Funding your doctoral degree

Financial aspects

Finding funding for your doctoral degree can be a challenge, but there are a range of different options. The following are possible sources of income:

  1. A fixed-term post at the university financed by the FAU budget. You will find suitable vacancies posted on the online job market page at UnivIS under the category ‘Wissenschaftlicher Dienst’.
  2. A post financed by third-party funding. These posts are usually fixed-term and are associated with a particular project or research area.
  3. A post associated with a research training programme, such as those of the DFG or a similar institution
  4. A scholarship, such as those offered by the various organisations for the promotion of gifted students
  5. A project involving collaboration with industry

Are you looking for a funding programme that is appropriate to your research project? To help you, we have put together information on some available funding options:

Forming one aspect of FAU’s equality strategy, there are a range of funding opportunities aimed at female doctoral candidates and young female researchers, including funding for women who are returning to research after having children. Information on FFL scholarships at all faculties of FAU


Dr. Christian Schmitt-Engel

  • Job title: Referent
  • Organization: Department of Research Services and Research Development
  • Working group: Office of Research Career Development and Graduate School
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85-20722
  • Email:

Erasmus+ programme

Doctoral candidates enrolled at FAU from all disciplines and faculties can participate in the Erasmus+ programme.

The duration of a stay abroad can vary between one semester/trimester (but must have a minimum duration of 3 months) and one academic year (but must be a maximum of 12 months per stay) depending on the degree programme and partner university.

The support provided takes the form of a mobility grant worth some €300 per month (the actual amount will vary depending on host country).

Erasmus+ internship

  • This programme offers you, as a doctoral candidate enrolled at FAU, the opportunity to apply for financial assistance if you are planning to complete an internship within Europe that is relevant to your doctoral studies.
  • The internship must have a duration of at least 60 days.
  • You will receive a partial scholarship, i.e. a subsistence grant, with the amount of support varying between €360 euros and €480 per month (the actual amount will be determined by the group of countries to which your host country belongs).

The Electronic Research Funding Information System (ELFI) offers registered users a comprehensive database containing information on 6000 national and international funding programmes. It is mainly designed for researchers who are looking for third-party funding for their research project but also provides information on scholarships available for those with all levels of qualification.

Access to ELFI is free of charge from within the FAU network.

There are many different scholarships available in Germany. The following two databases contain information on the scholarships offered by the various funding institutions:

Information on available scholarships is also published regularly on the blog of our Graduate Centre.

The Deutsches Stiftungszentrum database (German) provides an overview of over 450 foundations in Germany that provide funding for academic purposes.

Foundations at FAU

There are also a large number of foundations associated with FAU, which provide funding to doctoral candidates and young researchers at the university. We would advise you to obtain an overview of the individual foundations and their aims (German).

Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen

With approximately 11,000 entries, the foundation search of the Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen (Association of German Foundations) (German) gives a comprehensive online overview of foundations available in Germany.

Scholarships for outstanding doctoral candidates

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) provides funding to sponsorship organisations associated with the worlds of politics and the church that award scholarships to outstanding doctoral candidates who are actively involved in research which benefits society. Most organisations also accept applications from non-German doctoral candidates.

Further information:

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has two databases on sources of funding available to students and researchers at all levels:

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation provides funding to enable international doctoral candidates to spend time undertaking research in Germany and to allow German doctoral candidates to spend time conducting research abroad.

The following can also provide information on funding options:

Further information:

It is important to attend national and international conferences to be able to network and to keep up with the latest research developments. We have listed a few tips on where to find funding for conference trips below.

The following options are available to doctoral candidates looking for funding to attend conferences as guests or speakers:

  • Funding from your department’s/professor’s budget: These have a small amount of funds for covering travel expenses. If your department/professor considers it necessary for you to attend a conference, they may provide funds directly or take these from third-party funds. In the former case the trip will be classified as an official journey. Please read and ensure you adhere to the guidelines on travel applications; in particular, please be aware that trips to conferences in which you are not an active participant can only be approved as training journeys.
  • Third-party projects: If you attend a conference in association with your participation in a third-party project your costs may be covered by the funding provider, assuming your application for funding is approved. You should also ensure you comply with the guidelines on travel applications in this case.
  • Scholarship holders: Some scholarships provide funding of travel expenses. Please ask the scholarship organisation for information.
  • Women: Funding for travel to conferences is available on a case-by-case basis from university funds for promoting equal opportunities.
  • Graduate schools: Some externally funded graduate schools and research training groups provide funding to enable their members (scholarship holders) and outstanding doctoral candidates to attend conferences.
  • Full or partial grants provided by conference organisers: Associated with many conferences and summer schools is the option of applying for a grant to facilitate attendance. Please see the information provided on the conference website for details.
  • The following also applies to travel abroad: An application for the funding of travel expenses associated with attendance at a conference can also be submitted to the DAAD.


The following information on health, accident and liability insurance is intended to provide a general guideline on the subject for doctoral candidates at FAU. Specific aspects of insurance should always be clarified with the relevant offices in each individual instance. In addition, please note that in some cases your health insurance provider may also need to assess your individual circumstances. The FAU Graduate Centre accepts no legal liability in connection with the information provided here.

More useful insurance informations from FAU Welcome Center

Doctoral candidates who also work as research associates/assistants

Doctoral candidates who also work as research associates/assistants at the university are usually provided with health insurance through their employment contract. It is important to bear in mind that doctoral candidates are not students as defined in Section 5 (1)(9), SGB V as doctoral studies are not deemed to represent a form of academic education but independent research activity.

Doctoral candidates who are also employed

Doctoral candidates who are also employed outside the university while pursuing their doctoral studies will usually be provided with health insurance cover through their employment contract.

Doctoral students who are not employed

Doctoral students who are not employed are generally exempt from statutory insurance contributions. However, in this context, all this in effect means is that the person has a choice between voluntarily registering for the statutory health insurance or taking out private health insurance cover. All doctoral candidates are required in all cases to have some form of health insurance cover. This particularly includes doctoral candidates who are financing their doctoral studies by means of a scholarship, through employment or part-time work. Employees are obligated to take out health insurance if they earn between €450.01 and €4,462.50 per month (figures for 2016). Employees with an annual gross income exceeding € 56,250 per year (2016) (equivalent to €4,350 per month) are exempt from the requirement to take out statutory insurance cover (Section 6 (1)(1) SGB V).  Please note that the statutory health insurance providers do not treat doctoral candidates as students, so that the former are not entitled to pay contributions at a reduced rate.

Doctoral candidates inpart-time employment (total income less than €450 per month) are exempt from mandatory statutory insurance contributions (Section 7 (1)(1) SGB V). This means they can choose between voluntarily registering for statutory health insurance or taking out private health insurance.

Those in receipt of a scholarship are not automatically provided with health insurance. Scholarship holders must therefore themselves arrange for health insurance (statutory or private).

If you are in receipt of a scholarship and are also employed at FAU you will need to contact your health insurance provider in advance to determine whether your particular situation means that you are required to pay social insurance contributions (this applies to part-time research associates as well as part time research assistants).

Information on health insurance for international students and researchers is available on the FAU Welcome Centre’s website. You can also find information in other languages on this website:

Doctoral candidates automatically insured through their family

Doctoral candidates who have not yet reached 25 years of age (this can be older in the case of those who have done military or civil national service) or who are living in a registered civil union or are married and thus are automatically covered by the insurance of their family or partner do not need to apply for health insurance cover.

Doctoral candidates enrolled at FAU are automatically are insured under the statutory accident insurance cover (GUV) of the university. All activities carried out as part of their doctoral studies organised by the university are covered by the GUV. For example, this includes attending teaching events or using the library. However, candidates must be enrolled at FAU.

Doctoral candidates who are employed at FAU as research associates also have statutory accident insurance cover through their employment contract with the university.

There are also differences in the liability insurance cover afforded to doctoral candidates at FAU depending on the nature of their relationship with the university. It depends on whether a doctoral candidate is employed by the university as part of its research staff or not.

Research associates (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter)

Doctoral candidates employed by the university are automatically exempt from the need to take out liability insurance cover. This means that they will not be held liable for any damage or loss for which they are responsible during the course of their employment, unless such damage or loss is the result of gross negligence or malicious intent on their part.

Doctoral scholarship holders and external doctoral candidates

If there is no employment relationship between a doctoral candidate and the university, the individual will be held liable for any damage or loss for which they are responsible during their activities at the university.

Doctoral scholarship holders and external doctoral candidates are not covered by the university liability insurance. It is therefore advisable for these persons to see they are provided with private liability insurance cover. It should be ensured that any private liability insurance also covers damage or losses that occur in association with professional activities. In any case of doubt, doctoral candidates should ask their insurance providers to verify this.

Further links for more information on health insurance