A VETS' college in Northrhine-Westfalia is the first German university to introduce an international PhD that will be more compatible with foreign qualifications.
Tieraerztliche Hochschule in Hanover specialises in veterinary medicine, biology and biochemistry. From this autumn it will take up to 20 students a year on a course modelled on a United States PhD.
The three-year course is shorter than an ordinary German doctorate. Officials hope this will be appealing, particularly to women. Although 80 per cent of veterinary students are women not many go on to research.
Wolfgang Loescher, who drew up the specifications, said that other German universities were watching the move closely. The Northrhine-Westfalian government had backed the scheme.
Professor Loescher and his colleagues are looking for official approval by their university partners in Bristol and at Cornell.
The course involves 300 hours of classes and seminars. Independent research will make up the bulk of the studies. A special feature is that students will have as advisers a specialist scientific supervisor, a member of the PhD commission and an external scientist.
Students will have to give yearly seminars on their work. Having passed an oral exam after 18 months, they have to present and defend a thesis in the presence of external referees at the end of their studies. As a final requirement they have to submit a written thesis in German or English, or at least two publications in learned journals.