top of page

PhD Scholarships in Germany

PhD Scholarships in Germany

Are you ready to take the next step in your academic journey and pursue a PhD in Germany?

If so, Germany might just be the perfect destination to turn that dream into reality. Renowned for its world-class universities, vibrant academic community, and generous funding opportunities, Germany offers an enticing environment for aspiring researchers to thrive.

Whether you're drawn to the historic charm of Heidelberg, the innovative spirit of Berlin, or the picturesque landscapes of Munich, Germany's diverse academic landscape caters to a myriad of interests and disciplines. So, if the idea of embarking on a transformative academic journey amidst the rich cultural tapestry of Germany excites you, it might be time to consider taking the leap into doctoral studies in this dynamic country.

Explore the world of possibilities with us as we dive into the several ways for obtaining PhD scholarships in Germany that can support your ambitions for conducting research and provide access to outstanding academic success. From funding options to navigating the vibrant academic landscape, embark on this interactive journey to uncover the keys to unlocking your PhD dreams in Germany.

Here are the best PhD scholarships in Germany for international students, including those offered by DAAD, Helmholtz Research, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation, Heinrich Böll Foundation, and Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Join more than 100,000 motivated academics and researchers worldwide in pursuing ground-breaking research and life-changing experiences with the esteemed German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) by your side.

The various sources of PhD funding available in Germany are indicative of the country's diverse approaches to doctoral studies. In addition to the usual academic fellowships and scholarships, German research institutes and universities also provide PhD candidates with paid assistant-ships.

This extensive guide provides insights into the application procedure for obtaining PhD Scholarships in Germany and lists a variety of funding options.

Top Five PhD Scholarship in Germany

The following list of widely recognized PhD. scholarships in Germany that are intended for overseas students:

1.     German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Scholarship

2.     Scholarship for Helmholtz Research

3.     Scholarships from the Heinrich Böll Foundation

4.     Scholarships from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation

5.     Scholarships from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation

1.     German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Scholarship

PhD Scholarships in Germany

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) serves as an organisation for German universities and their student bodies that aims to internationalize the academic and scientific research system. Through its scholarship programs, the DAAD provides students, researchers, and teaching staff with the opportunity to access the best study and research options available.

The DAAD also promotes transnational cooperation and university partnerships, and functions as the German national agency for EU higher education cooperation. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) facilitates the globalization of German higher education institutions while promoting national scientific policies, international cultural and educational policy objectives, and development cooperation activities of Germany.

The DAAD operates a global network of 66 regional offices and information centres/points. Since its establishment in 1925, the DAAD has supported approximately 2.8 million scholars in Germany and worldwide.

Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP) DAAD 

In German university established graduate schools, DAAD seeks to boost the number of overseas candidates for doctorates.

Who Can Apply for the Scholarship?

Excellent doctoral candidates and young academics and scientists who have completed a Master's degree or Diploma, or in exceptional cases a Bachelor's degree at the latest by the time they begin their scholarship are eligible to apply for the scholarship, depending on the graduate school.



Degree Level


Scholarship Fund

The scholarship can fund a PhD project at a structured graduate school at a university in Germany.

Scholarship duration

The funding duration is up to 4 years, depending on the graduate school.

Programs Offered

All research subjects.

Financial Coverage of the scholarship

The scholarship offers monthly payments of 1,200 euros, payments towards health, accident, and personal liability insurance cover, a travel lump sum depending on the country of origin, and an annual research allowance of 460 euros.

Under certain circumstances, grant holders may receive additional benefits, including a monthly rent subsidy and a monthly allowance for accompanying family members (about 200 euros per child and about 275 euros for a spouse).

The host graduate school can also receive an annual material resource and supervision allowance of 1,000 euros.

Selection Process

The GSSP is not a program that can be applied directly. Applicants are requested to submit their application to the DAAD website only after applying to one of the participating graduate schools (see the list of participating graduate schools) and receiving a scholarship nomination from that graduate school.

In this program, each DAAD scholarship includes financing for a maximum of four years. A two-step process will be used to identify the recipients of DAAD scholarships.

 Step 1: The participating graduate institutions publicize PhD openings globally, and the hosting program nominates qualified applicants for a DAAD scholarship after a screening process. 

Step 2: Through the DAAD site, the nominees submit an online application and any necessary supporting documents.

2. Scholarship for Helmholtz Research

 Helmholtz Research and Graduate Schools provides highly prepared doctorate researchers with structured doctoral training in collaboration with universities. Young researchers get a great deal of experience working closely with work groups on research projects.

 Funded By

Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Association is the most prominent research organization in Germany, employing over 42,000 people and with an annual budget of 5 billion euros. Its 19 Helmholtz Centers conduct research in six study domains with the goal of advancing scientific understanding of important and pressing issues affecting industry, society, and research. International researchers can find several fascinating possibilities at Helmholtz.

Type and Extent of Funding

  • The funding for this position is typically provided in the form of a work contract, which is usually part-time in nature.

  • The salary for this position is based on the collective agreement for public sector employees, which currently stands at approximately 4,100 to 4,400 euros per month, gross, for a full-time position.

  •  In many research fields, doctoral researchers receive payment of 65 percent of a full-time position, which equates to approximately 2,600 to 2,900 euros per month, gross.



Degree Level


Duration of Scholarship

 3 years with possible extension of 1 year.

Programs Offered

All subjects.

Who can apply

Graduates who hold:

  • An exceptional academic degree that is comparable to a master's degree in Germany,

  • A degree in the pertinent subject from a research institution;

  • A doctorate in a field closely related to the research group

  • Fluency in the English language. 

How to Apply

  • Applications have to be submitted to the relevant Helmholtz Center.

  • Each Center posts a notice of openings or establishes an application deadline.

  • Links to the various schools and job openings are available on the website.

3. Scholarships from the Heinrich Böll Foundation

PhD Scholarships in Germany

The Heinrich Böll Foundation, associated with the German Green Party, offers one of the best scholarships to PhD candidates worldwide. Green values such as democracy, environment, solidarity, and nonviolence should be endorsed by applicants.

In addition to providing financial aid, the program hosts events that foster skill development, interdisciplinary learning, and personal and professional development.




Degree Level


Eligible Programs

All available programs at relevant university.

Duration of Scholarship

Candidates Program’s Duration.

Financial Coverage

  • Fully funded

  • The scholarship provides a monthly stipend of €1,200 in addition to a monthly mobility allowance of €100 and other individual allowances.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The requirements for eligibility for Heinrich Boll Scholarships vary based on the applicant's educational history. 

  • Students who received their education in Germany, in an EU member state (apart from Germany), or outside of an EU member state are subject to different requirements.

  •  The requirements for each type of student are as follows:

For foreign/German students receiving an education in Germany:

  •  The application must be accompanied by proof of admission to a state-approved university or a state-approved institution for doctoral studies.

  •  The completion of preliminary work and the submission of a legitimate completion schedule are required.

  • All fields are eligible; however, priority will be given to those that address the foundation's core principles.

  • Two years, with a maximum of two half-year extensions.

  • Proof of German Proficiency: Not necessary.

For EU nationals (not educated in Germany):

  • The application must be accompanied by proof of admission to a state-approved university or a state-approved institution for doctoral studies.

  • The completion of preliminary work and the submission of a legitimate completion schedule are requirements.

How to apply

  • There are multiple steps involved in applying for Heinrich Boll Scholarships, which are listed below: Find out when the application deadline is approaching by going to the Heinrich Boll Foundation's official website.

  • Go to the foundation's website to access the online application form. Usually, the gateway opens approximately six weeks before the deadline.

  • Complete the application form completely and accurately. Give your personal information, resume, reasons for applying, rationale for studying the subject you have selected, a summary of your social and political commitments, and, if applicable, specifics about your PhD. thesis project.

Upload the necessary PDF files, such as the following:

  • A copy of your university entry qualification (baccalaureate or Abitur), translated into German or English if needed.

  • Study certificate list for currently enrolled students. Certificate of student enrolment.

  •  A one-to-two-page reference on social commitment from a representative of an institution or organization. 

  • A one-to-two-page expert reference from a professor at a university or an educator (two for doctorate aspirants).

  •  A thorough description of a PhD student research study.

 Before the deadline, submit the completed application together with any required paperwork.

 Procedure for Selection

 There are three steps in the selection process: 

Initial Review: Academic record, political interests, social commitment, scholarly motivation, and research proposal quality (for PhD students) are the factors taken into consideration while evaluating applications.

 Interview: A liaison lecturer will conduct an hour-long in-person or phone interview with the shortlisted candidates.

Following the interview, a report from the liaison lecturer is included to the application. 

Appropriate applicants are invited to a selection workshop in Berlin, which consists of in-person interviews and group discussions.

Following each phase, applicants are notified in writing of their status. Those who did not pass the first or second round may reapply, however those who are dismissed following the selection workshop cannot reapply.

4. Scholarships from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation

PhD Scholarships in Germany

Germany is widely recognized as a hub for academic excellence, drawing students from all over the world to pursue their higher education goals. Among the various scholarship programs available, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) sponsorship stand out as a beacon of support for talented individuals from regions such as the Global South (Asia, Africa, Latin America), post-Soviet states, and eastern and south-eastern European (EU) countries.




Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

Level of Study


Financial Coverage

  • The FES scholarships provide comprehensive support to the chosen scholars.

  • Successful applicants receive a monthly stipend of $830 (for Bachelor's/Diplom/Magister/state examination programs) or $850 (for Master's programs).

  • Additionally, the scholarships cover health insurance costs, and scholars with children receive a family allowance of $276. Importantly, this support does not need to be repaid.

Who is Eligible?

These scholarships are designed for students who demonstrate exceptional academic and professional promise, and who are committed to the principles of social democracy. Regardless of their field of study, applicants must show outstanding academic ability and a strong desire to study in Germany. Their dedication to social democratic values is essential.

Eligibility Criteria

  • To be eligible, students must be enrolled at a state or state-recognized higher education institution in Germany.

  • They should have above-average academic performance and provide evidence of their achievements through first grade certificates.

  •  Proficiency in German is also necessary, even if courses are conducted in English. 

How To Apply? 

If you are considering applying for a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Scholarship, the application process is designed to be straightforward and user-friendly. Please follow the step-by-step guide below:

  • Begin by completing our online application form. We will ask you a few questions about your professional and family background. At this stage, no additional documents are required.

  • Should you require clarification or guidance before applying, feel free to reach out to the FES network of approximately 480 trusted lecturers. They are available to assist you throughout the application process.

  • If you are eligible for a scholarship, FES will request additional documents via email. 

  • These typically include two expert reports from university professors, details about your previous education, and information about your socio-political commitment. 

  • First-year students in their first university semester are asked to provide reports from former teachers.

  • Upon receiving the request, you will have three weeks to upload the necessary documents. 

  • For reports, this time frame may extend to six weeks after consultation with us. We recommend preparing the documents in advance while awaiting our response.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to two interviews:

One with a trusted lecturer from your department and another with a member of the selection committee. 

To explore further details about Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Scholarships, please visit the official website.

 5. Scholarships from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation

PhD Scholarships in Germany

 If you're seeking a PhD scholarship in Germany through the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), here's what you need to know.

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) offers prestigious scholarships to support aspiring scholars in pursuing their PhD studies. KAS, which has its roots in Christian democratic principles, is committed to advancing human rights internationally, maintaining the rule of law, and promoting democracy.

Whether you're already studying in Germany or you're stationed in one of their focal countries, KAS offers opportunities for exceptional people to succeed academically and make significant contributions to society. The PhD scholarships offered by KAS provide a route to success if you want to further your research goals in Germany.


 Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Scholarship Type

Merit Based

Degree Level


Financial Coverage

  • Stipend split into monthly installments: 20,400 EUR for postgraduate courses and 43,200 EUR for doctorate courses.

  • Health insurance with financial assistance up to 120 EUR a month.

  • If you and your spouse live together in Germany for three months and your monthly income does not surpass €450, you will receive a family allowance of 276 EUR.

  • Children residing with you in Germany are entitled to a monthly stipend of 194 EUR.

  • Reimbursement of tuition fees up to €1,500 per semester in special circumstances and upon application; availability of funds pending.

How to Apply

The following information is important to know if you're applying for a PhD fellowship through the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in Germany: Options for Applications:

  • Apply directly to the appropriate KAS office if you live in one of the priority countries, such as Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, or Latin America (arranged through Peru). 

  • Online interviews will be held.

  •  To learn about the procedures, visit their websites.

  • Domestic Selection Program: Use the online application process if you are already in Germany. 

  • Submit the required documents and the application online. Hard copies are not accepted. Every year, the deadline for applications is July 15.

 Documents Needed for an PhD Scholarship:

  •  CV that emphasises volunteer work or social involvement.

  •  A letter of motivation.

  •  Copies of the exam certificates (in translated language if necessary).

  • Copies of the academic records for studies conducted in Germany.

  • Evidence of B2 level proficiency in German.

  • Recommendation letter for academic work from a university instructor.

  • A German university's certificate of entrance or matriculation.

Additional Documents for the PhD Scholarship:

  •  A comprehensive synopsis of your dissertation (five to ten pages).

  •  Your thesis supervisor's second letter of recommendation for academic standing.

  • Verification of your thesis advisor's supervision.

  • Make sure that every document is written and presented in compliance with the specified requirements.

For Further Information visit the website.


For international students seeking to pursue PhD studies, Germany is a shining example due to its abundance of prestigious scholarship options. Prospective scholars might find ways to fund their scholarly endeavors, ranging from the well-known DAAD Scholarship to grants from illustrious foundations like Helmholtz, Humboldt, Böll, Ebert, and Adenauer among others. These scholarships offer priceless chances for both professional and personal development in addition to financial support.

Take advantage of the opportunity to start a life-changing academic journey and make a significant contribution to the international scholarly community as you explore the field of PhD. scholarships in Germany.



bottom of page