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Informationen für Promovierende und Postdocs - Information for doctoral candidates & postdoctoral researchers


Funding Opportunities for Your Doctorate - General Information

Requirements for a doctorate are - aside from the needed qualifications - a passion for scientific research, and secured funding. There are several ways to cover the costs for your living expenses during the time of your doctorate. An overview over (the most) common funding opportunities as well as their advantages and disadvantages are listed below. It should be noted that it is possible to combine different funding opportunities at the same time, or one after the other for your doctoral project.

1 Working in Academia

Many doctoral candidates are employed as research assistants at the university or non-university research institutions. Usually, institutes and faculties advertise open positions with the possibility of doing your doctorate in their respective departments. In addition to the workload for their dissertation, doctoral candidates employed as research assistants are integrated into the ongoing research of the department and have teaching responsibilities. For some vacancies, your own scientific qualifications – i.e. your dissertation project - is a component of the job advertisement, and is related to your research and teaching responsibilities at the institute. In this case, a portion of the doctoral student’s working time can be used to work on their dissertation.

For some positions, your scientific qualifications will not be specifically required - so-called 'Projektstellen', project-based employment - which means that there will be less time for you to work on your own research and writing.

In case of an employment at the university, doctoral candidates profit from health insurance and pay social security contributions, meaning that they acquire pension entitlements. The positions are however often temporary and limited to part-time employment.

In order to create more transparency and more secure conditions for young researchers, the University of Tübingen has adopted a framework for fixed-term contracts. The framework regulates time limitations both for research assistants during their doctorate or other qualification projects which do not aim towards a PhD.

2 Working Outside of the University

To fund your doctorate, you can also seek employment outside of the university, e.g. within the private sector. Some employers – usually large companies located within the industrial sector - fund doctoral projects related to the goals of the company itself. The advantage of such an external doctorate lies with the close tie to the company, which can in some cases lead to a direct transition into employment after finishing your thesis.

Employment as a research assistant or in the private research sector needs to be distinguished from positions which are not related to doctoral projects, in which case the dissertation needs to be written outside of the working hours. This often occurs when doctoral candidates are in employment prior to their dissertation and want to achieve this additional qualification alongside their work.
Doctoral candidates who have chosen to write their dissertation in addition to their work responsibilities need to pay attention to make sure they receive the necessary support and feedback for their doctoral project. This means that they must make sure to have regular meetings with their supervisor, but also and especially that they are integrated into an appropriate research network and context, i.e. their institute, faculty, department, other post-graduate students and researchers of their field. This can be accomplished e.g. through attending doctorate colloquiums, conferences of the faculty or institute, or specialized conferences.

Some doctoral candidates decide to finance themselves through one or several part-time jobs. This option is, however, the most demanding e.g. due to unregular working hours.

3 Doctoral Scholarships

Full-time scholarships for doctorates are primarily awarded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the funding organizations of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The DFG does not award the scholarships directly but rather sponsors doctoral programs and graduate schools at universities. These schools and programs offer the opportunity to do your dissertation in a rather structured context, including regular colloquia and classes. In order to be accepted into a doctoral program or graduate school, your grades need to be above average. Furthermore, your research interests as well as your dissertation topic should align with their orientation and focus. In recent years, such post-graduate schools and programs have begun to offer working contracts in addition to or alongside of scholarships.

The sponsorship organizations of the BMBF require outstanding achievements in order to receive scholarships. They do, however, also take into account extra-curricular activities, in particular social involvement. In addition to financial support, these organizations often offer ideational support and networking opportunities, e.g. in the form of summer schools.

Aside from the sponsorship organizations of the BMBF, there are a few smaller foundations which award scholarships and grants. These foundations have differing expectations and requirements for application.

The duration of a scholarship usually varies between two to three years. In some cases, there are extension options which you can apply for. There are no social security contributions for scholarships, meaning that you do not have entitlement to a pension or unemployment benefits after the scholarship has expired.
Doctoral scholarships can not always be combined with an employment. For further details see the scholarship guide lines. 
  • Becker, J. (2015). Das Einmaleins der Promotion. Hamburg: academics GmbH.
  • Nünning, A. & Sommer, R. (2007). Handbuch Promotion. Forschung – Förderung – Finanzierung. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler.

Zuletzt geändert: 17. Nov 2017, 15:08, Nicht freigegeben

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