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How can I find funding for my doctoral studies?

Source: © Graduate Academy of the University of Heidelberg, information brochure for international doctoral candidates:
[http://www.graduateacademy.uni-heidelberg.de/md/gradakad/downloads/information_brochure_int_en_neu_2015.pdf], p. 62–91.

In principle, there are three main funding models – employment as a research assistant at the University or at your research facility, a doctoral fellowship, or employment outside of the University or other academic facilities.

  1. Research positions
  2. Doctoral fellowships
  3. Employment outside the University


Doctoral candidates holding research positions at the University are generally research assistants (wissenschaftlicher Angestellter/Mitarbeiter) or graduate assistants (geprüfte wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft). You can ask your supervisor or at the institute of your choice about any open positions. You can also search for such positions on the internal University job market at: www.uni-heidelberg.de/stellenmarkt


You can find a general overview of fellowships on the Graduate Academy website at:

Fellowships provided by the state of Baden-Württemberg (Landesgraduiertenstipendien):

Every year Heidelberg University awards fellowships within the funding program sponsored by the state of Baden-Württemberg (Landesgraduiertenförderung – LGFG). More information is available at: www.graduateacademy.uni-heidelberg.de/stipendien/individual/lgfg.html Organizations for the promotion of young talent (Begabtenförderungswerke): Eleven organizations for the promotion of young talent award fellowships to doctoral candidates in all disciplines. More information is available at: www.stipendiumplus.de

Other funders, including smaller, specialized funding agencies can be found at:

Fellowships especially for international doctoral candidates :

We recommend that you also investigate funding possibilities in your home country or at the German missions abroad. You can also obtain valuable information from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD), which is the most important funding agency for international doctoral candidates who would like to come to Germany for their doctoral training. Further information about the DAAD is available at: www.daad.de and www.daad.de/deutschland/stipendium/datenbank/en/21148-scholarship-database/ (scholarship database) (Katholischer Akademischer Ausländerdienst – KAAD), is a catholic agency, which provides scholarships for international students who want to do a postgraduate degree in Germany. You find more information on kaad.de/1/scholarships/studieren-in-deutschland/ (Evangelisches Studienwerk), represents the protestant students funding agency. With justified reasons, you can also apply for a scholarship if you are not a member of the protestant church. Find more information on www.evstudienwerk.de/stipendien/promotion.html (in German only)

Fellowships through a graduate school or research training group:

It is possible to apply for a fellowship through a graduate school or research training group. These are research groups of varying sizes in which professors, doctoral candidates and postdocs work together in a particular research area. You can obtain an overview of the graduate schools and research groups at Heidelberg University at: www.graduateacademy.uni-heidelberg.de/schulen

Heidelberg Graduate School of Global Health - Promotionskolleg Global Health für Medizinstudierende

The Heidelberg Graduate School of Global Health is positioned at the Institute of Global Health within the Medical Faculty and funded by the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung and is offering a doctoral scholarship for medical students in Global Health.

For further informations please visit the website: Heidelberg Graduate School of Global Health

Fellowships especially for female researchers:

You can find information on funding especially for female researchers on the website of the Heidelberg University Equal Opportunities Office (Gleichstellungsbüro). The staff of the Equal Opportunities Office advises female researchers about various funding programs, including those for female researchers with families:

Hints for applying for a doctoral fellowship:

In your search for a doctoral fellowship, it is a good idea to apply to funding agencies that could have a particular interest in supporting your dissertation project because of your research area or your personal situation.

It is very important to prepare your application carefully and thoughtfully – to include all the important information about your planned doctoral work and to tailor the contents of your application to the interests and requirements of each individual funding agency. It is a good idea to speak to someone at each agency about the application procedure and the agency’s organizational or funding culture before finalizing your application. The following are examples of documents that can be required in fellowship applications:

  • working title for your dissertation
  • outline of the planned work
  • time schedule for completing your dissertation

Important information regarding fellowship applications:

Please be aware that the application deadlines vary greatly among the various funding agencies. The evaluation process is also handled differently by every agency and can take between 3 to 12 months to complete.


Employment outside the University or other academic facilities could be a part-time position in private industry that allows you enough time to work on your dissertation. For the long-term planning of your doctoral training, please take into consideration that you will most likely need considerably more time to complete your dissertation if you are also employed at the same time. You can find information about jobs on the open job market at:

Important information regarding work permits for international doctoral candidates:

Before investigating employment options, please verify your legal situation with regard to working in Germany.

Reference works on funding for doctoral training:

The following books (in German only) provide information about funding opportunities for doctoral training and research in Germany:

Herrmann, Dieter/Spath, Christian: “Forschungshandbuch 2008/2009: Förderprogramme und Förderinstitutionen für Wissenschaft und Forschung”, Alpha Verlag, 2008.

Herrmann, Dieter/Verse Herrmann, Angela: “Geld fürs Studium und die Doktorarbeit: Wer fördert was?“, Eichborn Verlag, 2005.

You are welcome to come and use both of these books at the Graduate Academy Service Point.