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Behavior and Cognition (Ph.D.)


The focus of this study program is on the foundations and the evolution of nonhuman and human primate behavior. Research projects are undertaken in the fields of psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology and linguistics, with an emphasis on comparative approaches. Core areas are the evolution of social behavior, group behavior and group coordination, developmental psychology, as well as the cognitive and physiological foundations of behavior.

Behavior and Cognition (BeCog)
Dr. rer.nat. or Ph.D.
Standard period of study:
three years
Start of studies:
winter and summer semester
Language of the programme:
application to the Coordination office of the programme

Get to know us


The English-language doctoral programme covers the subject areas of psychology, anthropology, biology and linguistics. Numerous questions are considered from a comparative perspective. The Faculty of Biology and Psychology, the German Primate Centre and the Faculty of Philosophy (for the area of linguistics) are involved in the programme. Interdisciplinary cooperation and exchange across disciplinary boundaries are an important element of the training programme.

With their doctoral projects, the students are integrated into the research activities of one (or two) of the participating working groups. Each doctoral student is supervised by a three-member Thesis Committee.


In addition to their own research work, students obtain 20 ECTS-credits in five different modules. To prepare for a variety of future activities and a diverse job market, these modules are broadly defined and go beyond the scope of the actual research project. Students are free to choose courses according to their own interests, but should discuss their plans with their supervisors. Also courses offered by other programs or universities can be accepted. Each module may consist of several courses or activities and 4 ECTS-points are obtained in each of the following modules.

Participants learn to critically evaluate their projects and their field of research as well as to introduce their discipline in short presentations. Credits are acquired through active participation in colloquia, seminars and journal clubs. In addition to the BeCog seminar series, and the colloquia of the CRC Text structures and the DPZ, other seminar series can be visited. Department-specific journal clubs and seminars are accepted.

Participants are introduced to methodological approaches and techniques relevant for their own research. The Method courses organized by BeCog can be found in the Method course catalogue on this website. In addition, courses offered by other programs or universities can be accepted.

Participants contribute to teaching. During their PhD, all candidates either contribute to lectures and seminars or supervise Bachelor and Masters students. The workload and specific duties need to be discussed with the supervisors and the thesis committee.

In this module, participants learn to present their own work to an international audience. To do so, PhD candidates participate in at least two scientific conferences and present their research either in talks or poster contributions.

This module provides the opportunity to acquire increasingly important key qualifications. These skills are of general importance for a future professional career. Due to the large course diversity, students should discuss with their supervisors the selection of the most adequate courses. At the University of Göttingen, key qualifications are offered by the ZESS (Zentrale Einrichtung für Sprachen und Schlüsselqualifikationen) , the Teaching in Higher Education Unit or the Dorothea-Schlözer-mentoring programm ; other courses can also be accepted.

Regulations and module directory


Application deadlines

  • for the summer semester until January 31st
  • for the winter semester until July 31st

Previous studies

  • Master degree (or equivalent) in mathematics or the natural sciences (incl. psychology), the degree must have been obtained in a field relevant for BeCog.
  • Degrees which have been obtained in a country not signatory to the Bologna declaration must be formally confirmed to be equivalent and be accepted by the program committee
  • Applications are also possible if applicants are currently enrolled in a relevant Master program, have obtained at least 90 ECTs-credits and if they are among the best 10% of their cohort.

Language requirements:

  • Proof of proficiency in English
    • Native English speakers and applicants who spent at least two of the last three years in an English-speaking country for professional or study reasons do not need to provide a certificate.
    • Otherwise, the following certificates are accepted:
      • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, at least grade B
      • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English at least grade C;
      • IELTS Academic: at least band 6
      • TOEFL-iBT: at least 80 points
      • TOEFL-PBT: at least 550 points
      • CEF ("Common European Framework"): at least C1
      • UNIcertF: at least level III
      • the successful completion of an English-speaking study program is accepted
  • Certificates must not be older than three years at the time of application.

Further requirements

  • a letter confirming supervision by a member of BeCog with GAUSS examination authorization
  • a CV, written in English. It shall also cover the applicant's previous scientific career
  • a short project proposal



Coordination office Behavior and Cognition

Dr. Rebecca Jürgens

Goßlerstraße 14

Phone: +49 551 3923611