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Transcultural Studies, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #44 (WUR) Heidelberg, Germany
The Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies (GPTS) at the University of Heidelberg is a three-year, structured doctoral programme that is taught in English. It was established in 2008 within the interdisciplinary research environment of the Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context: The Dynamics of Transculturality.
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In line with the Cluster's focus, the programme's research profile centres on the dynamics of cultural exchange processes between Asia and Europe. The Cluster challenges the master narrative of asymmetrical Western domination along with its historical explanation, its methodology, and the resulting structures of the humanities and social sciences. Involving Asian, European, and global perspectives, the GPTS offers an excellent working environment for young scholars who wish to be integrated into cooperative research on problems of high complexity, both in terms of subject matter and methodology.

The Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies (GPTS) at the University of Heidelber combines the European model of highly individualised doctoral studies and a system of guided courses. Supervision is provided by mentors during a term of three academic years. In the first year participants attend a number of thematically focused classes. The second year is intended for field research, while the third year is dedicated for the writing and presenting of the results. Each doctoral student will be assigned two mentors/advisors. Half of the scholarships are reserved for students from Asia.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include: 

  • Introduction to Transcultural Studies
  • Transcultural Theories and Methods
  • Academic Writing in English
These courses in the form of lectures, reading classes and colloquiums, are designed to familiarise them with the theoretically transcultural and methodologically interdisciplinary approach of the Cluster. Soft skills workshops train the doctoral students to plan and manage their project and express their results in a fluent academic language.

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120.

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Get a free IELTS practice test

General Requirements

  • Applicants must hold an M.A. or equivalent in a discipline of the humanities or social sciences with an above-average grade (at least 1.7, B+, 2+, "magna cum laude", or equivalent). 
  • The degree has to reflect at least four years of study at university level. Applicants who plan to graduate in the current academic year must provide a university transcript that clearly indicates the degree progress.

University and language certificates must be submitted in English, German, French or Italian. Documents in other languages may be submitted as certified translations into English or German.

Tuition Fee

Living costs for Heidelberg

  • 922 - 1400 EUR/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


  • HCTS Scholarships
Two of the doctoral scholarships are funded by the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS). They amount to 1.200 EUR/month for a duration of three years. All candidates who meet the requirements listed above are eligible to apply.
  • GSSP Scholarships
Two doctoral scholarships are offered in cooperation with the DAAD Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP). Only international candidates are eligible to apply. In addition to fulfilling the criteria listed above, these candidates must meet the criteria set by the DAAD. 

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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