Phase 1: Preparing your move to Munich

You have secured your supervision agreement or have been accepted into a doctoral program? Congratulations! Now it’s time to make sure everything is ready for your move to Munich, so you can dive right into your doctoral studies.

In this checklist (PDF, 145 KB) you can find the most important steps to prepare your move to Munich. In addition, feel free to ask for a list of specific vocabulary (German and English) containing the most important terms in the different fields.

Visa and entry requirements

  • Your visa needs to be issued before you enter Germany
  • You have to apply in person at the German mission (embassy or consulate) responsible for your place of residence
  • There are different visa types, depending on the purpose of your stay (with/without work permit)
  • The exact visa requirements should be ascertained from the responsible German diplomatic mission, as they can differ from country to country

EU citizens and citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

  • You do not need a visa to enter Germany.
  • You do not have to apply for a residence permit after entering the country

Citizens of Switzerland, the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea

  • You do not need a visa to enter Germany
  • You have to apply for a residence permits after entering the country

Citizens of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, and San Marino

  • If you do not plan to work in Germany, you do not need a visa (for example, if you have a scholarship)
  • If you plan to work in Germany, then you have to apply for a national visa
  • You have to apply for a residence permit after entering the country

Citizens of all other countries

  • You need a national visa to enter Germany
  • You have to apply for a residence permit after entering the country

If you are not sure whether you need a visa, the German Federal Foreign Office has compiled a comprehensive list of all countries’ visa requirements.

If you want to do your doctorate in Germany as a third-country national, you generally need to apply for a Type D visa, also called a national visa.

As a doctoral candidate, your visa can be issued for different purposes, depending on your individual situation. Therefore, it is important to give the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country specific information on your doctorate, so that they can issue the right visa. Each purpose is bound to certain rights and limitations:

  • Studies: suitable if you have a scholarship or private funds, since you are only allowed to work for a maximum of 120 days/240 half days or as a student assistant at the university. You will need to include a letter of acceptance as a doctoral candidate from your faculty’s doctoral committee in your visa application.
  • Employment: suitable if your doctorate is bound to a position as a research associate at the university. You will need to include a confirmation of the intended employment from your employer in your visa application.
  • Research: suitable if you are doing a research stay of more than 90 days. You will need to include a hosting agreement from the university in your visa application.

NOTE: A national visa needs to be converted into a residence permit after you enter Germany, which allows you to stay in the country for a prolonged period of time

You need to apply for a visa in person at the responsible German mission in your country of residence. It is highly recommended to apply as early as possible, ideally at least two to three months before you plan to enter Germany, as there can be a waiting period for the visa. Also, visa fees may apply.

The website of your diplomatic mission usually offers detailed information on the visa procedures and the documents required for the application.

In general, you will have to submit the following:

  • Visa application form (can be downloaded from the website of your German mission or the German Federal Foreign Office)
  • Valid passport and biometric photograph(s)
  • Proof of admission as a doctoral candidate by the doctoral committee
  • Proof of sufficient funds (e.g. through a scholarship or employment)
  • Proof of adequate health insurance
  • CV and copies of your university degree(s)
  • confirmation from your employer or scholarship organization

It is highly recommended that you provide German translations of all original foreign documents.

If you are doing a research stay of less than 90 days and will not be gainfully employed in Germany, a tourist visa (also called Schengen visa) may be sufficient. The German Embassy or Consulate in your home country can provide you with further information. Please note that a tourist visa generally cannot be extended, which means that you have to return to your home country under any circumstances after 90 days. Therefore, if you are considering to extend your research stay, you should apply for a national visa.

Doctoral candidates can bring their spouse/life partner and children to Germany for the duration of their doctorate for purposes of family reunification. As a third-country national, you should inquire at the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country which additional documents are required (such as marriage and birth certificates). In general, you also need to have sufficient financial resources to provide for your family, as well as ensure adequate living space. Moreover, all family members need adequate health insurance for the duration of their stay.

Accommodation

  • A two-room apartment in Germany doesn't mean the same as a two-bedroom apartment in other countries. A two-room apartment will simply have two rooms, plus a bathroom and kitchen. Bathrooms and kitchen are not included in the number of rooms advertised.
  • Typically, the rental price will be described as either cold rent (Kaltmiete) or warm/entire rent (Warmmiete). The difference between these two is that the cold rent typically does not include operating or utility costs (Nebenkosten).
  • Operating or utility costs generally comprise costs for heating and water, as well as sewage and refuse collection charges.
  • Electricity and telecommunication costs are usually not included in the Warmmiete. You need to arrange these services separately.
  • Another part of the rental agreement is the deposit (Kaution) which the tenant pays to the landlord when moving in. This typically amounts to two or three months' cold rent and will be paid back to the tenant at the end of the rental period if the accommodation is handed over undamaged

NOTE: Cold rent (Kaltmiete) + utility costs (Nebenkosten) = Warm rent (Warmmiete)
Warm rent (Warmmiete) + electricity and telecommunication costs = total rental price
The warm rent is paid to the landlord, whereas electricity and telecommunication costs are paid directly to the respective providers.

Munich is one of the most attractive and therefore most expensive cities in Germany with rental prices ranging from 15-23 € per m² for unfurnished apartments. As there are over 100,000 students in Munich, the demand for private rooms in shared apartments is also quite high and can easily cost 600 € per month, if not more.

Of course, rental prices also depend on the location. Accommodation in the center of Munich, especially around the university district, is more expensive than on the outskirts. Also, a furnished room or apartment will be more expensive than an unfurnished one.

Because of the high demand, the Munich housing market is very challenging. Available apartments enter the market and are successfully rented out at a fast pace.

Tips for apartment hunting in Munich

  • start your search as soon as possible to give you enough time to find a place
  • react quickly if you see a suitable advertisement, as it may disappear again soon
  • call or email right away to request a viewing
  • if you decide to write an email, tell the recipient a little bit about yourself to catch their interest
  • when invited to a viewing, be punctual and leave a good impression
  • make sure you have all relevant documents ready for the viewing
  • don't give up if you don't get a reply or an offer, try something new if you notice that one method doesn't yield results

Where and how you want to live largely depends on your individual situation. In general, the following arrangements are possible:

  • Renting an entire apartment on the private housing market.
  • Renting a private room which is sublet by a landlord/landlady who lives in the same apartment/house. Common areas like bathroom, kitchen and living room are usually shared. This arrangement is called Zimmer zur Untermiete.
  • Sharing an apartment with roommates. While you will have a private bedroom to yourself, common areas like bathroom, kitchen and living room are usually shared. This arrangement is called Wohngemeinschaft or WG, for short.
  • Renting student accommodation from the Munich Student Union. For this option, you need to be registered as a student and cannot earn more than the BAföG maximum (DE) of 853 € per month (2019).

When starting your search for an accommodation, give some thought to your individual search criteria:

  • apartment or room
  • furnished or unfurnished
  • temporary or long-term
  • maximum price range
  • location
  • any additional aspects important to you

Each district in Munich has its own set of distinct characteristics. While the heart of Munich is quite lively, offering many opportunities for cultural and leisure activities, the outer districts are quieter and more affordable. Munich's suburbs are well-connected by public transportation, but you might have to plan for a commute of up to an hour.

Where to search for accommodation

  • Online search portals – the most commonly used source when searching for an apartment. Most of these portals offer the option to register and set up a search profile to receive automated updates on new properties.
  • Newspaper advertisements – various regional and local newspapers publish available apartments twice a week. Most of them publish listings online as well, although these may not be the same as in the print newspaper.
  • Bulletin boards – sometimes available rooms are advertised on bulletin boards around campus. On occasion, rooms are also unofficially advertised on social media in relevant groups.
  • Student accommodation – if you are eligible for student housing, you can apply for a room at the Munich Student Union. The Student Union has also compiled useful information for further accommodation options.

NOTE: During your search for accommodation, please always make sure that the offer is reliable, as scams do unfortunately happen. Also, never send a copy of your passport or transfer any money prior to signing a legitimate rental contract.

Short-term solutions

Are you only here for several months for a short-term research stay or are you looking for an interim solution until you have found a permanent place to live? Then you might consider renting a furnished room from a student subletting their room for a few months. Renting a room at a hostel or a private B&B can also be a viable short-term option.

Preparing your doctorate

  • There are two models of doing a doctorate in Germany: individual doctoral studies and structured doctoral programs.
  • In both models, you have to apply directly to the program or the potential supervisor on your own initiative.
  • The Graduate Center can offer you general advice if you have questions about doing your doctoral studies at LMU.

A German doctorate can open many doors for an international career, as it is widely recognized as a sign that you are capable of independent research and have acquired specialist knowledge in your field.

On the other hand, doing your doctoral studies in any foreign country comes with its own challenges, adding up to those related to completing a long-term, independent research project.

Questions you should ask yourself before making a decision:

  • Am I prepared to organize my doctoral studies independently and proactively in a university system which is unfamiliar to me?
  • Am I aware of possible language and cultural challenges I might have to overcome next to accomplishing my daily workload?
  • Am I able to get the necessary funding for the whole course of my doctoral studies, taking into account all living expenses? Especially the cost for accommodation is quite high in Munich.

More aspects to consider, including career-related questions, can be found on the Graduate Center's website. Also, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has compiled five reasons to do your PhD in Germany.

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München is one of Europe’s leading research universities with an over 500-year-old tradition. At the same time, it is a cosmopolitan university, home to students from over 130 different countries.

LMU places particular emphasis on providing a comprehensive support system for the promotion of junior academics, adapted to their individual needs. As part of the German federal and state governments‘ Excellence Strategy, LMU Munich has been awarded funding as University of Excellence. Four Clusters of Excellence (in German) are funded through the initiative, providing outstanding research opportunities for doctoral candidates. Moreover, the LMU Academic Career Program creates favorable conditions for research and further education for excellent junior academics at all stages of their academic careers.

LMU Munich also offers extensive support services for doctoral candidates:

  • LMU Gateway is here to help you with all questions regarding your move to Munich, ranging from information on entry requirements, searching for accommodation and events.
  • LMU Graduate Center has been called into life to assist you with general questions regarding our doctoral studies, offering individual advice and numerous workshops to help you succeed.

Once you have put your mind to doing your doctorate at LMU Munich, you will need to decide which model you want to pursue – your individual doctoral studies or a structured doctoral program.

  • Individual doctorate: This is the most common model in Germany. It requires you to find your own supervisor, who will be your main advisor for your research project. This model demands a high degree of independence and self-motivation, as there is no set curriculum or designated time frame to guide you through your studies.
  • Structured doctoral programs: This model can be compared to PhD programs in Anglo-Saxon countries. They are ideal if you desire a structured curriculum and a more intensive supervision by a team of professors. Many programs are geared towards internationals and may include funding options.
Further information, including some general advice on how to get into the respective models, can be found at the website of the Graduate Center.

After you have successfully secured a supervision agreement or a place in a doctoral program, you need to get accepted as a doctoral candidate by the faculty’s doctoral committee. Once you have been accepted, you are usually ready to apply for a visa if necessary.

Depending on the doctoral degree regulations or specific visa requirements, you may also need to apply at the International Office for admission and registration.

Please see the Application Guide for Doctoral Studies for step-by-step information on the application process.

NOTE: If not required by doctoral or visa regulations, student registration is optional.

Although there is no tuition for doctoral candidates, it is important to have enough funds to cover your living expenses throughout the course of your doctoral studies.

There are different funding options available, which largely depend on your field of study and the doctoral model you are pursuing. While some structured programs come with a scholarship and/or a paid research position, others may require you to obtain your own funding. If you are doing your individual doctorate, this may or may not include a position as a research assistant to your supervisor. Thus, it is advisable to stake out your funding options before applying for your doctoral studies.

The following funding options are possible in Germany

  • Scholarship by a German or international organization
  • Employment as a research assistant at your department
  • Employment by the university outside of your department
  • Non-research-related employment outside the university
  • Research position at a company

Which funding option works best for you largely depends on your individual situation. On average, an international doctoral student in Germany has an income of about 1,200 € a month.

NOTE: Your funding situation will influence the type of visa and residence permit you need to enter Germany.

What is the cost of living in Munich?

Munich offers a high standard of living and attractive job opportunities, drawing in people from all over the world. For this reason, the cost of living and rental prices in particular in Munich are the highest in Germany. Therefore, the biggest share of your expenses will therefore go towards accommodation.

Here is a breakdown of living expenses for a single student in Germany. In Munich, you can expect to spend about 1,000 € a month, depending on your needs and lifestyle. If you’ll be coming with your partner or children, your expenses will increase.

NOTE: If you are employed, you will also have to pay taxes and social security contributions.

In addition, if you want to register as a student, you will need to pay a mandatory semester fee to the Munich Student Union, which recurs every semester. It includes a basic public transportation ticket for the whole semester (semester ticket). However, since this ticket is only valid during limited hours, so additional costs for public transportation may apply.

Registering as a doctoral student also has other benefits: You can eat for reduced prices at the university cafeterias, get access to the university’s sports facilities for a lower fee, get student discounts at cultural institutions, etc. This can reduce your overall living expenses.

What are you looking for?