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Application Doctoral Degree

The Hamburg University of Fine Arts (hereafter: HFBK Hamburg) supervises doctoral theses that contribute to the study of the arts, their preconditions, contexts and functions from different perspectives.

This can include, for example, analyses of artistic works as well as examinations of historical, social, media and cultural processes that have had an impact on artistic discourses or have been and are influenced by them, but also investigations of art-theoretical or philosophical concepts in which the arts reflect on themselves and address their self-understanding.

The HFBK Hamburg also enables and supports doctorates with a high artistic component, the relationship of which to the theoretical-scientific doctoral work must be made explicit. In such an artistic-scientific doctorate, the scientific part must predominate.

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Admission requirements

Admission to doctoral studies requires a successful (at least overall grade "good") diploma or master's degree from a German university or an equivalent degree from a foreign university.

A further prerequisite is proof of the ability to work scientifically. This can either be proven through scientific study components in the degree programme already completed or acquired in doctoral studies. In the latter case, the doctoral committee requires the applicant to provide evidence of academic achievement within a certain period of time.
Applicants who have completed their studies at a foreign university must prove the equivalence of the degree to the doctoral committee.

Application Process and Dates

Applications are only possible for the summer semester. The following application steps are required during the application period 1 to 30 September 2021, 4 p.m. (cut-off deadline) for the summer semester 2022:

Step 1: Online Application

Please create an applicant account in CampusNet. As soon as you start an application, it will receive an application number to which you can refer in case of any queries.

Step 2: Submitting your application

Once you have submitted your online application, you will receive a confirmation email containing an upload link. Upload your digital application file no later than 30 September 2021, 4 p.m.

  • with the requiered documents below
  • in ONE PDF document
  • The file size is limited to 30 MB.
  • The document must be named as follows: Application number, surname, first name
  • Submission of a physical application file is not required.
  • Late, incomplete and/or e-mailed applications or subsequently submitted documents cannot be considered.

Requiered Documents:

  1. summary of the planned work of a maximum of 15 lines;
  2. a 10-page exposé outlining the problem of the planned work; in the case of an artistic work in combination with a theoretical-scientific work, the corresponding weighting ratio of the artistic and theoretical-scientific parts must also be outlined; a list of all sources and aids used must be enclosed with the exposé;
  3. proof of a university degree (diploma or Master's degree from a German university or the equivalent degree from a foreign university - the equivalence of a foreign degree must be proven),
  4. proof of the ability to work scientifically. (The proof can either be provided by scientific study components in the degree programme already completed or in the doctoral programme. In the latter case, the doctoral committee will impose conditions as to the period of time within which the corresponding proof of academic achievement must be provided).
  5. Your CV,
  6. a written proof of a counselling interview confirming the interest in supervision or a declaration with the confirmation(s) of supervision (In the case of a doctorate consisting of a theoretical-scientific thesis, only university lecturers with a doctorate in the major field of study Theory and History can be named as the first supervisor. A university teacher who represents a theoretical-scientific subject is to be selected as the second supervisor. In the case of a doctorate consisting of an artistic dissertation in conjunction with a theoretical-scientific dissertation, a university lecturer with a doctorate in the major field of study Theory and History should generally be appointed as the first supervisor. A university lecturer who represents an artistic subject is to be selected as the second supervisor.
  7. if applicable, a list of all writings published to date in sole authorship or co-authorship and/or documentation of artistic works and publications;
  8. a declaration stating whether and, if so, with what result you have already undergone a doctoral procedure elsewhere or applied for one;
  9. a declaration that you are familiar with the applicable doctoral regulations and that you have taken note of the principles of academic work at the HFBK Hamburg as amended from time to time in connection with DFG-oriented guidelines on good scientific practice.

Submissions after the application deadline are only possible on request.

Annette Wehrmann, photography from the series Blumensprengungen, 1991-95; photo: Ort des Gegen e.V.

Conference: Counter-Monuments and Para-Monuments.

The international conference at HFBK Hamburg on December 2-4, 2021 – jointly conceived by Nora Sternfeld and Michaela Melián –, is dedicated to the history of artistic counter-monuments and forms of protest, discusses aesthetics of memory and historical manifestations in public space, and asks about para-monuments for the present.

23 Fragen des Institutional Questionaire, grafisch umgesetzt von Ran Altamirano auf den Türgläsern der HFBK Hamburg zur Jahresausstellung 2021; photo: Charlotte Spiegelfeld


Who speaks? Who paints which motif? Who is shown, who is not? Questions of identity politics play an important role in art and thus also at the HFBK Hamburg. In the current issue, the university's own Lerchenfeld magazine highlights university structures as well as student initiatives that deal with diversity and identity.

Grafik: Tim Ballaschke

Start of semester

After three semesters of hybrid teaching under pandemic conditions, we are finally about to start another semester of presence. We welcome all new students and teachers at the HFBK Hamburg and cordially invite you to the opening of the academic year 2020/21, which this year will be accompanied by a guest lecture by ruangrupa.

Graphic design: Sam Kim, picture in the background: Sofia Mascate, photo: Marie-Theres Böhmker

Graduate Show 2021: All Good Things Come to an End

From September 24 to 26, the more than 150 Bachelor's and Master's graduates of the class of 2020/21 will present their final projects as part of the Graduate Show at the HFBK Hamburg. We would like to thank all visitors and participants.

photo: Klaus Frahm

Summer Break

The HFBK Hamburg is in the lecture-free period, many students and teachers are on summer vacation, art institutions have summer break. This is a good opportunity to read and see a variety of things:

ASA Open Studio 2019, Karolinenstraße 2a, Haus 5; photo: Matthew Muir

Live und in Farbe: die ASA Open Studios im Juni 2021

Since 2010, the HFBK has organised the international exchange programme Art School Alliance. It enables HFBK students to spend a semester abroad at renowned partner universities and, vice versa, invites international art students to the HFBK. At the end of their stay in Hamburg, the students exhibit their work in the Open Studios in Karolinenstraße, which are now open again to the art-interested public.

Studiengruppe Prof. Dr. Anja Steidinger, Was animiert uns?, 2021, Mediathek der HFBK Hamburg, Filmstill

Unlearning: Wartenau Assemblies

The art education professors Nora Sternfeld and Anja Steidinger initiated the format "Wartenau Assemblies". It oscillates between art, education, research and activism. Complementing this open space for action, there is now a dedicated website that accompanies the discourses, conversations and events.

Ausstellungsansicht "Schule der Folgenlosigkeit. Übungen für ein anderes Leben" im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; photo: Maximilian Schwarzmann

School of No Consequences

Everyone is talking about consequences: The consequences of climate change, the Corona pandemic or digitalization. Friedrich von Borries (professor of design theory), on the other hand, is dedicated to consequence-free design. In “School of No Consequences. Exercises for a New Life” at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, he links collection objects with a "self-learning room" set up especially for the exhibition in such a way that a new perspective on "sustainability" emerges and supposedly universally valid ideas of a "proper life" are questioned.

Annual Exhibition 2021 at the HFBK

Annual exhibition a bit different: From February 12- 14, 2021 students at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, together with their professors, had developed a variety of presentations on different communication channels. The formats ranged from streamed live performances to video programs, radio broadcasts, a telephone hotline, online conferences, and a web store for editions. In addition, isolated interventions could be discovered in the outdoor space of the HFBK and in the city.

Public Information Day 2021

How do I become an art student? How does the application process work? Can I also study to become a teacher at the HFBK? These and other questions about studying art were answered by professors, students and staff at the HFBK during the Public Information Day on February 13, 2021. In addition, there will be an appointment specifically for English-speaking prospective students on February 23 at 2 pm.

Katja Pilipenko

Semestereröffnung und Hiscox-Preisverleihung 2020

On the evening of November 4, the HFBK celebrated the opening of the academic year 2020/21 as well as the awarding of the Hiscox Art Prize in a livestream - offline with enough distance and yet together online.

Exhibition Transparencies with works by Elena Crijnen, Annika Faescke, Svenja Frank, Francis Kussatz, Anne Meerpohl, Elisa Nessler, Julia Nordholz, Florentine Pahl, Cristina Rüesch, Janka Schubert, Wiebke Schwarzhans, Rosa Thiemer, Lea van Hall. Organized by Prof. Verena Issel and Fabian Hesse; photo: Screenshot

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

How the university brings together its artistic interdisciplinary study structure with digital formats and their possibilities.

Alltagsrealität oder Klischee?; photo: Tim Albrecht

HFBK Graduate Survey

Studying art - and what comes next? The clichéd images stand their ground: Those who have studied art either become taxi drivers, work in a bar or marry rich. But only very few people could really live from art – especially in times of global crises. The HFBK Hamburg wanted to know more about this and commissioned the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg to conduct a broad-based survey of its graduates from the last 15 years.

Ausstellung Social Design, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Teilansicht; photo: MKG Hamburg

How political is Social Design?

Social Design, as its own claim is often formulated, wants to address social grievances and ideally change them. Therefore, it sees itself as critical of society – and at the same time optimizes the existing. So what is the political dimension of Social Design – is it a motor for change or does it contribute to stabilizing and normalizing existing injustices?