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Application Guideline for admission to the doctoral programme in 2021

Thank you for your interest in the doctoral programme at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies. This guideline will help you to prepare your application. Please take some time and read the guideline carefully. Please note:

  • We will only consider your application if it is complete. If for any justified reason you are unable to upload a required document, please upload a pdf-file with an explanation about the unavailability of the required document.
  • Please do not send any other materials except those listed in the call for applications.
  • We do not offer a pre-submission check of your application package.

1. Curriculum Vitae (CV / Resume) and motivation letter

Please upload your CV as a pdf-file. It should detail your educational career, and list any relevant work experience. Your motivation letter should discuss why the BGSMCS is the ideal institution to host your doctoral research project. If you wish to upload a list of publications, you can upload them as a separate file.

2. Supervisors and disciplines

Doctoral fellows at BGSMCS are concurrently enrolled in a university department, either at Freie Universität Berlin or at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, depending on the discipline and your first supervisor’s affiliation. This means that the supervisors can only accept doctoral researchers pursuing a degree in the discipline that they are currently working in. E.g., a professor in Islamic Studies can usually not supervise a doctoral fellow pursing a degree in political science etc.

Please understand that we cannot determine your eligibility for admission for a specific discipline before you have submitted your application package. It is important that the choice of discipline (which is connected to your preferred supervisor) should relate to your previous academic achievements AND to your planned doctoral research. The consideration of the following three points can help you to better assess your eligibility for a specific discipline:

  • Check if you have learned the relevant methodological and theoretical skills to pursue a doctoral degree in the discipline that you choose.
  • Consider the research that our supervisors are engaged in to determine whether your planned doctoral research falls within their area of interest and expertise.
  • Consider the department websites for information about the courses our supervisors teach on the B.A. and M.A. level.

A team of two to three academic supervisors is supervising every doctoral fellow. Please make sure that the discipline of your first supervisor corresponds with the discipline of your dissertation project (i.e. Islamic studies, Political Science etc.). Your first supervisor must be a member of the Graduate School. Your second supervisor should be officially affiliated with BGSMCS – please select their names from the dropdown menu to indicate your preferred choices. This selection is not binding and there is no need to contact the supervisors during the application process. Your supervision committee will only be constituted after admission to our programme. All our supervisors affiliated with BGSMCS are listed here.

3. Outline of your dissertation project

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

  • Summary (max. ½ page);
  • Research questions and objectives of your project;
  • Current state of research and your project’s envisioned contribution to it;
  • Tentative theoretical framework and research methods;
  • Source material;
  • Time schedule (separate document).

Please note that you can upload an outline for one project only. Please format the outline properly, and include your name and page numbers.

4. Letters of recommendation

One letter of recommendation by an academic scholar (usually teaching at a university or college) is required. It is advisable to choose scholars who are familiar with your previous academic performance and/or your dissertation project. Your referee should upload the recommendations directly to the application platform as a signed electronic letter (either a scan of the signed letter or a pdf with an electronic signature). We do not accept Emails as recommendation letters. Please make sure that the letters of recommendation arrive in good time. There are no formal requirements for the issues to be addressed in the letters. We will accept recommendation letters that have been written to support more than one application.

5. Language skills

As English is the primary language of instruction and communication at BGSMCS, you are expected to have advanced English-language proficiency. A proof of your proficiency in English is a formal requirement for admission for PhD studies at Freie Universität Berlin and at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Please note that only 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. There are no other exemptions and this requirement is not negotiable.

Please upload one of the following certificates as proof of proficiency in English:

  • C1 CEFR (Common European Reference Frame);
  • ETS TOEFL certificate (minimum score of 95);
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English, CPE (any grade);
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, CAE (grade A or B);
  • IELTS test (minimum 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. If you are invited, the last deadline for handing in the certificate is January 15, 2021.

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 indicate to us that you are proficient because your research will be performed in your mother’s tongue.

6. Original and certified copies of degrees

You should submit original and certified scans of the following degrees:

High school diploma (i.e. Abiturzeugnis, A-level, Baccalauréat or IB) or your country’s equivalent document, qualifying for admission to university. A high school diploma is the last non-academic degree before a bachelor degree.

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. Please upload an official confirmation from your University that indicates the expected date of completion of your M.A. studies. The admission and grants committee will decide whether your (incomplete) application can be assessed as qualified. It is not possible to do a PhD in our programme without an M.A. degree.

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 English or German translations.

7. Submission of application

The application package, complete with all documents, needs to be submitted via the application platform. Please do not forget to submit your application when you have completed your application package. The application deadline is 11 November 2020, 12:00 noon Central European Time. Late applications will not be considered.

8. Schedule

Please understand that we are unable to provide information on the application process or provide you with an individual review of your application before the Admissions and Grants committee has nominated applicants for admission. We will inform all applicants about the results of the evaluation after January 20, 2021.

Interviews will be scheduled between 8 and 12 February 2021. If you cannot be present in Berlin, the interview can be organised via Videolink. The admission process will be completed on 22 February.

If you have further questions that are not addressed in this guideline or in the FAQ on our website, please contact us under this Email address: application@bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de  Prospective applicants are invited to join our live Q&A session on October 9, 2020 (the link to the stream will be published on our website).

Please do not send the same Email to other addresses at the Graduate School. We will answer all questions, but it sometimes may take a few days until we can get back to you.

We look forward to receiving your application!