International Programmes 2021/2022

Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies

Freie Universität Berlin • Berlin

Dr phil, Dr rer pol, Dt theol, PhD
In cooperation with

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

Teaching language
  • English

Courses are held in English (100%). Participants can choose to write the dissertation in English or in German.

Programme duration
8 semesters
Winter semester
Application deadline

The application deadline is published annually on the website of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies ( in September for the winter semester of the following year.

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

The Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies examines, in a systematic and comparative way, texts, objects, and practices variously understood as Islamic. Special attention is given to strategies of dealing with diversity, difference, and distinction, among Muslims as well as between Muslims and non-Muslims. This includes negotiating plurality and pluralism, making our research programme deeply relevant to scholarly interests as well as pressing societal concerns in both Muslim and non-Muslim contexts. The area of study ranges from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to Europe and North America.

We foster a culture of discipline-based multidisciplinarity, which is based on close interaction between scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and area studies. This includes: Arabic Studies, Central Asian Studies, History, Human Geography, Islamic Studies, Islamic Theology, Political Science, Semitic Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology, South Asian Studies, Southeast Asian Studies, Southeast European History, and Turkic Studies. The Graduate School can build upon a well-established and successful history of collaboration among the principal investigators, who come from various disciplines and institutions and can offer doctoral candidates opportunities to build up additional research contexts at the national and the international levels.

Course organisation

Doctoral students participating in the programme of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies are members of the Dahlem Research School and Humboldt Graduate School, and are enrolled as doctoral students at either Freie Universität Berlin or Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, depending on the affiliation of their principal supervisor.
Doctoral candidates are supervised by an interdisciplinary doctoral committee composed of the principal supervisor and two additional principal investigators. The doctoral programme begins with an induction week, during which the students meet their peers, the principal investigators and other staff affiliated with the Graduate School. In regular meetings, the doctoral candidate and the doctoral committee agree on an individual plan of study, discuss the student's progress and, if necessary, periodically adjust the study plan.
The first year of the curriculum gives students the opportunity to acquire or enhance their theoretical and methodological skills and knowledge. If necessary, students can also work on additional language skills. A short research trip to the future site of research is scheduled for the end of the first semester. The second year is largely dedicated to archival research or fieldwork. During the third and fourth year, the focus is on writing the dissertation. During this period, doctoral fellows can benefit from optional classes on field- or archive research.
The Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies aims to achieve a balance between specialisation in a given field of study and in-depth interdisciplinary training ("discipline-based multidisciplinarity"). The inclusion of themes and projects from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America assists doctoral candidates in developing a transregional outlook. Close cooperation with researchers from various disciplines and backgrounds enhances intercultural openness. While specific skills are taught through traditional classes, students also have the opportunity to acquire other skills by attending seminars and workshops outside the Graduate School.
The doctoral curriculum offers doctoral students supportive structures, whilst allowing them sufficient time for individual work on their dissertation projects.
The four-year curriculum includes courses in theory and methods organised by the principal investigators and the students themselves. In research seminars, students have the opportunity to present their dissertation projects to their peers, the principal investigators and visiting professors from Germany and abroad. Language courses and workshops geared to the specific needs of the doctoral students are also offered. The research seminars and workshops are taught or chaired by principal investigators, postdoctoral researchers and visiting fellows. To foster communication skills and teamwork, additional reading groups, focused on one or more of the Graduate School's Research Areas, can be set up by the students. Knowledge transfer/management courses and workshops provide students with key qualifications pertinent to their future careers.

Types of assessment

Yearly reports on the status of the doctoral research project

A Diploma supplement will be issued
International elements
  • Study trips
Integrated internships

Short-term internships can be integrated into the study programme depending on individual interests.

Teaching/work obligations or opportunities

Doctoral fellows can engage in teaching activities in cooperation with their supervisors (co-teaching). 

Special promotion / funding of the programme
  • DAAD
Name of DAAD funding programme
Graduate School Scholarship Programme
Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
The course of study can be taken entirely online
Digital learning and teaching modules
  • Virtual classrooms
  • Online seminar
  • Moodle, Blackboard, Online workshops and seminars
Description of e-learning elements

Course documentation and schedules are available on the online teaching platform.

Participation in the e-learning course elements is compulsory
Can ECTS points be acquired by taking the online programmes?
Can the e-learning elements be taken without signing up for the course of study?
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution

In total, the semester contribution amounts to 312.89 EUR. It includes a fee of 198.80 EUR for the transportation ticket contribution. This allows you to use public transportation in Berlin for free. Other costs covered by the semester contribution are a 50 EUR enrolment fee, a 54.09 EUR semester contribution to the student support service ("studierendenWERK Berlin"), a 8.80 EUR contribution to the student union and a 1.20 EUR contribution to the Semester Ticket office.

Costs of living

Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, cultural events, etc. are basically in line with the EU average. You will need around 900 EUR each month to cover your living expenses. The largest expense is your monthly rent.

Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university

Funding opportunities within the university include scholarships, mobility programmes, and travel grants.

Academic admission requirements

The formal prerequisite for application to the programme is a Master's degree in one of the disciplines represented at the Graduate School, with ranking of above average (or German "Magister" or "Diplom" with a grade of "very good") where applicable.

Language requirements

For non-native speakers of English: C1 CERF or equivalent.
Evidence of proficiency in the major source or field language(s) is relevant for the dissertation project.

Application deadline

The application deadline is published annually on the website of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies ( in September for the winter semester of the following year.

Submit application to

Applications will only be accepted through our online application platform, which will be open when calls for applications are published (usually in September every year).

Possibility of finding part-time employment

There are many ways to earn money while you study. For example, you can work as a waiter, academic assistant or private tutor. Knowledge of German will improve your chances of finding a part-time job. Please be aware of the legal regulations.

Student services at the universities and the local representative of the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency) can provide information about jobs for students. When searching, look at online job boards, adverts in local newspapers and notice boards on campus.


You have the option to stay in a public/private student dormitory or in a private (shared) apartment. Student dormitories are not administrated by the university itself, so Freie Universität Berlin does not have any on-campus housing. However, it works together with "studierendenWERK Berlin" regarding student accommodation. If you do not wish to stay in a student dormitory, you can try to find a room or an apartment on the private housing market. Many students in Berlin live in shared apartments ("WGs"). You can find these offers online (e.g., or, in various Berlin magazines, or on notice boards. Rooms/apartments around the university are rare. Therefore, students mostly commute from other parts of the city. The duration of the commute on public transport typically ranges from 30 minutes to one hour.

Structured research and supervision
Research training / discussion
Career advisory service

Doctoral researchers can participate in career development courses offered by the Dahlem Research School or Humboldt Graduate School. Further career development is offered through career talks, alumni networks and individual consultations at the graduate school.

Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Welcome event
  • Tutors

Freie Universität Berlin

University location