Research Visits in Heidelberg
Doctoral candidates can come to Heidelberg University to carry out a short-term research project as part of their doctoral studies at their home university. The first step towards carrying out a research stay is to find a professor at Heidelberg Univesity who agrees to supervise your research visit and who will issue you a letter of invitation or acceptance. There is more information about finding a research supervisor at the university here: Step 1: Finding a supervisor
If you are enrolled as a doctoral candidate at your home university, there are two forms of registration at Heidelberg University that will give you differenct degrees of access to university facilities while in Heidelberg – you can register either as a (1) visiting doctoral candidate or as a (2) visiting researcher.
As soon as you begin planning your research visit, we strongly advise you to contact the Graduate Academy (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly to clarify any questions about your status at the university, about access to university facilities or about visa regulations.
1. Research stay as a visiting doctoral candidate
Coming to Heidelberg as a visiting doctoral candidate involves enrolling as a student at the university and gives you full student status including the multifunctional student ID card, access to all university facilities (library, cafeterias, computer center, sports center etc.) and access to the services provided by the student services organization (Studierendenwerk) such as
- the ability to purchase the Semesterticket (170 Euro for 6 months) for unlimited, free access to public transportation within the Rhein-Neckar region
- reduced student prices at the cafeterias
- the possibility to apply for a room in a student dormitory
- access to the Studierendenwerk housing service
If you choose to enroll at the university, you will be required to pay an administration and student services fee of 171.75 Euro (as of January 2020) for every semester that you are enrolled.
Please read through the information below about admission and enrollment at Heidelberg University well in advance of coming to Heidelberg so that you can prepare all of the necessary documents. Please note that it is not possible to enroll at the university without all of the documents listed below.
Important Information for international doctoral candidates from non-EU countries
If you would like to enroll at the university during your stay in Heidelberg and have access to all university and student services, you must apply in advance at the German embassy in your home country for an entry visa for the purpose of studying according to paragraph 16b of the immigration law (further information about entrance visas is available here on our website.). Please inform the embassy from the very beginning that you would like to apply for a study visa.
When you apply at the German embassy for a study visa, you will be required to submit a letter of admission (Zulassungsbescheid) from Heidelberg University with your application. A letter of invitation from a professor or institute at the university is no longer sufficient for a visa application.
The letter of admission is obtained only by formally applying to the university for admission as a visiting doctoral candidate. The application process is explained in detail below.
The admission procedure at the university takes approximately four to eight weeks and it can take an additional three to six months to receive a study visa. Therefore, we recommend that you begin the application processes well in advance of coming to Heidelberg.
Application for Admission as a “visiting doctoral candidate” (“Forschungsstudent”)
Before you can enroll as a visiting doctoral candidate, you must first apply for admission to the university. You must submit the following documents to the admissions and enrollment office by regular postal mail (email applications will not be accepted!) or in person in order to apply for admission:
- form “Application form for admission as a PhD student”. Please note at the top of the form that you are applying for admission as a “Forschungsstudent - Forschungsaufenthalt” (visiting doctoral candidate).
- Letter of acceptance from the supervisor of your research project at Heidelberg University. In the letter, the professor must
- confirm that your research stay is taking place within the framework of your doctoral studies in your home country,
- confirm that he/she will supervise your research stay in Heidelberg,
- indicate the time period of your research visit and
- if applicable, confirm that German language proficiency is not necessary for your research visit.
- certified copies of your secondary school leaving certificate (e.g. Abitur, high school diploma, attestat, Matura etc.) including transcripts of records (lists of courses and grades). Certified copies can be issued in your home country by your school or university, by German embassies and consulates or by a certified translator or notary. More information on bilateral relations and German missions can be found here.
- certified copies of all of your university diplomas (Bachelor, Master) including transcripts of records for each semester or year of study
Applicants from China: Please note! For all school and university diplomas and transcripts, applicants from China must submit certified copies and translations that are issued by an official notary whose office is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Justice. Other certified copies and translations will not be accepted unless the applicant also submits an original APS certificate.
- copy of your current enrolment certificate as a doctoral candidate from your home university
- proof of sufficient financial resources (not necessary for citizens of EU or EEC countries)
- passport photo (4 cm x 5 cm)
- copy of your passport (if applicable with study visa),
- proof of German language proficiency or confirmation in your letter of acceptance that proficiency in German is not required,
- if applicable, proof of any time spent at a German university as well as proof that you are no longer registered at that university (Exmatrikulationsbescheinigung).
If your original school and university diplomas and transcripts are not in English or German, you must also provide a certified translation of these documents into one of these two languages.
You can submit the complete application either by regular mail to
Zulassungsstelle für ausländische Studierende
As we have temporarily suspended our open office hours, you can send your application documents for admission to the university by regular mail to our office:
Graduate Academy Service Center
INF 370 (Im Neuenheimer Feld)
Tel: +49 (0) 6221 54-19765
After a processing period of approximately 3–4 weeks, you will be sent your letter of admission (Zulassungsbescheid) by regular mail. This letter gives you permission to enroll at the University and informs you about:
- the time period during which you must appear in person to enroll,
- any additional documents you must bring with you for enrollment, such as proof of German language proficiency.
- any additional conditions you might need to fulfill for enrollment, such as taking the German language proficiency examination.
Please note that this letter of admission is only valid for the semester for which it is issued. If the final enrollment is not completed during this semester, the admission will expire and you will need to reapply.
Enrollment at Heidelberg University
Once you have received the letter of admission from the University (Zulassungsbescheid), you can enroll in person within the time period indicated in the letter at the admissions and enrolment office (Studentensekretariat für ausländische Studierende, Seminarstraße 2, 69117 Heidelberg), not at the Graduate Academy. In order to enroll you will need the following documents:
- letter of admission to the University (Zulassungsbescheid),
- enrolment form “Admission and Immatriculation at the University of Heidelberg”, which will be sent to you with the letter of admission
- proof of health insurance with a state insurance company or proof of exemption from state health insurance. Proof of exemption from state health insurance can be obtained from any state health insurance company by showing proof of your private health insurance coverage.
- passport photo (4 cm x 5 cm)
- personal identification card or passport containing a residence permit for the purpose of studying (if applicable)
- any other documents listed on the Zulassungsbescheid
You will receive your multifunctional student I.D. card after enrolling and paying the semester fee.
Fees and re-registration
Visiting doctoral candidates are not required to pay tuition fees at Heidelberg University. However, if you enroll at the University, you will have to pay a semester fee that covers administrative costs, costs for student services and student representatives. The total fee is currently 171.75 Euro per semester (as of January 2020).
In order to remain enrolled at the University, you must re-register each semester by paying the fee described above. The time periods for re-registration are as follows:
- June 15 to July 15 for the winter semester,
- January 15 to February 15 for the summer semester
Please be aware that you must pay the full semester fee for every semester for which you are enrolled regardless of when during the semester you arrive or leave. Therefore, if possible, it is a good idea to plan the timing of your stay to coincide with the university semesters. The university semesters are as follows:
Winter semester: October 1 to March 31
Summer semester: April 1 to September 30
2. Research stay as a visiting researcher
Coming to Heidelberg as a visiting researcher involves registering with the Welcome Center and gives you limited access to University facilities. If you have a scholarship or are funding your research stay privately, you will receive a visiting researcher card after registration, which confirms your association with the university and enables you to apply for additional cards to use the university library, the university cafeterias and the university sports center. Please note that you will not obtain access to the services provided by the student services organization which means you will not be eligible
- to live in a student dormitory
- to use the housing service provided by the student services organization
- to receive reduced student prices in the university cafeterias
- to buy a Semesterticket for public transportation, which significantly reduces the cost of travelling regularly by bus or tram
In general this means that you will receive less support and will need to be more independent in organizing your research stay and finding housing. Depending on where you live and how much you wish to cook for yourself, you may also need to budget for higher expenses for food and transportation. A standard bus or tram ticket within Heidelberg costs 2.60 Euro and a monthly pass for public transportation in Heidelberg costs 74.70 Euro. If you bring a valid student ID card or enrollment certificate from your home university or a valid ISIC student ID card with you, you should be able to purchase a monthly pass "Ausbildung", which costs 57.60 Euro per month in Heidelberg. It must be obvious from your student ID or enrollment certificate that you are enrolled at your home university at the time of purchase.
You can register as a visiting researcher at Heidelberg University online on the website of the Welcome Center .
Important information for international doctoral candidates from non-EU countries
Before coming to Germany, you are required to obtain an entry visa from the German embassy. If you will not need to take advantage of the student services provided through enrollment (see above) and would instead like to register as a visiting researcher while you are in Heidelberg, you can choose to apply for an entry visa for research purposes according to §18d of the immigration law (AufenthG). For the visa application, you will be required to submit a hosting agreement with Heidelberg University. The hosting agreement is issued by the Welcome Center.
Please be aware that if you come to Germany with a visa for research purposes (§18d AufenthG), you will not be permitted to enroll as a student at the university and that you will not be permitted to change this visa after you arrive. Therefore - before you come to Heidelberg - we strongly advise you to carefully consider which services you will need to use at the university and to choose the visa and the form of registration (either #1 visiting doctoral candidate/visa §16b for study purposes OR #2 visiting researcher/visa §18d for research purposes) that will give you access to these services.
Please be aware that it can take at least three to six months to obtain an entry visa so you must begin the application process in plenty of time.
► Welcome Center
► Visiting Scholar Card