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Starting the path to a doctorate

A doctorate means primarily research and our university offers you very good conditions in a broad spectrum of topics in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and medicine. 

You will now begin a part of your scientific career in which you will develop a high degree of personal responsibility and independence in order to advance research in your field and generate new knowledge. By presenting and discussing your new findings in publications and at conferences, you also contribute to the good scientific reputation of our university in Germany and abroad, true to the motto “Creating knowledge since 1502.”


A particular advantage of Halle is certainly the large number of non-university research institutions located in the immediate vicinity of our university. Our university itself also offers the advantage of these “short distances”. The centrally located university square is one of the most beautiful in Europe and one of the most traditional in Halle. The new Steintor Campus is home to many humanities and social science institutes, and the Francke Foundations (“Franckesche Stiftungen”) in Halle are home to the educational sciences and theology. Institutes of natural sciences of our university are concentrated on the Weinberg/Heide Campus in the north-west of Halle in the vicinity of five non-university research institutes and the Weinberg-Campus Technology Park. 

We wish you a good start for your research and an exciting and successful path to your doctorate at our university.

What you need to know

  • There is no central application procedure. Doctoral positions for individual doctorates are advertised all year round.
  • You first step is to find a supervisor.
  • The averaged duration of a doctorate is four years.

How do I apply?

for an individual doctorate

  • As a graduate with a Master’s degree, you can make contact at any time directly with a professor engaged in areas of research that match your interests
  • Searching for professors in your field through faculty websites and/or publications is recommended, PhD projects are also announced by the HR department
  • Dissertation topics are decided upon agreement with scientists at the institutes, who are also responsible for selecting candidates
  • Each professor decides for him/herself whether to admit doctoral students

to a structured doctoral program

  • Graduate programs consist of projects with a topical focus
  • There are cohorts with a duration of three to four years
  • Contact the project leaders of projects you are interested in

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Writing an exposé

Do you have a research question that you would like to investigate? Would you like to do that in the context of a doctorate? Are you planning to present your idea to your preferred professor to apply as a candidate for supervision? It’s time to write your exposé!

The exposé provides an overview of your planned research work. It links your research question with a plan for its investigation. You provide a clearly understandable, coherently reasoned explanation of 

  • what you want to investigate, 
  • why you’re investigating it and
  • how you want to investigate it.

Find out more at our post on Writing an exposé.

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Funding the doctorate

Your doctorate is funded mainly via employment with a project position or scholarships. Please refer to funding opportunities for the doctorate.

Research opportunities

You can find insight into the research at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) by some of the research projects conducted here. Please refer to Research at MLU: Some research prospects for early career scientists in Halle.


The relationship between doctoral researchers and their supervisors influences the pathway and success of a doctoral project and is a crucial factor for the start of an academic career (Ives & Rowley 2007). It is thus all the more important that both parties deal with the perspective, expectations and needs of the other side.

Please check “What supervisors want” for more insights into the relationship between supervisors at MLU and their doctoral students.

Supervision agreement

In so far as the doctoral regulations do not already provide for the conclusion of a doctoral agreement (supervision agreement) between the doctoral candidate and the supervisor, we recommend that such an agreement is concluded in writing to ensure quality and transparency in the doctoral phase.

The agreement should be used promptly at the start of academic work on the thesis to serve as an understanding between the doctoral candidate and the supervisor with regard to the nature of the supervision and for the exchange of mutual expectations.

The basis of such an agreement is generally a synopsis of the thesis written by the doctoral candidate in conjunction with a personal development plan, which should be continuously updated during the course of working on the thesis.

We recommend that, when organising the general layout of the supervision agreement, doctoral candidates familiarise themselves with the template recommended by the Senate. However, the specific agreements are flexible by mutual agreement and may be made in accordance with specific conditions.

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Acceptance and admission

Acceptance as a doctoral student

Acceptance as a doctoral candidate at one of the faculties of MLU has been standardised across the university in 2015. Prospective doctoral candidates apply via HalDoc – the central online portal of MLU – for acceptance as doctoral candidates within the first year. Please make sure that you have followed the guidance on the respective faculty webpages when applying.

By accepting someone as a doctoral candidate, the respective faculty declares its willingness in principle to entrust the doctoral candidate with the writing of the thesis and to examine it upon completion. Furthermore, admission as a doctoral candidate formally determines that the doctoral candidate will be admitted to the doctoral examination procedure following completion of his/her thesis, if he/she submits the documents required for admission to the doctoral examination procedure.

Doctoral candidates who gained their Master’s degree abroad, will be examined for equivalence to a German Master’s degree during the processing of the application. Equivalence is the formal pre-requisite for doing a doctorate in Germany/Halle.

Admission to the doctoral examination procedure

After completion of your thesis and, if applicable, you have fulfilled the subject-specific obligations that arose upon acceptance as a doctoral student, you will be required to apply for admission to the doctoral examination procedure.

Please find more details in the doctoral regulations that apply to you and/or speak with your supervisor.

The relevant form for this procedure is also available online in German or English via HalDoc. To apply, click on the link, enter the email address that was recorded in the system upon your acceptance as a doctoral candidate or that was amended within the faculty in the meantime and follow the further information.

Please make sure that you have followed the guidance on the respective faculty webpages when applying.

Use of the doctor title

Please note that after successfully defending your thesis, you will not be entitled to use the title of doctor until you have received your doctoral certificate.

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What else should I know?

Legal principles

The basis for conducting the doctoral examination procedure is the Higher Education Act of the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt (HSG LSA) in the version that applies at the time, particularly section 18 and section 18 a. In conjunction with Section 30 of the Constitution of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg of 13 July 2005, the Rector confers the title of Doctor in the relevant subject area in accordance with the decision of the faculty councils.

The following doctoral degrees may be conferred:

Faculty of Theology

  • doctor theologiae (Dr. theol.)

Faculty of Law, Economics and Business

  • doctor iuris (Dr. iur.)
  • doctor rerum politicarum (Dr. rer. pol.)

Faculty of Medicine

  • doctor medicinae (Dr. med.)
  • doctor medicinae dentariae (Dr. med. dent.)
  • doctor rerum medicarum (Dr. rer. medic.)

Faculty of Philosophy I, II, III

  • doctor philosophiae (Dr. phil.)

Faculty of Natural Sciences I, II, III

  • doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.)
  • doctor paedagogiae (Dr. paed.)
  • Doctor of Engineering Sciences (Dr.-Ing)
  • doctor agriculturarum (Dr. agr.)
  • doctor trophologiae (Dr. troph.)

Doctoral regulations

The doctoral culture is essentially the same in the key aspects across the faculties of MLU, but the faculty-specific forms of the doctoral regulations contain particular features that must be observed, depending on historical/ regional factors or factors specific to certain subject areas.

Please check the regulations, which are also available in an English translation (reading version) for all faculties.

Good scientific practice

Academic work in general, and particularly in relation to obtaining a doctoral degree, rests on basic principles that apply equally across all academic disciplines.

Establishment of truth and the progression of knowledge based thereon require academic honesty, diligence and open discourse. These form the basis for the rules of academic practice that vary from discipline to discipline.

Doctoral candidates are required to adhere to these basic principles because they form an important prerequisite in preventing and avoiding academic misconduct, in the preservation of the ethical principles of science and, therefore, the reputation of Halle University.

“Charter on the principles for ensuring good scientific practice and on the handling of allegations of academic misconduct at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg”, (link in German)

Good Scientific Practice comprises the following:

  • Observing the general principles of academic work, particularly
    • working lege artis,
    • recording results,
    • consistently challenging one’s own results,
    • preserving strict honesty in relation to the contributions of partners, competitors and predecessors,
  • Collaboration and responsibility for leadership in workgroups,
  • Coaching of young academics,
  • Securing and storing primary data,
  • Academic publications as the medium of accountability of academics with regard to their work,
  • Respect for the property of other parties,
  • Observing ethical standards in conducting investigations.

Differences in academic cultures

In the natural sciences and life science you first look for a supervisor. In the second step you discuss possible research topics for your doctorate.

In the humanities and social sciences you first identify a topic yourself and then look for a supervisor in the second step. This also applies to structured doctoral programs, where your topic needs to fit into the research focus of the graduate program.

Workshops for key qualifications for doctoral students

InGrA and HR department Ref 3.2 offer workshops shaped to the needs of doctoral students and postdocs at MLU. Workshop language of InGrA and Ref 3.2 is English and German, respectively. InGrA workshops are designed for all doctoral students independent of their mother tongue. With English workshops most of scientists in an early career phase can be addressed. Please feel free to choose the workshops you are comfortable with.

Overview of workshops for doctoral students at MLU

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Advisory and support services

International Graduate Academy (InGrA)

The International Graduate Academy InGrA is the central university-wide institution for all doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers across all faculties. In addition to the departments and staff in the faculties who bear responsibility for the doctoral programmes in particular, InGrA can advise and support you in all stages of the process of obtaining your doctorate (orientation, entry, research and completion stages), or may be of assistance in any mediation with other parties as necessary.

Being accepted to the faculty as a doctoral candidate, you will regularly receive information electronically from InGrA relating to qualifications offered to target groups or doctoral candidates of all subjects, or information about other events or activities at or outside of MLU, which may be of interest to you in relation to successfully carrying out your doctoral project.

International Office

At the International Office, local doctoral candidates who are planning a stay abroad during their doctorate can obtain advice regarding funding opportunities, particularly in relation to research or doctoral-related stays abroad, congress and conference funding and stays abroad within the scope of bi-nationally supervised doctoral programmes (Cotutelle).

International doctoral candidates who wish to spend their entire doctorate or a part thereof at MLU will receive advice and support from the PhD Network, particularly with regard to organisational issues prior to and during their stay at MLU. The PhD Network is a project that serves to promote social, linguistic and cultural integration of international doctoral candidates and postdocs, and is funded by DAAD with funds from the German Federal Foreign Office.

Student Service Center

The Student Service Center is the right place if you want to enrol as a “Promotionsstudent” at MLU.

Please note that enrolment is possible while doing a doctorate, but that is not a condition for doing so. If you do enrol, the advantages for you include free use of buses and trains in Halle and within the entire “Mitteldeutscher Verkehrsverbund” (MDV) with a semester ticket, discounted prices in the cafeterias of the Halle Student Union (“Studentenwerk”), access to all libraries of MLU and other discounts dependent on student status.

Equality Office

Doctoral candidates at MLU may contact the Equality Office for any equality-related matters, particularly

  • issues with the study, research or employment position
  • if they are planning projects on the topic of equality and require specialist support
  • if they are interested in funding opportunities for women
  • in cases of discrimination and sexual harassment
Family Office

The Family Office of MLU supports doctoral candidates in combining their qualifications, professional work and family. It advises and provides information on any topic relating to

  • studying for a doctorate with a child
  • care for dependants,

including childcare options, among other things. Other services and information, such as in relation to child-friendly infrastructure in the University and holiday care can be found on the Family Office homepage.

Office for complaints under the Universal Equality Act [AGG-Beschwerdestelle]

Our University places importance on treating one another without discrimination or violence, collaboration based on equality, trust, good working and studying conditions.

The use of violence, (sexual) harassment, direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, gender, religion or conviction, a disability, age or sexual identity constitute a violation of the rights and obligations in service and employment contracts and of membership, as well as a significant disruption to university activities. The personality development, self-esteem and the freedom to act and make decisions of an individual concerned are affected.

In this context, the Academic Senate has adopted a “Guideline on safeguarding against discrimination, (sexual) harassment and violence” on the basis of the German Universal Equality Act [Allgemeinen Gleichbehandlungsgesetzes (AGG)]. Employees who feel aggrieved or discriminated against should contact the Office for complaints under the Universal Equality Act.

Department 3 – Human Resources

Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg attaches particular importance to the comprehensive promotion of its young scientists. In the course of active personnel development, the university provides its employees with target-group-specific and tailor-made information, advice and further training opportunities for competence development, career development and networking.

Division 3.2 – Personnel Development offers for PhD students employed at MLU, a broad spectrum of education opportunities in German, e.g. the certificate programme “Successful Teaching”, “Scientific Writing for Doctoral Studies” (German and English), “Career Planning for PhD Students – The Path to Science” or “Voice Coaching for Teachers”.

The training program appears semi-annually and is available for download. Here you will also find further offers for your individual training.


The members of the ombuds committee are personally available as contact persons for all members of the MLU who have allegations of scientific misconduct to make.

The Ombudsman acts as a trusted representative to advise anyone who notifies him/her of suspected academic misconduct, or takes action on the basis of relevant indications of which he/she becomes aware. He/she examines the allegations from the perspective of plausibility for tangibility and significance, for possible motives and with regard to possibilities for dispelling the allegations.

International Students and Staff Officer

The International Students and Staff Officer acts as the trusted representative and contact person for international students, doctoral candidates and academics. He/she also acts as a trusted representative and contact person for German members and affiliates of MLU in the event of issues with international students, doctoral candidates and academics.

The International Students and Staff Officer acts in an advisory capacity in the development and implementation of measures for the continued internationalisation of our University.

Please note that the international students and staff officer is not responsible for general issues in the doctorate or specific aspects within the scope of the doctoral examination procedure.

Department 6 – Research, Transfer and External Funding Service

Department 6 – Research, Transfer and External Funding Service supports members of the University in all issues of externally funded research.

Division 6.1 – Research Funding and Cooperation, EU Office informs and advises doctoral candidates who are due to complete their doctorates on funding options in the postdoc phase (e.g. EU, DFG). Applications for research projects that are to be carried out at MLU are also supported. Advice concentrates on nationally and EU-funded programmes.

Division 6.3 – Transfer and Start-up Service advises doctoral candidates on intellectual property and transfer. Doctoral candidates who are considering establishing an enterprise may use the department’s inventing and incorporating consultation service, as well as advice on the transfer of research results to commercial ventures.

Career Center

The Career Center is the interface between the university and the employment market. It advises mainly students and graduates personally on questions of professional orientation and their application strategy, teach skills in practical seminars and lectures that prepare them for working life and establish contact between students, young professionals and employers.

Studentenwerk Halle

The Studentenwerk Halle fulfils public tasks of economic, social, health and cultural promotion of students at German universities. This includes university catering. At MLU there are five cafeterias at various MLU sites that provide food at low prices on a daily basis: the “Burse zur Tulpe” cafeteria on the Universitätsplatz, the Harzmensa, the Weinbergmensa, the Heidemensa, and the Franckesche Stiftung cafeteria. There are numerous interesting meal options to choose from and you can eat what you really like.
When you start your doctorate, you not only face new professional challenges, but often also personal challenges. The Studentenwerk Halle therefore offers psychosocial counselling where personal problems can be discussed.

Alumni network

After completing your doctorate, you are therefore warmly invited to keep in touch with your alma mater via Alumni Halenses.

We would be pleased to keep you up to date with news and activities relating to Halle University.

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Literature and further information


This guide is part of the overview Guides4docs@MLU released recently by InGrA. Together with the following topics you can get a good overview of options and requirements during your future or current doctorate at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

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