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General requirements

Recognition of degrees

For the admission to doctoral studies at the University of Cologne, an above average university degree in a corresponding or closely related discipline of the intended dissertation is required. Generally, this degree should be at the level of a master's degree, completed after at least four years of study. Only in exceptional cases, a bachelor's degree will be accepted.

The doctoral board ("Promotionsausschuss") of the respective faculty will decide whether your credits and academic degrees are equivalent to a (German) master’s degree. If not, you may be required to take additional master’s courses before you can start your doctorate. For further information on the entry requirements, please read the respective doctoral regulations thoroughly.

Additionally, you need to provide a letter of support from an eligible professor for your application.

Some graduate schools of the University of Cologne also offer a preparatory program for doctoral studies in order to enable candidates to start their doctorate as soon as possible after obtaining their bachelor’s degree (for example, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences) or master's degree (for example, the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities).


Language requirements

The University of Cologne is becoming more and more accessible to English-speakers, and English is the language of science at many research institutes. German language proficiency is not necessarily a prerequisite for starting a doctorate. In general, and given the support of your supervisor and the permit of the doctoral board, you are allowed to write and defend your dissertation in English or even in another language.

If German language skills are required, it is often sufficient to prove them upon thesis submission. Further language proficiency requirements – e.g. skills in Latin, English or other European languages - are specified in the doctoral regulations. Please ensure that you are informed in advance about the language requirements in your discipline.

Even if German is not a “must”, we strongly recommend and encourage you to learn the German language. It is extremely useful in getting around, making new friends and learning about the German culture. The International Office and the unit "German as a Foreign Language" offer a wide range of German language courses. Please contact the International Office for the registration, deadlines and course fees.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us anytime.