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Application for a Mercator Scholarship


Starting on April 1, 2022, the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne will award up to 6 doctoral scholarships for a practice- and profession-oriented doctorate in the Humanities funded by the Mercator foundation.

Application deadline: October 22, 2021

The programme is oriented towards non-academic professional practice and the related societal problems as a distinct research focus for a doctorate in the Humanities. As a result of additional practice phases in non-academic institutions, allowing the doctoral students to undertake fieldwork and to gain professional experience, the standard length of the doctoral programme is extended from three to four years. The fourth year is funded by the Mercator foundation.

Students funded by the Mercator programme are enrolled at the University of Cologne and partake in the structured doctoral programme „Integrated Track“ at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School. In order to apply for a Mercator Scholarship, applicants can choose between two funding options:

•          Application for scholarship funding for four years

(To be eligible for this option, applicants must fulfil both the requirements for the a.r.t.e.s. and the Mercator Scholarship. See also our FAQ)

•          Application for the fourth funding year for candidates who have already been granted a three-year scholarship for doctoral studies or have an alternative funding for three years  

(To be eligible for this option, applicants must be in the first funding year by the end of the winter semester 2021/22. See also our FAQ


According to the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School’s bottom-up structure, applicants must submit their own doctoral projects which need to meet the following criteria:

  • The project must be related to one of the research fields of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cologne. Additionally, the applicant needs to meet the requirements for doctoral studies in the chosen discipline
  • The projects have to address a relevant societal issue with a practical or professional focus
  • The applicant is required to nominate a non-academic institution. Since the applicants have to spend their practical phase at the proposed institution, the research project needs to be thematically tailored to the institution’s field of work.

In addition to the possibility of suggesting a research project in cooperation with an institution of their own choice, applicants are also welcome to apply with a project based on existing cooperations with following institutions:

  • MGKSiegen (Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen)
  • Uniklinik Cologne/Heidelberg (University Hospital Cologne and Heidelberg).

For further information about the cooperation with and potential doctoral topics please see MGK Siegen or University Hospital Cologne/Heidelberg.

Students funded by the Mercator Scholarship partake in the structured doctoral programme “Integrated Track” at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School. With its distinctive interdisciplinary emphasis, the Integrated Track encourages young scholars to go beyond the boundaries of their disciplines.

Candidates partaking in the Integrated Track are supervised by a team of three researchers and participate in a curriculum that includes, among other things, the attendance of regular meetings with one of the interdisciplinary graduate classes. Moreover, recipients of the Mercator Scholarship benefit from additional support through courses and events with a view to the successful completion of the practice phase and its adequate scientific reflection in regard to the individual research project.



Each year the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School offers up to 6 Mercator Scholarships. All applicants who meet the scholarship requirements will enter the selection process and will be reviewed by independent experts, who will determine a ‘review grade’. In addition to the review grade, the class mentors and the coordinator of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School will agree upon a ‘commission grade’ in a commission meeting. Each grade makes up fifty percent of the overall score. Invitations to selection interviews will be issued based on this overall score. All shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in person by a committee consisting of the class mentors, the coordinator of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School, and, in case of external candidates from a University other than Cologne, by the prospective supervisor at the University of Cologne. Important criteria informing the selection process during the interview include, among other aspects, an assessment of the candidate’s potential to engage with the interdisciplinary framework of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School.


Call for Proposals

a.r.t.e.s. addresses excellent graduates of the humanities who are still in the process of developing their doctoral dissertation projects. Since the doctoral projects of the scholarship holders will be supervised by professors of the University of Cologne, applicants are urged to contact potential supervisors during the course of application.

The scholarship offered is a full scholarship of EUR 1,400 per month that is awarded (depending on the chosen funding option) for four years or for an additional fourth funding year starting April 1, 2022.

Please submit your application by October 22, 2021. The interviews will take place in February 2022.


Application requirements

In addition to an outstanding final degree, the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School particularly seeks to promote young talented graduates who have successfully completed their studies as quickly as possible and who look for immediate funding opportunities after their final examination. a.r.t.e.s. also wants to support young researchers with a non-academic family background.

Please note that special circumstances such as parental and family leaves, obligatory state and military services, illnesses, disabilities and/or voluntary work can only be recognised if you provide evidence with the application documents.

Candidates can apply for the four years funding if they fulfil both the requirements for the a.r.t.e.s. and for the Mercator scholarship.

Candidates can apply for the fourth funding year if they are still in the first year of their doctoral studies at the time of application and have a three-year doctoral funding or can present an alternative funding model. a.r.t.e.s. recognises different forms of private funding, provided that they can guarantee the completion of the programme within the targeted period of four years (including the practical year).


Information on double/multiple applications

Please note that it is not possible to apply simultaneously for an a.r.t.e.s. Doctoral Scholarship and for a Mercator Scholarship in the winter semester 2021/22.

For more information on double/multiple applications, please see the FAQ.


Application via a.r.t.e.s. access 

To apply for an a.r.t.e.s. Doctoral Scholarship, please create an account with a.r.t.e.s. access. After login, please choose the application procedure “Mercator Scholarships (starting April 2022)” and follow the instructions.

In addition to general information about yourself and your doctoral dissertation project, please upload the following documents via the web portal:

  • Covering letter providing a statement of your motivation to apply for a profession-oriented doctoral programme
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Scans of university diplomas and transcripts of records
    Please note:
    • In case of a Master's degree, please upload the certificates of any prior Bachelor's degree as well.
    • If necessary, please include scans of authorised translations of the documents into either German, English, or French.
    • Please note that we need a complete transcript of records along with your degree certificate and – in case of international degrees – an overview of your university's grading system (preferably with a conversion table) that is usually in appendix to your final diploma.
    • Please note that you must have passed all examinations determining your final grade in order to qualify for the programme. If you do not possess your diploma yet, please submit a transcript of records and/or certification of the responsible examination office and/or supervisor. The final deadline for submitting the diploma is November 9, 2021.

  • Report on the degree thesis (e.g. M. A. thesis) (The report on your degree thesis may be handed in later – at the latest by November 9, 2021.)
  • Research proposal for the doctoral dissertation project
    (8,000–13,000 characters (incl. spaces) plus footnotes, appendix, bibliography and time & work plan)
    In addition to an overview of your research questions, your methodical approach, and the relevance and value of the proposed project, the research proposal must include the following information:
    • Explanation of the practical relevance of the project
      (i.e. its societal relevance and practical or professional focus)
      Please also state why you chose the proposed non-academic institution)
    • Time and work plan for the overall funding period of four years (please highlight the practice phases in the non-academic institution)

  • Expert report on the doctoral dissertation project
    (Please note: This document can be submitted separately via e-mail to mercator-stipendium(at)
  • Confirmation letter of the proposed non-academic institution
    With the confirmation letter, the proposed non-academic institution confirms the possibility of a cooperation on the doctoral project and its willingness to host the applicant during the practice phase. Please use the template.
    (The confirmation letter can be submitted later – at the latest by November 9, 2021)
  • Grant agreement of a three-year funding for doctoral studies (Only required if you apply for a 1-year Mercator Scholarship with a doctoral funding)
    Please provide a scan of the Grant agreement (scholarship, employment etc.) indicating the starting date of the funding period.
  • A three-year financing plan (Only required if you apply for a 1-year Mercator Scholarship with an alternative funding)
    Please provide a detailed financing plan for the first three years of your doctorate and a proof (employment contract, proof of freelance work, etc.).

Please hand in all application documents via the web portal by the application deadline of October 22, 2021. The university diploma, the report on your degree thesis and the confirmation letter of the non-academic institution may be handed in later (at the latest by November 9, 2021) by email to mercator-stipendium(at)

For all questions concerning the Mercator Scholarship, please see our FAQ. Contact for further questions: mercator-stipendium(at) If you have any questions regarding doctoral studies at the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities in general, please visit the FAQ of the Central Doctoral Office.