Registration at the University of Cologne

The University of Cologne awards the PhD (Dr. rer.nat) according to its standard rules, after acceptance of the Ph.D. thesis and a successful defence. The MPIfR is a research institution at which students can do their thesis research, but the University defines and controls all academic requirements.

There are no tuition fees for PhD students – neither for the IMPRS nor for the University of Cologne. The only fee is a semester fee (so-called “Sozialbeitrag”, social contribution) at the University of Cologne which amounts to roughly 202,87 € per semester. 

Documents required for admission: 

1. Filled application form for admission to studies

2. Confirmation of IMPRS/MPG scholarship

(will be provided by MPI administration)

3.  Letter to the Akademisches Auslandsamt requesting recognition of your previous academic achievements as well as asking permission to write your Ph.D. thesis in English 

4. Curriculum Vitae (up to date), signed

5. Copy of passport (incl. copy of residence permit)

6. Passport photo

7. Certified copies of all original certificates and certified translations (only English and German will be accepted)

  • high school certificate
  • University graduation certificate (BSc, MSc, Diplom etc.)
  • University transcript(s)
  • Language certificate or score reports (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS etc.)

8. Form „Mitteilung der Promotionsabsicht“ (notification of intended PhD)

This form needs to be signed by the official thesis advisor (Prof. Eckart), Prof. Zensus and the coordinator of the school. 

9. Copy of Master Thesis, if written in English. Otherwise a summary of the thesis in English.

10. For publicly insured students: proof of health insurance, for privately insured students: proof of exemption from the public health insurance ("Befreiungsbescheinigung von der gesetzlichen Krankenversicherung") 


The address for submission is:

Universität zu Köln

Akademisches Auslandsamt

SSC Studierenden Service Center

Universitätsstr. 22 a

50923 Köln

Mrs. Lisa Brüning

Phone: 0221 – 470-1661

Office hours:  10:00 – 12:30 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday

As soon as the PhD examination board of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has given their approval, you will receive admission to study Physics (“Zulassung zum Studium”) at the University of Cologne. This will be initially limited to 2 semesters (so-called preparation for a PhD – “Promotionsvorbereitung”). At the same time you will also receive the registration form and details.

The International Office forwards your request for recognition of your foreign degree(s) to the PhD examination board of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Due to the high number of doctoral candidates, this process may take between several months and one year to complete (hence the initial enrolment for 2 preparation semesters).

You will finally receive a letter of admission to the PhD examination procedure at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Along with this letter a stamped and signed copy of the form „Mitteilung der Promotionsabsicht“ is returned. Please keep this safe! You will need it again when you submit your thesis.

Please note that the second referee can be a professor appointed for lifetime from another university if the first referee is a professor for lifetime at the University of. This does not apply to professors of honour.


Although registration for two terms only is necessary for PhD studies at the University of Cologne, we recommend registration for the complete period – to take advantage of the benefits the Student ID offers (public transport free of charge, reductions on tickets for theatres, museums etc.).

The above-mentioned admission notification will mention the date by which you have to mail (Akademisches Auslandsamt der Universität zu Köln, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Köln) or submit personally (address and opening hours as in previous chapter) the following documents:

  • Completed registration form („Antrag auf Einschreibung“)
  • Certificate by your medical insurance company

Upon receipt of these documents the International Office will send you a preliminary Semester Ticket and a pre-filled money transfer form for the payment of the semester fee (also called “Sozialbeitrag” – social contribution) which currently amounts to about 230,00 € for each semester. This fee is mandatory and has to be paid twice a year. The Semester Ticket and the money transfer form will also state your Matrikel-Nummer.

Student ID

Approximately 4 weeks after you have paid the social contribution, your matriculation documents and the final student ID card will be sent to you along with the transfer form for the next semester’s fee (see “Re-Registration” below).

Together with a photo ID the student ID can be used as a ticket for busses, trams and local trains within NRW free of charge. This ticket is valid for 6 months (starting 1st October or 1st April, respectively), i.e. not only during lecture periods. With the student ID card you also get a students’ reduction of up to 50% on tickets for theatres, opera houses, museums, etc.


Once enrolled at the University of Cologne, you will have to re-register (“Rückmeldung”) for each of the following semesters. There is a registration deadline by which you need to transfer the registration fee (“Sozialbeitrag”) — 15 July for the winter term and 15 February for the summer term. You will then receive your semester documents automatically. Please take into account that the transfer could take up to 10 days! If the deadline is missed a fine of 4,60 € has to be paid.

Change of Address

Please inform the academic exchange office (“Akademisches Auslandsamt”) about all changes of your personal data (i.e. change of name, address, nationality) immediately, quoting your registration number (Matrikelnummer).












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