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Doctoral Research (Status 15.06.2022)

Before registering your doctoral project, you must proactively search for a supervisor for your doctoral project. The supervisor must be a member of the group of full-time university lecturers working at the faculty or a full-time habilitated member of the faculty or a full-time associate professor of the faculty or must have been commissioned by the faculty to supervise doctoral studies.


You’ll be admitted to doctoral studies if you can provide proof of:

  • relevant university degree with a standard study period of at least eight semesters, usually with an overall mark of at least “Good” if a degree other than a bachelor’s degree was awarded
  • relevant master’s degree in the sense of Section 61 para. 2 sentence 2 of the Higher Education Act, i.e. a master’s degree with a standard study period of at least two and at most four semesters, which was preceded by a bachelor’s degree, usually with an overall mark of at least “Good".

Further information on relevant degrees and any necessary recognition procedures can be found here.

You must register your doctoral project before you begin working on it. First, complete this form to submit your details and email it to  as a Word document. Pursuant to Section 4 para. 1 of the doctoral regulations, you must then submit the following documents required to the Dean’s Office in a paper format within 14 days:

  1. Form to register your doctoral project
  2. Current and signed CV in German or English detailing your training and studies to date
  3. Certified copies of your bachelor’s and master’s degree certificates, including the transcripts of records
  4. Confirmation from your chosen supervisor of their willingness to supervise your doctoral project, formulated in accordance with Section 4 para. 1 no. 3 of the exam regulations
  5. Where applicable, confirmation from a second supervisor pursuant to Section 4 para. 1 no. 4 of the exam regulations
  6. You must also present your identity card at the Dean’s Office.

Please make an appointment with the dean's office for submission of documents.

According to § 67 paragraph 5 HG, all doctoral students are required to enroll at the University and remain enrolled as a doctoral student or doctoral auditor for the entire duration of their doctoral studies. You’ll need the confirmation of registration from the Dean’s Office to register as a doctoral researcher at the Registrar’s Office. See here for more information on enrolling.

With the completion of the dissertation, the application for the opening of the doctoral procedure can be requested. 

You must submit the following documents to the Dean’s Office in a paper format to apply for the opening of to the doctoral procedure:

  • Application for admission to the doctoral procedure
  • Three bound or stapled copies of the dissertation in a paper format
  • One copy of the dissertation in an electronic format (PDF) by
  • Affidavit
  • CV in German or English detailing your training and studies to date
  • Assessor proposal from your supervisor

After submitting the application for admission to the doctoral procedure and all of the supporting documents required, the Dean’s Office will ask the assessors/examiners to prepare an expert opinion on the dissertation, ideally within four months. They must conclude their expert opinion with a recommendation to the faculty on whether to accept or reject the dissertation.

As soon as the expert opinions are available, the doctoral file containing the expert opinions will be made available for viewing in the Dean’s Office for a period of two weeks (14 calendar days). The Dean’s Office shall inform the persons tasked with preparing the expert opinions, the faculty’s lecturers and habilitated members and the members of the faculty council of the viewing times.

Any full-time faculty member holding a professorship may submit a statement within one week (7 calendar days) after the viewing period ends.

If acceptance of the dissertation was recommended in all of the expert opinions and no justified objection against the acceptance is made to the Dean’s Office by a full-time faculty member pursuant to Section 8 of the exam regulations dated 25.11.2013 within one week of the two-week viewing period ending, the dissertation shall be accepted.

The Dean’s Office shall inform you whether the dissertation has been accepted or rejected.

The oral examination shall take place within a reasonable period of time after acceptance of the dissertation in the form of an academic defence in German or English.

Pursuant to Section 9 of the exam regulations dated 25.11.2013, the oral defence consists of two parts:

  • presentation lasting approx. 30 minutes
  • discussion lasting approx. 30 minutes about this presentation

The oral defence is public, unless you objected to this when you applied for admission to the doctoral procedure. Faculty teachers may participate regardless.

Three weeks before the disputation date, notify the Dean's Office of the topic of the presentation in writing by You can use this form for your reply. The Dean’s Office will then set the date for the oral defence and notify you and the faculty public of this date via email at least 14 days in advance, providing details of the topic.

During the oral examination, a protocol is prepared that records the questions of the examination committee in keywords. The first examiner appoints a recording secretary for the disputation, who is usually not employed at the same chair as the candidate or is not supervised by the same supervisor. The dean's office must be informed of the recording secretary two weeks before the disputation. 

The dean arranges the oral defence committee comprising three university lecturers and/or habilitated members of the faculty and informs them of this via email. The oral defence committee shall be appointed and the date for the oral defence set according to the supervisor’s proposal.

Please bring your laptop with you for your presentation. We recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of your oral defence to familiarise yourself with the technical facilities.

After your oral defence, the chairperson will inform you verbally of the outcome and, if you have passed, of the grades agreed.

The Dean’s Office will also confirm the overall assessment of your doctorate in writing once you have successfully completed your oral defence and outline the regulations governing the publication of your dissertation and your entitlement to use the doctoral degree awarded.

Pursuant to Section 14 para. 1 of the exam regulations dated 25.11.2013, the doctoral degree may only be used once the doctoral procedure has ended. The doctoral procedure has only ended when the doctoral certificate has been awarded.

  • Both assessors complete a confirmation form – if necessary, after changes have been made to the dissertation – to confirm their agreement to printing of the dissertation. The agreement to print the dissertation may be subject to certain conditions, which must be listed in the confirmation form with conditions. The revised version must be reviewed within three months. As the doctoral researcher, you collect the confirmation forms from the assessors and hand these both in at the Dean’s Office.


  • As soon as the assessors’ confirmations are ready, you’ll receive written permission (with or without conditions) from the Dean’s Office to print your dissertation.

The publication of the dissertation is done by delivery of:

  • a) an electronic version at the University and State Library, whereby the data format and the data carrier are to be agreed upon with the University and State Library, as well as a bound copy of the dissertation at the University and State Library, which is also assigned the right to produce and distribute further copies of the dissertation or to make it available in data networks within the framework of the legal tasks of the university library, and
  • b) two bound copies of the dissertation with the supervisor, if the revision certificate of the reviewers stipulated a requirement. 

Exceptions are possible if

  • a) a commercial publisher takes over the distribution via the book trade and the publication is identified as a dissertation of the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf on the back of the title page by stating the seal D 61, three copies of the dissertation must be submitted to the University and State Library Düsseldorf.
  • b) the publications within the dissertation have not yet been finally published in one or more journal(s). In this case, the dean may, at the request of the doctoral candidate, arrange for the University and State Library of Düsseldorf to postpone publication by one year. Dissertations that are marked with such a blocking notice (only in german) must be deposited at the University and State Library of Düsseldorf in compliance with the agreed confidentiality obligations. Upon request, the dean decides on the extension of the above-mentioned deadlines. Please be aware that the blocking notice with the agreed confidentiality obligations must be submitted to the deans office no later than four weeks after the disputation. 

The contact person at the ULB is Ms Kuhn (Tel: +49 211/81-13394, ).

Upon delivery of the dissertations to the ULB, you will receive a receipt for the number of print copies and, where applicable, electronic version provided. When you submit your dissertation to your supervisor, they must complete a confirmation of receipt for the deposit copies.

You must submit the receipts from both the ULB and your supervisor to the Dean’s Office.

The Dean’s Office will only issue your doctoral certificate once you have submitted the receipts from the ULB and your supervisor confirming that you’ve submitted the deposit copies of your dissertation. The Dean usually hands over the certificate in person. Please contact the Dean’s Office to make an appointment.

Depending on the doctoral degree you chose when you applied for admission to the doctoral procedure, the doctoral certificate will be issued in either German or English.

The doctoral procedure is deemed successfully completed and the doctorate is deemed ended with awarding of the certificate. Once your doctorate has officially ended, you have the right to use the doctoral degree.

Please inform yourself about the topic of doctoral studies on our website first. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Dean's Office by e-mail or telephone.

The Dean's Office offers on-site consultations for the following matters by appointment:

  • Registration of the doctoral project 
  • Application for the opening of the doctoral procedure (= submission of the dissertation) 
  • collection of doctoral certificates

Please send documents and records of already running doctoral procedures (e.g. revision certificates, expert opinions, blocking notices, informal applications) only digital (to: wiwi.fakultaet@hhu.de).

Thank you very much!


Download Promotionsordnung (15.06.2022) - only available in German

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