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American Studies, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #47 (WUR) ,
This structured, three-year English-language program is open to German and international applicants who wish to earn a research-oriented academic degree. The program supports students with acquiring the skills to conduct independent scholarly research in the fields of American history, politics, literature and culture, geography, and religion.


  • The Ph.D. program aids students in acquiring the skills to conduct independent scholarly research in the fields of American history, politics, geography, religion, literature, and culture.
  • This program offers a modern multidisciplinary curriculum. It is committed to building a true community of scholars by fostering academic debate.
  • The curriculum includes classes on method and theory, academic writing as well as presentation and media skills workshops. Ph.D. students also attend the research colloquium (on a weekly basis during the winter semester, and for a long weekend at our summer retreat near Heidelberg). Regular progress reports and consultation with supervisors form an integral part of the Ph.D. program.
  • Unlike Ph.D. programs in the United States, this program does not include a preliminary phase ending with a preliminary or comprehensive exam. This means that no automatic master’s degree will be awarded and that students will not have time to develop their dissertation topics while enrolled in the program. Instead, admission to the Heidelberg Ph.D. program in American Studies requires a well-developed and advanced concept of a research project.

Detailed Programme Facts

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

Programme Structure

In the first year of the program, students are expected to take one class on theories and issues, one class on academic writing as well as a class on presentation and media skills. While enrolled, students are obliged to attend the Ph.D. Colloquium (from which they can be exempted when on research trips). In addition, regular progress reports and consultation with supervisors form an integral part of the Ph.D. program.

  • Theories and Issues in American Studies
  • Academic Writing
  • Presentation and Media Skills
  • Ph.D. Colloquium

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • 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. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL®PBT is administered in a paper format and measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write in English while performing academic tasks. Read more about TOEFL®PBT.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • 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.

    Schedule IELTS

Academic Requirements

The proposal should

  • outline the guiding questions of the dissertation project while embedding them in current academic debates,

  • show that the dissertation will make an original and important contribution to a particular field of research,

  • list the source materials that will be used,

  • and provide a realistic timetable for the completion of the project.

Applicants need a letter of intent from a professor at Heidelberg University stating his/her willingness to supervise the research project, and two letters of recommendation that not only assess the applicant’s academic qualifications but also evaluate the proposed dissertation project.

Tuition Fee

  • International Applies to you

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 0 EUR per year and a duration of 36 months.
  • EU/EEA Applies to you

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 0 EUR per year and a duration of 36 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

The only fee is the regular semester fee (currently at 152,30 Euro) at Heidelberg University

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.


If available, Ph.D. scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis. All candidates admitted to the respective cohort are eligible.

Be sure to take advantage of faculty and staff who can advise you individually as you pursue various grants and fellowships throughout your years at the HCA. They can also advise you about outside funding opportunities.

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.

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, Studyportals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.