At a glance

Expected program duration
3.5 years

Students admitted per year
c. 20-30

Language of instruction

Admission status

Applications for 2020

Applications for 2021
Opens in spring 2020


Internal scholarship applicants
23:59 CEST (UTC/GMT +2)
August 31st, annually

External funding applicants
Deadlines vary


BIGS-DR coordination team
Dr. Günther Manske
Ms. Maike Retat-Amin


How to apply

Step 1: online registration (click here)

Step 2: prepare your application documents

Step 3: letters of recommendation

Entry requirements

Academic qualification

We require an excellent master's or equivalent degree (GPA higher than 3.0 in the American system, or a grade higher than 2.0 in the German system or equivalent).

Your last academic degree should have been obtained relatively recently prior to application. This guarantees the competitiveness of your application. A gap between your previous academic degree and your application to BIGS-DR means that you should demonstrate how you have maintained your academic rigor (e.g. a longer and current list of publications).

Innovative research idea

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 be a maximum of four pages. Your Graduate Research Statement may relate to ZEF's research areas in a broad sense or 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.

English proficiency

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to provide evidence of English proficiency. The following documents may be submitted as proof of eligibility:

  • IELTS Academic (minimum band score of 6)
  • TOEFL iBT (minimum of 80 points)
  • Other English language certification tests (CPE, CAE)

At the discretion of the BIGS-DR team, applicants who have completed their tertiary studies in English may have the English proficiency requirement waived if evidence can be provided that all courses were conducted entirely in English. Usually, the medium of instruction can be found on the transcript or other official university program documents. Alternatively, applicants may also request a letter from their university directly that attests to the medium of instruction.

Application deadlines

The deadline for the internal scholarship is August 31st annually for the following academic year. The admissions period for the next intake usually begins in spring.

For independent and external scholarship applicants, completed application documents may be submitted at any time as long as our online registration portal is open.

Please note that 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 in early October annually.