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  • Doctoral degree in philosophy

    There are many good reasons to pursue a doctoral degree in Bielefeld. Just click on the arrows to explore them!

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Doctoral degree in philosophy

A successful doctorate degree in philosophy requires profound analytical skills, a strong understanding of philosophical problems, excellent language competencies and a capacity for critical reflection. The department of philosophy at Bielefeld University emphasizes systematic approaches and values conceptual clarity and rational argumentation. We also encourage our doctoral students to make positions from the histroy of thought bear on contemporary philosophical debates.

The department of philosophy promotes, accompanies and advises doctoral students with the writing of research papers, the structuring of monographies and the preparation of conference presentations. The department offers a structured doctoral program and in exceptional cases also an independent doctoral degree. You can also obtain a doctoral degree wihin research training group "Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research".

Structure of the doctoral degree

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Handzettel zum formalen Verfahren (Overview of all formal steps and when to hand in which documents)

Doctoral Degree Regulations of the Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology (specific regulations of our faculty in German)

Rahmenpromotionsordnung der Universität Bielefeld, German version (legally binding) (= regulations for doctoral students of all fields, English version from 2010, minor changes since)

Betreuungsvereinbarung (supervision agreement)

Einschreibungsordnung (German, enrolment regulations)

A doctoral degree in philosophy usually starts with a stuctured phase. This allows you to acquire key qualifications and offers research-oriented studies, and helps you to organize your timeline efficiently. Yet the structured phase allows more individual freedom than an organized graduate program.

In the structured phase, you have to

  1. regularly attend a relevant research colloquium and present your research twice
  2. acquire additional key qualifications, organise or present at workshops, write research papers, and give seminars (requirements under 2. depend on your training background and will be negotiated with your supervisor)


Your doctoral degree is based on a supervision agreement between you and the supervisor who accompanies and supports your dissertation. The agreement registers the modalities of the supervision, and mutual rights and responsibilities. You have a right to choose your own supervisor.


  • philosophy degree with a minimum grade of "B" or equivalent, proof of competency in philosophy (e.g. writing sample)
  • in exceptional cases, it is possible to substitute the philosophy degree for an equivalent degree which is relevant to your thesis.

All doctoral students have to be enrolled at Bielefeld University, although there is a possibility to take a leave of absence (see §§3 and 12 in the Einschreibungsordnung of Bielefeld University).

You can find detailed documents for enrollment under documents in the sidebar, smost of which are in German. If you have any questions about formal procedures, do not hesitate to contact any of the department members via email.

Research profile of the department

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Philosophical events in Bielefeld

  • Summerschool "Bielefelder Pfingskurs": some guests of the last years were George Rey, Ruth Chang, Michael Friedman, Stephen Darwall und Nancy Cartwright
  • "Philosophischer Club": Departmental colloquium with guest lectures and presentations from department members
  • Events: Regular nationale und international conferences in Bielefeld
  • Visiting Scholars: regularly visit Bielefeld as part of research projects
  • Verein für Philosophie Bielefeld e. V.: makes philosophy accesible to the broader public, keeps contact between alumni and the department, supports junior scholars with travel stipends

A research intensive department

Our department is one of the leading institutes for philosophy in Germany. It combines a broad thematic spectrum with a clear methodological perspective:

  • Methodological approach: researchers in Bielefeld are committed to standards of clarity and argumentative rigor, as they are practiced within analytical philosophy
  • Sytematic research focus: Our research covers logic, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, action theory, political philosophy, feminist philosophy and applied ethics.
  • Cooperative spirit: our thematic coverage is reflected in many cooperations with neighboring disciplines, both within the university, Germany (especially Bochum, Hannover, Münster and Osnabrück) and other countries.

Interdisciplinary university

Because of its strong interdisciplinary orientation, Bielefeld University is an attractive place for a doctoral degree:

  • Structure: the university has 13 different faculties, and many institutes are located in a commonly used building.
  • Communication: members at Bielefeld university exchange their ideas regardless of their academic status or research focus.
  • Center for interdisziplinary studies (ZiF): supports interdisziplinary and innovative projects within research grous. As a doctorals student you can also get to know and network with scientists with an international and interdisciplinary research perspective.
  • University library: has a large collection of scientific literature and a strong service-centered approach, which is reflected in its high rankings and positive reviews.


Supervision and scholarships

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Doctoral scholarship

Close supervision

We value a close supervision of our doctoral students. That is why your doctoral degree is based on an individual supervision agreement with your supervisors. You also have the opportunity to regularly discuss your work with your colleagues in colloquia and work-in-progress seminars. Click here for the supervision agreement form in German.

The doctoral students at the department are well-connected and exchange ideas regularly. They meet for a social pub night several times a semester to discuss both philosophy and to connect on a personal level.

Besides advising you on philosophical issues, the department members will also help you to apply for scholarships for your dissertation project. This has helped several doctoral students to receive stipends from various scholarship foundations, and they are happy to share information with you about these. You can find further links under Doctoral scholarships in the sidebar.





DFG research training group 2073 "Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research"

  • graduate research group (Graduiertenkolleg) chaired by Prof. Dr. Torsten Wilholt (Leibniz Universität Hannover) and co-chaired by Prof. Dr. Martin Carrier (Bielefeld University).
  • Combines the strengths of the universities of Bielefeld and Hannover in philosophy of science by creating a joint program
  • examines new connections between theoretical philosophy of science (epistemology, theory of science) and practical philosophy of science (ethics of science, political philosophy of science)
  • analyses relevant links between the cognitive dimension of the sciences (theories, hypotheses, discourses, models) and the material culture of the sciences (objects, equipment, experiments, practices).
  • attempts to undercut traditional borders between epistemic and ethical, and between cognitive and material aspects of the sciences
  • seeks to produce a rapprochement of the endpoints of both dichotomies and systematically explores these connections
  • provides stable and stimulating research environment that allows outstanding doctoral students to pursue integrated philosophical research into the sciences


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