that matches your interests:

    Oh, you beat me in suggesting MPIs, but it seems you are somewhat biased when it comes to the two universities in Munich. ;)
  12. Jan 30, 2014 #11


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    You sure? At least some 10 years ago, PhD students where also required to participate in teaching as they also belonged to the faculty. But probably they have to do less.
  13. Jan 30, 2014 #12


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    That may depend on the MPI in question. The one across the street tries to get as many new PhD students as possible on a scholarship basis instead of an employee basis (mostly in order to save on social security expenses). Those PhD students on scholarships are not required to do teaching. I am aware that at some universities the situation is similar and people who are not (officially) required to do teaching do it anyway because their boss demands it, but at least some MPIs really follow the official guidelines.
  14. Jan 30, 2014 #13
    Great thanks DrDu and Cthugha! I finally received decent answers! I will make sure to take things from here! :)
  15. Jan 30, 2014 #14
    Oh but do institutes have the same reputation as universities? Is the degree from there acceptable from all universities world wide?
  16. Jan 30, 2014 #15


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    I think the point is that the "Pruefungsordnung" of the faculty may require people to have taught in order to reiceive their PhD. Checking the "Pruefungsordnung" is anyhow one of the first things I would do after having looked for a potential advisor.
  17. Jan 30, 2014 #16


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    Their reputation is probably even better. Anyhow you will receive your PhD not from the MPI but from the university to which your advisor is affiliated.
    Besides my joke before, I don't think there is much a difference in reputation between the two universities in Munich as far as physics is concerned, the TU tending a bit more in the direction of applied physics and the LMU more in direction of fundamental physics.
    I would not care about this too much. Much more important is the reputation of your thesis advisor, of his group, and, very importantly, how well he treats his "Doktoranden". You don't want to end up like the heros of phd-comics, do you?

    A slight advantage of the LMU is that it is located in the center of Munich, so you can have a beer each evening after the lab (but this does not hold true for all groups).

    Thinking about it: The TU is running the high flux neutron reactor in Garching. So many groups are doing some kind of Neutron physics. They also had some results which are interesting theoretically, like, e.g. skyrmions in magnetic matter.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  18. Jan 31, 2014 #17
    Big thanks! You have been of real great help. I believe you live in Munich for you have went through much detail.
  19. Jan 31, 2014 #18
    What I know about Germany, is that, as a whole, there are three Universities which are consistently ranked at the top of German universities (and top 20 Europe): LMU Munich, TU Munich and Heidelberg. The order depends on the specific ranking.

    I do not really know about all the areas of physics, but in Astrophysics/Astronomy, they are for sure between the most renowned in Germany.

    A very fast search in google gave me the following links:

    1) http://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/our-university/

    "TUM at a glance
    Technische Universität München (TUM) is one of Europe’s top universities. It is committed to excellence in research and teaching, interdisciplinary education and the active promotion of promising young scientists. The university also forges strong links with companies and scientific institutions across the world. TUM was one of the first universities in Germany to be named a University of Excellence. In the international Shanghai Ranking (ARWU), TUM was rated the number one German university in 2011, 2012, and 2013."

    2) http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/university/rankings/index.html (this one is very informative regarding the focuss of the University - Additionally, there is an overview of the position of the University in different rankings.)

    3) http://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/news/newsarchiv/2013/the.html
  20. Jan 31, 2014 #19
    Thank you very much! Much appreciated!
  21. Feb 1, 2014 #20
    I sometimes think it's a little bit unfortunate that Germany is now a shadow of its former self in the field of physics as opposed to say one century ago where modern physics was just about to be constructed.
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