Faculty of Protestant Theology

Doctoral Degree at the Faculty of Protestant Theology

Thank you for your interest in a doctorate at the Faculty of Protestant Theology!

Here you will find all information about the doctoral procedure at our faculty. We will be happy to help you with any further questions! You can contact Mrs Karin Vrana at the Dean's Office or the Assistant to the Dean Dr. Florian Zacher if you have any questions. Do not hesitate to ask for a personal meeting. In cases of conflict, the ombudsperson is the Dean Prof. Dr. Birgit Weyel (  §38 (4) LHG)

The most important basis of the procedure is the current doctoral degree regulations of the Faculty of Protestant Theology in the version dated March 1, 2018. A non-official english version will be available soon. However, please note that the German version is legally binding. You can download it here. Some procedural steps have been regulated in more detail by the doctoral committee. These regulations are listed below. The presentation is structured according to the individual steps of the procedure from acceptance to the award of the certificate.

If you are not already living in Tübingen, it is best to register with the Welcome Center for international researchers of the University of Tübingen. They will provide help and services with regard to health insurance, bank accounts, accomodation, bureaucracy, and everyday life.

Steps to the doctorate

Acceptance as doctoral candidate

To be accepted as doctoral candidate you need a doctoral agreement with at least one professor of the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Tübingen who is willing to act as a supervisor. Please contact possible supervisors directly, the Dean's Office does not arrange such agreements. You can download the Agreement here. Tübingen University has adopted a Code of Conduct for the Doctoral Phase. This code defines the responsibilites of supervisor and doctoral candidate and gives a checklist for an initial interview with a potential supervisor.

Note: Your main supervisor has to be a member of the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Tübingen (§3 (1) b) Promotionsordnung). This includes Associate Professors, Extraordinary Professors and retired professors. However, one supervisor should be an active Ordinary Professor.

If you have reached an agreement with at least one supervisor, you can apply to be accepted as a doctoral candidate. Please download the necessary form here.

With this application form you have to send the following documents to the Dean's Office (§§3-4 Promotionsordnung):

  • Certificates for the language skills in Latin, Ancient Greek and Ancient Hebrew
  • University Degree in Protestant Theology
  • Proof of Membership of a Protestant Church
  • Doctoral Agreement

The Dean's Office will check the documents and pass them on to the Doctoral Committee. The Committee has to agree to your acceptance. The Committee meets once a month during the Lecture Time  (§38 (5) LHG; §3 (3) Promotionsordnung). If you have not graduated from a German University, the Dean of Studies will check whether the Degree and the language certificates in Latin, Greek and Hebrew are equivalent to the faculty's standard. It is possible, that he asks for further proof of your knowledge of the languages. In this case, the Doctoral Committee can accept you as docotral candidate under the condition that you give further proof until the submission of the dissertation. Usually, this proof is given in form of a short oral exam by a Chair Holder of the faculty or a language teacher. Please contact the Dean's Office for further information. As soon as you have prooven the equivalence, you should inform the Dean's Office of the fulfillment of the conditions.

When the Commitee has accepted you as a doctoral candidate, the Dean's Office will issue a certificate  of acceptance, which you can collect or which can be sent to you. If the acceptance procedure takes longer due to the semester break or for other reasons, the Dean's Office can also issue you provisional certificates. Please remember to inform the Dean's Office of any changes to your personal details. This will enable us to keep in reliable contact with you.

The Landeshochschulgesetz (Federal State Higher Education Law) §38 (5) requires you to enroll as doctoral student, as soon as you are accepted as doctoral candidate. Exceptions are only possible, if you work for the University. For further information see the webpage of the Department of Application and Enrollment.

Note: In few excpetional cases, you can be accepted as docotral candidate, despite being a member of another Church. The Doctoral Committee has to decide whether an exception can be made. If you are in doubt, please contact the Dean's Office.


After you have been accepted as a doctoral candidate you are obliged to enroll for a doctorate (§38 (5) LHG). As an enrolled student you enjoy many benefits, most importantly you will be able to use the online services of the university library and the services of the data center. For further information on the enrollment see the webpage of the Department of Application and Enrollment. If you work at the University of Tübingen (work contract of at least half the regular hours of a full-time employee), you can be exempted from enrollment. For this, you need to send a declaration of exemption from compulsory enrollment, the acceptance as a doctoral candidate by the faculty and a copy of the current work contract to the Department of Application and Enrollment.


Your dissertation needs a title page and second page like this.
The second page will be completed by the Dean's Office.

The submitted version must not contain a preface. 

The dissertation should not be longer than 350 pages.

The doctoral thesis must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to conduct academic work independently. It must be academically noteworthy. (§6 (1) Promotionsordnung)

The dissertation can be written in German or English.The printed copies of the thesis must be bound and the pages must be numbered. All literature and sources used must be cited. (§6 (2) Promotionsordnung)

The dissertation should be printed 1-sided and have a softcover.

Application for the doctoral qualification process

When you have finished your dissertation, you can apply for the submission to the doctoral qualification process. Please downlaod the application form here.

The form contains all necessary declarations required by the doctoral degree regulations (§§ 4-5 Promotionsordnung). Please submit with the application:

  • Three printed copies of your disssertation
  • a digital version of your dissertation (via e-mail or on a flash drive)
  • a signed Curriculum Vitae in German (in tabular or prose form)
  • a proof of church membership (no more than six months old)

You only have to submit the following documents, if you have not already submitted them with your application of acceptance or afterwards:

  • Certificate for the language skills in Latin
  • Certificate for the language skills in Ancient Greek
  • Certificate for the language skills in Ancient Hebrew

NB: Despite § 6 (2) Promotionsordnung, you only have to submit three printed copies! If you have been accepted as a doctoral candidate with conditions, please submit proof of fullfilment.

Review and Acceptance as doctoral dissertation


If you have successfully applied for the doctoral qualification process, the Dean will appoint two reviewers. Generally, your supervisor will be the first reviewer. Reviewer are usually members of the Faculty. In exceptional cases, a person from another faculty can act as second reviewer. This is especially the case, when this person has acted as second supervisor or has special expertise in this field. The doctoral committee has to agree to the appointment of a non faculty member as reviewer (§ 7(3) Promotionsordnung) A third reviewer is only appointed in exceptional cases, e.g. if the first two reviewers disagree significantly or if further special expertise is necessary. (§8 (3) Promotionsordnung)

The reviewers are supposed to give a written report within six months. The reports include an statement, whether the dissertation should be accepted, and if accepted a grade.

Possible grades are:

summa cum laude (excellent)

magna cum laude (very good)

cum laude (good)

rite (satisfactory)

No finer definition between these grades is permitted (§8 (1) Promotionsordnung)

The revierwes may recommend that acceptance of the thesis is made dependent upon the candidate addressing objections to the work by making improvements or additions. The thesis may be given back to the candidate for this purpose; a time limit must be set. If this time limit elapses without the improvements or changes having been made successfully, the thesis counts as rejected, unless the failure to meet the deadline is not the fault of the candidate. The doctoral examination committee shall decide. (§8 (2) Promotionsordnung)

Inspection and Acceptance

All members of the doctoral committee receive access to the submitted dissertation and the reviewer's written reports for inspection. They may propose further changes or corrections or submit a statement, if they disagree with the reports. The period of inspection is usually 4 weeks. You will be informed when this period starts. If this deadline has passed, the doctoral comittee will vote on the acceptance of the dissertation and the grade. You will be informed of the grade after the oral exam. If the reviewers agree, you will get the reviewer's written reports, when you have passed the oral exam succesfully.

Oral Exam

The last step is the oral examination (§9 Promotionsordnung). The doctoral committee appoints the examiners. The main subject is the field of your dissertation, the examiner is usually the supervisor.

The examination takes the form of an academic discussion and covers the following subjects:

  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • History of the Church
  • Systematic Theology
  • Practical Theology

The oral examination runs for approximately one hour on the subject of the thesis and about 15 minutes on the other subjects. In the main subject, the dissertation has to be discussed as part of the examination. You should agree on exam topics with the examiners in advance.

If you have obtained an academic degree or church equivalent in Protestant Theology, and if your thesis is graded “magna cum laude” or “summa cum laude,” the doctoral examination committee may upon application by the first examiner restrict the oral examination to the subject of the thesis and two more of the subjects of your choice. However, one subject must be either Old Testament or New Testament.

After the exam, the examination committee will anounce the grade of your dissertation and the complete grade after the oral exam. Possible grades are:

summa cum laude (excellent)

magna cum laude (very good)

cum laude (good)

rite (satisfactory)

No finer definition between these grades is permitted.

After the oral exam you will receive a provisional certificate on your successful completion ot the docotral qualification process and the grade you have achieved. You will receive the doctoral certificate only after you have published the dissertation. You must not use the title Dr. theol. before that.

Publishing and Certificate

You have to publish the dissertation within three years after the exam. If you make substantial changes to your dissertation, the doctoral committee has to agree to that before the publication (§12 (1) Promotionsordnung). The change of the title is regarded as a substantial change. Please contact the Dean's Office in advance to reach the agreement quickly.

You will receive the doctoral certificate after you have submitted three copies of the published book. You may not use the title Dr. theol. befor that! (§13 (3) Promotionsordnung)

The dissertation can be published in different ways. In any case, three printed copies have to be submitted to the Dean's Office. Further information on the possibilities of a diigtal publication with the University Library see the  webpage.