Applying for a Doctorate

I. Applying for an Individual Doctorate

Choice of discipline

Usually, there is no doubt on the topic of the dissertation planned and the relevant discipline. The better you know already which direction to follow in science and what to write about, the easier it will be for you to find an academic advisor who seems to be competent in your field and to contact him or her. Difficulties might arise, however, if the discipline you studied does not exist at Freie Universität, or if, as just said above, you were graduated from a Master program that was truly interdisciplinary and does not fit the classification of disciplines at FU Berlin. The only way to proceed in these cases is to go through the lists of departments, the institutes or disciplines subsumed, and, finally, persons. The examination offices of the respective departments are unfortunately not able to advice and help you with scientific questions.

Choice of supervisor

If not enrolled in a Doctoral program (see below), the first thing you will have to do is to look for a professor who agrees to supervise your dissertation.The supervisor is extremely important for the success of your PhD. They are, often for many years, your main – and sometimes only – advisors with regard to your research and your scientific career, they are, moreover, your main examiners when it comes to the evaluation of your written work and your final exam, the viva.

To easy this tedious work a bit for you, we compiled a step-by-step manual “how to find a supervisor” .

II. Applying to a Structured Doctoral Program

In contrast to the traditional doctorate, prospective doctoral candidates apply directly to the administrator of their chosen doctoral program. Admission is carried out by the doctoral programs themselves. Depending on the structure of the respective program, admission deadlines are once or twice a year at fixed dates and vary from program to program. The current deadline can always be found on the program's website.

Doctoral programs may have additional or higher admission requirements, e.g., a higher degree grade or special language requirements, than the doctoral admission standards defined by the department.

Candidates can find detailed information on application requirements on the website of the respective programs. An overview of all doctoral programs at FUB can be found here.

Applying for Admission to the Department

After being admitted to a doctoral program, the next step is to apply for admission to the department your supervisor belongs to.

You cannot start your research project until you have been accepted by the department ("Zulassung").The application is made to the respective department’s graduation office. Candidates can find the application form and a list of required documents on the website of the respective graduation office. It is advisable to apply long before the start of your doctoral studies program. A list of the offices can be found here.

Acceptance by the Department

A committee decides whether your qualifications suffice for admission as a doctoral candidate. The department’s committee usually meets at regular intervals.

Enrollment as Doctoral Candidate

After acceptance by the department, doctoral candidates must formally enroll as doctoral students with the central student administration office. Detailed information on the enrollment procedure can be found here.