At a glance

Pogram duration
3-4 years

Students admitted per year
c. 20-30



DAAD-scholarship applicants
August 31st, annually

Other applicants
August 1st, annually



Dr. Silke Tönsjost
Max Voit



Who can apply to BIGS-DR?

BIGS-DR aims to attract scientists from all over the world with outstanding master's or equivalent degrees in economics, social sciences, sociology, political science, 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.

Excellent Grades. What exactly does it mean?

Grading systems at universities are different. This is why you have to attach the grading scale of your university in your application. Excellent grades mean e.g. GPA above 3,0, a percentage of 80% or better or better than 2,0 in the German system.

Where can I find the DAAD form and the regulations?

Inform yourself about details and requirements if you want to apply for DAAD- EPOS funding


I have funding already. Can I be part of BIGS-DR?

We welcome students with scholarships to be part of BIGS-DR. To be admitted you must apply via our online-platform until 1st of May for the intake in October. You submit a proof of funding for minimum three years covering living and research costs. That means at least 50.000 €uro in total.

How do I receive a conditional letter of acceptance?

Applicants who are applying for a scholarships often require a conditional letter of acceptance by a supervisor. In Germany, only professors are eligible to supervise doctoral students. They decide whether they want to supervise you. The requirements for BIGS-DR match mostly with professor´s decision criteria (very good research proposal, very good grades, etc.). A conditional letter of acceptance does not mean that you are automatically part of BIGS-DR. These are two separate processes.

I have a completed a one year master's program. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, under the condition that you have written a master's thesis.

I am in my final semester of my Master's. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, students who are in their final semester of their master's study are also eligible to apply. In this case, you may submit your degree certificate once it has been conferred, but latest by the end of October of the year of application. In the meantime, you will need to provide us with copies of your most recent transcripts or written proof of the courses and scores that you have taken thus far.

How to proof English profiency?

English profiency is proofed by

- IELTS Academic (minimum band score of 6) or

- TOEFL iBT (minimum of 80 points) or

- Other English language certification tests (CPE, CAE) or

- or statement of university, that study language´(BA/ MA) was English.

Do I need work experience prior to applying?

Applicants for DAAD EPOS scholarships must submit proof of at least two years of professional work experience and state their current work situation at the time of application. I.e. Certificate(s) of employment that include the exact position and period of employment totaling two years of professional work experience. This letter can include a re-employment guarantee after completion of doctoral studies in Germany. The letter must contain an official letterhead, stamp, signature and date.

How must the CV look like?

Europass is the mandatory template for your CV and guides you through all steps. Don´t forget that a CV for an academic track must contain publications, third party funding, lecturing, conferences, and research activities etc..


What is a Reserach Proposal?


Where can I find information about the current research at ZEF?

Feel free to browse through our research & capacity development page, which highlights current themes and projects. Institute publications are all listed under "publications".

Is there an age limit to apply?

The structured program is tailored for young people building their career. Your last academic degree must have been obtained during the last six years. You count backwards from the application deadline.

Do I need to contact professors or senior researchers before I apply?

No. No prior contact with a faculty member or ZEF senior researchers is necessary. Once you are admitted to the program, BIGS-DR will assist you in finding the right supervisor.

Can I reapply to BIGS-DR?

Our program receives hundreds of competitive applications every year. Reapplying to BIGS-DR is possible with updated documents. 

Can I apply for part-time study?

No. BIGS-DR is a full-time program. 

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for DAAD- EPOS scholarship is August 31st, 23:59 CEST (UTC/GMT +2) annually for starting about one year later. For applicants with own funding the deadline is August 1st for intake in October of the same year. 

Can I send documents for review to determine eligibility?

No. To guarantee fairness, we do not preview application documents or writing samples.

What happens to my personal information after I apply?

In case of acceptance, the application PDF file and all other accompanying documents will remain at BIGS-DR at all times. Personal data is stored in the BIGS-DR application database for the time required to register applications and scholarships in compliance with the German Federal Data Protection Act. Unsuccessful applications will be deleted after the review process. Incomplete applications are not considered and are also deleted.

When will I be notified of the admissions results?

The selection committee usually concludes the review period for DAAD-applications by the end of the year. You will be informed by email at the end of december or beginning of January