Q: I plan to submit my thesis in November/December/January. Can I still apply?
No. It is acceptable if you are still waiting for your grade/the oral defense or anything else your university might stipulate for the completion of the program. (In that case, please ask your referee to confirm the expected date of completion.) However, your MA thesis has to be submitted at the latest by the time of the interview. The graduate school has an ambitious schedule and needs to make sure that all fellows can start the program with full commitment in Berlin on April 1.
Q: My university grants degrees only once a year/semester. That date is after the interview in late October. Can I still apply?
Yes. As long as your thesis is submitted at the latest by the time of the interview, you can apply (see above). It is acceptable if you are still waiting for your grade/the oral defense or anything else your university might stipulate for the completion of the program. (In that case, please ask your referee to confirm the expected date of completion.)
Q: My MA program did not involve writing a thesis. Can I still apply?
Generally speaking, if you have completed the requirements of your university and earned an MA degree, your application will be considered. It would be good to explain these requirements in your cover letter and maybe also brief your referee to state in their letter of recommendation whether they see your qualification as equivalent to that of an MA graduate with a regular thesis.
Q: I have an MA/MPhil in a field other than history or an area studies discipline. Can I still apply?
The short answer is that a background in history and area studies is what the school needs to be able to develop a coherent program - the overall goal of the school is, after all, to advance debates in global and intellectual history. With a majority of applications coming from historians and area studies scholars, there will be strong competition; the search committee is also made up exclusively of people from those two fields.
Should you decide to apply, we strongly advise to ground your proposal in the literature on global history, intellectual history, postcolonial studies and so on and to explicitly relate it to the research program as laid out on the website. It would also be good to explain your reasons for applying with a different disciplinary background in the cover letter.
Q: Can I name more than two referees?
No. We would appreciate if you stick closely to the instructions stated in the call for applications. Only the first two referees will be contacted.
Q: I have already started doing preliminary research for the proposed project. Is that a disadvantage?
No. The search committee will appreciate well thought-out research proposals.
Q: I have already prepared a proposal for a different application. Can I use this one?
We highly recommend that you take the time to tailor your proposal specifically to your application for the graduate school. Please keep in mind that you will cooperate with fellows that might work on the transfer of Apartheid thought between South Africa and Namibia or the intellectual debates surrounding the introduction of the printing press in the late Ottoman Empire. It is thus essential that you contextualize your research in terms of our research agenda and recent approaches in global and intellectual history.
Q: Will I need to/can I contact potential supervisors about my proposal before applying?
There is no need to contact potential supervisors beforehand, as applications will be reviewed by a search committee consisting of all principal investigators [LINK]. Supervision will be decided at a later point among the faculty and between them and the fellows. All issues related to the application process are handled by the coordinator.
Q: I am already enrolled in a program at a different university. Is a double degree possible?
No. On principle, the degree will be conferred by Freie Universität or Humboldt-Universität. The graduate school also expects you to dedicate your time and energy first and foremost to your thesis project in Berlin and the activities of the program.
Q: Can a professor from a different university act as supervisor?
Typically, supervision will be fully in the hands of the principal investigators of the graduate school. In individual cases, PhD fellows can request an external researcher as secondary supervisor. However, you are free - and encouraged - to seek out other researchers in Berlin and beyond to discuss your research. There will also be opportunities to invite scholars to workshops.
Q: Do I need to send formal proof of my language proficiency in English/my research languages?
No. There is no need to take a formal test only for the purpose of applying. If you hold a language certificate, you can mention it in your CV, but please only submit the materials requested in the call for applications. The search committee will gauge your language proficiency from your application materials and our impression at the interview and request additional proof as needed. If not self-evident from your academic training or personal background, you can also briefly explain your language proficiency in the cover letter.
Please note, however, that as a non-native speaker, you will have to submit formal proof of your English proficiency (level C1 of the Common European Framework or equivalent) to the graduate studies office at the time of enrolment as PhD student. This proof can take many forms. If in doubt, you can raise the issue at the time of the interview.
Q: Does the program involve language training?
No. As stated in the call for applications, it is essential that you have a good knowledge of all the languages necessary to carry out your research successfully when coming to Berlin. That said, you are of course free - and encouraged - to make use of the language-learning facilities and resources of Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität to improve your language proficiency.
Q: Do I need to know German to successfully participate in the program?
No. English will be the language of communication for the program. However, you are free to take German-language classes in your free time should you so desire.