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FAQ about doctoral studies at the UdK Berlin

What is a doctoral degree?

In graduating with a doctoral degree, candidates demonstrate their competence to conduct in-depth academic work. The programme consists of an independent doctoral thesis and an oral examination (a defence or “rigorosum”). The central task is to come up with and present in writing new academic findings in coordination with the supervisor. Important: please note that it is not possible to acquire a PhD in artistic research or a practice-based PhD at the UdK Berlin. 

What opportunities are there for doctoral studies at the UdK Berlin?

There is a wide variety of study programmes at the UdK Berlin where a doctoral degree is possible. The basis for the doctoral degree is a completed academic or art-academic degree (Bachelor's, Master's, DiplomStaatsexamenMagister, etc). You are not eligible for doctoral studies if your degree is solely art-based. Faculty regulations governing doctoral degrees define the formal prerequisites for completing a doctoral degree. The PhD committees at the individual faculties are responsible for implementing the doctoral procedures.

The University of the Arts currently offers two different ways to obtain a doctoral degree: an individual doctorate and graduation from a structured doctoral programme.

What is an individual doctorate?

An individual doctorate is a doctoral degree from a university that is acquired outside of a structured programme. In such cases, the doctoral candidate must independently acquire the PhD degree and seek a direct supervisor at a university. The doctoral work must take place at the university where the primary supervisor is employed. If admitted by the university, applicants may enrol as doctoral students at the UdK Berlin. Enrolment requires paying semester fees that are set by the respective university. An individual doctorate is not associated with any fellowship or fixed position. Funding for the doctorate must be acquired independently by the candidate. 

How do I apply for an individual doctorate at the UdK Berlin?

Before applying, anyone interested in doctoral studies must undertake the following steps on their own:

  • Write a 10-12 page (standard margins, 1.5 line spacing, 12 pt Arial font) proposal that includes the following: a short overview of the subject; presentation of the research questions and, if applicable, your hypotheses (if these have already been prepared); presentation of the current state of research on the topic (what has already been researched about the topic/person?); relevance of the topic for research; description of the methodology (what methods will be used to address the research questions?); if applicable, case examples that define the research topic and questions; a timetable (succinct and drawn up for 3 years); a bibliography (if applicable, a selection of the literature relevant to the specific dissertation topic).
  • Seek out a suitable primary supervisor at the UdK Berlin. Important: only regular professors who hold a doctorate degree are eligible to supervise doctoral students.
  • Independently contact the primary supervisor and ask if they are willing to serve as the primary supervisor. Important: when applying for doctoral studies at the UdK Berlin, you require written confirmation that the professor in question has agreed to be the primary supervisor. 
  • Doctoral theses in English are possible at the UdK Berlin based on each faculty's regulations governing doctoral degrees. You also require consent from the supervising professor to complete a PhD in English. 


Requirements for doctoral degrees 

  • Doctoral degrees at the UdK Berlin may be completed at the Faculties of Fine Arts, Music, Design and Performing Arts and at the Central Institute of Continuing Education (Zentralinstitut für Weiterbildung, ZIW). 
  • Each faculty's regulations governing doctoral degrees are available here:

Faculty of Fine Arts 

Faculty of Design 

Faculty of Music 

Faculty of Performing Arts 

Central Institute of Continuing Education 

  • Information and decisions on the recognition of earlier degrees and prerequisites for doctoral studies are the exclusive responsibility of the doctorate degree committees at the individual faculty where you wish to study.

  • Applications for admission to doctoral studies at the UdK Berlin must be submitted to the doctoral studies office of the relevant faculty.

  • Information about the various doctoral studies offices, doctorate degree committees and the documentation required can be found here: 

Faculty of Fine Arts 

Faculty of Design 

Faculty of Music 

Faculty of Performing Arts

Central Institute of Continuing Education 


Enrolment and fees as a doctoral student at the UdK Berlin 

  • If your application for admission has been approved by the doctorate degree committee and you have received confirmation from the relevant graduate studies office to which you submitted your application, you may enrol using this letter of confirmation at the UdK Berlin Registration Office. 

Doctoral students may enrol at any time. A fee of approximately €320.00 is due per semester. You can find more details about the fees here

What is a structured doctoral programme?

Structured doctoral degree programmes are (temporary) research programmes such as a Research Training Group, Cluster of Excellence or a collaborative research centre. These are typically projects supported by third party funds and which are located at one or more different universities, focussing on a general research theme to which all participating doctoral theses are related. Admission to a structured doctoral programme generally takes place following advertisements for scholarships or research assistant positions and a defined application procedure. 

By being accepted into a structured programme, doctoral candidates commit to write their thesis at the university where the structured doctoral programme is located. The primary supervisor must therefore be a professor from the leadership team of the structured doctoral programme. Often the candidate in these programmes is supervised by not just one supervisor, but rather a committee of several individuals.

Obtaining a doctorate degree in one of these programmes involves following a mandatory curriculum in the form of specialised and cross-disciplinary course elements (meetings, courses, conferences or other activities) that must be attended and completed during the doctoral stage in addition to work on your thesis project. Structured doctoral programmes provide students with a wide range of fora and networks to facilitate regular exchange about the status of their work, receive suggestions for their projects, conceive and organise publications, workshops and meetings and collaborate on publications. In this way, structured doctoral programmes develop various competences that are essential for a career in academia or project or academic management. 

What are the options for a structured doctoral degree at the UdK Berlin?

Presently, only the DFG “Knowledge in the Arts” Research Training Group offers a structured doctoral programme at the University of the Arts Berlin. Post-doctoral students in this programme research within a coordinated interdisciplinary programme.


Application requirements: 

Applications to the DFG “Knowledge in the Arts” Research Training Group are possible only if places are advertised. Vacancy notices are listed under Job Postings on the Research Training Group website. If you do not see any notices listed there, this means there are no vacancies and you cannot apply. The Research Training Group is running until March 2021.