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We are happy to announce a new call for applications for grants and places in our doctoral programme for the calendar year 2024/25!

Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS)

Call for Applications and Guidelines

 The Graduate School is a joint project by Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO). As a part of Freie Universität Berlin’s Department of History and Cultural Studies, our offices are situated on Freie Universität Berlin’s campus in Berlin Dahlem.



The BGSMCS supports doctoral candidates who develop academically well-founded and relevant answers to questions arising in various research areas under the thematically umbrella of Muslim cultures and societies. It also gives them access to a broad academic network. The program is ideal for highly qualified, socially engaged, and globally thinking, active young scholars from all over the world. For further information see: https://www.bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de.



For admissions in October 2024, the doctoral programme will award two stipends each from the DAAD and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. The scholarships include a monthly living stipend as well as travel and material funds. Other candidates will be supported in applying for other doctoral fellowships, e.g. Elsa Neumann Foundation. Doctoral candidates with an individual scholarship (no private funding) can also apply for association in the doctoral programme.


Application Requirements

An application comprises the following documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV / Resume) and motivation letter 
  • Supervisors and disciplines, eligibility
  • Outline of your dissertation project
  • Letters of recommendation 
  • Language skills 
  • Original and certified copies of degrees
  • Submission of application
  • Schedule

The attached guideline will help you to prepare your application. 


The application package, complete with all documents, needs to be submitted via the application platform: https://www.drs.fu-berlin.de/user/register?field_i_want_to_apply_for=709.

The platform only accepts pdf documents as uploads. The documents must also not be read-only.


The application deadline is 1 November 2023, 12:00 noon (CET).

Prospective applicants are invited to join our live Q&A session on October 4, 2023, at 2pm CET via Webex: tinyurl.com/yckndx9d (Password: graduate).


If you have further questions that are not addressed in the guideline or in the FAQ on our website, please contact us under this Email address: application@bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de.

We look forward to receiving your application!

News from Aug 30, 2023


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.
  • BGSMCS-Plattform: https://www.drs.fu-berlin.de/user/register?field_i_want_to_apply_for=709
  • The platform only accepts pdf documents as uploads. They must also not be read-only.
  • 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.

Do not forget to formally submit your application, once your application package is completed!

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. If you wish you can add a list of publications. Your motivation letter should discuss why the BGSMCS is the ideal institution to host your doctoral research project, and explain your choice of supervisors and discipline (see below, supervisors and disciplines).

2. Supervisors and disciplines, eligibility
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 1st 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 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.
  • Check the list of publications on our website to see if graduate school fellows have published research relevant to your topic (https://www.bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de/publications/index.html).

If you conclude that no potential supervisors are working in your research area, that your discipline does not match any of the disciplines in our list and that no one at the Graduate School has ever published research that is relevant for your work, it is highly unlikely that your proposed research can be supervised, and that your application can therefore not be considered. This means that even if you fulfil the formal application criteria, but your proposed research does not match the Graduate School’s research profile, it may be the case that your application will not be considered. Therefore, we recommend that you only submit your application if you are sure that your proposed research matches the above-mentioned criteria.

A team of 2-3 supervisors is supervising every doctoral fellow. Please make sure that the discipline of your 1st supervisor corresponds with the discipline of your dissertation project (i.e. Islamic studies, Political Science etc.). Your 1st supervisor must be a member of the Graduate School. Your 2nd 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. All supervisors affiliated with BGSMCS are listed on our homepage: https://www.bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de/about/supervisors/index.html.

You are free to contact any potential supervisors prior to submitting your application, but it is not a formal requirement to have their formal consent to supervise you.

3. Outline of your dissertation project
The outline of your proposed dissertation project should have a maximum of 6 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. Letter 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 (a scan of the signed letter in pdf format). 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 8, 2024.

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 (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 – it is not sufficient to upload all required documents, but you also have to click on a submit button once your application package is complete.

The application deadline is 1 November 2023, 12:00 noon Central European Time. Late applications will not be considered. If you are facing technical difficulties, e.g. because of instable internet connection, please make sure to upload your application package ahead of the deadline. We do not grant deadline extensions. Please also note that we are not able to handle a large number of requests shortly before the deadline. We highly recommend to submit your application at least one day before the deadline.

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 committee has nominated applicants for admission. Interviews will be scheduled between 22 and 26 January 2024. The interviews will be organised via Videolink. The admission process will be completed by mid-February 2024. All applicants will be informed about the result of their application.

Prospective applicants are invited to join our live Q&A session!
It takes place on 4 Oct. 2023, 2 pm (CET) via webex: tinyurl.com/yckndx9d (Password: graduate)

If you have additional questions that are not addressed in this guideline, the FAQ on our website, or our live Q&A session, please contact us exclusively at application@bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de.

We look forward to receiving your application!

Do not forget to formally submit your application, once your application package is completed!

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