The Rudolf-Diesel-Medal Postgraduate Program is open to highly qualified doctoral candidates only. Candidates must have a university degree with above-average qualifications or have passed an equivalent state examination. The criterion of above-average qualification is also satisfied if, in addition to the overall grade, evidence of scientific achievements such as publications or special qualifications from relevant practical and industrial activities is provided.

Whether or not a qualification will be recognised is subject to the discretion of the institution conferring the doctoral degree see Research Areas.

In some research areas, excellent written and spoken English skills are required in order to obtain a doctoral degree. Although there are no minimum requirements in terms of common language testing frameworks, applicants are expected to be able to complete their entire application as well as the description of their research project, any presentations and their dissertation in English.

A doctorate is an individual and personally challenging project over the course of several years. Candidates should be able to confront this challenge with a great deal of initiative, responsibility, perseverance and self-organisation.