FAQ on the Mercator Scholarships
This page provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the application for the Mercator Scholarships. Further frequently asked questions with regard to our funding programmes and the participation in the Integrated Track, can be found here. If you have any further questions, please contact mercator-stipendium(at)uni-koeln.de.
For general questions relating to the doctoral models at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne, please see the FAQ of the Central Doctoral Office.
When is the next call for applications and when will the next cohort start?
The Mercator Scholarship is currently offered twice a year (the call of application is generally in March and September) and the new cohort starts at the beginning of the semester (April 1, 2022 and October 1, 2022). The scholarship advertised in September starts in the summer term, the scholarship advertised in April starts in the winter term.
By when must I submit my application?
The application deadline for the Mercator Scholarship is October 22, 2021. Please upload all necessary information and documents in a.r.t.e.s. access on that day before 12 p.m. Please note that your university diploma, the report on your degree thesis, and the statement of the non-academic partner institution may be handed in later by e-mail to mercator-stipendium(at)uni-koeln.de.
How should I submit my application?
To apply for a Mercator Scholarship, please create an account with the web portal a.r.t.e.s. access. After login, please choose the application procedure “Mercator Scholarship (starting April 2022)” and follow the instructions. – Please note that unreadable scans will not be considered. Photos are often problematic in this regard due to perspectival distortion, which is why we recommend using a scanner.
Which documents can I submit at a later date and what deadlines apply?
You can submit your university diploma, the report on your degree thesis, and the statement of the non-academic partner institution by November 9, 2021 via e-mail to mercator-stipendium(at)uni-koeln.de. All other documents must be submitted to a.r.t.e.s. by the application deadline of October 22, 2021 the latest.
Will the receipt of my application be confirmed?
Once we have received your application, you will automatically receive a confirmation message to your e-mail address. After a first review of the application documents, we will send you an additional confirmation of completeness or a request for additional information.
What requirements do I have to fulfil to be able to apply for the four-year Mercator Scholarship?
To apply for the 4-year Mercator scholarship you have to meet all formal requirements for both the a.r.t.e.s. Doctoral Scholarship and the Mercator Scholarship. Please note, that in order to be admitted to the Integrated Track, applicants must have obtained an average grade of at least 2.0 (according to the German grading system) and that the a.r.t.e.s. Doctoral Scholarship programme only accepts students who apply directly (max. 3 semesters) after completing their degrees.
Do I have to provide evidence of doctoral funding or alternative funding for the first three years of the doctorate in order to be able to apply for the fourth funding year?
Yes. A prerequisite for the Mercator Scholarship for the fourth practical year is financial security for the first three years of the doctorate. You are eligible to apply if you hold a three-year doctoral scholarship from any other funding body or are able to provide proof of alternative private funding for the first three years.
Application for the fourth funding year with three-year doctoral funding
Can I apply for the fourth funding year only in case I have been granted a three-year doctoral funding by the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School or the University of Cologne?
No. If you have been granted a three-year scholarship offered by any funding body, you are welcome to apply for the fourth funding year as long as the funding body has no objections to you completing your doctorate at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne.
What kind of funding do I have to prove to be able to apply for the fourth funding year?
We require an official document which proves that you have obtained funding for three years and that you are still in the first year of your doctoral studies by the end of the winter semester 2021/22. It is irrelevant whether you have been offered a scholarship or a doctoral position (employment). Please provide a scan of the Grant agreement (scholarship, contract of employment etc.) indicating the starting date of the funding period. If necessary, please clarify in advance if a combination of both funding programmes is possible.
The full three-year funding of my doctoral studies is granted under the condition of a pending successful mid-term evaluation. Can I apply for the fourth funding year?
Yes. Even if the three-year funding is only granted under the condition of a pending successful mid-term evaluation, you are welcome to apply for the Mercator Scholarship. Please note that in this case the Mercator Scholarship may only be granted under the condition of the successful mid-term evaluation as well.
Application for the fourth funding year with "alternative" financing
What types of "alternative" funding are recognised by a.r.t.e.s. and what are the criteria?
You can apply for the Mercator Scholarship if you are still in the first year of your doctoral studies at the time of application and 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). Employment as well as freelance work or other forms of private financing are also be possible.
I am a Research Assistant (Wissenschaftliche/r Mitarbeiter/in) at a University Institute. Can I apply for the fourth funding year?
Yes, you can apply for the Mercator Scholarship if you are still in the first year of your doctoral studies and can guarantee completion of the programme within the given time frame. This is the case, for example, if you can devote part of your weekly working time on the doctoral project or if your work at the chair is linked to the topic of your dissertation project.
What documents do I have to submit if I want to apply with "alternative" funding for the fourth funding year?
If you do not have three years of doctoral funding but would like to apply with alternative funding, we require a detailed financing plan for the first three years of your doctorate. Please upload the document in the corresponding space under "Application documents" by October 22, 2021 in a.r.t.e.s. access.
Will the University of Cologne be my home university if I am granted the Mercator Scholarship?
Yes. If your project is funded by the Mercator programme you have to be enrolled at the University of Cologne and partake in the structured doctoral programme „Integrated Track“. Participation in the programme requires both the continuous enrolment and the completion of the final doctoral examination at the University of Cologne. Moreover, the first supervisor must be a member of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne who is entitled to confer doctorates. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to have an external second or third supervisor who is entitled to confer doctorates at another faculty or at other universities in Germany or abroad.
If I successfully apply for the one-year Mercator Fellowship, will I be involved in a.r.t.e.s. for the entire duration of my doctorate?
The structured doctoral model is designed to enable the completion of a high-quality doctorate within three (or four years with Mercator) through optimal supervision and working conditions. As a Mercator Fellow, you will be a fellow at the a.r.t.e.s Graduate School for the entire four years of your doctorate. As a doctoral student in the so-called Integrated Track you will, for example, be assigned to one of the a.r.t.e.s. graduate classes. In the regular sessions of the graduate classes you have the opportunity to present and discuss your project and preliminary results. As a Scholarship Holder you will take part in the yearly colloquia of all classes and at the conclusion of the doctoral project you will present your research results.
How can I tell if my doctoral dissertation project conforms to the a.r.t.e.s. programme?
The a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School is the graduate school of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and thus covers the full range of subjects studied in the related disciplines. If you are uncertain if your doctoral project is suitable for a.r.t.e.s., we would recommend that you take a look at the curriculum of the interdisciplinary graduate classes, at current doctoral projects of the Integrated Track and the Mercator programme. You are also welcome to explain in your covering letter why you believe your project meets the requirements of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School.
Can I apply for the Mercator Scholarship for a financial support to help me finish my current doctoral dissertation project (‘Abschlussförderung’)?
No. The Mercator Scholarship is designed exclusively for doctoral candidates who pursue a doctoral project with a distinct practical or professional focus that requires additional time to conduct the practice phase in the non-academic institution. Thus, the programme does not provide financial support to enable applicants to finish their current doctoral projects. An application for the fourth funding year is possible within the first year of doctoral studies.
What should be the content of the „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, its willingness to host the applicant during the practice phase as well as the candidate’s access to necessary information, collections, etc. Please use the template. The confirmation letter can be submitted later – at the latest by November 9, 2021.
Does the non-academic institution need to meet certain requirements?
No. First and foremost, you must submit a suitable and realistic practice- and profession-oriented research project. Of course, your independence and autonomy need to be guaranteed at any time during the cooperation.
Are there any requirements where the non-academic institution must be located?
No. There are no restrictions. Nevertheless, we recommend choosing an institution inside Germany or in a neighbouring EU country. Please note that the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School is unfortunately not able to cover travel costs.
What is the ‘research proposal for the doctoral dissertation project’ (‘Exposé zum Promotionsprojekt’) with regard to the application for the Mercator Scholarship?
The ‘research proposal for the dissertation project’ is one of the most important parts of your application as it offers a concise overview of your doctoral project. It should elaborate aspects such as your research question, thesis, methods, and the relevance of your project to your field of research. Moreover, the proposal should provide an explanation of the project’s practice orientation (i.e. its societal relevance and profession orientation. Please also give reasons for choosing the proposed non-academic institution). You should also attach a preliminary bibliography on which you plan to base your research. In terms of formal requirements, the research proposal has to be a cohesive text of 8,000–13,000 characters, including spaces (not counting footnotes, appendix, bibliography and time & work plan for the four-years research period). The research proposal can be submitted in German or English.
What is the ‘expert report on the doctoral dissertation project’ (‘Gutachten zum Promotionsprojekt’) and who can write it?
The expert report on the doctoral dissertation project relates directly to the doctoral project on which your application to a.r.t.e.s. is based. The report does not have to be prepared by your prospective dissertation supervisor or by a member of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne who is entitled to confer doctorates. It may also be prepared by a university lecturer working at another German or international university. There are no formal specifications for the report, but we recommend consulting our guideline for the preparation of the expert report. The report may be sent directly by email to mercator-stipendium(at)uni-koeln.de – if so, please make a reference to this in your covering letter or the respective comments field in a.r.t.e.s. access.
What is the ‘report on the degree thesis’ (‘Gutachten zur Abschlussarbeit’) and who can write it?
The ‘report on the degree thesis’ is a written assessment of your thesis (M. A. thesis, ‘Magister’ thesis, ‘Diplom’ thesis, ‘Staatsarbeit’, ‘Examensarbeit’ etc.) prepared by the primary supervisor of your thesis. The report should be made available to you once you have completed your degree programme and you have received your diploma. In any case of doubt, please contact your primary supervisor or the relevant examination office. If you are unable to obtain the report, please indicate the reasons in your covering letter or the respective comments field in a.r.t.e.s. access. The report on your degree thesis may be handed in later until November 9, 2021 at the latest. The report may be sent directly to mercator-stipendium(at)uni-koeln.de by the supervisor or the examination office – if this is the case, please also mention this in your covering letter or the respective comments field in a.r.t.e.s. access.
Does the university diploma need to be translated?
The university diploma does not have to be translated if it is written in German, English or French. Documents written in other languages must be accompanied by a certified translation into either German, English, or French.
What level of proficiency in German is required to apply?
There are no formal requirements to demonstrate your proficiency in German. However, please bear in mind that German is the primary language spoken at a.r.t.e.s. A command of German will therefore help you in your interactions and exchanges with your colleagues from other disciplines. You may provide a statement concerning your knowledge of German in your covering letter.
May I simultaneously apply for more than one funding programme?
In the winter semester 2021/22, it is not possible to apply for a Mercator Scholarship and for an a.r.t.e.s. Doctoral Scholarship at the same time.
If you have – successfully or not – applied for an a.r.t.e.s. Preparatory Scholarship in the summer semester 2021, you are eligible to apply for a Mercator Scholarship in the winter semester 2021/22.
When applying for a Mercator Scholarship in the winter semester 2021/22, you may not apply for a Mercator Scholarship in the next semesters.