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Application for a Mercator Scholarship

Once a year, 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.

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
  • Application for the fourth funding year for candidates who have already been granted a three-year scholarship for doctoral studies (To be eligible for this option, applicants must be in the first funding year 

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.

Furthermore, there is the possibility to apply for a doctoral project in cooperation with DOMiD (Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany). For further information about the cooperation with DOMiD and a potential doctoral topic please see here.

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 doctoral scholarships, awarding at least fifty percent of them to students who completed their studies at a university other than the University of Cologne. 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.


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.


Information on double/multiple applications

Please note that it is not possible to apply simultaneously for a Mercator Scholarship and for an a.r.t.e.s. Doctoral Scholarship. 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 2020)” 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. 

  • Report on the degree thesis (e.g. M. A. thesis)
    (The report on your degree thesis may be handed in later.)
  • 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.)
  • (Only required if you apply for the fourth funding year):
    Grant agreement of a three-year funding for doctoral studies
    Please provide a scan of the Grant agreement (Scholarship, Employment etc.) indicating the starting date of the funding period.

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.