Additional information


Genscherallee 3
53113 Bonn

Tel. +49 (0)228 73 1792

Fax +49 (0)228 73 1839


BIGS-DR coordination team

Dr. Günther Manske
Ms. Maike Retat-Amin

Email: docp.zef(at)

BIGS-DR, a unique international experience in Germany

The Bonn International Graduate School for Development Research (BIGS-DR) is the doctoral program at ZEF. BIGS-DR is part of a group of international graduate programs at the University of Bonn, a graduate framework that maintains the highest level of academic quality.

BIGS-DR is part of the Center for Development (ZEF), an internationally operating research institute at the University of Bonn. The institute is led by three renowned professors in the areas of social sciences, economics, and ecology: Professor Solvay Gerke (social sciences), Professor Joachim von Braun (Economics), and Professor Christian Borgemeister (ecology).

BIGS-DR is an excellent choice as a stepping stone for your international career in the field of development cooperation, policy or research. Our mission is to attract young scientists from all over the world to pursue their development research interests here in Bonn. Under BIGS-DR, students are exposed to an international community guided by a challenging research environment.

International and diverse

BIGS-DR is international and diverse. Nearly 650 students have joined our program since its inception in 1999, coming from almost 90 countries. Around 40% of our students are female. Students are part of a BIGS-DR academic atmosphere where you can exchange academic and personal experiences.

The rigourously structured doctoral program enables students to obtain their doctoral degree in 3,5 years on average.

We have collaborations with universities and institutes across the world, where we conduct joint seminars. These collaborations not only exchange knowledge, but also students and professors!

In addition to courses, students will take part in softskill workshops that train them in academic writing, intercultural working, leadership skills, and ethical considerations.

Educational concept

Our educational concept provides intensive supervision and tutorship. During the admissions process, the BIGS-DR selection committee helps students find supervisors with overlapping research themes or methods. Once students begin their studies, they will receive additional guidance about selecting a mentor or tutor. Being part of the BIGS-DR academic atmosphere gives you the possibility of exchanging professional and personal experiences, advice, and support.

What kind of degree will I receive?

Students who finish and defend their theses successfully are conferred a doctoral degree in sociology, political science, social anthropology, economics, agricultural economics, agriculture, forestry, mathematics or natural science. The degrees are granted by the respective university faculty, which is usually the faculty of the first supervisor.

Students may pursue their doctoral study under direct supervision of ZEF professors, but may also be associated with ZEF while being supervised elsewhere. Arrangements within the selected German university are made to ensure that a student is accepted by a distinguished advisor and is acceptable to their faculty. The majority of doctoral students are supervised and undergo examinations by professors of the University of Bonn.

BIGS-DR also issues individual certificates of each course and a final transcript of all courses after you finished the program succesfully.

Support and services

The BIGS-DR coordination team at BIGS-DR offers a wide range of researcher support and administration services. We help out with applications, accomodations, travel, budgeting, and family affairs. Send us an email at docp.zef(at)!

External participants

Are you interested in participating in one of our doctoral courses, but are enrolled in another program? BIGS-DR gives external students the opportunity to attend lectures and seminars here in Bonn. External participants should review our current course program and keep in mind how they plan on financing their time here. Take a look at our application guide for more information about taking part as an external participant!