At a glance

Expected program duration
3-4 years

Students admitted per year
c. 20-30

Language of instruction

Admission status

Applications for 2022


Internal scholarship applicants
23:59 CEST (UTC/GMT +2)
August 31st, annually

External funding applicants
23:59 CEST (UTC/GMT +2)
August 1st, annually

Review time for applications
takes up to three months


Dr. Silke Tönsjost
Max Voit


Application documents (in order)

1. BIGS-DR Checklist

Complete the checklist and place this page as the first document in your application.

2. Motivation letter

Your motivation letter should be approximately one page long. Describe your reasons for applying to BIGS-DR, your academic and professional background, why you are well suited to join our program, future career plans, and any other information that may help the selection committee evaluate your aptitude for research.

When applying for the internal DAAD scholarship, your motivation letter should also state how you intend to make full use of the scholarship and education by taking on social responsibility later in your career.

If you are applying for an external scholarship, this is where you should include information about your foundation institution or sponsor, including any deadlines or additional requirements they may have.

The motivation letter must be signed and include a date.

3. BIGS-DR admissions application form

Complete the BIGS-DR admission application form and sign the document. The form can only be accepted, if it is signed (including place and date) on the last page.

4. Funding (scholarship application form or funding information)

4.1 Internal Funding Applications (with EPOS/DAAD scholarship)

If you are applying for our internal scholarship (EPOS/DAAD), please make sure that you meet the requirements and include the EPOS/DAAD application form as the fourth item in your application file. The EPOS/DAAD application form has to be signed (including place and date). Internal scholarship applicants should follow the BIGS-DR admission requirements and submit their application to BIGS-DR only. Additional documents requested in the EPOS/DAAD form are not required for your application to BIGS-DR with EPOS/DAAD scholarship.

4.2 External Funding Applications (Other Scholarship, Self-Funded or Other)

If you are applying with external funding, please make sure that you include the necessary documents and information (scholarship awards other than EPOS/DAAD, budget plans for PhD project or other). This information should be inserted as the fourth item in the application file instead of the EPOS/DAAD application form.

5. Resume or CV

Resumes are required of all applicants. The resume or CV must be signed and include a date.

6. Graduate Research Statement (GRS)

The GRS is a description of your proposed research. The length should not exceed four pages. Please see our guidelines for instructions on composing a well-structured GRS.

7. Master's thesis abstract

Your abstract should not exceed one page.

8. University certificates and transcripts

We require copies (no notarization needed at the time of the application) of all university certificates and transcripts of records starting with the most recent degree. We accept the documents in English, German, French, and Spanish, all other copies of your university certificates and transcripts should be accompanied by an English translation. Only if admitted, we will request the original documents and certified translations.

Please note: Certificates issued by universities in the People's Republic of China have to be certified by the APS. We require the certification without interview at the embassy. This rule applies for internal scholarship applicants only.

9. English proficiency 

We require some sort of proof of applicants English language proficiency for non-native English speakers. Please see our requirements about English proficiency eligibility and proof.

10. Statement of employment

10.1 Mandatory for internal DAAD scholarship applicants

All internal DAAD EPOS scholarship applicants must submit proof of at least two years of professional work experience and state their current work situation at the time of application. It is required to submit the following proof: Certificate(s) of employment that include the exact position and period of employment totaling two years of professional work experience; a letter of reference from the current or most recent employer. This letter can include a re-employment guarantee after completion of the postgraduate course in Germany.

This statement of employment is not to be confused with the reference letters (see below). Your current or most resent employer is however welcome to submit the statement of employment along with the letter of reference directly to bigs-dr[at] In this case you only have to ask an academic supervisor for one additional letter of reference which also has to be send to bigs-dr[at] Please see our authenticity guidelines for the submission of references.

10.2 Optional for external scholarship applicants

If you are currently employed, a statement from your current employer will be helpful in your application. The statement should indicate that your employer is interested in having you pursue doctoral study and is willing to grant you a leave of absence for this purpose. This statement must only be submitted, if your current employer supports your PhD plans, please note that this statement is not to be confused with the reference letter (see below). 

12. GRE or GMAT (optional)

A successful GRE or GMAT score demonstrates quantitative and analytical aptitude, and may increase your chances of admittance.

13. List of publications (optional)

A list of recent publications demonstrates your capacity for research and scientific enquiry, and may increase your chances of admittance. For applicants whose last degree was not conferred recently, a list of recent publications is required.

Additionally: Two letters of reference

We require two references, one academic and one from an employer, the referees can either write a formal letter of reference or use our BIGS-DR reference forms for that purpose. They should be send in any way directly to bigs-dr[at] by the referees. Please see our authenticity guidlines for the submission of references. 


Once applicants complete their online registration, they will receive an email confirmation with their registration number and access to the application server. Once applicants have uploaded their single application PDF file, a notification will pop up informing about succesful upload. Please do not upload your application more than once.

Please remember, you are responsible for the completeness of your application, we only accept complete applications as single PDF files assembled in the correct order (1-12). Incomplete applications are rejected. Please have a look on our guidlines on how to prepare your application documents.

Is my application complete?

We confirm the reception of all application documents. If you have not heard from us within two weeks of submission, please inform us immediately. We are not responsible for any application lost due to technical problems.

Please consult our FAQ page if you have any additional questions.