Global Studies Doctoral Program

Picture of the artist Mohamed Abla

Globalization has shrunk the distance between elites, shifted key relations between producers and consumers, broken many links between labor and family life, obscured the lines between temporary locales and imaginary national attachments […]. Globalization does not necessarily or even frequently imply homogenization […] there is still ample room for the deep study of specific geographies, histories, and languages.
– Arjun Appadurai

Global Studies

The Global Studies Doctoral Program of the University of Bern’s Graduate School of the Arts and Humanities (GSAH) represents a unique opportunity within Europe to obtain a doctoral degree in a well-structured academic context that promotes common discussion about global processes from the perspective of the humanities. Global Studies is a relatively new interdisciplinary field with rapidly increasing visibility, which critically examines global phenomena shaping past and contemporary life all over the world. It is particularly concerned with ways in which transnational interactions and exchange, circulations, migratory movements and flows of human beings, information and goods, continually challenge geographical, political, and/or linguistic borders. Thus, it is concerned with processes and structures exemplifying both global and local complexities which it tries to address by, for example, studying the exchange and interdependencies between different cultural, political, linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups, communities, (non) governmental institutions, and the media, as well as real or imaginary areas.

As an interdisciplinary approach is key to understanding the implications of global processes – both past and present – we invite international doctoral students from a wide range of disciplines and academic backgrounds to apply for membership in the Global Studies Doctoral Program. The program offers an interdisciplinary platform for exchange and dialogue with other doctoral students, members of our faculty, as well as international experts and researchers. Most importantly, the program encourages and assists you in building a personalized academic network which allows you to discuss questions related to your specific doctoral research project in light of current concepts and theories in global studies.

Networking possibilities go beyond the framework of the Global Studies Doctoral Program, as any Ph.D. candidate enrolled in the program simultaneously becomes a member of the GSAH at the Walter Benjamin Kolleg of the University of Bern. Regular joint events of the GSAH offer the opportunity to meet and exchange with peers from the Graduate School’s other doctoral programs (Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Studies of Language and Society and Studies in the Arts).

For more information about the GSAH, click here.

The Global Studies Doctoral Program – a program for doctoral students who…

  • are working on cultural global processes.
  • are looking for an interdisciplinary environment to share and discuss their doctoral research projects.
  • want to further develop and strengthen their skills in networking, research organization, and presentation with regards to their individual doctoral research projects.
  • are in need of some (limited) financial support for their research activities (see also Financial Support).

Credits and skills acquired in the framework of the interdisciplinary Global Studies Doctoral Program are listed in a Diploma Supplement, which will be handed out along with the doctoral degree certificate. Applications to the GSAH are possible every semester. Please find further details about the application process here and please also take a close look at our specifications regarding requirements.

Flyer Doctoral Program Global Studies


As the Global Studies Doctoral Program is one of four doctoral programs offered by the Graduate School of the Arts and Humanities of the Walter Benjamin Kolleg, you will find all the requirements listed on the website of the GSAH.

Based on our experience with many doctoral candidates interested in joining the Global Studies Doctoral Program, we want to emphasize the two following points which should be taken into account before applying for membership in the program.

Thesis Supervision

Prior to applying to the Global Studies Doctoral Program, you must first be enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bern. Each dissertation is written within the framework of an established discipline – even if the approach to the discussed topic is interdisciplinary and addresses questions from a global studies perspective. So before applying, if you are not yet enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the University of Bern, please first contact a professor at the institute which pertains to the discipline in which you eventually would like to obtain a doctoral degree. Only once the professor has confirmed in writing that they will act as a supervisor you can apply for membership in the Global Studies Doctoral Program.

Matters of Finance

The CGS does not have the financial means to offer large grants to our doctoral students, which could cover their costs of living and researching throughout the years they spend writing their doctoral thesis. Thus we strongly advise you to come up with a plan to finance your doctoral research project before applying as a member to our doctoral program. However, once you are a member of the doctoral program you can apply for some limited financial support – for further details, please click here.

The credits and courses attended within the framework of the interdisciplinary Global Studies Doctoral Program are listed in a supplement to the doctoral degree certificate. To earn this supplement, you will have to acquire a total of 20 ECTS that you can, as a rule, collect over the course of 6 terms. We believe that you are the expert when it comes to your doctoral research project, so you can acquire ECTS by attending a wide variety of courses and events that are either compulsory (12 ECTS), compulsory-elective (8 ECTS), or elective (not credited).

You can find further details about study requirements in our downloadable documents “GSAH Doctoral program” and “GSAH Modules".

In addition to the expertise of our teaching and research staff, our academic events and courses, individual coaching, and the opportunity to exchange with your peers, enrolment in the Global Studies Doctoral Program gives you access to the following financial opportunities: