The PROMI Project - inclusive doctorate


University graduates with disabilities have – due to their high educational level – rarely been the focus of research so far. But a pilot study from Germany (Niehaus & Bauer, 2013) indicates that they encounter various disabling barriers – despite their high qualification.

One career option for university graduates is to obtain a doctoral degree. Doctoral degrees open up various career opportunities in most fields and are a formal precondition for scientific careers in Germany. Hence, it should be beyond question that admission to doctoral studies should be equally accessible for graduates with disabilities.

But there is no systematic data on the actual accessibility of doctoral studies. Besides, universities have not engaged in the analysis and reduction of barriers or the promotion of inclusive structures and processes so far.

Thus the PROMI project aims at promoting doctoral studies of persons with disabilities. Besides - in the tradition of action research - the project contributes to the reduction of barriers and the implementation of inclusive structures and processes at the participating universities and in the scientific world.

The PROMI project has provided 45 severely disabled graduates with the possibility to attain a doctorate degree. For this purpose additional part-time jobs for doctoral students have been created nationwide at our 21 partner universities between the years 2013 and 2015.
The positions are limited to three years contract duration with an option to extend each individual contract for up to two more years. The positions are liable to social security contributions. This enables doctoral students to act financially independent and secure. Furthermore there is a legal entitlement to necessary professional rehabilitation services.

Prof. Dr. Mathilde Niehaus (Labour and Vocational Rehabilitation) and Prof. Dr. Thomas Kaul (Education and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impaired) of the University of Cologne are in charge of the project management as well as the scientific monitoring and the evaluation of the project.
Cooperation partners are the Employers-Service for Severely Disabled Academics of the ZAV (International Placement Services of the Federal Employment Agency) and the Unternehmensforum e.V. (a national initiative of companies that support the full participation of disabled people).

For further information on the project go to


Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS)

Projekt run time:

2013 - 2021

Project management:

Prof. Dr. Mathilde Niehaus, Prof. Dr. Thomas Kaul


Dr. Jana Bauer, Susanne Groth, promi-projekt(at)