HCA Spring Academy
Annual interdisciplinary conference for Ph.D. candidates

Spring Academy Team

T: + 49 (0)6221 / 54 3714
F: + 49 (0)6221 / 54 3719

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Spring Academy 2024

The application period for the 2024 Spring Academy is now open! Check out our Applications page for the Call for Papers and the application form. We are looking forward to your submissions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The application process

1. How can I apply to the HCA Spring Academy?

You may apply to the HCA Spring Academy by filling out and submitting our online application form. The application form will be open during the application period only..

2. When is the deadline for applying to the HCA Spring Academy?

The application deadline is November 15.

3. Who can apply for the HCA Spring Academy?

You can apply for the HCA Spring Academy if you are already a Ph.D. candidate and your thesis topic is in the field of American Studies, including history, literature and cultural studies, law, political science, religion, geography, musicology, economics, or sociology.

4. What is the conference language?

The language of the conference is English and all presentations will be held in English. Applicants are advised that it is necessary to have a good standard of spoken English to take full advantage of the conference

5. What projects are likely to be chosen?

There are no particular criteria except for those outlined above. So far topics have included projects on gender, identity, immigration, international relations, the Cold War, slavery, literature, sports, performance, political activism, and much more.

6. Is it possible to be a “visiting” participant?

No, we regret that we cannot accommodate “visiting” participants at the HCA Spring Academy.

7. When will I know whether I got accepted?

Emails of admittance for the Spring Academy are sent out in January.

8. If I have not been accepted this year, is it possible to apply again next year?

Yes, absolutely.

After you have been admitted

1. Do I have to confirm my participation?

Yes. The Spring Academy organizers will give you a deadline until which you have to confirm your participation.

2. What do I have to send in for the participants’ handbook?

You will receive a list of all information we will need from you for the handbook. We will ask you to send us a high-resolution photo of yourself (jpg. 500x700), a short biography (max. 80 words), a personal statement (max. 60 words), and a dissertation abstract (max. 100 words).

The submission deadline will be given by the organization team.

3. Should the presentation be on the dissertation as a whole?

You are free to discuss the dissertation overview or parts of your research, a chapter you have recently completed, or prospects of your project. We encourage you though to use the Spring Academy as a forum to pitch out new ideas, or to get feedback on a methodological approach you are not entirely certain of, or to just try out if your argument is compelling. The idea behind the Spring Academy is not to offer another conference where you are pressured to give the best presentation possible in order impress the academic community present, but to offer a forum for Ph.D. candidates in which they can present their research candidly and receive valuable feedback.

4. Do I have to send in an outline of my presentation?

No, but we will ask you to send in a synopsis of your dissertation project. This synopsis should include a well-structured set of questions pertaining to the thesis, which illuminate the scope and goals of your project; give an overview of the current status of your research; set your research within the larger context of research in the field; illustrate and justify the theoretical and methodological approach you have utilized; and give a short bibliography of the sources included in your project. The synopsis should be no longer than 2000 words, bibliography included (1,5 spaced; TNR point size 12). This synopsis should not be identical with your presentation.

5. How long does the presentation have to be?

Your presentation should not exceed 20 minutes. It will be followed by a 40-minute discussion session, during which you will also receive feedback.

6. What presentation materials can I use?

You can use any presentation material which you find helpful. Almost all of our participants have used PowerPoint-Presentations or have prepared handouts. The conference center provides the technical equipment for a PPP, but please be prepared to transfer your data to the computer set up in the conference room.


1. How do I get to Heidelberg?

We will provide you with a detailed description of how to get to Heidelberg before you arrive. Convenient airports are Frankfurt and Stuttgart (both approximately an hour away). There is a shuttle bus running from Frankfurt Airport to Heidelberg ( Alternately you can also take the train from Frankfurt Airport to Heidelberg. Trains are also running from Stuttgart Airport to Heidelberg. If you travel by train, you will most likely have to change trains in Mannheim as it is the closest hub for high-speed trains.

2. How do I find the venue (Heidelberg Center for American Studies – HCA)?

The HCA is located at the very center of Heidelberg’s famous Old Town (Hauptstr. 120), just a few steps away from University Square. We will provide you with a detailed description of how to get there as well as a schedule for public transportation in due time.


1. Do I have to pay for accommodation?

No. The HCA pays for accommodation from Sunday night to (and including) Friday night.

2. Are there single or double bedrooms?

All bedrooms are double bedrooms with twin beds. You will have to share a room with another participant. If this is an issue for you, please let us know beforehand.

3. Do I have to provide for my own meals?

Please check with the organizers whether breakfast is included at your accommodation. You will need to provide for your own lunch and supper. We do provide all participants with a campus card with an amount of € 15, which can be used at the university’s student dining halls. There are also a lot of local eateries nearby the conference venue where you can get an inexpensive lunch. For Monday evening we will make reservations for a joint dinner. This is an optional but recommended outing. On Friday, we will hold a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. The HCA will cover the costs of this meal.

4. Is there internet access at the hotel?

You will be abe to connect to Eduroam at the conference venue. Alternatively, the city of Heidelberg offers free WiFi in the Old Town.

5. What are the times for check-in/check-out?

We recommend that you plan your arrival for Sunday, preferably in the afternoon or evening before 7 p.m. If you only have a short trip to Heidelberg or want to travel overnight you may also plan your arrival for Monday before 9.00 a.m. The official check-in time of the hotel is 2 p.m., but if the room is free you may be able to check in at an earlier time.

When planning your departure please keep in mind that you have to check out at the latest by noon on Saturday.

Please let us know your time of arrival in Heidelberg at least three weeks prior to the conference.


1. Can I bring a companion to the HCA Spring Academy?

We regret that we are unable to accommodate persons accompanying you.

2. Will I receive a certificate?

Certificates of participation in the Spring Academy will be issued and distributed on the last day of the conference. The certificates will list the title of your presentation and the workshops you have taken part in.

3. Who do I contact if I have any further questions regarding the HCA Spring Academy?

You can reach the Spring Academy Team at Virginia Zentgraf.


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Latest Revision: 2023-09-01
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