Research Visits in Heidelberg
Doctoral students can come to Heidelberg University to carry out a short-term research project as part of their doctoral studies at their home university. If you are enrolled as a doctoral student at your home university, there are two ways in which you can take advantage of the University facilities – either as a (1) visiting doctoral student or as a (2) visiting researcher.
Please note that if you are from a non-EU country, are planning to stay in Germany for more than 3 months and are funding your visit with a scholarship or private savings, you must carry out your research visit as a visiting doctoral student (1).
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 student
Coming to Heidelberg as a visiting doctoral student involves enrolling at the university and gives you full student status including the multifunctional student ID card, access to all university facilities and access to the services provided by the student services organization (Studierendenwerk) such as the Semesterticket for public transportation, student prices at the cafeterias and the possibility to apply for a room in a student dormitory.
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 students from non-EU countries
If you are funding your research stay with a scholarship or private savings and plan to spend more than 3 months in Germany, 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 16 of the immigration law (further information about entrance visas is available here on our website.) If you are funding your research stay with a work contract at Heidelberg University, you can apply either for a study visa or a research visa (see section 2. Research stay as a visiting researcher).
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 student. 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 student” (“Forschungsstudent”)
Before you can enroll as a visiting doctoral student, 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 student).
- 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
- copy of your current enrolment certificate as a doctoral student 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 download all of necessary form from the download center of the website of Heidelberg University.
You can submit the complete application either by regular mail to
Dezernat für internationale Beziehungen
or in person at the Graduate Academy
Graduate Academy Service Point
Seminarstrasse 2, room 135
Tel: +49 (0) 6221 54-19765
Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs: 10 am – 12 pm
Wed: 1:30 – 3:30 pm
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) at the visitors’ address given above. 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 students 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 154.70 Euro per semester (as of March 2019).
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. After registering you will receive your visiting researcher card, which confirms your association with the university and enables you to apply for cards to use various central university facilities (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, to buy a Semesterticket for public transportation or to receive student prices in the cafeterias among other things.
You can register as a visiting researcher at Heidelberg University online on the website of the Welcome Center .
Important Information for international Doctoral Students from non-EU countries
If you are planning to stay in Germany for more than 3 months, you will be required to obtain an entry visa from the German embassy before coming to Germany. If you are funding your research stay with a work contract at Heidelberg University and do not want to enroll as a student at the university, you can choose to apply for an entry visa for research purposes according to §20 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 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.
Please be aware that if you come to Germany with a visa for research purposes (§20 AufenthG), you will not be permitted to enroll as a student at the university (see section 1 Research stay as a visiting doctoral student). Additionally, this visa cannot be changed into a study visa after arriving in Heidelberg.
► Welcome Center
► Visiting Scholar Card
Important: Letter of acceptance/invitation
Please note that in both of the above cases you will need to find a professor at Heidelberg University who agrees to supervise your research visit and who will issue you a letter of invitation or acceptance.
More information: Step 1: Finding a supervisor