PromotionDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Beginning in Summer Semester 2014, the Faculty of Theology now offers the option of a structured doctoral program towards a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

This program is aimed primarily at doctoral students whose previous academic qualifications are in neighboring disciplines (e.g., ancient history or psychology) or from foreign universities (e.g., China or the USA), but who wish to write their dissertation on a theologically oriented topic under the theologically competent aegis of our faculty. The target group also encompasses doctoral students who have completed a specialized theological program of study (e.g., a Master’s in “Christianity and Culture”).

Application and Admissions Process

Questions and answers about all aspects of the application and admissions process can be found in the F.A.Q.


Application Deadline

Applications for admission to the Ph.D. program must be received by the Faculty of Theology by December 15th and June 15th, respectively, for the following semester.

Scope and Structure of the Ph.D. Program

The program of study is organized thematically around units of coursework and study, which are referred to as modules. A module consists of courses and exams, and can extend over one or more semesters. So-called ‘credit points’ (LP) are achieved by attending courses and passing examinations, whereby one credit point represents approximately 30 hours of invested time.

The individual courses that fulfill the modules can also be completed in other organizations such as the Graduate Academy, and must be agreed upon with the Ph.D. advisor. Independent Studies consist of a guided private study. In this case the proof of achievement normally takes place in the form of a review or a written report followed by an oral colloquium.

Modules that are not successfully passed can be repeated once. Should the doctoral student fail a second time, the Ph.D. committee will decide whether a further attempt can be permitted.

The Ph.D. program is designed to have a length of six semesters, including the writing of the dissertation and completion of examinations.

The Ph.D. program consists of three phases:

  1. Preparation Phase (1st year)
  2. Research Phase (2nd year)
  3. Research and Writing Phase (3rd year)


The dissertation must be an independent, academic work within one of three fields of specialization. It must be suitable for publication and can be composed in either German or English. Other languages are also possible, insofar as permission is granted by the Ph.D. committee and an assessment by the Theology Faculty is possible.

Oral Exam

The date for the oral exam is to be determined following the acceptance of the dissertation. The exam itself lasts approximately one hour and is normally held in German. In exceptional cases a different language can be agreed upon. The applicant may suggest examiners, but the Ph.D. committee is not bound to these suggestions. If the oral exam is failed, it can be repeated once.

The oral exam can be replaced by a disputation.

Publication of the Dissertation

After the oral exam is passed, permission to print the dissertation must be obtained from the dean of the Theology Faculty prior to its publication. Publication can occur through

  1. publication with a commercial publisher, as long as a minimum print run of 150 copies can be shown; three copies are to be delivered to the university library.


  1. delivery of 55 copies in photo-printing or 25 copies in the form of microfilm to the University of Heidelberg


  1. four complete original versions, printed on age-resistant, wood- and acid-free paper in a permanent binding, as well as an electronic version, whose file format and storage medium are to be coordinated with the university library.

Before you hand in your doctoral thesis, you have to report it on heiDOCS (from September 2015 on).

Conferral of Doctoral Degree

With the receipt of the doctoral diploma, the right to use the doctoral title “Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)” is earned.