Last Updated on December 28, 2022
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to improve your healthcare career, post-graduate certificate programs in nursing can do just that. Post-graduate certificate programs in nursing are designed to give you the tools you need to take your career to the next level. Admissions requirements vary with each program, but often require a bachelor’s degree and current registered nurse certification. Some programs also require previous work experience, as well as relevant coursework in studies such as psychology and sociology. These programs generally attract students who have completed their undergraduate degree, but are also open to those who are currently enrolled in a graduate program.
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Post Graduate Certificate Programs In Nursing
Would you like to expand or change your advanced practice nursing role? Are you interested in an area that is not the specialization obtained for your MS, MSN or DNP degree? Our certificate programs offer opportunities for you to build upon your clinical skills and knowledge, allowing you to explore new professional directions.
The purpose of the post-master’s study program is to provide, for nurses who already hold a master’s degree in nursing, an educational route to specialization in an area other than that obtained in their master’s or doctoral program. The program is designed to strengthen or broaden the clinical, or management capabilities of master’s-prepared nurses who are planning a role expansion or role change.
Post-master’s certificate (PMC) students must successfully complete all didactic and clinical requirements of the desired area of practice. In order to obtain a PMC in nurse-midwifery or in a nurse practitioner specialty, students are required to complete a minimum of 500 supervised hours in direct patient care. The program of study includes academic and clinical courses, and completion results in awarding a certificate of academic achievement of post-master’s study. Completion of the requirements for the PMC is posted on the student’s official Vanderbilt University transcript.
The specialty director develops an individualized program of studies for each PMC student based on evaluation of the student’s prior academic work and a gap analysis of courses/ experiences needed to qualify for advanced practice certification in the student’s desired specialty. The student’s program of study will contain didactic and clinical experiences sufficient to allow the student to master the competencies and meet the criteria for national certification in the population-focused area of practice.
There is also an option to add the DNP degree to your post master’s certificate. If you complete the certificate as part of the DNP program, you are eligible for federal loans and for scholarships since you will be earning an academic degree (the DNP).Earning the DNP will add an additional 32 credits to your Vanderbilt program of studies so be aware that additional time and money is involved in earning the doctoral degree. The length of the PMC program varies by specialty; consult the program web site for a sample PMC curriculum plan. The DNP program adds an additional 5 or 6 semesters to your program of studies. Students completing the PMC as part of a DNP program of studies are eligible to take the national certification exam as soon as certificate requirements are completed. Students then progress to DNP courses.
Earning the DNP will add an additional 32 credits to your Vanderbilt program of studies so be aware that additional time and money is involved in earning the doctoral degree. The length of the PMC program varies by specialty; consult the program web site for a sample PMC curriculum plan. The DNP program adds an additional 5 or 6 semesters to your program of studies. Students completing the PMC as part of a DNP program of studies are eligible to take the national certification exam as soon as certificate requirements are completed. Students then progress to DNP courses.
If earning the DNP degree is a fit with your career goals, you should apply to the nursing practice (DNP) program, not the PMC program. When you get into the DNP application, you will be able to indicate that you want to complete a PMC as part of your DNP program of studies. Applicants interested in completing the certificate as part of the DNP degree should review DNP program information at https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/dnp/index.php
Post-Master’s Certificate Programs
Post-master’s certificate programs are available in each of the following specialties:
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner (FNP/ENP)
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate for Family Nurse Practitioners
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Lifespan)
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Please refer to the specific advanced practice specialty overview for a sample curriculum plan.
As part of the application process, a Post-master’s applicant or a DNP applicant completing a PMC who is not an APRN currently in clinical practice may submit prior course syllabi to be reviewed for VUSN course equivalency. A non-APRN certified applicant who has taken Advanced Health Assessment, Advanced Pathophysiology, and Advanced Pharmacology in the last 5 years (5 years or less at the time of matriculation) must provide the syllabi to be reviewed for equivalency. If the course is determined to be an equivalent course, was taken within the last 5 years and the grade earned was a B- or higher, the course may be waived. Note: Determination of equivalency does not mean that VUSN transfer credit has been awarded. Equivalent courses will not appear on the VU transcript.
For further information, please email the admissions office at [email protected]
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Germany’s historic (and highly-ranked) universities make it an excellent choice for study abroad, but when it comes to doctoral research the country has even more to offer. Having first introduced the PhD in the nineteenth century, German universities and specialist research centres continue to offer innovative, tuition-free, postgraduate programmes.
This page covers everything you need to know about studying your doctorate in Germany, including an overview of the German higher education system, an explanation of the types of German PhD and advice for your application.
With striking landscapes, medieval and modern heritage sites and seasonal events ranging from Oktoberfest to Christmas Markets, it’s no surprise Germany is the seventh-most-visited country in the world.
The German higher education system is also world-class and has produced some of history’s most formidable thinkers, including theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.
Here are a few of reasons why you should consider studying for your PhD in Germany this year:
- Globally ranked institutions – Germany is home to more globally-ranked institutions than any other country outside the USA and UK – and seven of them feature in the current top 100
- Dedicated research institutes – In addition to its universities, Germany is also home to networks of dedicated research centres, including its prestigious Max Planck Institutes, as well as specific collaborations between universities and research institutes such as the Max Planck Schools
- Affordability – Most German universities charge no tuition fees for PhD students, regardless of nationality
- The home of the PhD – The PhD (in its modern form as a thesis-based research degree) was actually developed in Germany – perhaps this ‘original contribution to knowledge’ can help inspire yours?
|PhD Study in Germany – Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Heidelberg (1386)|
|PhD Length||3-4 years|
|Academic Year||October to September|
Coronavirus updates for international students at German universities
For the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on studying a PhD in Germany, please read the Study in Germany COVID-19 guidance page. Here you can find updates regarding teaching and travel restrictions.
PhD life in Germany
Want to know more about life for international PhD students in Germany? Our detailed guide covers everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and entertainment.
Germany is home to over 500 higher education institutions. Not all of them award PhDs, but those that do are renowned for generating highly trained researchers.
Types of German university
The German higher education system is made up of the following:
- Research Universities (Universität) carry out original academic research in various subjects.
- Technical Universities (Technische Universität) specialise in Science, Technology and Engineering research. However, they have recently begun to offer qualifications in some other subjects.
- Universities of Applied Science (Fachhochschulen) focus on professional and vocational subjects such as Engineering, Business or Social Science. They do not award PhDs.
- Research Institutes carry out important research projects (including PhD work) in partnership with universities, businesses and industry. Most operate within larger networks such as the Max Planck Society.
- Colleges of Art, Film and Music focus on practical and performance-related work and don’t award PhDs.
- Other research networks also exist to bring together expertise from different universities and research institutes for specific research and doctoral training projects. For example, the three Max Planck Schools (separate from the Max Planck Society) focus on Cognition, Matter to Life and Photonics.
As a PhD student you will be applying to the research/technical universities or research institutes.
Public and private universities
Germany is divided into 16 states (lander). Each state is responsible for administering its own public universities and providing them with funding. A small number of public universities also receive funding from the Protestant or Catholic church.
There are 400 in Germany and, as a PhD student, you’ll probably be studying at one of them (along with 95% of other students within the country).
The other 5% of the student body attend the 120 private universities. These do not receive state funding. Many of these private institutions are Universities of Applied Sciences, which do not offer PhD programmes.
German university rankings
|Top 30 German Universities in 2022|
|University||THE 2022||QS 2022||ARWU 2021|
|Technical University of Munich||38||=50||52|
|Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin||73||–||–|
|Humbolt University of Berlin||74||=128||–|
|University of Tübingen||=78||=177||151-200|
|Free University of Berlin||83||127||–|
|University of Freiburg||=108||172||101-150|
|RWTH Aachen University||=108||165||201-300|
|University of Bonn||112||=226||84|
|University of Göttingen||=119||204||101-150|
|University of Hamburg||=132||214||201-300|
|Technical University of Berlin||139||159||201-300|
|University of Mannheim||=146||423||–|
|University of Würzburg||165||=378||201-300|
|University of Cologne||=172||=311||151-200|
|Karlsruhe Institute of Technology||180||136||201-300|
|University of Erlangen-Nuremburg||=197||=322||201-300|
|University of Hohenheim||=197||601-650||901-1000|
|Friedrich Schiller University Jena||251-250||–||–|
|University of Konstanz||201-250||501-510||501-600|
|University of Münster||201-250||411||151-200|
|University of Duisburg-Essen||251-300||801-1000||301-400|
|Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf||251-300||–||301-400|
|University of Kiel||251-300||–||201-300|
|University of Potsdam||251-300||701-750||401-500|
|Ruhr University Bochum||251-300||=393||401-500|
|Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.|
Note that independent research centres and schools are not usually included within rankings. This isn’t any reflection on the quality of their PhDs. Instead it’s for the simple reason that they aren’t technically ‘universities’ and don’t teach undergraduates.
Do rankings matter for PhD study?
University rankings can help you choose a PhD project or programme, provided you know what to look at. Our guide explains how to use rankings as a prospective postgraduate.
Max Planck Schools
The varied nature of Germany’s higher education system means that the best researchers in a specific field are often based at different universities and non-university research institutes. The Max Planck Schools exist to gather up this distributed knowledge and expertise to address specific research objectives.
They bring together international PhD students with Germany’s best scientists in three interdisciplinary fields: Cognition, Matter to Life and Photonics.
Drawing on a strong network of German universities and independent research organisations, the Max Planck Schools offer fully financed PhD positions, benefitting from unique expertise, infrastructure and training opportunities.
German university cities
The capital city of Germany – Berlin, is popular amongst both tourists and international students. However, if you fancy living away from the hustle and bustle of a capital city, don’t worry: Germany has a number of other thriving, student-friendly cities and towns:
- Study in Berlin
- Study in Munich
- Study in Hamburg
- Study in Frankfurt
- Study in Cologne
- Study in Heidelberg
- Study in Freiburg
A doctorate in Germany is a third-cycle qualification, in accordance with the European qualification framework adopted as part of the Bologna Process.
The Bologna Process
The Bologna Process brings together a range of countries to form the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Members of the EHEA share a common three-cycle framework that allows degrees from one country to be easily recognised within others.
Although German PhDs follow the format of the Bologna Process, they are very individual in nature; Germany doesn’t see the PhD purely as the third phase in a course of studies, instead it is a separate research achievement.
Types of PhD in Germany
The doctoral degree – based upon independent research towards the submission and examination of a thesis – was a German innovation. This format is still offered at most universities, but some also offer more ‘structured’ programmes:
- The traditional PhD – you will identify a research project and pursue it independently with the guidance of an expert supervisor (Doktorvater / Doktomutter). The candidate chooses the institution where they would like to conduct their research: at a university or non-university organisation, or within a German company.
- Structured doctoral programmes – these are conducted largely in English and are internationally-oriented. You will complete additional training alongside your thesis, sometimes including collaborations and placements with external research institutes.
The academic year in Germany is usually comprised of two semesters, the exact start and end dates will vary depending upon your institution but are typically as follows:
- The Wintersemester (WiSe) – runs from 1 October to 31 March with a two-week break at Christmas and Easter
- The Sommersemester (SoSe) – runs from 1 April to 30 September with a break from July to September
The length of your PhD will depend upon whether you are doing a traditional PhD (typically 4-years) or a structured doctoral programme (typically 3 years).
The German PhD process
The PhD process in Germany depends upon the type of doctorate you are working towards.
In general, both will involve conducting a research project and writing a thesis; however, besides this there are some key differences:
- Traditional PhDs – offer a more independent and flexible PhD with no compulsory attendance, deadlines or curriculum. You will focus on completing your research and writing a thesis.
- Structured doctoral programmes –involve completing compulsory lectures, seminars and interim assessments on research related topics. You will attend transferable skills training in academic/scientific methods and soft skills. You will work individually and collaboratively on wider research projects with the students and team of academics within the programme.
The majority of doctoral candidates complete the traditional doctorate; however, a growing proportion are choosing structured programmes – especially in the natural sciences and mathematics.
The number of supervisors you have will also depend upon the PhD programme you have chosen.
If you are planning to apply for a traditional doctorate you will have to choose one supervisor to conduct your research project under. Although there to guide you, your supervisor will have little input into the content of your project and you will be expected to largely work independently towards your own thesis.
For structured doctoral students there will typically be a team of supervisors who look after all the PhD students within a doctoral programme. This helps to promote interdisciplinary collaborations. These projects involve more support and training from supervisors and other members of your programme.
The relationship with your supervisor will be an important part of the PhD process – wherever you choose to study. Our guides offer advice on choosing a PhD supervisor, how you’ll work with them and what to expect from the experience.
Assessment and examination
Again, the assessment procedure for a German PhD depends on the type of programme you pursue.
Students following a traditional PhD will submit a doctoral thesis and complete an oral presentation and examination of their work (Rigosorum) in front of at least two professors in related fields.
In some cases, the oral examinations are replaced with a defence of your thesis (Disputation). The thesis defence focuses more on the research you have conducted and why you did it, whereas the oral examinations test your wider knowledge in the field.
If you choose a structured programme you will need to complete several compulsory units in order to attain the 180-240 ECTS credits that are typically required for doctoral students. You will be assessed on your knowledge of course content delivered in lectures and seminars. This is similar to an undergraduate degree (but quite a bit more advanced). In addition you will still have to submit a thesis, and complete the oral examinations.
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) provides a standard measurement for academic progress and achievement across a range of different national university systems. A PhD is normally worth at least 180 ECTS credits.
Generous public invest in education means that doctoral degrees in Germany are normally free for all students, regardless of nationality. However, you may have to pay some other fees during your studies.
At doctoral level, tuition is free across all public universities in Germany for up to three years (six semesters) of study. You may be required to pay tuition fees for any extension period beyond the standard length for your PhD.
Though you won’t pay fees, you will need to make a semester contribution (Semesterbeitrag, which is usually between €100-350. This covers administration costs, student governance and student services (Studentenwerk).
As you will not be paying tuition fees, your main expenses within Germany will be your living costs. These can be higher than other European countries.
International students will need about €867 per month to cover accommodation, food and other living expenses.
PhD life in Germany
You can read more about accommodation, living costs and other practicalities in our guide to living in Germany as a PhD student.
Though you won’t normally pay any fees, you’ll probably still need some form of PhD funding in Germany to help cover your living costs. There are lots of options available, including graduate assistantships and fellowships from your university as well as public funding for international students provided by the German government. Business, industry and independent research hubs such as the Max Planck Schools also fund large amounts of doctoral research and training.
PhD funding in Germany
Our full guide to German PhD funding covers a range of funding sources, in detail.
The application procedure in Germany is slightly different to other countries.
If you apply for a traditional PhD, you must identify and contact a supervisor to request they supervise your thesis.
Applications for structured PhDs are made directly to the institution or graduate school providing the programme you wish to study on.
To study for a PhD in Germany you will generally need to have completed a minimum of eight semesters of academic study prior to the doctorate. The final qualification you obtained must be equivalent to a German Masters degree.
Your previous higher education degree/s must also be recognised by the Dean’s Office (Dekanat) or Board of Examiners (Promotionsausschuss) at your university.
Exceptionally well-qualified international students may be admitted onto a PhD with a Bachelor degree (fast-track programme), for this you will typically have to complete an entrance examination.
The language requirements for a PhD in Germany will depend on the programme you apply for.
Structured doctoral programmes are typically taught in English. If this isn’t your first language you may have to complete an English language proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Individual institutions will set their required scores for these tests.
Traditional PhDs may require you to write your thesis in German (though some institutions allow thesis completion in other languages). Therefore, you may need to prove your German language proficiency. Your knowledge of German will need to be certified through a TestDaF or DSH.
Applications requirements for a PhD in Germany will normally require you to submit the following:
- A statement from your doctoral supervisor – if you are applying to complete a traditional PhD project you must submit a statement from your chosen supervisor describing their intent to supervise your thesis
- Academic documents – you will need to provide certified copies of certificates and academic transcripts from previous degrees
- Proof of recognition – you must obtain recognition of your qualifications from the Dean’s Office or University Board of Examiners
- Academic references – your referees should include at least two professors who have worked with you
Once you have supplied these materials the department / doctoral committee you are applying to can confirm your eligibility as a PhD candidate.
For admission onto the structured PhD programmes some institutions may require you to complete an interview. This will typically be in front of the supervising board for that programme. Interviews for traditional programmes are usually conducted with your chosen supervisor (and may be more informal).
Interviews for international students are typically conducted over skype.
What happens during a PhD interview?
Your interview for a PhD in Germany will follow a fairly standard format (apart from the fact in may take place online). Our guides give advice on what happens at a PhD interview and an overview of some questions you might be asked.
Visa information for UK students Germany
UK students will no longer be EU citizens from the 2021-22 academic year onwards. This means you may be considered as an international student when studying in Germany. You may be subject to different visa requirements and fee rates, unless otherwise stated.
Germany is a popular destination for international study in Europe, and this is reflected in its immigration system. Students from a wide range of countries are able to enter Germany freely without a visa.
Who needs a visa to study in Germany?
Students from the following countries are able to study in Germany without a visa:
- The EU, EEA and Switzerland
- Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA
- China, Hong Kong and Macao (you must hold a Special Administrative Region passport)
- Taiwan (your passport must have an identity card number)
- Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine (you must hold a biometric passport)
- Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino (you must not intend to seek separate employment before or after your degree)
If you are an international student from another country, you must obtain a visa in order to enter and study for your PhD in Germany.
There are two types of visa for PhD students in Germany:
- A Student Applicant Visa (Visum zur Studienbewerbung) allows you to enter Germany for 3-months to complete your admissions, you use this to apply for your full Student Visa
- A Student Visa (Visum zu Studienzwecken) allows you to enter Germany for up to 3-months once accepted for PhD study – you can then apply for a residence permit
Regardless of your visa requirements, you will also need to register your presence in Germany once you arrive:
- Students of all nationalities should visit the Resident Registration Office (Bürgeramt / Bürgerbüro) within one-week of arriving in Germany to obtain a confirmation of registration (Meldebestätigung) proving you are living in Germany legally
- Non-EU / EEA students must also visit the Alien Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) before your student visa expires to apply for a residence permit
What you’ll need for a visa
There are several requirements and documents you must take with you when you apply for your visa or residence permit:
- Academic documents – including a letter of admission to a recognised German university and your full academic transcripts
- Personal documents – including your passport (valid for the duration of your PhD), two passport photos and a tenancy agreement proving you have secured accommodation for your stay
- Other documents – proof of health insurance valid for your entire stay, language qualifications for the language your thesis will be in, evidence of financial resources (€10,332 per year) and your Meldebestätigung (if applying for a residence permit)
A residence permit will up to €110 and your visa approximately €75.
By law every resident in Germany must have valid health insurance, you will not be allowed to enrol at university or apply for a student visa without it.
For members of the EU, Germany has social insurance agreements with the European Union member states, meaning your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover you within Germany.
For students from other countries there are many insurers within Germany that will provide medical insurance for international students. Your university’s international office may also be able to provide assistance and advice.
For students from other countries there are many insurers within Germany that will provide medical insurance for international students. Your university’s international office may also be able to provide assistance and advice.
Germany is a popular destination for international workers, but it is important to begin career-planning during your doctorate. For example, most employers in Germany will prefer you to be able to speak German.
Can I work in Germany after my PhD?
The regulations for working in Germany after a PhD depend upon your nationality.
Students from EU and EEA countries will not need a work permit. You will have the same access to the employment market as German nationals.
Students from outside the EU and EEA may extend their residence permit for up to 18-months to seek work related to their studies.
EU Blue Card
Once you have accepted a job you must apply for a German residence permit or an EU Blue Card. The EU Blue Card is preferable if you intend to work in another EU state, however you must have secured a job that pays at least €56,800 per year (this amount is slightly lower for workers in fields that suffer from labour shortages, at €44,304 per year).