Contact information

Graduate Academy Heidelberg University

Service Point

Im Neuenheimer Feld 370
Room 3
69120 Heidelberg

Telephone Icon 17x17 +49 (0) 6221 / 54 - 19765

Office hours
Mon: 10 am–12 pm
Tue: 2 pm–4 pm
Wed: 10 am–12 pm
Thurs: 10 am–12 pm & 2 pm–4 pm

Useful Links

Formal steps for beginning your doctorate

Doctoral studies in Heidelberg – administrative procedures

Each of the twelve academic faculties of Heidelberg University independently regulates and governs doctoral training and is responsible for admitting and registering its own doctoral candidates. The formal procedures that you must carry out depend on whether you choose individual doctoral training or a structured doctoral program.

How to begin your doctoral studies – step by step

Step 1:
Finding a

Hints for contacting a supervisor

Every doctoral candidate at Heidelberg University must have an academic supervisor who provides advice and support in the following areas:

  • choosing a topic and methodology,
  • planning the project,
  • writing and revising the dissertation,
  • pursuing additional professional skills and qualifications.

Your academic supervisor can be a professor, associate professor or a junior group leader in your subject area. In order to find a supervisor the first step is to identify the department or institute in which your intended research field is located.

Please note that professors are not obligated to take on doctoral candidates, even if the individual candidates fulfil the formal requirements.

We recommend that you allow yourself plenty of time to find a doctoral supervisor. You can start with the list of University faculties. You may also search for research groups and professors in:


The websites of some faculties and institutes are available only in German. In such cases, you can use the following terms to search for more information about professors and research fields:

  • Research groups (Forschungsgruppen or Lehrstühle),
  • Research areas (Forschungsgebiete),
  • Research (Forschung),
  • Faculty, Staff, Members (Mitarbeiter, Mitglieder, Personen),
  • Publications (Publikationen).


When you have located professors or research groups that match your research interests, you can contact them to introduce yourself and your planned project. It is also helpful to have a short description of your project available. The individual websites of the University’s research groups and professors provide information about their current research topics as well as their contact information.


Please be aware that the Graduate Academy and other University offices are not able to make contact with potential supervisors on your behalf.

Step 2:

The doctoral agreement

In the doctoral agreement, the doctoral supervisor and the doctoral candidate set down the framework of the doctoral project including the duration of the project, the reporting schedule, the resources that are to be made available, any additional qualifications the doctoral candidate should attain etc. The doctoral agreement form can be found on the website of your Faculty.

The doctoral agreement is the first step towards applying for admission as a doctoral candidate in your Faculty. You must submit the complete application for admission to your Faculty within six weeks of completing the doctoral agreement with your supervisor.

Further information is available from the Dean‘s Office of your faculty as well as the Doctoral Students‘ Office:

Doctoral Students‘ Office
Phone: +49 (0) 6221 54 - 12204/12205
Office hours: Mon 10 am–12 pm
Room 136
Seminarstr. 2
69117 Heidelberg


Deadlines for applying for admission to a University faculty
There are no centralized, formal deadlines for submitting an application for admission to a Faculty. However, you should apply for admission to your Faculty soon after completing the doctoral agreement with your supervisor. Please be aware that some Faculties do set their own internal deadlines for the submission of an application for admission; therefore, you should inquire directly at the Dean’s Office or Doctoral Studies Office of your Faculty. Additionally, you will receive access to many university facilities and services (such as the central library and computer center) only after you have been admitted to your Faculty.
Further information: Step 4: Admission to the faculty.

Supervisor and doctoral agreement in a structured program 

Structured doctoral programmes often advertise their doctoral positions (both paid and unpaid) online and in academic journals. Applicants take part in a multilevel selection process that may include contact with possible supervisors and the discussion of possible doctoral topics. If you have been accepted by a structured doctoral program, the doctoral agreement may have been completed during the application and acceptance process. You should ask the coordinator of your program if this is true in your case

Please read the following page with a comprehensive list of structured doctoral programs in Heidelberg:
► List of structured doctoral programs
► Current programs

Step 3:
in heiDOCS

heiDOCS: Your Online Doctoral File

The University has developed a web portal for doctoral candidates (heiDOCS) with which you begin the registration process and which will accompany you throughout your doctoral studies. The portal also helps you to stay informed about services for doctoral candidates at the University. Before submitting your application to the faculty, you must register in the heiDOCS portal and create your online doctoral file. You will also receive your Uni ID via the portal.

Further information:
► heiDOCS web portal
► Doctoral Students' Office

Contact information:
Doctoral Students‘ Office
Phone: +49 (0) 6221 54 - 12204/12205
Office hours: Mon 10 am–12 pm
Room 136
Seminarstr. 2
69117 Heidelberg

Step 4:
Admission to
the faculty

Application for admission as a doctoral candidate to the faculty

After finding a doctoral supervisor, being admitted to the appropriate faculty at the University is the second necessary step towards beginning your doctoral studies. During the admission process, the doctoral committee will review your previous university degrees and your doctoral project to ensure that they fulfil the faculty’s prerequisites.

If your previous university degree is not equivalent to a German degree or if you are doing your doctoral studies in a subject area that differs from your previous studies, the doctoral committee may require you to do some additional coursework or pass an examination before granting you admission to the faculty.

The final admission to the faculty is issued in writing – the so-called “Annahme als Doktorand” (letter of admission). With this document, the faculty is committed to supporting your doctoral project until its completion and will assist you, for example, if you need to find a new supervisor.


Admission as an individual doctoral candidate 

If you are carrying out your doctoral studies on an individual basis, you must apply for admission to your faculty yourself. After registering in the portal, you must submit the documents listed below to the Dean‘s Office of your faculty. There is more information about applying for admission on the websites of the faculties.


Application documents
  • application form “Antrag auf Annahme als Doktorand” (this form is available in the Dean’s Office of the faculty or on many of the faculties’ websites),
  • letter of acceptance from the doctoral supervisor and/or doctoral agreement (see step 2),
  • proof of a completed university degree (as a rule, certified copies of the university diploma),
  • topic and short summary of the doctoral project,
  • curriculum vitae,
  • declaration regarding past or current doctoral studies,
  • if applicable, proof of language proficiency.


Please note that applications are processed only at certain times during the semester. We recommend that you apply for admission promptly after receiving the acceptance letter from your supervisor. Some faculties require that you submit your application within a few weeks of beginning your doctoral project.


The letter of admission (Annahme als Doktorand) grants you official status at the University and gives you access to University services. It also allows you to apply to the University and to enroll as a doctoral candidate.

Admission through a structured doctoral program 

Even if you have been admitted to a structured doctoral program, you must nevertheless be granted admission to the appropriate University faculty. In many but certainly not all cases, this application is taken care of by your chosen program. Therefore, you should ask your program coordinator ahead of time about the procedures applicable to your program.


Contact persons at the Dean's Offices
The staff members responsible for doctoral studies in the Dean’s Offices of the faculties are listed here:
► Contact persons at the Dean's Offices


Important: Changes in your project

You are obligated to promptly report any fundamental changes in your doctoral project to the Dean’s Office of your faculty.
Such changes could be:

  • change of topic,
  • change of supervisor,
  • discontinuation of your doctoral studies,
  • extension of your doctoral studies


Step 5:
Admission to
the University

Admission as an international doctoral candidate at Heidelberg University

After you have received the letter of admission (Annahme als Doktorand) from your faculty, you can apply for admission to the University and then enroll as a doctoral candidate. This is a two-step process. Enrollment is mandatory for doctoral candidates who were admitted to their faculty after April 1, 2018. Doctoral candidates have to pay a semester fee.


Admission periods
Admission is possible during the following periods:

  • from the beginning of December to mid-April for the summer semester,
  • from the beginning of May to mid-October for the winter semester.


In some cases, it is possible for international doctoral candidates to apply outside of the above time periods.


Applying for admission to the University  

The first step towards enrollment is to apply for and be granted admission to the University. The following is a list of the documents necessary to apply for admission. The application form is found in the download center on the University website under “International students > Information, forms and fact sheets”.


Dual citizens

If you are a dual citizen of Germany and another country, the enrollment regulations for German citizens apply to you. In this case, please consult the Heidelberg University website "Einschreibung in die Promotion". 


Application documents

  • form “Application form for admission as a PhD student”, as an original, not a photocopy or scan, bearing your original signature on page 3
  • admission form issued by your faculty (Annahme als Doktorand), as an original, not a photocopy or scan. The form issued by your faculty must bear an original signature and the seal of the faculty. The admission form cannot be older than 6 months.
  • your Uni ID. Please write your Uni ID clearly either on the application form or on the admission form from your faculty. If you do not know your Uni ID, please contact our office.
  • certified copies of your secondary school leaving certificate (e.g. Abitur, high school diploma, Attestat, Matura etc.) including transcripts of records and certified translations of these documents into either German or English if they were not originally issued in German or English
  • certified copies of all of your university diplomas (Bachelor, Master), including transcripts of records for each semester or year of study, and certified translations of all of these documents into either German or English if they were not originally issued in German or English
    • 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.
  • proof of sufficient financial resources (a copy of your work contract, your scholarship award notice, a blocked bank account etc.)
  • passport photo (4 cm x 5 cm),
  • copy of your passport (if applicable with study visa),
  • proof of German language proficiency or confirmation from your faculty 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).


A certified copy is not simply a normal photocopy of an original document. A certified copy is a photocopy of an original document that has on it the confirmation that it is a true copy of the original. The certified copy must bear the seal and the signature of the person who is authorized to make the certification. Certified copies can be made by the educational institution that issued the document, by German diplomatic missions, by the embassy of the country in which the document was issued, by notaries and by other public authorities who are authorized to carry out such certifications. In Germany, certified copies can be obtained at the Bürgeramt, the local municipal offices, among other places.


You can submit the complete application by regular postal mail to our office, the Graduate Academy Service Center, at:

Universität Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 370
69121 Heidelberg


Please do not try to hand in your application for admission in person at the admissions office (Studentensekretariat für ausländische Studierende). We will check your application documents and forward them to the admissions office, where the application will be processed for admission. If there are any problems, we will contact you directly. Please make sure to write your email address and your full and exact postal mailing address clearly on the application form.

After a processing period of approximately three to four weeks, you will receive your letter of admission (Zulassungsbescheid) by regular mail. Please note that the admissions office sends the letters of admission directly to the applicants by regular postal mail. They do not send the letters by express courier or by email. This letter gives you permission to enroll at the University and informs you about:
  • the time period during which you can enrol and
  • any additional documents you must submit for enrollment, such as proof of German language proficiency


You will also receive an information sheet that explains how to finalize your enrollment by postal mail. Please read through this information carefully to ensure that the process goes smoothly.


Please note that the letter of admission (Zulassungsbescheid) is only valid for the semester for which it is issued. If you wish to enroll during a later semester, you will first have to re-apply for admission.


Applying for admission without the letter of admission from your faculty  

If you have not yet received the letter of admission from your faculty (Annahme als Doktorand), you may apply and enroll for “short term studies in preparation for a doctorate”. You may remain enrolled with this status for a maximum of two semesters. In order to apply, please submit the application as outlined above but substitute an recent (issued within the past 3-4 months) and original letter of acceptance from your supervisor for the letter of admission from the faculty. This letter should:

- confirm that you will be pursuing doctoral studies at Heidelberg University and indicate the research group in which you will be working,
- indicate which professor at Heidelberg University will be acting as your doctoral supervisor,
- indicate the approximate time period of your doctoral studies.

In this case, you do not need to indicate your Uni ID, unless you have already received one, for example, through an employment contract. In most cases, your Uni ID will be issued when you enroll.


As soon as you have received the confirmation of your admission from your faculty (bearing the signature of the Dean and the seal of the Faculty), please submit it as an original to the admissions and enrollment office (Studentensekretariat für ausländische Studierende) along with the appropriate form (“Change of major/minor”) in order to change your status.



General Infos
about Enrollment

Enrollment as a doctoral candidate at Heidelberg University

After you have been admitted to your faculty as a doctoral candidate, you must enroll at the university. Due to recent changes in the Baden-Württemberg state law governing higher education, the following rules apply to enrollment as of April 1, 2018:

  • All doctoral candidates who were admitted to their faculties on or after April 1, 2018 must enroll at the university.
  • Doctoral candidate admitted to their faculties before April 1, 2018 are not obligated to enroll. These doctoral candidates can choose whether or not they wish to enroll.
  • Enrolled doctoral candidates now make up an own status group as members of the university and as such have voting rights in certain university committees.
  • At the moment, the enrollment of international doctoral candidates who have a residence permit according to §20 AufenthG (for the purpose of research) must be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde).
  • Doctoral candidates who have an employment contract of 50% or more of the regular working hours with the university or the university hospital can choose to be exempted from mandatory enrollment. In this case, for voting purposes, they belong only to the status group of academic employees. Doctoral candidates who wish to exempt themselves from enrollment should request this in writing (email) through the Doctoral Students’ Office. For information about applying for exemption from mandatory enrollment, please contact the Doctoral Students’ Office/Zentrales Doktorandenbüro (
  • Doctoral candidates can now enroll at any time during the year although it is recommended that enrollment take place before the end of the re-registration period (July 15 for the summer semester and February 15 for the winter semester).


Enrollment as a doctoral candidate at Heidelberg University

After you have received the letter of admission (Annahme als Doktorand) from your faculty, you can apply for admission to the University (see on this website "Step 5: Admission to the University) and then enroll as a doctoral candidate. This is a two-step process. Enrollment is obligatory for doctoral candidate. Doctoral candidates are not required to pay tuition fees. However, in order to enroll, you will have to pay a semester fee that covers the following costs:


70.00 euros Administrative costs
10.00 euros Fee for the constituted student body
Social contribution for student services:
54.00 euros Student services fees
35.30 euros Complementary financing of regional transit pass (Semesterticket)
2.45 euros Levy for the use of nextbike
171.75 euros Total


Advantages of enrollment   


Enroling at the University  

Once you have received the letter of admission from the University (Zulassungsbescheid), you can enroll by postal mail within the time period indicated in the letter at the admissions and enrollment office, not at the Graduate Academy. The process of enrolling by postal mail will be explained in an information sheet that is sent to you with the Zulassungsbescheid.

The necessary enrollment documents include
  • a normal photocopy of your letter of admission to the University (Zulassungsbescheid),
  • the original of the enrollment form “Admission and Immatriculation at the University of Heidelberg”, filled out and signed
  • a certified photocopy of your passport with residence permit (EU/EEA nationals only require a certified copy of their identity card/passport)
  • the original of the health insurance certificate issued specifically for enrollment by your public German health insurance provider or, if you have private health insurance, the certificate of exemption from public health insurance that you must obtain for enrollment by a public German health insurance provider.
  • one passport size photo (min. 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm and max. 4 cm x 5 cm),
  • any other documents listed on the “Zulassungsbescheid”.


After submitting your enrollment documents, you will receive, by postal mail, your multifunctional student identification card, proof of successful enrollment and other important information about paying the semester fee and about setting up an online student account in LSF to manage your enrollment.

The university will send you reminders about the payment of your semester fees to the email address that you receive through enrollment. Therefore, please remember to check this email regularly. Additionally, the university will send notifications to you by postal mail to the mailing address that is in the enrollment system. You are responsible for keeping this address current in the LSF student account system.


Fees and re-registration  

Doctoral candidates are not required to pay tuition fees at Heidelberg University. However, in order to 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 euros per semester (as per July 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.




Language requirements for international doctoral candidates

Please note
The doctoral regulations of each faculty determine the languages in which a dissertation may be written. If you would like to write in a language not specified in the doctoral regulations, you must receive the permission of both your supervisor and the Dean of your faculty.


Further information:
► Language requirements for international doctoral candidates
Please be aware that the Graduate Academy and other University offices are not able to make contact with potential supervisors on your behalf.
Web Administrator: Eric Herbst
Latest Revision: 2020-09-09
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