Who can apply?

The Bonn International Graduate School for Doctoral Studies aims at attracting young scientists from all over the world with an outstanding master’s or equivalent degree in economics, social sciences, sociology, political science, economics, development economics, agricultural and resource economics, agronomy, biology, ecology, forestry, mathematics or earth sciences. Candidates preferably have work experience in national or international research institutions, governments, or the private sector. Interest in interdisciplinary research is a prerequisite.

What are the main selection criteria?

Academic qualification: an excellent master or equivalent degree (G.P.A. higher than 3.0 in the American system, or a grade higher than 2.0 in the German system or equivalent).

Innovative research ideas: Your application must contain a Graduate Research Statement. The statement should describe a development problem you consider interesting and important; include your main research questions and the proposed methods linked to them; and have literature references. The statement should have a maximum of 4 pages. Your Graduate Research Statement may relate to ZEF's research areas in a broad sense of may address a topic in another development research area. The selection committee will assess all research statements on the basis of orgininality, analytical rigor, and relevance.

Language proficiency: ZEF's doctoral program is conducted in English. We therefore require the following English language skills:

  • IELTS certificate (band 6)
  • TOEFL (minimum score: 550 paper based, 213 computer-based, 80 internet-based)
  • Other English language certificate from a language institution
  • University waiver that indicates the language of instruction was in English

There is no age limit for applying to the doctoral program at ZEF. However, your last academic degree should be obtained less than six years prior to application.

How do I apply?

Step 1:  Online Registration is currently closed. It will open again at the beginning of 2018, when you can apply for the intake 2019.

First of all, you have to register online. During the online registration, you will be asked to enter your personal data and information. After you have completed your online registration, you will receive a confirmation per e-mail containing your personal registration number and all further necessary information for your application. Please use this number in any correspondences with us.

Step 2: Application for admission.

Please note that your online registration helps to accelerate the admission procedure. It is NOT a substitute for the required documents to be sent by email to the program's office.

When is the annual application deadline?

The deadline for the scholarship via BIGS-DR was August 31st, 2017. Currently, the admissions period for the October 2018 academic year has concluded. The admissions period for the next intake will begin in early 2018.

For independent and external scholarship applicants, completed application documents may be submitted at any time during the open admissions period. Please note that these funding institutions often have their own deadlines, so be sure to inform BIGS-DR accordingly by including any deadlines in your motivation letter.

The BIGS-DR courses start on October 1st, annually.

Special DAAD requirements

Only applicants from developing countries according to the DAC list are eligible for the scholarship we offer in cooperation with the DAAD EPOS program. To be entitled to receiving a DAAD scholarship you must have at least two years of relevant professional experience.

Special prerequisites and requirements for DAAD scholarship applicants from China:

Applications from China must be submitted via the German Embassy in the country where you reside, where the academic certificates have to be verified. Find the link to the German Embassy in Beijing here:

  • China: Academic Evaluation Centre of the German Embassy in Beijing



More information

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

Please contact the doctoral program management team in case you have any questions not answered on this page: docp.zef(at)