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  • Young Researchers

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Beginning a doctorate

Before you begin your doctorate you need to find a supervisor for your dissertation project. If you haven't yet found one, you can look on the faculty's website website for a potential supervisor. When you have made your selection, contact the professors and inform them of your wish to do a doctorate. Share with them your initial thoughts on research plans, send a C.V., and include any relevant knowledge that you have gained during your studies. If you already know how your doctorate will be funded, then you can also inform them of this. They will get in touch to let you know if they can act as your supervisor.

Once you have found a supervisor, you need to be accepted as a doctoral candidate by the faculty of your choice. For this, you need to send a written application to the doctoral commission. Information on the admission requirements and the necessary documents can be found in the current doctoral regulations of each faculty. As a rule, you need to submit a certificate proving you meet the formal entry requirements, a C.V., a supervision agreement and a statement on current and past applications you have made for doctoral study. We recommend that you get in touch with the contact person of the particular faculty to find out about the specific requirements and application procedures of doctoral study there.

Doctoral candidates at Bielefeld University must enrol directly after they have been accepted, no later than the following semester. There is no specific deadline for the initial enrolment as a doctoral candidate; however, please observe these deadlines when enrolling again in the subsequent semesters.

You may enrol either as an "individual" doctoral student or on a doctoral study programme at the Studierendensekretariat (Study Office) at Bielefeld University. Apart from needing the certificate of admission to the faculty as a doctoral candidate, you will also need to submit these documents You can also use the online enrolment assistance (German only) to help submit your enrolment.

The normal grounds for leaves of absence apply to doctoral candidates; in addition, doctoral candidates, who are not able to be present at the university for valid reasons, can also take leave.

You can enrol as a doctoral candidate up to the end of semester in which your doctoral degree is awarded, and in total no longer than a five-year period. To extend your doctoral study beyond this period you need to obtain a certificate from the faculty. For further information please consult the enrolment regulations at Bielefeld University.

You can contact all administration staff at the Studierendensekretariat (Study Office) regarding enrolment. For international researchers wishing to enrol, please contact phd-​international@uni-​

There are various ways of financing your doctoral studies, for example, as a research associate, through a doctoral scholarship or through employed work outside the University. On these University pages you can research the latest job opportunities.

Further information on types of funding for doctoral study is available under the heading "Scholarships and Funding Programmes".

Welcome Centre

Please contact the Welcome Centre for all questions concerning the organisation of your stay as well as everyday life at the Uni and in Bielefeld.

Language proficiency

As a rule, to study on a doctoral programme you will need to have a certificate in German language proficiency (level Test-DaF 4*4). In most faculties you can write your dissertation in English, but you must get permission from the faculty for other foreign languages. If you have no proficiency in German or very little, then a confirmation from your supervisor may be sufficient, so long as it confirms that you do not require German.

Help with translation

Here you can find translation guidance for employment documents to work at Bielefeld University, available from the Department of Human Resources and Organisation.

Mentoring Programme "interKontakt"

International researchers who have recently joined Bielefeld University can sign up to the Mentoring Programme "interKontakt" at the Welcome Centre. This programme connects newly arrived international researchers with experienced doctoral candidates, who can help them find their way around the University as well as helping them with university formalities.

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