Here you can find answers to frequently asked questions concerning doctoral studies at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Further questions will kindly be answered by the team of the Central Doctoral Office.
Before applying for admission:
What is a “Zulassungsbescheid” (letter of admission) and how do I obtain one?
The so-called “Zulassungsbescheid” entitles you to enrol as a doctoral student and authorises you to pursue your doctoral studies at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Please submit your application documents via a.r.t.e.s. access. What you need to do is hand in the application documents to the Central Doctoral Office. There are two periods of application per semester. Two weeks after the application deadline, the doctoral board holds a meeting to go through the applications together. Applications which are approved of are passed on to the Central Doctoral Office, which then issues the letter of admission.
Which disciplines are officially accredited by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities?
A list of all disciplines which are accepted and with which one can register at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne is to be found in the Doctoral Regulations of June 11, 2015 (Appendix 1) and the Regulation on Modifying the Doctoral Regulations of June 16, 2016. If you are unsure, please contact a lecturer of the University of Cologne in your discipline to clarify whether or not your project fits within any of these fields (list of the institutes at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities). It may be possible under certain circumstances and, if adequate supervision is available at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, it may be possible to select a discipline that is not identical with the field in which you obtained your university degree.
The Faculty of Arts and Humanities only offers doctoral degrees in the listed disciplines:
African Studies (Afrikanistik); Ancient History (Alte Geschichte); Anglo-American History (Anglo-Amerikanische Geschichte); Art History (Kunstgeschichte); Byzantine Studies (Byzantinistik); Catholic Theology (Katholische Theologie); Chinese Studies (Sinologie/China-Studien); Classical Archaeology or Archaeology of the Roman Provinces (Klassische Archäologie oder Archäologie der römischen Provinzen); Didactics of History (Didaktik der Geschichte); Digital Humanities; Dutch Studies (Niederlandistik); Eastern European History (Osteuropäische Geschichte); Egyptology (Ägyptologie); English Philology (Englische Philologie); Finnish Studies (Fennistik); General Linguistics (Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft); Geography (Geographie); German Philology (Deutsche Philologie); Greek Philology (Griechische Philologie); Historical and Comparative Linguistics (Historisch-vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft); Iberian and Latin American History (Iberische und Lateinamerikanische Geschichte); Indology and Tamil Studies (Indologie und Tamilistik); Information Processing (Informationsverarbeitung); Japanese Studies (Japanologie); Jewish Studies (Judaistik); Latin Philology (Lateinische Philologie); Linguistics (Linguistik); Medieval History (Mittelalterliche Geschichte); Medieval Latin Philology (Mittellateinische Philologie); Modern and Recent History (Neuere und Neueste Geschichte); Musicology (Musikwissenschaft); North American Studies; Oriental Philology: study focus Islamic Studies or Indonesian Philology (Orientalische Philologie: Schwerpunkt Islamwissenschaft oder Indonesische Philologie); Philosophy (Philosophie); Phonetics (Phonetik); Pre- and Early History (Ur- und Frühgeschichte); Protestant Theology (Evangelische Theologie); Regional Studies China (Regionalstudien China); Regional Studies Eastern and Central Europe: study focus Russia or Poland (Regionalstudien Ost- und Mitteleuropa: Schwerpunkt Russland oder Polen); Regional Studies Latin America (Regionalstudien Lateinamerika); Romance Philology (Romanische Philologie); Scandinavian Studies (Skandinavistik); Slavonic Studies (Slavistik); Social and Cultural Anthropology (Ethnologie); Theatre and Media Studies (Theater- und Medienwissenschaft)
* The subject Geography can only be selected for doctoral studies if a supervisor is available to whom the Faculty of Arts and Humanities has conferred the right to confer doctorates in accordance with Sect. 8 par. 1 sent. 3.
How do I obtain the certificate proving the recognition of as yet acquired credits and passed exams?
You need the ‘Certificate proving the recognition of as yet acquired credits and passed exams’ as a part or your application for admission to doctoral studies. To obtain the certificate, please contact the department within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne in which you would like to obtain your doctorate. The managing director will review your degree certificate and its transcript of records and will complete the form for you. Please upload the completed form as a part of your application for admission on the online portal a.r.t.e.s. access.
How can I apply to the Integrated Track?
The “Integrated Track” (the structured doctoral model) offers collegiate fellowships (“Kollegiat/inn/enstellen”) and various funding programmes. For the collegiate fellowship, it is possible to apply with the application for admission to doctoral studies. Applications to funding programmes (e.g. the scholarship programme) are only possible in the respective annual calls for applications. Interviews for the Integrated Track take place every year in February and March.
What is a certified copy and how do I get one?
We require a certified copy to ensure that the document you provide is not a counterfeit. On the copy, an established institution formally confirms that a) they have seen the original certificate and b) that the copy is identical to it. Please note that scans of certified documents are not sufficient. In order to obtain a certified copy, please take the original document to an authority that certifies documents, such as municipal administration offices (citizen's registration office, district office) or a notary. The authority will endorse the copy to confirm that it corresponds with the original document presented by you. The endorsement will be confirmed by the signature of the certifying official and the authority's stamp. If you are currently in Germany, you may run into the problem that some institutions are legally prohibited from creating certified copies of documents in languages other than German (and sometimes in certain other languages). Should a German institution not be able to be of assistance, please get in contact with a translation agency which will be able be able to provide you with an official German language version of your document and certified copies of it.
Can I enroll for predoctoral studies?
Please submit your application for admission via a.r.t.e.s access. Once we have received your complete application we can issue a letter which will allow you to enrol for predoctoral studies lasting one semester. If you wish to enrol for predoctoral studies, please let us know via email.
How do I apply to be able to write my dissertation in a different language than German?
The dissertation can be written in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, as well as in Latin according to the Doctoral Regulations of 2012 and 2015. The reason for writing the dissertation in another language than those mentioned above should be composed in a request (addressed to the Dean of the Faculty) and handed in together with an endorsement from your supervisor(s) before your admission to the doctoral studies. In addition to your application via a.r.t.e.s. access, please send these documents separately by post to the Central Doctoral Office before the deadline.
Do I need to prove my German language proficiency?
You are not required to provide proof of your proficiency in German at the time of your application for admission. However, when you hand in your thesis, you will also have to submit proof of German language proficiency: If you wrote the thesis in German, you will have to provide proof of German at the level C1. If you wrote your dissertation in a language other than German, language proficiency at the level B2 is sufficient. You are welcome to enclose a request for remission of German language proficiency with your application for admission. In this case, please send a letter stating your reasons (addressed to the doctoral board), a letter of endorsement from your main supervisor, and proof of another international reference language (English, French or Spanish) at B2 level to the doctoral office before the deadline. Please note that, after admission, a remission of the German language proficiency will not be granted.
How do I enroll as a doctoral student?
When you have received your “Zulassungsbescheid” (letter of admission), you can enrol anytime during that same semester at the students' secretary office or at the International Office. Don't forget to take the necessary documents for enrolment with you.
Do I have to enroll as a doctoral student?
According to the Higher Education Act, doctoral students have to be enrolled for the entire duration of their studies. You will have to be able to provide proof of this when handing in your thesis. In case of stays abroad, family leave or the like, you may request a temporary leave of absence. For further information, please contact the International Office or the Student Application and Registration Office.
Do I have to take part in the introductory event?
If you have enrolled after June 10, 2015, you must be able to show that you have taken part in an introductory event when you submit your dissertation. The introductory event takes place each summer semester at the a.r.t.e.s Graduate School. It provides information on doctoral studies at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
How can I prove that I earned 12 credit points during my doctoral studies?
Before you hand in your dissertation, please submit a list of all the seminars, lectures and doctoral colloquia you attended. The list must indicate the credit points each course earned you and be signed by your primary supervisor or a colleague from the respective discipline. If you have any other proof of attendance and/or achievement (such as a “Schein”) for the courses, you may also submit copies of these documents to the Central Doctoral Office when you hand in your dissertation. You should do your doctoral coursework (12 credit points) in the discipline in which you are writing your dissertation. If you are working on an interdisciplinary topic, you may also select courses from other disciplines that are relevant to your topic. If you are planning to do your doctoral coursework while studying abroad, please consult with your department if the planned courses meet the requirements of your discipline. The Central Doctoral Office does not require that you register for the courses via KLIPS.
What is a supervision contract?
Doctoral students enter into a supervision contract with their primary supervisor. It comprises a time and work plan and determines the rights and obligations of the two parties (see Appendix 5 of the Doctoral Regulations of June 11, 2015). If you became a doctoral student after June 10, 2015, please submit the supervision contract signed by yourself and your first supervisor with a time and work schedule to the Central Doctoral Office within the first six months of admission.
What is meant by proof of a consultation meeting with one's supervisor?
The Doctoral Regulations of March 12, 2013, and June 11, 2015, require proof on an annual basis of having held consultation meetings about one's work with one's supervisor. These regulations apply to all doctoral students who have been admitted to doctoral studies since the winter semester of 2012/13. The proofs of a consultation meeting are required upon handing in one's dissertation. The respective forms can be found in our download area. Doctoral students are requested to regularly upload proofs to a.r.t.e.s. access in the tab “process”.
How do I apply for an external second supervisor?
If you wish to have a second supervisor from another faculty or from another university, whether in Germany or abroad, please submit a written request setting out the reasons for your choice to the Central Doctoral Office. Your request should be addressed to the dean and accompanied by a letter of endorsement from your first supervisor as well as the supervision agreement signed by your external supervisor. Please note that the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne is unable to provide any financial compensation for the supervisory activities or to cover travel expenses.
How do I apply for a change of discipline?
In order to be able to change the discipline you would like to write your dissertation in, please send a request (addressed to the Dean of the Faculty) to the Central Doctoral Office. Please attach an exposé of your dissertation proposal, together with a short, tabular CV, a certified copy of your previous degree, a certificate with your previous exam results (completed by the Managing Director of your intended discipline), and lastly, a supervision agreement from your new supervisor. The examination committee will then review your request and come to a decision during its next meeting.
Can I change my supervisor(s)?
Yes. It is no problem to change your supervisor(s) within the same discipline. Please inform the Central Doctoral Office about any changes in order to avoid unnecessary delays when registering for the handing in of the dissertation.
How do I apply to publish part of my dissertation beforehand?
If you wish to publish only a part of your text before publishing the complete work, send us a request (addressed to the Dean of the Faculty). Please attach an endorsement from your supervisor and send all documents to the Central Doctoral Office.
Can I complete my dissertation in cooperation with another university abroad?
Yes, through the co-tutelage programme.
Before submitting the dissertation:
How and when can I hand in my completed work?
There are fixed deadlines one needs to bear in mind and adhere to in order to be able to do the exams. Please inform yourself about these dates and the necessary documents to be handed in, with ample time to spare. The time between handing in your work and doing the exams will be used to examine the documents, to allow the dean’s office to review and approve your request for admission to the doctoral examination and your committee suggestion, and to secure deadlines of review and for perusal. For all necessary information please visit “Examination and Registration”.
Please note: Doctoral students who have been admitted to doctoral studies after October 1, 2012, will also have to register via a.r.t.e.s. access. Doctoral students who were admitted to doctoral studies before October 1, 2012 and who wish to take the examination according to the Doctoral Regulations of January 24, 2008, are requested to contact the Central Doctoral Office by email at an early stage: promotionsbuero-phil-fak(at)uni-koeln.de.
How do I apply for an external reviewer?
You are welcome to apply for an external second examiner (or a third examiner in the case of a defensio) who will review your thesis and participate in the oral exam or an external member of your examination committee who will participate in your oral exam when registering for the examination of your thesis. Please submit a written request setting out the reasons for your choice to the Central Doctoral Office. Your request should be addressed to the dean and accompanied by a letter of endorsement from your first supervisor as well as written consent of the desired external reviewer to write a review and/or to participate in the oral doctoral examination. Even if the desired external reviewer has already been approved as an external supervisor, you are still required to submit a request for him/her to participate in the examination of your thesis. Please note that the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne is unable to provide any financial compensation for participation in the examination process or to cover travel expenses.
! Please note that you are only able to apply for one external reviewer.
Who is eligible to supervise my doctoral studies?
All professors at the University of Cologne are essentially entitled to be your supervisor. Also entitled are external lecturers who are acting replacements of a professor, associate professors who have acquired the “Venia Legendi” (licence to teach) at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne, and Emmy Noether junior group leaders. If tenured professors accept a chair at another university, they lose their eligibility to examine at the previous university after two years.
How do I apply to be able to do the final examination in another language than in German?
If you would like to do your oral exam in another language than in German, please send a request (addressed to the Dean of the Faculty) to the Central Doctoral Office, together with an endorsement from the members of the examination committee you have nominated.
Do I need to prove my German language proficiency?
You are not required to provide proof of your proficiency in German at the time of your application for admission. However, when you hand in your thesis, you will also have to submit proof of German language proficiency: If you wrote the thesis in German, you will have to provide proof of German at the level C1. If you wrote your dissertation in a language other than German, language proficiency at the level B2 is sufficient. You can enclose a request for remission of the German language proficiency with your application for admission. In this case, please send a letter stating your reasons (addressed to the doctoral board) together with a letter of endorsement from your main supervisor by post before the deadline. Please note that, after admission, a remission of the German language proficiency will not be granted.
After the oral examination:
When do I receive my doctoral certificate?
You will receive an interim certificate after the doctoral awards ceremony, which does not yet allow you to bear the doctoral title. You receive an official certificate after you have published your work.
When do I hand in my published, obligatory copies of my work?
You should provide the number of obligatory copies defined in the doctoral regulations together with a certificate of revision (“Revisionsschein”) at the latest within two years of the oral examination. If your work is produced in book form by a publisher, you can submit seven copies directly to the University and City Library Cologne. Please present the confirmation of receipt issued by the library to the Central Doctoral Office.
Do I have to mention the University of Cologne in my published dissertation?
The published version of your dissertation thesis needs to contain a note stating that it was accepted as a dissertation thesis by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne. You are free to choose the exact wording and the placement within the publication (preferably in the imprint).
When do I submit the certificate of revision (“Revisionsschein”)?
By signing the certificate of revision, your supervisors provide their authorisation of the version of your dissertation that has been edited for publication. If your supervisors have not imposed any conditions on your dissertation, the certificate of revision needs only be signed by the primary supervisor. The signatures of the second supervisor (and, in the case of a defensio, of the third supervisor) are required if conditions have been imposed. A form template for the certificate of revision is available in our download area.
May I call myself “Dr. des.” after successfully completing my doctoral studies?
Unfortunately, no, you cannot. The North Rhine-Westphalian State university law does not allow academics who have completed their doctoral studies exams in North Rhine-Westphalia to bear the title of “Dr. des.”. Only when you have received your doctoral certificate after having published your work you are allowed to bear the doctoral title.
Can I view my dissertation reviews?
You can view your dissertation reviews within one year of taking the oral examination. Please hand in a request to the Central Doctoral Office. You are allowed to make notes when you examine the review. You are not allowed to transcribe, copy or photograph the review. Under no circumstances will the review be released to you.