Your Road to International Excellence

Guide for Joint PhD Students at the University of Bonn

Congratulations on your successful application to one of University of Bonn’s jointly supervised international PhD programs! While each and every project will raise its individual questions and challenges, please refer to this guide as a first source of information on important administrative and organizational matters around your doctoral studies in Bonn. Please note that this guide does not cover Cotutelle Agreements which are entered independently from an existing joint PhD program.

Please note

This guide is written from the perspective of the University of Bonn. Each higher education system has their own traditions and regulations regarding admission procedures, compulsory course work, composition of the reviewer committee, examination rules or other requirements. Please consult your Doctoral Researcher Agreement, Individual Candidate Agreement or similar documents for the specific requirements. Not everybody you speak to at either university might immediately be familiar with the particularities of your examination. 

Administrative Processes at University of Bonn

Before admission, but also during your doctoral studies, there are a number of administrative to-dos and regulations at both universities you will be enrolled. The checklists below summarize those that apply at the University of Bonn. Please make sure to contact our partner university for their own requirements and regulations.

Risiken im Blick
© colourbox

Checklist: Regulations and Administration

Each of University of Bonn's seven faculties has its own doctoral office and faculty-specific doctoral regulations. Contact the doctoral office of the faculty administering the doctoral program/research field you want to apply for and inquire about all the documents required for the application. Remember that the office might ask you to hand in diplomas etc. in an officially translated version.

An equivalency check of your diplomas from your undergraduate and graduate degrees will be run to make sure you fulfill the admission requirements. In cases where the equivalency is in doubt, the doctoral office may admit you with certain conditions, e.g. additional coursework (see below)

For admission, your Bonn supervisor and you will sign an Agreement on Doctoral Supervision (Betreuungszusage). This form available through the respective doctoral office will later be supplemented by the more extensive DRA/ICA forms signed by representatives of both universities (see below).

Make an appointment and hand in the application at the doctoral office.

  • Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences: Some of the departmental offices (Fachgruppenbüros) offer to forward their doctoral students' documents collectively to the doctoral office. When you submit your application there, your original certificates will be checked on the spot. If everything is correct, they will take your documents and get the signature of the department chair for you.

  • Faculty of Arts: Please note that the Faculty of Arts’ separate guidelines and templates for applications within an individual co-tutelle framework don’t apply to doctoral students in the Joint PhD programs with the University of Melbourne and University of St Andrews — your DRA/ICA is the relevant document (see below).

  • Faculty of Agriculture: As a doctoral students in JUMPA (Jülich-University of Melbourne Postgraduate Academy), you may do your research and be employed in Jülich, but your doctoral degree will be conferred by the University of Bonn. Usually, this is safeguarded by a supervisor who is jointly appointed by Forschungszentrum Jülich and the University of Bonn. If this is not the case, your supervisor will help you identify an additional University of Bonn co-supervisor. 

    For additional inquiries on JUMPA: Faculty of Agriculture | Dr. Philipp Gutbrod,  

  • Faculty of MedicineFor doctoral students within the Joint Doctoral Program St Andrews - Bonn further information about the Bonn process, the qualification und examination phase is available here. 

  • Faculty of Law and Economics 

  • Faculty of Protestant Theology

  • Faculty of Catholic Theology

It is important for you to read and understand the respective faculty’s current doctoral regulations. Apart from giving you a better understanding of the different phases of your PhD education or the examination and grading system at Bonn, the doctoral regulations are always already part of your individual DRA/ICAs. You will find English versions of the doctoral regulations on the websites provided above

Your supervisors and you will agree on a broad outline of your doctoral studies in a document called Doctoral Researcher Agreement (DRA, for University of Melbourne) or Individual Candidate Agreement (ICA, for University of St Andrews). This document typically includes your topic, defines the time periods spent at either partner university, outlines the supervision concept, exam regulations, intellectual property rules, and other important regulations. 

In consultation with your supervisors, decide on the best periods for studying at University of Bonn and the partner university and familiarize yourself with different requirements at either institution in the different stages of your PhD studies, including compulsory coursework and the semester when it has to be taken. 

This document needs to be signed by you, the supervisors, as well as representatives at both universities in charge of overseeing PhD education, which can include heads of schools, deans, and University of Bonn’s Rector. The International Office will help facilitating the collection of signatures at Bonn and coordinate the process with the partner institution. While signatories from partner universities may use certified digital signatures, Bonn signatories need to sign by hand on paper, although they can forward a scanned version of the document by email. Please expect at least a few weeks until all signatures have been collected. 

For ICA's with University of St Andrews: International Office | Tina Odenthal,
For DRA's with University of Melbourne: International Office | Dr. Christian Klöckner,  

If your Joint PhD offer is not yet linked to a structured doctoral program, you may apply to become a member of one of the University of Bonn’s programs. An overview of all structured programs in Bonn is available here.

  • We recommend becoming member of a structured program as it will give you access to exclusive training courses, an additional budget, e.g. to fund travels, and provide you many networking opportunities with your peers.
  • Note that an application for membership in a structured program does not substitute the application for admission to doctoral studies (see section above). Normally, the admission letter is a pre-requisite for your application for membership in a structured program.
  • Normally, the structured programs have application deadlines throughout the year. The Bonn International Graduate Schools (BIGS) are subject-specific programs that offer doctoral training in line with highest international standards.
  • The Structured DPhil Programme at the Faculty of Arts spans a wide range of disciplines. The intake of new members usually takes place at the start of the winter term (October) with an application deadline in July.

After receiving the admission or the doctorate confirmation by the dean's office, you register at the Student Registry of the University of Bonn (Studierendensekretariat) to receive the student ID card and the semester ticket. Doctoral students can enroll at any time during the semester, i.e., there are no specific deadlines in Bonn for you.

Your Joint PhD degree requires enrollment at both universities.
The documents required for enrollment can only be submitted by mail:

  • Enrollment form (please do not forget to sign it) and a CV
  • Copy of your identification document (ID, passport)
  • Confirmation of admission to doctoral studies, signed by your faculty's dean 
  • A copy of your bachelor’s and master’s certificate
  • If applicable, proof of your German language skills
  • If applicable, certificate of deregistration from the last German university you were enrolled at

Address for submitting enrollment applications:
Universität Bonn
Abt. 1.3 - Studierendensekretariat 
53012 Bonn, Germany

Alternative for courier services:
Universität Bonn
Abt. 1.3 – Studierendensekretariat
Am Hof 1, 53113 Bonn, Germany

When you enroll, you will be given a bank transfer form for your semester student services fee, which all University of Bonn students are required to pay. Pay this semester fee (of approx. € 300) as soon as possible and make sure that the bank transfer cites your student ID number in the reference line. You will receive your official student ID in the mail after one to two weeks – your student ID is simultaneously your student transit pass  ("Semesterticket") – as well as your Uni-ID and your initial password, which you will need to access all the University’s online services. Please note that the student card will be sent to the address you specify in the enrollment form. 

During your time at Bonn’s Joint PhD partner institution you may apply for a leave of absence in order to pay a reduced student services fee (of approx. € 20 in 2024).  A leave of absence is usually granted for one semester. You may apply for up to three consecutive semesters of leave at a time if you submit the required documentation. Applications for a leave of absence must be received at the Studierendensekretariat/Student Registry by the registration deadline (end of February for the following summer semester and end of August for the following winter semester).

If you do not start your Joint PhD program in Bonn: Enrollment at Bonn only takes place if the full student services fee is paid for the first semester. Consequently, you cannot apply for a leave of absence for the first semester. You can, however, request and renew leaves of absence for the second semester and onwards until you arrive in Bonn.

If you commence your joint doctoral program in Bonn, inquire whether there is any compulsory coursework to be taken at the beginning or at any later point of your doctoral studies. An important reference document are the doctoral regulations of your faculty.

At the Faculty of Medicine, two research-related courses (usually corresponding to two course units per week) are mandatory for students enrolled in the PhD degree program.

If you do not completely satisfy all prerequisites for your doctoral course of studies, the faculty's doctoral office will inform you in their admission letter that additional complementary coursework may be required during the qualification phase of the dissertation project (e.g., up to a maximum of 60 credit points at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences).  

Some of our partner universities' faculties may also require you to take certain coursework in your first semester. If you start your studies in Bonn, sort out with the cooperating institution whether coursework can be taken online or postponed to a later semester while you are abroad.

If you are a member of a Bonn International Graduate School (BIGS) or another structured program, complementary coursework requirements might apply. If you have not received any information regarding coursework in your admission letter, contact the coordinator your BIGS or structured program.

Changes to the timing of your relocation from the originally projected dates in your DRA/ICA are fine as long as

  • both of your supervisors agree,
  • you still adhere to the minimum time period spent at the partner institution as agreed to in your DRA/ICA, 
  • if you receive a stipend through the University of Bonn, inform International Office in advance of the changes

Make sure to find out well in advance who you need to inform at Bonn‘s partner university about your upcoming relocation. Make use of any orientation sessions our partners may offer! 

For your relocation to the University of Bonn from a partner university, please refer to the section "Arriving and Living in Bonn" below.

For your relocation to Bonn‘s partner universities, please see the section on Leave of Absence above and information on Visa procedures below.

Once you have finished writing your doctoral thesis, you initiate the so-called examination phase in Bonn by submitting copies of your doctoral thesis along with other documents specified in the doctoral regulations at your faculty. Allow enough time to get all the documents needed in place! 

Among other documents, you will need to include a “Certificate of Conduct” (polizeiliches Führungszeugnis), a criminal record statement that may not be more than eight weeks old on the date of submission. You can obtain the certificate by applying either in person at the local registration office (e.g., the town hall, municipal office, or citizens' registration office) or via the official online portal of the Federal Office of Justice (BfJ). You may be eligible to submit equivalent documents from your home country.  

Please be aware that each higher education system has their own traditions and regulations of how doctoral students typically complete their PhD. At Melbourne, for instance, you will need to pass a colloquium (“completion seminar”) before you are allowed to submit your thesis. In Germany, by contrast, the submission of (paper copies!) of your dissertation to the doctoral office starts the examination phase, which includes an oral examination at the very end of the process. 

These discrepancies lead to an examination phase whose rules have been negotiated specifically for the purpose of a Joint PhD program and sometimes depart from regular practices at either university.

Please consult your doctoral researcher agreement (Melbourne) or your Individual Candidate Agreement (St Andrews) for your specific examination rules and requirements. Not everybody you speak to at either university (including your supervisors or even employees in PhD offices) will immediately be familiar with the particularities of your examination, which is why your DRA/ICA is particularly important and it is always useful to point other people to them.

For your application to initiate the examination phase at Bonn you will be asked to propose your doctoral thesis reviewers and oral exam committee members.

Your DRA/ICA defines the number of members and their roles in your Bonn examination thesis committee. In consultation with your supervisors, you may still choose some of the individual members of your examination committee. We recommend choosing your exam committee members well in advance in order to avoid any potential obstacles arising from conflicting local regulations. For instance, in Bonn, at least one of your supervisors is simultaneously a reviewer of your thesis, whereas in Melbourne, external reviewers will evaluate your thesis. At least one of those external reviewers also needs to be part of the oral examination committee in Bonn. 

Given the international makeup of your Joint PhD committee and depending on where you are located, the oral examination will be conducted in either hybrid or virtual form. 

Typically, the oral examination at Bonn is comprised of a public, academic lecture with a discussion (doctoral colloquium) and, following this, a non-public doctoral defense. In the doctoral colloquium, the doctoral student reports on the results of their doctoral thesis. In the doctoral defense, the ability of the doctoral student to present the doctoral thesis in the context of the discipline of the doctorate or a related discipline is often verified in a specialist discussion.

Arriving and Living in Bonn

Accommodation, dealing with the authorities and other paperwork - there are a number of important things you need to organize to make your arrival and stay in Bonn as smooth as possible. 

© Lannert / Uni Bonn

Checklist: Arriving and Living in Bonn

Do you need a visa for your stay in Germany or for your host institution abroad? Inquire well in advance and allow enough time for the process. We recommend to start the process three to five months before your planned relocation.

You can find the addresses of Germany’s embassies and consulates and details of entry requirements on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office: Visa & Service - Federal Foreign Office ( 

The same website also provides information on the country-specific criteria for issuing a visa. Nationals from specific countries (for example UK or Australia) do not need a visa to enter Germany, but you will have to apply for a residence permit at the immigration office (Ausländeramt) in Bonn if you want to stay for more than 90 days. If you want to work in Germany you need a visa. If you need a signed host agreement when applying for a researcher visa, please contact the International Office.

We advise you to contact the German embassy early on to get further information.

Approx. 3-5 months prior to intended start / relocation

International Office at the respective institution
University of Bonn: Sandra Papel | 

In order to open a bank account, visit the bank branch of your choice to find out your options. You will need to present your passport or ID card, your student ID or other proof that you are studying at the University of Bonn, and the confirmation of registration from the city registration office with you. If you are employed at University of Bonn, you may be requested to provide your tax ID, which you will receive after registering with the city.
Please find further details at our incoming guide!

To safeguard a timely transfer of your scholarship payments, please contact the International Office of the University of Bonn as early as possible with your bank account details. If you are here on an employment contract, the university's Human Resources Division will need to process your financial information.

University of Bonn:
Sandra Papel | 

For organizational matters related to your stay at the University of Bonn please have a look at our incoming guide with useful information for new international students.

University of Bonn:
Sandra Papel | 

Joint Doctoral Programs in Bonn

The University of Bonn offers several Joint PhD programs that have been developed together with world-class partner universities in priority countries for research collaboration. Please find further information on these programs in this section.

Promovierende mit Diplom_colourbox_cb_34613042.jpg
© colourbox

Overview of Joint PhD Programs

The aim of this program is to train high-profile international researchers, allowing them to benefit from the diversity of expertise and culture of two highly regarded university. The program offers scholarships funded by both institutions, to support exceptional students undertaking doctoral research fields such as history, physics, medicine, geography and earth science. More information on current calls is available here

This joint PhD program builds on the collaboration between  the University of Melbourne and the University of Bonn who have recruited over 50 joint PhD students over the last couple of years. Applications are invited, and encouraged, from all faculties and research areas. More information is available here. Please note that only the envisaged supervisors, not the doctoral students themselves, can apply for funding.

This program offers research training towards the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at two locations, with access to world-class expertise across two continents. This presents a fantastic opportunity to develop competencies beyond those typically acquired when undertaking the more traditional (single award) PhD. Graduate researchers have the ability to train in two expert laboratories in Melbourne and Bonn, build an international network of mentors and collaborators and experience other cultures to develop a truly global perspective.

The Jülich-University of Melbourne Postgraduate Academy (JUMPA) is a partnership between Melbourne, the Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (FZJ/Jülich Research Centre) and its affiliate universities, including the University of Bonn. At JUMPA, graduate researchers can tap into FZJ’s world-leading infrastructure (including Europe’s most advanced supercomputer) in their quest to solve challenging issues in the fields of science, health, and technology. Graduate researchers will have the opportunity to receive mentorship from field experts, participate in specialist summer schools and laboratory courses organized by FZJ, and become part of a vibrant alumni network across FZJ’s affiliated universities across Germany.

This program is jointly organized by the Universities of Bonn, Florence and Paris-Sorbonne IV and taught in German, French and Italian. It involves the subjects of the Faculties of Arts and Humanities, in particular literature and linguistics, art history and musicology, as well as subjects that deal with issues related to the framework of the programme, such as historiography, political science, philosophy, sociology, etc. Over a period of three years, the doctoral students are expected to write a dissertation in the field of European founding myths. For more information please click here [website available in German, French and Italian].


Avatar Radu

Dr. Robert Radu

Avatar Papel

Sandra Papel

Also see

Life in Bonn

There is life outside the lecture hall and laboratory— and what a life! The City of Bonn and the Rhineland region has much to offer; the University also makes its own contribution to this mix.


Find out more about our wide range of offers, from good scientific practice to our Doctorate plus and Postdoc plus qualification programs.

Funding and Support

Learn about the numerous funding opportunities and grants for doctoral students.

Wird geladen