PhD Training at Heidelberg University


With a comprehensive infrastructure for PhD students, Heidelberg University offers an excellent training environment for junior researchers from Germany and beyond. 22 per cent of students who earned their PhD at the university in 2012 were foreign nationals, one of the highest percentages in Germany. In addition to three graduate schools in the natural and life sciences, which are funded through the German Excellence Initiative, Heidelberg offers the PhD programme of the excellence cluster ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ and the Heidelberg Graduate School for Humanities and Social Sciences (HGGS), as well as more than 30 additional structured PhD programmes and numerous cooperation projects with non-university research institutions in Heidelberg. The Graduate Academy is also the central coordinator for counselling, training and funding programmes that are available to all doctoral students.

In the natural and life sciences in particular, Heidelberg University has created a large number of structured PhD programmes. The university is also introducing more and more structured programmes in the humanities, social sciences and law – disciplines in which individual doctoral training is still the traditional model. Structured PhD programmes in Heidelberg exist in three forms: graduate schools with 100 to 300 doctoral students that cover large research areas, ‘graduate’ research training groups (‘Graduiertenkolleg’) of 15 to 30 doctoral students that deal with more specific fields of research, and ‘PhD’ research training groups (‘Promotionskolleg’) with five to seven students working on highly specialised research topics.

Junior researchers of non-university research institutions such as the local Max Planck Institutes or the German Cancer Research Center are also enrolled in PhD programmes at Heidelberg University by way of a number of cooperation projects. These projects include the particularly successful International Max Planck Research Schools, of which there are four at the university. Together with Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, Heidelberg University runs the cooperative research training group ‘Disease Models and Agents’. Among the international PhD programmes with bi-national advisers are the ‘Cotutelle de thèse’ programmes that are offered in cooperation with international partner universities.

The Graduate Academy is the umbrella organisation for all doctoral programmes and the central coordinator for all counselling, training and funding schemes aimed at doctoral students. There is a service centre for foreign PhD students in particular, and the academy organises courses and seminars for additional, cross-discipline qualifications. It supports doctoral students financially with scholarships, completion assistance schemes and travel allowances, advises the faculties on the introduction of PhD programmes and recruits PhD students around the world. Established in 2005, the Graduate Academy was expanded in 2007 with Excellence funding provided for the university's institutional strategy.

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Latest Revision: 2014-07-25
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