StudiesDoctoral Program (GPTS)

The Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies (GPTS) is a three-year, structured doctoral program that is taught in English. It was established in 2008 within the interdisciplinary research environment of the then Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context: The Dynamics of Transculturality". As an integral part of the HCTS, it has been host to a large variety of individual doctoral projects with a strong, innovative transcultural approach. The GPTS combines the European model of highly individualized doctoral studies and a system of guided courses, and thereby aims to develop scholarly knowledge on the specific theories and methodologies related to transculturality as well as soft skills relevant to an academic and/or non-academic career.


Doctoral candidates are trained primarily by members of the departments at the HCTS and further scholars committed to the institute's research agenda. In their first year they are located at Heidelberg during the regular teaching semester to attend the research colloquium, in which doctoral and postdoctoral researchers present the progress of their research and discuss it within the peer-group. A reading class in transcultural theories and methods further helps the doctoral candidates to discuss and conceptualize the theoretical and methodological framework of their project.

During the second year doctoral candidates ideally collect and analyze their primary data/source material. They thus do not have to be present at the HCTS, but are expected to present their work in the research colloquium if they are. The third year is again spent primarily at the HCTS, though individually further research/archival trips may be necessary. Doctoral candidates are then expected to put their results in writing and present them in the research colloquium and other academic platforms within and outside Heidelberg University. While ideally the doctoral thesis is submitted at the end of the three years, on average our doctoral candidates require four years to obtain their degree.


At the end of every year, the GPTS opens a call for applications for membership in the program and two scholarships by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The start of the program is in October of the following year. Interested candidates from all disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, whose research interest align with the transcultural agenda at the HCTS, are welcome to submit an application. Our rounds of applications are highly competitive - we receive about 60 applications for the two scholarships per year. 

Details on application

Doctoral Candidates

The doctoral candidates we have hosted in the GPTS since 2008 joined the program from more than 60 different countries and with nearly all disciplinary backgrounds in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Their projects have helped solidifying the transcultural approach within those disciplines. Upon completion of their doctoral degrees, the majority of our candidates have proceeded to new positions in research and teaching at universities worldwide, others got engaged in the corporate world or the public sector.

View our candidates