How to fund your doctoral studies

Both international and German doctoral students should consider the following models to find opportunities to fund their PhD:

  1. a position as a research assistant,

  2. a position/scholarship in a third-party funded project,

  3. a scholarship from an external organisation,

  4. part-time studies.

1. Research assistantships

Research assistantships are usually limited to three, and a maximum of six years. These positions can also include tasks that are not related to your research project, e.g., administrative and teaching duties. Vacancies at Göttingen University are advertised here:

2. Position/scholarship in a third-party funded project ("Drittmittelprojekt")

Positions or scholarships (note information below) in a third-party funded project usually run for three years. Third-party funded projects usually offer students an additional curriculum of colloquiums, seminars and workshops so that candidates have the opportunity to interact with other researchers and acquire skills and qualifications while working on their dissertation.
In Germany, research training schools and collaborative research centres are the most common third-party funded projects, e.g., sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Such projects have funding periods of several years. Thus, research training schools usually run for nine years and admit three successive groups of students. Most research training schools offer regular positions with 65-100% of a full-time position paid according to TV-L E 13. However, these positions will only be advertised every three years and their number is limited.
Additionally, in cooperation with their supervisors, doctoral students can submit a proposal for a research project with the DFG. This, however, requires considerable time to prepare.
Instead of regular research assistant positions, some projects will offer scholarships. While this does not change anything in the set-up of the third-party funded project, scholarships differ from regular posts.


3. Scholarships

In Germany, the biggest donors of scholarships are organisations affiliated with political parties and religious denominations. International students should also consider, e.g., the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) which maintains different programmes depending on the students' home countries. Scholarships usually run for three years (2+1) and amount to ca. € 1.200 per month. Usually, they do not include allowances for travel costs or lab equipment. As a scholarship holder, you are not covered by health insurance nor social security schemes! This does not apply to scholarships awarded by the DAAD. These include a combined health, accident and liability insurance. If you hold a scholarship from a different organisation, you might still be eligible to take out this policy. The DAAD gives more detailed information.


4. Part-time studies

Students choosing to study on a part-time basis will work on their dissertation while holding a (part-time) job outside university. The PhD programmes in Göttingen require students to earn credits. To attend seminars, you should make sure you have enough time to travel to Göttingen. In individual cases, credits from other universities can be transferred.