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News of 19.06.2019

Biology is the subject with the highest PhD ratio

In Germany, the majority of doctoral theses are completed in the fields of Medicine and the Natural Sciences. In Biology, an astounding 90 per cent of all Master’s graduates go on to complete a doctorate. These are the conclusions drawn by an up-to-date analysis conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education.

Most doctorates are written in the field of Medicine and the Natural Sciences. Medicine, with an average of 6,274 doctoral theses completed each year, came top for the 2015-2017 period, followed by Biology (2,498), Chemistry (2,000) and Physics (1,765).

In the course of analysing the situation of PhDs in Germany, the CHE Centre for Higher Education determined the actual situation in the individual subjects. To do this, the experts assessed both the PhD intensity and the supervision ratio for each subject.

The results show that Biology currently has the highest PhD ratio, at 86.2 per cent. Considering the number of doctoral degrees in relation to the number of Master’s graduates reveals that almost nine out of ten Biology graduates go on to complete a doctorate. High PhD rates are also yielded in the subjects of Chemistry (78.9%), Physics (64%) and Medicine (63.3%).

This additional qualification is a much less common goal in the subjects of Law, Business Administration and Architecture. Law, for example, has a comparatively low PhD ratio of 13.4 per cent, despite the large number of students pursuing a doctorate in that subject.

“The results show that the importance of a doctorate differs from subject to subject,” stated Cort-Denis Hachmeister, explaining the significant differences. “A PhD still appears to be the unofficial standard qualification in the traditional Natural Sciences and in Human Medicine,” said the CHE data analysis expert. In contrast, the PhD ratio is less than 50 per cent in Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry.

This phenomenon is also reflected in the subjects’ supervision ratios. Professors in the subjects of Pharmacy, Biology, Medicine and Chemistry, for example, supervise around two PhD students each year on average. In subjects such as German Studies, English Studies and Romance Studies, which have a high proportion of teacher training students, professors support considerably fewer doctoral candidates on their path towards completing a PhD each year.

About the publication:
The analysis covers the number of successful doctorates in Germany in relation to the number of professors and the number of Master’s graduates. The analysis was based on data from the CHE University Ranking and on information provided by the Federal Statistical Office. The author of the CHE publication “Im Blickpunkt: Promotionen als Indikator für die Leistung von Hochschulen” (Focus on: Doctorates as an indicator of university performance) is Cort-Denis Hachmeister.

Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.

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Cort-Denis Hachmeister
Cort-Denis Hachmeistermehr
Phone: +49 5241 9761-35
Fax: +49 5241 9761-40
Email: cort-denis.hachmeister
Tina Schürmannmehr
Phone: +49 5241 9761-39

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