PhD Program - The Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Germany

Publish Date: Oct 10, 2016

Deadline: Nov 15, 2016


The Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies Funded by the German federal and state governments’ Excellence Initiative, the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies will admit up to fifteen PhD students to its doctoral programme, which is to begin on 1 October 2017. Up to ten of these candidates will receive a Graduate School grant; the other candidates will be supported in their search for funding. 

The Graduate School investigates the plurality, changeability, and global connectedness of Muslim cultures and societies. It invites applications from candidates whose dissertation project fits one of the Graduate School’s Research Areas. Applications relating to the topics of education, communication, cultural and media studies, and Islam and Muslims in the West are especially encouraged. Successful applicants will have a master’s degree in one of the disciplines represented at the Graduate School, with a ranking, where applicable, of above average. Our language of communication is English. Admission is initially for one year, and, contingent upon a positive evaluation after the first year of study, this will be extended for a further twelve months.

There is the option of a second twelve-month extension thereafter, with a maximum of three years being covered by the grant. As part of the three-year programme we expect doctoral students to take active part in the academic life of the Graduate School. Besides doing their PhD, doctoral students should be open to interdisciplinary and transregional exchange. A receptive attitude to challenging research questions on new terrain is very much appreciated. The application package needs to include the following documents: a completed and signed application form; an outline of the dissertation project (up to 6 pages, with a brief summary); a curriculum vitae; certified copies of degrees received; proof of proficiency in English (native speakers of English or applicants who have graduated from an English speaking university in a country with English as an official language are exempt from this verification); evidence of proficiency in the language(s) relevant to the dissertation project. Two letters of recommendation must be emailed by the applicant’s referees directly to BGSMCS as signed electronic letters. Holders of PhD scholarships that were awarded on the basis of academic references for the same project with which they are now applying to the Graduate School can submit copies of these references. 

Applications will be reviewed by the School’s Admissions and Grants Committee. The complete application package must be submitted, compiled into one PDF file, to by 15 November 2016.

Thank you for your interest in the PhD programme at Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS). These guidelines will help you to prepare your application:

Outline of your dissertation project

The outline of your proposed dissertation project should have a maximum of six pages and should include the following points:

  • Summary of no more than half a page
  • Context, scientific questions and objectives of your research project
  • Current state of research and most relevant literature
  • Tentative theoretical framework and research methods
  • Source material
  • Time schedule

Please note that you can submit an outline for one project only.

Choice of discipline

PhD students at BGSMCS are concurrently enrolled in a university department. You are therefore asked to select the discipline in which you will be obtaining your PhD. It is important that the choice of discipline should relate to your previous academic achievements. Please select the discipline from the list enclosed in the application form.

Suggested principal investigators (PIs)

Every dissertation project is supervised by two to three academic supervisors, so called principal investigators (PIs). Please make sure that the discipline of your first PI corresponds with the discipline of your dissertation project (i.e. Islamic studies, political science etc.). Your first and second PIs should be officially affiliated with BGSMCS – please select their names from the list enclosed in the application form  to indicate your preferred choices. This selection is not binding and there is no need to contact the PIs during the application process.

Letters of recommendation (referees must be indicated in the application form)

Two letters of recommendation by academic scholars are required. It is advisable to choose scholars who are familiar with your previous academic performance and/or your dissertation project. Your referees should email their recommendations directly to BGSMCS as signed electronic letters. Please make sure that the letters of recommendation arrive in good time. Holders of PhD scholarships that were awarded on the basis of academic references for the same project with which they are now applying to the Graduate School can submit copies of these references.

Language skills

As English is the primary language of communication at BGSMCS, you are expected to have advanced English-language proficiency. Please hand in one of the following certificates as proof of proficiency in English:

  • ETS TOEFL certificate (minimum score of 600 for the paper-based test, 250 for the
    computer-based test and 100 for the internet-based test)
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English, CPE (any grade)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, CAE (grade A or B)
  • IELTS test (level 7.0)

If you cannot submit the test results with your application package because you have not received your score report yet, please inform us about the results as soon as possible. The last deadline for handing in the certificate is the date of your interview, if you are invited. Native speakers or applicants who have graduated from an English-speaking university in a
country with English as an official language are exempt from this requirement. In addition, we ask you to list the language(s) relevant to your dissertation project (e.g. Arabic, Turkish, Urdu etc.). As proof of your proficiency, you may hand in a transcript of records from your university, a certificate from a language school or the like.

Certified copies of degrees

You should submit certified copies of:

  • High school diploma (i.e. Abiturzeugnis, A-level, Baccalauréat or IB) or your country’s equivalent document, qualifying for admission to university
  • Bachelor’s certificate
  • Master’s certificate – if you cannot submit your MA degree with your application package either because you have not received the document yet but expect it to arrive shortly or because you are in the final stage of your exams or thesis, you may hand in your application anyway. The admission and grants committee will decide whether your (incomplete) application can be assessed as qualified.

Certified copies of your degrees can be issued by your university.

If your certificates are issued in languages other than English or German, please submit
certified English or German translations.

Submission of application

The application package, complete with all documents signed and scanned and compiled into one PDF file, should be sent by email to

Your application can only be processed if your application materials are complete. Please do not send any other materials except those that are required. The application deadline is 15 November 2016.


Interviews will take place for those who have been shortlisted in February 2017. If you cannot be present in Berlin, the interview can be conducted via Skype or telephone at the set appointment time. We will inform you about the results of the application process by March 2017 at the latest.

For more information click "Further official information" below.

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