ZEF‘s Doctoral Program (BIGS-DR): A unique international experience in the midst of Germany

ZEF doctoral students at the Rhine river which passes Bonn.

Welcome at our Website! Here, you can read why ZEF’s Doctoral Program is an excellent choice as a stepping stone for your international career in the field of development cooperation, policy or research. We listed a couple of good reasons why to choose ZEF and its Doctoral Program as your next place to study below.

ZEF's Doctoral Program is one of Bonn University's International Graduate Schools.
Its official title is therefore BIGS-DR: Bonn International Graduate School for Development Research.

General information about ZEF's Doctoral Program.

Institutional setting

This doctoral program is part of the Center for Development (ZEF), an internationally operating research institute of the University of Bonn. The institute is led by three renowned professors in the areas of Economics, Ecology and Social Sciences: Professor Christian Borgemeister (Ecology, Executive Director of ZEF), Professor Joachim von Braun (Economics), and Professor Solvay Gerke (Social Sciences).

International and diverse

ZEF’s doctoral program is characterized by a high degree of diversity. The 500 students who have joined our program since its inception in 1999 represent nearly 90 countries. Around 40% of our students are female.

Educational support and concept

ZEF’s educational concept provides excellent and intensive supervision and tutorship: You are not left alone with your thesis! Being part of a ZEF “batch” of around 30 students also offers you the possibility of exchanging professional and personal experiences.

Structured program

ZEF offers a structured doctoral program, which enables students to obtain their doctoral degree in three-and-a-half years on average. An intensive course program of about 700 teaching hours per year is carried out by ZEF’s senior researchers, professors from the University of Bonn, and international guest professors.

Support and services

The doctoral program at ZEF has its own management team - supporting our students with a whole range of services such as housing, administration and family affairs.