Scholarship System

The promotion of talented students in higher education contributes financially to the development of highly qualified and responsible personalities who are able to meet the requirements of future leaders in performance and responsibility. The state funding programs focus on thirteen organisations for the promotion of the talented and the German Research Foundation (for universities). Grants to selected applicants are mostly awarded as doctoral scholarships, and the monthly amount depends on the financial and personal situation (e.g., number of children).

The organisations for the promotion of the talented offer scholarships for doctoral students from all disciplines. One of the common principles is the principle of individual support. Since the aim of the scholarships is to support individual young researchers and their personal development, project-related funding is not provided. The institutions are represented at the universities by liaison lecturers. In addition to the professional and personal aspects, organisations for the promotion of the gifted attach importance to the scholarship holders' commitment in the governmental, societal or social spheres.

An initial overview is provided by the website which also provides information on the requirements and access options as well as the level of financial benefits. However, the former is the same for the various funding organisations, as the financial resources are provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung). In addition to the basic orientation, there are differences in the selection procedure and in the non-material funding offered, e.g. language courses, doctoral student forums, conferences, etc.

The Study Foundation of the German People is the largest sponsorship organisation and is characterised by a political, denominational and ideological independence. Excellent or particularly motivated doctoral candidates can be nominated here by their supervisor.

The organisations for the promotion of the talented award most of their doctoral scholarships in Germany. In this case, as with all types of funding, it is important to apply for support for your doctorate in good time, as the process of finding suitable funding can take several months.


The German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU)

The doctoral scholarships are limited to a maximum of 3 years. The amount of the scholarship is 940 euros per month. In addition to the scholarship, a monthly lump sum of 210 euros is paid for material and travel expenses. Material funds in excess of this can only be granted in exceptional cases and to a limited extent. Scholarship holders with children whose net family income does not exceed € 2,000 per month receive a child supplement.


  • You should not have started your doctoral thesis yet.
  • We expect an above-average university degree.
  • Your chosen doctoral topic is expected to be highly topical and to contribute to problem solving in environmental protection and nature conservation.
  • The rejection of a scholarship application excludes the applicant from reapplying.

The current application procedure is ONLINE! There are two application deadlines per year.
Deadlines: 15.01 and 15.06 of each year.

more information

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

Graduate funding for Germans and foreign students
FES scholars believe that academic excellence thrives on exchange with other disciplines. Often, doctoral candidates lack the opportunity to do this. Their work is mostly independent, supported only by a supervisor. FES scholarship holders take part in doctoral colloquia, where they present their work and discuss it with participants from different disciplines.

Current politics and sensitivity to them are important factors for FES students and are also a topic in the colloquia. Our doctoral students learn to look beyond their doctoral project and to take socio-political relevance into account. FES graduates later find it easier to find contacts in various professional groups and academic disciplines.

The FES also offers graduate students the opportunity to present their work to a larger professional audience: At conferences, they invite experts from politics and academia. The doctoral students speak about their research and receive high-quality feedback. Past conferences focused on the topics of "Migration and Integration" and "Social Change."

As a scholarship holder in our graduate funding program, you also have the same advantages as in the basic funding program: financial security, professional contacts, networking in university groups and working groups, as well as a comprehensive seminar program.

How much is the scholarship?
Scholarship holders receive 1,350 euros per month. In addition, there is a monthly flat-rate research allowance of 100 euros. We provide funding for two, maximum three years.

What is expected?
We attach great importance to a personal commitment to society. As a political foundation, we expect our scholarship holders to demonstrate not only above-average academic performance, but also a commitment in line with our values, e.g., involvement in the student council, youth work, participation in associations and NGOs or in political organisations that fit in with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's environment.

In addition, there are more than 60 university groups nationwide that are largely self-organised by those receiving funding. The group members meet regularly, exchange ideas, and set their own thematic priorities. Every scholarship holder can actively participate in the groups.

How do I apply?
Anyone who has been admitted to a doctoral program at a German university without further requirements can apply with the exception of the Department of Medicine.

more information (German only)


Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung)

Support for gifted students of the Foundation for Freedom. The area of political education and the promotion of gifted students ensure that the Foundation fulfills its two core tasks of "political education" and "promotion of young scholars." Since 1973, the Foundation for the Promotion of the Talented has been the liberal scholarship provider in Germany. The idealistic promotion of scholarship holders is the original task of political education as value-oriented, political educational work on the basis of liberalism. We support students and doctoral candidates from Germany and all countries of the world. If you are one of the professionally convincing pupils, students and graduates, your attitude to life is liberal and you take on socio-political responsibility accordingly, then you have come to the right place. Freedom means being able to develop, which is why we give our scholarship holders the benefit of the doubt. We trust them not only to achieve great professional success, but also to help shape our idealistic support responsibly through personal commitment. Self-organisation is therefore the keyword in the promotion of young people by the Foundation for Freedom!

Find out everything about scholarships, funding, application, selection process, and scholarship activities.

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Gerda Henkel Foundation (Gerda Henkel Stiftung)

Doctoral scholarships

Applications for a doctoral scholarship can be submitted at any time. The Foundation's committees decide on the awarding of scholarships in four meetings per year. The processing time for an application is a maximum of six months.

The aim of the scholarship programme is to promote highly qualified young scholars. Only applicants who are proven to be exceptionally talented by their academic performance and exam results and whose dissertations are expected to be well above average will be considered. When selecting scholarship holders, the duration and course of studies, final grade, age and special qualifications are important decision-making criteria.

The Foundation does not award graduation scholarships. A final scholarship is one that follows on from more than one year of funding from another source and/or an application for a scholarship for a period of less than twelve months.

Funding period: The funding period is two years.

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Hans Böckler Foundation (Hans-Böckler-Stiftung)

Promotion of doctoral studies at the Hans Böckler Foundation
For competent young academics

The Hans Böckler Foundation supports doctoral candidates who are particularly talented academically and committed to trade unions or socio-political issues. Doctorates in all disciplines are also supported within the framework of doctoral colleges, junior research groups, or graduate centers.

Thematic priorities of doctoral funding
The topics of change in gainful employment, the welfare state, non-formal learning, sustainability and structural change are the focal points of doctoral funding. In the future, the Hans Böckler Foundation will primarily support doctoral programs that conduct research on these topics.

Information for applicants
Applications for a doctoral scholarship can be submitted at any time via the trade unions or directly to the Foundation. In addition to academic suitability, the socio-political significance of the doctoral topic also plays a role in the awarding process.

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Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes

The Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes – German Academic Scholarship Foundation – awards scholarships which, in addition to financial support, offer participation in attractive events and access to a network. Doctoral students who are both outstanding in their field and socially engaged have the opportunity to apply for a Studienstiftung doctoral fellowship with their supervisors.

Selection procedure for students at a university (FH/HAW)

Doctoral scholarships