Information on the Corona-Virus (SARS-CoV-2):
Due to the currently prescribed preventive measures in connection with the Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2), admission to doctoral studies and submission of the dissertation (application to the doctoral examination procedure) are currently possible only by electronic means.
Please follow the instructions in step 2b or step 4 or, for conducting the oral examination via video conference, of the step-by-step description.
What you need to do if you want to obtain a PhD from the Faculty of Human Sciences:
The PhD regulations (Download) (“PromO 2018”) form the legal basis for doctoral studies at the Faculty of Human Sciences; please read these carefully (only available in German). Following, you will find a step-by-step guide to the entire doctoral process (more information will become available if you click on the individual tabs):
Step 1: Finding a subject/topic for your PhD thesis and a supervisor:
PhD projects at the Faculty of Human Sciences (“Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät” or HF for short) are usually individual projects. This means that doctoral candidates work on a research project of their own choosing alone but will be supported in the process by a supervisor or a team of supervisors (first and second supervisors).
Requirements for a PhD at the HF:
- You will need to have identified a subject/topic (or at least a rough idea) on which to do your research.
- You have found a professor at the HF who is authorised to award PhDs and who is willing to supervise your research project and support you along the way. A written approval by the professor (“Betreuungszusage”) must be handed in with the application for admission to a PhD at the Faculty of Human Sciences.
Prospective PhD students are wholly responsible for finding a supervisor, getting in contact with them and for making the necessary arrangements themselves.
Sometimes it may be useful or advisable from a subject-specific point of view to choose a professor from another faculty of the University of Cologne or another university as a second supervisor, e.g. for an interdisciplinary PhD project.
It is possible to do so if the intended second supervisor is habilitated.
In this case, a written application must be submitted to the Doctoral Office. The application can be submitted informally, but must briefly state why the person in question would be particularly suitable and competent to review the dissertation.
Step 2: Applying for admission to a PhD programme at the HF
Once you have found a subject and a supervisor who has approved of your subject, you can apply for admission to a PhD programme at the HF.
Step 2a: Registration with Docfile (Online)
Application for admission to a PhD at the Faculty of Human Sciences begins with registration with Docfile, the University of Cologne’s doctoral studies portal: https://www.portal.uni-koeln.de/docfile.html?&L=1
Personal information and documents relevant to your PhD studies will be saved in Docfile and can be accessed by the Doctoral Office (“Promotionsbüro”) if and when necessary.
You will be guided through the registration process by an electronic registration assistant.
When registering in Docfile, please have at hand electronic copies of the following documents in PDF format:
- University entrance qualification, e.g. high school diploma
- University degrees (certificates and graduate diplomas)
- Filled-in and signed supervision agreement
(Form for download in the right margin of this website or in the Docfile Document Pool as "HumF_Betreuungszusage Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät – Formular")
- (if you have previously been registered for courses of study at a Geman university:) certificate of completion of your studies or certificate of exmatriculation from your previous courses of study at a German university
If you have successfully completed your registration, you will receive a Docfile reference number.
Once you have registered in Docfile, please also apply for admission to the doctoral programme at the Doctoral Office on your own initiative; please use the application form ("Zulassungsantrag").
Although registration in Docfile is a prerequisite, it does not replace the application for admission, which has to be submitted in writing or at a personal appointment at the Doctoral Office. The Docfile file reference number must be entered on the application form for admission to doctoral studies.
Step 2b: Admission to a PhD by the Doctoral Office (for the moment both: electronically per email as well as in written form per mail, until further notice)
The Doctoral Committee (“Promotionsausschuss”) or its chairman decides upon all matters regarding doctoral studies at the Faculty of Human Sciences.
The Doctoral Committee is supported in administrative and organisational affairs by the Doctoral Office of the HF. The Committee is in charge of all matters that are regulated by the current PhD regulations (see above).
Documents for admission according to the Doctoral Regulations of 18.12.2018:
According to your documents,
- Application form (form can be downloaded from the right-hand column)
- Supervision agreement form (form can be downloaded from the right-hand column)
- Certificates/Graduate diplomas (officially certified copies)
the Doctoral Office checks whether you meet PhD entry requirements stipulated by §5 of the PhD regulations from 18 December 2018.
Documents for administrative and statistical purposes:
In addition, for administrative and statistical purposes you are asked to also enclose
- An officially certified copy of your university entrance qualification, e.g. high school diploma, and, if you have previously been registered for courses of study at a Geman university, a
- Certificate of completion of your studies or certificate of exmatriculation from your previous courses of study at a German university
to your application for admission.
In order to ensure a swift processing under the conditions of the Corona pandemic, please send the application for admission, the agreement of supervision with the officially certified copies of all university degrees (certificates and documents) as well as an officially certified copy of your university entrance qualification and, if applicable, the certificate of completion of your studies or of exmatriculation
BOTH IN PAPER FORM PER Mail to the Doctoral Office
AS ALSO PER E-MAIL to promotionen-hfuni-koeln.de.
Handling of your application may take several weeks. The Doctoral Office may contact you if they have questions about information or details provided by you.
In case further steps prove necessary for you to be admitted to a PhD programme at the Faculty of Human Sciences, e.g. an aptitude test, you will receive notice from the Doctoral Office.
Your contact at the Doctoral Office is Mrs Karin Schüller.
Doctoral Office of the Faculty of Human Sciences
Gronewaldstrasse 2, room 0.107 (formerly: room 21)
Telephone consultations: Thursdays, 1.30pm-3.30pm
Step 3: Admission is granted
If you meet the entry requirements, the Doctoral Committee will grant you admission to a PhD programme at the HF. Written confirmation will be sent to you by the Doctoral Office. If admission to a PhD programme cannot be granted, the Doctoral Office will also notify you in written form.
Step 3a: Registration as a PhD student with the Registrar’s Office (“Studierendensekretariat”)
A prerequisite for obtaining a PhD from the Faculty of Human Sciences is a PhD programme with a duration of at least two semesters. Doctoral candidates should be enrolled as PhD students at the University of Cologne for the duration of the programme.
Once you have received the official letter of admission (“Zulassungsbescheid”) from the Doctoral Office, you can enrol as a PhD student with the Registrar’s Office. The Registrar’s Office will also hand out your student ID.
You can be enrolled as a PhD student for a maximum of 12 semesters. After 12 semesters, you would normally be taken off the register by the Registrar’s Office. In exceptional circumstances, however, you may be eligible for an extension of up to two semesters. To apply for this extension, you will have to present the Registrar’s Office a written statement from the Doctoral Office, detailing why the extension is necessary for you to complete your PhD thesis.
In the event of deregistration as a PhD student by the University of Cologne’s Registrar’s Office, your admission to the programme itself will still be valid, meaning that you will still be able to finish your thesis at the Faculty of Human Sciences even if your name has already been taken off the register.
Step 3b: Your doctoral studies begin and you work on your dissertation
Unless your letter of admission contains specific provisos, the planning and design of your research project is your own responsibility and should happen in accordance with the agreements made with your supervisor or team of supervisors.
Your dissertation can have one of several forms:
- As a monographic dissertation or thesis (monograph)
- As a monograph-based dissertation with partial publication. Here, you have the opportunity to write a monograph, where some of the research results have already been published separately before the entire dissertation has been submitted, without needing to apply for extra permission.
When you do submit your dissertation, the already published parts should be referenced in a specific section so that the examiners know exactly what parts were made available publicly before.
- As a publication-based dissertation. The "compilation" thesis consists of several separate research theses as well as a cover text that puts the research papers in a thematically and methodologically coherent context.
As a rule, the individual research papers must be peer-reviewed and published in relevant scientific journals. The doctoral candidate must be first author in at least two of the research papers and the articles have to be accepted for publication by the journal.
With regard to adequate scope and extent of your role in this process (e.g. how many articles do you need to have published or (co-)authored?), there can be differences between the various disciplines at the Faculty of Human Sciences. Please ask your supervisor(s) for guidance on the matter.
If you have written your dissertation together with other authors, your thesis must contain a separate section outlining your individual contribution to the co-operatively collected data and research. This applies to both publication-based ("compilation") theses and monograph-based dissertations with partial publication.
If at some point during your doctorate procedure you realise that a different form of dissertation seems more appropriate than the one you originally chose, you will be allowed to change the form accordingly.
Step 3c: Your membership of the Graduate School of the Faculty of Human Sciences
The faculty’s Graduate School “Managing Diversity & Transition – Vielfalt & Wandel gestalten” offers its members an array of additional help in the form of consultations, scientific workshops, trainings, and financial support (e.g. scholarships or travel grants), designed to meet our members’ most pressing and common needs.
As a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Human Sciences, you will automatically become a member of the Graduate School (GS). There are two types of membership: “passive” and “active”.
At the beginning of their membership, all new members will be asked to participate in an introductory event (“Einführungstag”). For “passive members” there will be no additional responsibilities after this event.
The Graduate School can offer financial support only to “active” members. So, in order to benefit from the GS’ entire range of offers, members will need to meet certain criteria.
If you intend to apply for financial support, e.g. travel grants or funding for individual projects organised by the members themselves, you will need to prove that you have been actively contributing to the programme of the Graduate School (at least once a year); you can find examples of active participation/contribution that qualify applicants for funding and financial support in the respective announcements on the Graduate School’s website.
More information on the Graduate School, its membership scheme and its offers can be found here (Graduate School).
Step 4: You have finished your thesis and want to submit it now (until further notice only electronically)
By submitting your dissertation, you effectively apply for admission to the doctorate procedure. The date of your viva will also be determined by when you hand in your thesis.
Dates and deadlines
All ongoing doctorate procedures will be grouped together and handled according to fixed deadlines every semester (phases). This means that the earliest possible date of your viva is determined by the deadline at which your application for admission to the doctorate procedure is received by the Doctoral Office. For example, if you hand in your application by 11 March 2019, your oral defence can take place on 12 June 2019 at the earliest. If your application is received by 8 April 2019, for instance, your viva cannot take place before 10 July 2019. In case you miss a deadline, even by as little as one day, your viva will automatically be determined by the earliest possible date of the following phase.
You can find an overview of the current phases here.
The complete application is outlined in §11 of the PhD regulations (PromO). In addition to a formal letter of application and the actual dissertation, further documents need to be handed in at the Doctoral Office. A checklist of required documents according to PromO from 18 December 2018 can be found in the right-hand column.
In order to ensure a contactless and yet swift processing of your doctoral application during the Corona Pandemic, the complete doctoral application must be submitted in both ways:
- In paper version with the original signatures together with a printed copy of the dissertation and a digital version on CD PER MAIL to the Doctoral Office
- AS WELL AS in digital version (electronic copies of the application documents) together with the dissertation in PDF format PER E-MAIL to Promotionen-HFuni-koeln.de.
Your application will first be processed electronically. The receipt of your electronic application will be decisive for meeting a certain deadline.
However, please make sure that the paper version of your application arrives at the Doctoral Office as soon as possible, at the latest by the scheduled date of your oral examination.
Please make sure that the electronic version is also complete. This means that the PDF version of the application for the doctoral procedure must contain all the documents listed in the checklist.
You will be allowed to make suggestions as to (a) who should be your experts and (b) when your viva should take place as well as (c) who should be your examiners. All people involved, e.g. your prospective examiners, need to agree to this and the proposed date(s) have to be in accordance with the respective phases as outlined in the dates section above. It is the Doctoral Committee, however, that finally decides upon your examiners and will summon them. The Committee also sets the date for your oral examination.
The Doctoral Office, the Faculty’s main doctoral administrative body, will notify you when your doctorate procedure commences. There will be no updates on the status of your procedure. You will receive written notification on important matters from the Doctoral Office in due course.
The Doctoral Office will summon the experts’ reports on your dissertation. The deadline for these reports is six weeks (expected due date of reports).
When all reports have been gathered, members of the faculty who are authorised to award PhDs have two weeks to inspect both the dissertation and the experts’ reports.
Following this two-week period, you will be informed about whether your dissertation was accepted or rejected and about the mark of your written thesis. This letter will also include information on the date of your viva.
Step 5: Your dissertation has been accepted and your viva awaits (until further notice, the viva is possible via video conference)
Once you have been informed that your dissertation has been accepted, your viva awaits. Oral examinations, such as the viva, are usually open to all members of the faculty. You can, however, request the exclusion of the public from your viva upon handing in your application for admission to the doctorate procedure.
The viva generally takes about 90 minutes. A maximum of 30 minutes should be allocated to the actual oral presentation of your dissertation; the remainder of the time is meant to be used for the discussion of your dissertation with the examining board. You will be asked to present and defend your findings and should be able to put the results of your research in a broader context. Please ask your supervisor with regard to the focus of your presentation.
Due to the current situation, oral examinations via video conference are also permitted until further notice, provided that you as well as the members of the examination board agree to this and that you as well as the members of the examination board dispose of the technical requirements.
The team of the Doctoral Office and the Graduate School will be happy to advise you on the preparation and implementation of the video conference.
After the completion of your presentation and the subsequent discussion/question session, the examining board will retire and decide whether you have passed and will agree on a mark. The examiners will then inform you of their decision.
You will automatically receive a certificate for your viva after the event.
After passing the viva, one last step is required to finally conclude your doctorate procedure: to publish your dissertation.
Only then will you receive your certificate and are allowed to hold the title PhD.
Step 6: Making your dissertation publicly available
Even though you have passed the viva, your doctorate procedure is only successfully and finally concluded when your dissertation has been published.
Only then will you be handed your final certificate and will be allowed to hold the academic title “Doctor”.
There are several different ways to make your dissertation publicly available:
- Publication with a scientific publishing house as an individual publication, publication within a scientific series or a scientific journal
- Publication through private printing or copying and distribution in book form
- Publication online in a digital format according to the guidelines for submitting electronic dissertations as laid down by the University and City Library of Cologne KUPS.
- As print-on-demand.
Step 7: You receive your certificate and are allowed to hold the “Doctor” title.
You will receive your certificate, which allows you to hold the title PhD officially, after you have handed in the required specimen copies of your published dissertation.
The printed deposit copies of the dissertation are to be submitted to the
Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln
Abteilung Hochschulschriften, Tausch, Geschenk
Universitätsstraße 33, 50931 Cologne, Germany
Room 4.002 (5th floor).
Telephone: (0221) 4703318 or 470-2573
You will then obtain an acknowledgement of receipt.
The acknowlegdement of receipt must be submitted to the PhD Office of the Faculty of Human Sciences together with the countersigned revision certificate and, if applicable, a copy of the publisher's contract or the publisher's confirmation of the circulation amount. Please follow the instructions for the publication of the dissertation.
In some circumstances, there is the possibility of receiving your certificate before the actual physical publication of your dissertation if publication has been secured, e.g. by presenting a valid contract from your publishing house.
To receive your certificate before the publication of your dissertation, you need to put in a written application with the Doctoral Office. This application must be approved by your first supervisor.
The required specimen copies must be handed in no later than two years after your viva.
Step 8: We would like to celebrate your doctorate with you!
Every autumn, the Faculty of Human Sciences hosts a graduation ceremony to celebrate the achievements of all doctoral candidates who passed their viva and to bid farewell to them.
Invitations go out to all PhD students who have managed to pass their viva in the past year, regardless of whether or not their dissertation has been published yet. Friends and family, too, will be asked to share in the festivities.
We cannot wait to welcome you to the graduation ceremony!
The below photograph should give you an idea as to what you can expect: