At a glance

Program duration
3-4 years

Students admitted per year
c. 20-30



DAAD-scholarship applicants
August 31st, annually

Other applicants
May 1st, annually


Dr. Silke Tönsjost
Max Voit


+49 (0)228 / 73-1727
+49 (0)228 / 73-1794


BIGS-DR: Tailored Qualification

The Bonn International Graduate School for Development Research (BIGS-DR) is a structured doctoral program at the Center for Development Research (ZEF). We are a part of a framework of international graduate programs at the University of Bonn that maintains the highest level of academic quality and doctoral training. BIGS-DR enables doctoral studies in outstanding development research with attractive international collaborations and a tailored qualification program. BIGS-DR is an excellent choice as a stepping stone for your international career in the field of development cooperation, policy or research. 

ZEF is led by three renowned professors in the areas of social sciences, economics, and ecology: PD Dr. Eva Youkhana, Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim, and Prof. Dr. Christian Borgemeister.

Young scientists from all over the world

BIGS-DR students are part of an international academic community of students, researchers, faculty, and alumni. Our students come from diverse academic and regional backgrounds, and our faculty are engaged with various institutions and projects across the globe. We have collaborations with international universites and institutes where we conduct joint seminars and project development. 

Students are part of a large network of researchers coming from almost 100 countries. Roughly 700 students have joined our program since its inception in 1999. Our educational concept encourages the open exchange of academic and social ideas.

Step by Step to a Doctorate

Our full-time doctoral program has a duration of 3-4 years. Doctoral students will participate in course work, conduct their field research, and complete their thesis within this time frame. In addition, students take part in workshops in academic writing, intercultural working, leadership skills, and ethical considerations.

Our education concept involves intensive supervision and tutorship. The BIGS-DR selection committee helps students to find supervisors and a tutor with overlapping research themes and methods. Being part of the BIGS-DR academic atmosphere gives students the possibility of exchanging professional and personal experiences, advice and support.

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 professors at ZEF, but may also be associated with ZEF while being supervised elsewhere. The majority of doctoral students are supervised by professors of the University of Bonn.