Scholarships and grants
Scholarships are a common way to fund doctoral studies. In Germany, various organisations provide scholarships and grants. Local and national organisations, those with links to specific political parties or denominations, as well as subject-related ones provide a variety of possibilities for grants.
As a rule, funding is provided for a period of three years. This can be extended by one year if the scholarship holder has a child or relatives in need of care, or must suspend their studies due to a disability or illness. Up to two six-month extensions are possible if necessary to complete work on the doctorate. The maximum funding period is four years.
In most cases, doctoral students receive a monthly grant of between 900 EURO and 1,200 EURO. In addition, a monthly family allowance is available when there is a child in the family or the doctoral student’s partner has a low income. Some scholarships also include a travel allowance.
When you accept a scholarship or grant, bear in mind that you, as a doctoral student, must arrange for your social security contributions individually. In turn, you generally do not have to pay any tax on your income. You are not covered by statutory health insurance and do not pay for unemployment insurance or into a pension scheme. Please be sure to consider these genereal conditions when planning your doctoral studies.
The most common form of state funding are doctorate scholarships. The monthly grants also depend on the financial and personal situation of the scholarshipholder, for example when they have to provide for children. Financial support may also be granted for research stays abroad.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) is the center of state funding in Germany. It offers doctoral candidates the possibility of indirect funding, e.g. through research training groups. In this case, applications are sent to and decided on by the respective research training group. With a maximal funding period of 36 months, the scholarship involves between 1,000 and 1,365 EURO per month as well as a monthly material costs grant of 103 EURO. Furthermore, child allowance of 400 EURO per month for the first child and another 100 EURO per month for each additional child may apply. In the context of structured doctoral programs, funding is also possible through Graduate Schools and Clusters of Excellence.
Apart from the German Research Foundation (DFG), sponsorship foundations for talented students form the base of state funding. With regard to funding period and sums granted, they provide the majority of doctorate scholarships.
The 13 biggest sponsorship foundations for talented students
- Avicenna-Studienwerk (Muslim sponsorship)
- Cusanuswerk (episcopal sponsorship, Catholic) (in German only)
- Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst (evangelic sponsorship) (in German only)
- Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk (Jewish sponsorship) (in German only)
- Friedrich Ebert Foundation (links to the Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD) (in German only)
- Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (links to the Free Democratic Party, FDP)
- Hanns Seidel Foundation (links to Christian Social Union, CSU) (in German only)
- Hans Böckler Foundation (links to labor union)
- Heinrich Böll Foundation (links to The Green Party)
- Konrad Adenauer Foundation (links to Christian Democratic Union, CDU)
- Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (links to the Left Party)
- Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft and Studienförderwerk Klaus Murmann (links to entrepreneurs/employers) (in German only)
- German Academic Scholarship Foundation (politically, denominationally, and idiologically independent)
Federal state funding for doctoral students
The doctorate scholarships of the federal state Hamburg provide funding for doctoral students of all disciplines and for all degrees. These federal state scholarships are granted for one year each and have to be extended in due time. The standard funding period of two years can only be extended by another year in exceptional cases. Applications for scholarships are made at the respective higher education institution as they award the scholarships available to them individually.
Funding by your higher education institution
Doctoral funding is regularly available for doctoral students at higher education institutions in Hamburg from a number of different foundations as well as through the State Graduate Funding Program of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The following funding options are available:
- Universität Hamburg (UHH)
- Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH)
- HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU) (in German only)
Pro Exzellenzia, the career center for women, awards doctoral and post-doc scholarships and grants to women. The participating institutions are responsible for application calls.
In Germany, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the leading provider of scholarships, particularly for international doctoral candidates. In 2010 alone, the DAAD provided funding for more than 2,900 international doctoral students. DAAD scholarships include, for instance, an international travelling allowance as well as grants for language courses and printing expenses of the doctoral dissertation. The DAAD scholarship database provides details of the scholarships available to finance your doctoral studies (including conferences and expeditions) offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and other funding organizations. You will need to enter your discipline, country of origin, and status to find the appropriate funding line.
As an interim solution (for one year at the maximum) for you as an international doctoral student at Universität Hamburg (UHH), you can also apply for a Merit Scholarship of the International Affairs office of Universität Hamburg (UHH).
Private foundations mainly fund doctoral research that coincides with the foundation's general topic or interest. However, other aspects such as the higher education instituion or the birthplace of the doctoral candidate may be decesive factors in awarding a scholarship. Therefore, private foundation funding may be of particular interest to doctoral students that do not fulfil the requirements for state funding.
The Association of German Foundations provides an overview of private foundations as well as a free foundation search engine (in German only). In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research scholarship database (in German only) also includes scholarships by private foundations.