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Admission and enrollment

At the University of Cologne, admission and enrollment as a doctoral student are two separate steps that are carried out by two different offices.

First step: Admission

The very basis for an application to be admitted to doctoral studies – whether you are from Germany or from abroad – is a written confirmation of a professor at the respective faculty that he or she is willing to act as your supervisor during your doctoral studies (letter of support). Depending on the faculty’s formal rules and regulations for doctoral studies (“Promotionsordnung”), more documents are required. A general list can be found below on this site. To obtain detailed information on all necessary documents, please contact the doctoral studies office of the respective faculty.

After having obtained a confirmation of academic supervision by a professor, applicants with a German university degree may turn to the Deans’ Office or  the faculty’s doctoral studies office, to apply for admission to doctoral studies at the respective faculty. After approval, German applicants turn to the Student’s Office for enrollment.

Applicants from abroad may contact the International Office for admission and enrollment. As soon as you receive the letter of support from your supervisor, and as soon as you can prove the required language skills, you should submit your application for admission to your doctoral studies at the International Office. The International Office will forward your documents to the responsible doctoral studies office. If you are interested in obtaining a doctorate at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities or the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, please contact the doctoral studies office of the respective faculty directly.

We recommend to submit all application documents to the International Office one month before the start of the semester (by the end of August for the winter semester, by the end of February for the summer semester).

Required documents for application:

  • Signed application form for admission to doctoral studies
  • Letter of support from your supervisor (Betreuungszusage)
    [at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, you will need to submit two copies of the Notification of Intent to do your doctorate signed by you and your supervisor]
  • In some cases: Proof of German language proficiency (applies only to some disciplines; information concerning this matter is available at the faculty’s office for doctoral studies and the International Office of the University of Cologne)
  • Complete and signed CV (German or English)
  • Certified copies of your degrees and - if applicable - a certified translation into German or English (secondary school-leaving certificate, Bachelor and Master degree or equivalent, including the respective Transcripts of Records)
  • Copy of your Master thesis (paper or digital on CD-ROM), if this was not completed at the University of Cologne. If your thesis was not written in German or English, you will also need to submit a summary in German or English.
  • Copy of your passport or personal identity card
  • At some faculties (e.g. Medicine): an outline (proposal) of your dissertation project

The doctoral committee at the faculty you applied to will come to an official admission decision. Once you receive your admission confirmation ("Promotionszusage") as well as the application for registration from the International Office, you may enroll at the university.


Second step: Enrollment

If you come from abroad, your enrollment will also be managed by the International Office. For personal advice and service please use the following contact form.

To enroll, you will need the following documents:

  • Confirmation of admission to doctoral studies
  • Completed application for enrollment
  • Proof of health insurance from a statutory health insurance company (if under 30 years of age).


The International Office will then issue a preliminary doctoral student identity card. In order to receive your final identity card, which includes a public transportation ticket, you have to pay the "Semesterbeitrag".

In Germany, you don’t have to pay tuition at public universities. However, you do have to pay a small fee to contribute to reduced rates for public transportation, reduced prices for meals in the Mensa, administration etc. (this fee is called “Semesterbeitrag”). Currently, the Semesterbeitrag amounts to roughly 240 Euros. Upon enrollment, the International Office will give you a document with payment information. Roughly four weeks after you have paid the Semesterbeitrag, you will receive your identity card as well as the necessary payment information for the next semester.

Please note that you will have to re-register for each semester (and also pay the fee/Semesterbeitrag each semester). Information on deadlines and procedures are provided by the International Office.

For a doctorate following studies (Fachstudium) in Germany, you normally receive a residence permit if your doctoral studies combined with your prior studies will not lead you to exceed a total stay of ten years in Germany.