How to apply

Step 1: Online registration (currently: open)

Prospective applicants must first register online. The online registration consists of basic information about your academic and professional background. After you have completed your online registration, you will receive a confirmation email containing your personal registration number and all further information for your application. Your personal registration number is important for the application process. Please use your personal registration number in any correspondences with us. Your online registration helps to accelerate the admission procedure. It is NOT a substitute for the required documents listed below.

Step 2: Prepare your application for submission

The required documents should be assembled in the order as listed and emailed to BIGS-DR. The entire process is digital. We do not accept hardcopies of documents mailed to us. Please check the deadlines for your respective scholarships.

Assembly instructions

All application documents have to be submitted in English. Depending on your choice of funding, different application documents and procedures may be required.

  • Assemble all application documents into one PDF (maximum size: 20 MB) and in the correct order as listed below
  • The PDF file should be named as such: [your registration number]_[your first and last name] (i.e. "123_John Doe")
  • The PDF file must not be password protected
  • Send your PDF in one single email to docp.zef(@)
  • For help merging the documents in the given order and compressing your documents, please see the following guides: a PDFMerge application and a wiki how-to-guide on reducing PDF file sizes

Only completed applications can be considered. Applications that do not meet the requirements cannot be accepted. If you have questions regarding the documents, please contact the doctoral program: docp.zef(at)

Application documents (in order)

1. Checklist (click here to download)

2. Motivation letter (1 page)

If you are applying for an external scholarship, information about the foundation or sponsor for which you have already applied, or contact that you have made, should be included here. Any deadlines by the foundation should be provided here as well.

3. BIGS-DR admissions application (click here to download)

4. Funding/scholarship

If you already have a scholarship, a copy of the letter of award is required. Be sure to inform us if your scholarship has a deadline or not.

If you do not have a DAAD or external scholarship, you need proof of sufficient financial resources to fund your study for three years.

Applicants with a citizenship from a developing country or emerging economy (list of eligible countries) can apply for a DAAD scholarship directly from BIGS-DR. Please include a DAAD scholarship application form which can be downloaded here, at the DAAD home page, the German embassies or from DAAD offices worldwide.

  • A prerequisite for applying for this DAAD scholarship is having at least two years of relevant professional experience.
  • Academic degrees should normally not be more that 6 years old when applying for this DAAD scholarship.
  • Only applicants who have not lived in Germany yet or have been a resident in Germany for less than 15 months at the time of application can apply for this DAAD scholarship.
  • When filling in the DAAD form, select "Scholarship for a postgraduate course with relevance to developing countries".
  • Be sure to complete the DAAD scholarship form as well as the BIGS-DR application form and include both documents in your application. It is not necessary to send additional copies to DAAD.

5. Curriculum vitae

6. Graduate Research Statement (click here to download guide)

A well-planned and convincing Graduate Research Statement is akin to a research proposal, which is the most important selection criterion besides previous study achievements.

7. Master's or diploma abstract (1 page)

8. Academic certificates with transcripts, copy (starting with the most recent degree on top, i.e. MSc, BSc, secondary school transcripts)

All copies must be accompanied by a German or English translation. Original certificates are only needed upon your arrival at BIGS-DR.

Students in the final semester of their master's study are also eligible to apply. In this case, you can submit your degree certificate later. However, we will need transcripts of your study or at least a written proof of the grades of your master's study. Otherwise, we recommend that you submit the application one year later.

9. Certified proficiency in English

  • IELTS certificate (band 6)
  • TOEFL (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.

10. Statement from your current employer

If employed, we require a statement from your current employer. It will be helpful in your application for a scholarship if your employer is interested in having you pursue this doctoral study and is willing to grant you leave of absence for this purpose.

11. GRE or GMAT (optional)

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

12. List of publications (optional)

13. Two letters of recommendation

We require either two letters of recommendation or two BIGS-DR reference forms (click here to download the reference forms) from your professors or supervisors. These must be emailed to us directly by your referee (i.e. separate from your application PDF file). Recommendation letters should be submitted by the application deadline.

Is my application complete?

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)


BIGS-DR coordination team

Dr. Günther Manske
Ms. Maike Retat-Amin

Email: docp.zef(at)


Genscherallee 3
53113 Bonn

Tel. +49 (0)228 73 1792

Fax +49 (0)228 73 1839