Submission of thesis at the Univ. of Bonn

Instructions and guidelines in accordance with the PhD Regulations  (Promotionsordnung)[1] for PhD students at the University of Bonn 

Generally, all four members of the commission need to be qualified as professors (“habilitiert”). This being the case the 3rd member of the commission could be external, i.e. not from the University of Bonn but should still be qualified as a professor in Germany. Exceptional cases such as members of the commission are professors from outside Germany are subject to the dean’s approval so general information cannot be given on such cases. Moreover, the dean’s office evaluates each case individually and specific questions should be addressed to  Each PhD candidate has to write to this email address to get a form that he/she needs to fill out before submitting the thesis. 

The most general information on the examination board can be split up as follows:

PhD Examination Board (“Promotionskommission”):

Consists of 4 members:

1. Referee (the supervisor)

2. Referee (second examiner) (who in general is the chairperson of the examination board)

3. Someone of the same or similar field (i.e. a physicist) (in general suggested by the PhD candidate and who must be qualified as a professor (“habilitiert”)

4. Someone external to the subject (for example informatics (Prof. Ch. Strelen), geodesy (PD Dr. A. Nothnagel), meteorology (Prof. C. Simmer))

Period of Display (“Auslegefrist”):

Upon submission of the thesis and all relevant documents (see next page) a complicated procedure follows to collect the reports in the dean’s office and to derive the grade. Then follows a 2 weeks’ term of display plus another week to announce the colloquium

See § 9 (1)

The grade “excellent” (ausgezeichnet)

  • requires a third, external report
  • the supervisor suggests three referees of which the dean then chooses one
  • This will prolong the processing time considerably. Choosing the external

referee and waiting for her/his report may well take another 2 months! 

The procedure in details

Submit the following to the Promotionsbüro (PhD Office)

Mr. Jorg Wenniges

Wegelerstr. 10

Telephone:  0228-73 2232

Opening hours of the office:  10:00-12:00 Monday – Thursday


  • An application to be admitted to the PhD examination procedure. This form can be requested by email at as mentioned before. The form that is published on pages 44 ff. is just a SAMPLE. The application has to be signed and a photo should be pasted in. You have to add a declaration instead of an oath that you have indicated all means of help. This is called “eidesstattliche Erklärung” in German. We have attached a sample.
  • 5 copies of the thesis – indelibly printed and bound - containing a summary and a curriculum vitae. The layout of the title page and of the 2nd page should follow the example on the reverse page of the details of the examination procedure (“Hinweise zum Promotionsverfahren – attachment 2)
  • If applicable, 5 copies each of advance publications of major parts of the thesis.
  • One single copy of the summary of the thesis (including your name and the title of the thesis – see example attachment 3)
  • One single copy of the curriculum vitae
  • Completed undergraduate and postgraduate certificates (diploma or bsc and msc copies and originals)
  • A “Führungszeugnis für Behörden” (clearance certificate/certificate of no criminal record) – see separate page for details how and where to apply for it (will be sent to the Promotionsbüro directly)
  • A legalized copy of a valid passport and presentation of the original
  • Proof of at least 2 terms doctoral studies at the University of Bonn or an existing employment at the University of Bonn (proof of MPI employment is not accepted)


  1. One copy of the thesis (the examination copy) is stamped and forwarded to the supervisor (1st or 2nd referee) who signs and returns it to the Promotionsbüro.
  2. The first and second referees receive the thesis for assessment.
  3. The first and second referees submit their assessment to the Promotionsbüro. According to the PhD Regulations they have to do this within one month after request by the Promotionsbüro, i.e. not necessarily one month after submitting See § 7(2)
  4. Copies of the assessments are sent to the 3rd  and 4th member of the examination board who have 2 weeks to forward their vote to the chairperson of the examination board (usually the 2nd referee).
  5. The chairperson of the examination board informs the Promotionsbüro of the acceptance of the thesis and the cumulative grade.
  6. The Promotionsbüro distributes the announcements.

And only now the 21 days’ term of display plus 7 days for the announcement of the colloquium (Promotionskolloquium) starts. 

Even under ideal conditions (i.e. the referees submit their assessments right away and not take the full time at their disposal), the period of time between submitting and defending the thesis will be at least 2 months! To ensure a smooth and swift process, it is advisable to talk to the 1st and 2nd referee of your thesis as early as possible and also let them have a version of the thesis prior to the official one they are going to get from the Promotionsbüro. It may also not be easy to find a date for the exam as it involves 4 persons. Please note that in general no exams will be possible during the semester holidays!

Conferral of a doctorate consists of two parts:


1. The PhD Thesis

  • The thesis has to be scientifically substantial and has to document the ability of independent research and adequate presentation of the results.
  • The thesis can be written in German or English.
  • The thesis has to be submitted indelibly printed and bound. It must include a complete list of the literature and other sources used and quotations of help received and facilities employed.

2. Oral Exams, consisting of

a)    A public scientific talk with discussion (Promotionskolloquium)

b)    A non-public oral exam (Disputation) following the talk

Both in front of the “Promotionskommission”, and both can be made in German or English.

In the Promotionskolloquium the doctoral candidate presents the scientific results of his PhD work. The length of the talk should not exceed 30 minutes. Afterwards 15 minutes should be allowed for scientific discussion.

The Disputation will take between 30 minutes (minimum) and 90 minutes (maximum).

A sealed envelope (containing the reports and grades) that you will be given after the defence. needs to be submitted to the Promotionsbüro:

Based on this you will receive a certificate that you passed the PhD exam. The official certificate (“Promotionsurkunde”), however, will only be delivered after submitting the following documents:

  • Confirmation by the institute’s (= Astronomical Institutes’) librarian (Mrs. E. Danne, room 3.09 Uni) that one copy of the thesis has been handed over (attachment 4)
  • “Entlastungsbescheinigung” (relief) by the institute (attachment 5)
  • Proof that the thesis has been made available to the scientific public.

Either a confirmation of the supervisor that essential parts of the thesis have been or will be published in a journal or that the thesis will be distributed by a commercial publisher with a minimum circulation of 150 copies (attachment 6).

Or, if the thesis will be published for the first time, approval by the supervisor to one of three forms of publication (see attachment 7).

We encourage you to choose the following form:

submission of an electronic version to the eLibrary of the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn (UBL).

Contact person:          Ms. Elena Dyck

                                 Email:,  phone: 0228/73-9533


Address:                      Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn

                                   Abteilungsbibliothek für Medizin, Naturwissenschaften und Landbau

                                   Nußallee 15a

                                   53115 Bonn


What is required for online publication:

1. Electronic version of the thesis in PDF format

In case the full version of the thesis exceeds 5 MB, the thesis has to be split into smaller parts (if 3-5 MB) in addition (for example splitting into chapters or giving figures separately). Both versions will be offered on the server.

Please note that the second page (resp. the back of the first page) has to include the names of the 1st and 2nd referee, the date of the exam as well as a note about the online publication (see attached example – attachment 8)

2. Registration via the online form

3. Signed statement (2 copies) (= contract with the UBL). This statement is automatically generated as a PDF file after completion of the online registration.

4. 5 printed and bound copies of the thesis (Pflichtexemplare/depositary copies). The copies have to be identical to the electronic version. A confirmation of receipt will be sent automatically to the Promotionsbüro.

5. Agreement by the supervisor

6. Approval by the Faculty (will be requested by the UBL automatically after points 1.-3. have been done).

As soon as the Faculty/Promotionsbüro has given its approval, the thesis will be placed on the server. You will be notified of this by email, and an official confirmation of the electronic publication will be sent to the Promotionsbüro. This confirmation, along with the one that 5 copies have been submitted (point 4. above), accomplish the requirements for the delivery of the official PhD certificate. This is normally handed over during a ceremony (“feierliche Promotion”) that takes place at the end of each semester. If you cannot attend this ceremony, you can pick up your certificate personally or have it sent to you.

Führungszeugnis für Behörden

(certificate of criminal history)

Application has to be made at the Bürgeramt of your place of residence.

In Bonn there are four:

Bürgeramt Bonn:                   Stadthaus, Berliner Platz 2

Bürgeramt Bad Godesberg:     Kurfürstenallee 2-3

Bürgeramt Beuel:                   Rathaus Beuel, Friedrich-Breuer-Str. 65

Bürgeramt Hardtberg:             Villemombler Str. 1


Opening hours:           Monday and Thursday:                                 8:00 – 18:00

                                 Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday:                   8:00 – 13:00


An application by mail would require that your signature has to be legalized. Therefore better apply for the Führungszeugnis in person. In principle it is possible to just go there and ask for it, but if you don’t speak (enough) German it is recommended to take a filled-in but unsigned application form (“Antrag auf Ausstellung eines Führungszeugnisses”) with you. You should sign it in the presence of the clerk.

You will need your passport.

And, of course, there’s a fee to be paid. According to the web pages of the city of Bonn the fee is 13 € (but could have been increased in the meantime). In other cities the fee could be lower or higher.

As the document is to be presented to an authority, it will not be sent to you but directly to the Promotionsbüro.

This will take about 3 weeks. The certificate is valid for 3 months.

Rules for Reproduction of PhD Theses

The theses should be available in full at the university thesis web server.

The cover of the thesis should have the IMPRS layout (see attachment; contact E. Angelakis for the macros to produce it). The thesis should be delivered as PostScript, PDF, or Word.

The reproduction of academic theses at the MPIfR printers is not allowed for personal use or for delivery to non-institute affiliated persons. The rules of the Max Planck Society do not allow the IMPRS to cover the print of the compulsory copies for the exam committee members.  



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