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Individual doctorate

Thanks to the wide range of disciplines offered by the Institute of Latin American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, you may apply for and complete an individual doctorate in any of the departments represented at the Institute. The basic requirement for admission is a Master's degree (or equivalent) in one of the disciplines represented at the LAI. 

Unlike the structured doctoral programme, the individual doctorate does not have a pre-determined structure of courses and workshops as part of your training. This means that the form and manner in which your individual doctorate is developed can be personalised and tailored to your preferences and needs. This in turn means greater breadth and thematic flexibility in your research. It should be noted, however, that the fellowships you can apply for outside the Institute often have requirements regarding the topic and structure of your research. You are also free to attend any workshops, courses or seminars that you find relevant, but usually your supervisor will require you to attend their colloquium on a regular basis.

Application and supervision

The most important step in joining an individual doctorate is finding a supervisor. Unlike the structured programmes, where there is an open admission procedure based on the research topic, in the individual doctorate you are responsible for finding and contacting the person who will supervise you. As your supervisor, you must choose LAI professors who represent the department in which you wish to do your PhD. This means that you will not be doing a PhD in general Latin American Studies, but in the discipline in which you have chosen to enrol. For example, if you are doing a PhD in History, you will become a doctoral student of the Department of History at Freie Universität Berlin through the LAI. 

You may apply at any time of the year if you have the necessary requirements and documents, as well as a signed supervisor’s agreement (for which each department has a different format). This does not preclude you from applying for the structured doctorate. In fact, it is common for people in the individual doctorate track to switch to the structured doctorate programme once they have met the necessary requirements and deadlines.

For more information on the documents required, please see Application and Admission.