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

Applications for 2022
Will open in spring 2021


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

External funding applicants
Review time for applications
takes up to three months


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


Selection and admission


Applicants are informed via e-mail whether their application is complete after we have received it on our server. This first screening takes up to two weeks. Please inform us, if you have not heard back from us within two weeks after the upload of your application.


BIGS-DR and ZEF staff members screen complete application PDF files for academic qualification, quality of the research proposal, and recommendations. Promising candidates are interviewed via phone or video conference system. This review is usually being completed within three months after the submission of the application. The three months review time starts for internal scholarship applications in September, after the application deadline has expired. The final scholarship decision is usually being announced in December.

All candidates are being informed individually about the outcome of their application. Successful scholarship candidates are being put on a shortlist until they have accepted the scholarship offered by EPOS/DAAD. Successful individual and external scholarship applicants are being issued a conditional letter of acceptance at this point.

Plagiarism check

All Graduate Research Statements (GRS) of shortlisted candidates, and candidates who are being strongly considered with external funding, are checked for citation and potential plagiarism.

Selection Committee

The Selection Committee has seven members: the three-members of the ZEF Directorate, representing the three ZEF departments, one senior researcher from each ZEF department, and the Academic Coordinator.

Waiting list

Qualified candidates who cannot be offered a scholarship will be placed on a waiting list and/or receive a conditional letter of acceptance to assist them in seeking external financial assistance. Candidates on the waiting list may be accepted in the event there is an availability in the program.

Begin of studies

Admitted BIGS-DR students are generally expected to arrive in Bonn for the start of the academic year at Bonn University in October. We always organize our doctoral courses, the first phase of studies at BIGS-DR, between October and March. EPOS/DAAD scholars at BIGS-DR are expected to arrive in August, they have the chance to participate in a mandatory German language course before they start their studies at BIGS-DR.

A note on plagiarism

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's (or even your own) work or ideas without acknowledment. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. This type of behavior is intellectually dishonest and violates the ethics of academic professionalism. In order to prevent plagiarism in the selection and admission process, shortlisted candidates are obliged to submit a softcopy of their research plan for us to perform a plagiarism check.

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 consult our FAQ page if you have any additional questions.