Funding your doctoral degree

Financial matters

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 and business

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:

As part 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

stv. Referatsleiter; Promotionen, Promovierendenberatung, Promovierendenerfassung (docDaten), Stipendien, Internationales

Department of Strategic Planning
Graduate Centre and Young Researchers Support

Erasmus+ exchange

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 varies 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 and €480 per month (the actual amount depends on 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 more than 6,000 national and international funding programmes. It is mainly aimed at researchers who are looking for third-party funding for their research project but also provides information about scholarships for all levels.

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 provides an overview of more than 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.

Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen

With approximately 11,000 entries, the foundation search of the Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen (Association of German Foundations) 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 at FAU:

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 the chair’s budget: chairs have a small amount of funds reserved for 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 take part in a conference as part of a third-party project your costs may be covered by the funding provider, provided that you submit an application and it is accepted. Once again, you should ensure you comply with the guidelines on travel applications.
  • Scholarship holders: some scholarships include funding for 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 from the conference organiser: many conferences and summer schools offer grants for doctoral candidates to attend upon application. Please see the information provided on the conference website for details.
  • In addition, for trips abroad: you can apply to the DAAD for funding to attend the conference.

Max Weber Foundation

Once a year, supported by the Peters Beer Foundation, part of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Humanities and Sciences in Germany), the Max Weber Foundation (MWS) awards Gerald D. Feldman Travel Grants to young researchers who have an international focus.

The aim of the travel grants is to improve the career opportunities for humanities and social science researchers in their qualification phase. The researchers carry out a research project on a subject of their choice in at least two and up to three host countries that are home to MWS institutes and centres or at the Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History. Funding is available for a total of three months. Placements (at most one month per host country, shorter stays are also possible) are to be used for research, especially in libraries and archives. Researchers are expected to produce transnational or transregional studies that provide research with new and original ideas.

Applications can be made by highly-qualified humanities and social science researchers of any nationality (with at least a Master’s degree, state examination, Magister or Diplom) who have already had work published and can present a research plan. Applications for projects related to research priorities pursued by the Foundation’s institutes or centres will be given priority.


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 addition, please note that in some cases your health insurance provider may need to assess your individual circumstances. The FAU Graduate Centre does not accept any legal liability in this respect.

In Germany, everyone has to have health insurance. The details of which health insurance cover you require depend on which system applies to you, i.e. whether you are covered by private or state health insurance. Cover for people who do not currently have valid health insurance depends on which health insurance system they previously belonged to. Anyone who has never paid contributions to a health insurance provider is insured in the system which applies for them on the basis of their profession (including old age pensioners and students).

Doctoral candidates working as researchers

Doctoral candidates who work as researchers at the University whilst completing their doctoral degree are generally state insured on the basis of their employment. It is important to note that doctoral candidates are not students within the meaning of Section 5 (1) (9) German Social Security Code V (SGB V), as a doctoral degree is classed as a freelance academic employment and not part of academic education.

Doctoral candidates who are employed

Doctoral candidates who are employed at the same time as completing their doctoral degree are also covered by state health insurance on the basis of their employment.

Doctoral candidates who are not employed

Doctoral candidates who are not employed whilst completing their doctoral degree are exempt from statutory insurance. However, all this means in practice is that they can choose whether to take out state or private insurance. Doctoral candidates must have health insurance cover. This applies in particular to doctoral candidates who are financing their studies with a scholarship, mainly self-employed work or low-income employment. Employees have to have state health insurance if they earn between 450.01 euros and 4,462.50 euros per month (in 2016). Employees with an annual gross income of over 56,250 euros (2016) (equivalent to 4,350 euros or more per month) are exempt from statutory insurance (Section 6 (1)(1) SGB V). Doctoral candidates are not treated as students by the state health insurance providers. They are not entitled to the reduced rates available for students.

If doctoral candidates are in low-income employment (total income below 450 euros per month) they are exempt from statutory insurance (Section 7 (1)(1) SGB V). Employees in low-income employment may choose to take out statutory or private insurance.

Receipt of a scholarship does not constitute grounds for health insurance coverage. Scholarship holders must therefore independently arrange health insurance (statutory or private).

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

Health insurance for foreigners

Doctoral candidates who are not from Germany are also required to arrange health insurance cover. Further information is available from the FAU Welcome Centre. We also recommend you take a look at the following multilingual information portal:Krankenkassenzentrale.

Doctoral candidates covered by family insurance

Doctoral candidates who have not yet reached the age of 25 (possibly longer if extended due to periods of national service) or who are married or in a civil partnership and are therefore covered by family health insurance do not need to take out individual health insurance.

Doctoral candidates at FAU who have been registered in FAU’s doctoral research database docDaten and have been admitted to a doctorate at FAU are covered by state accident insurance. All tasks conducted under the umbrella of the University within the context of the doctoral degree are covered. This includes, for example, attending courses or using the libraries. Travel from and to the University is not covered by state accident insurance. Enrolment is not necessary.

State accident insurance also applies for doctoral candidates who are employed as research staff at FAU, on the basis of their employment contract with the University.

There are also differences in the way doctoral candidates at FAU are insured against damage arising within the context of their work on their doctoral degree. It makes a difference whether the doctoral candidates are employed as research staff and are therefore in an employment relationship with the University or not.

Research staff

Doctoral candidates employed by the University are entitled to claim indemnity from liability from the University. This means that they are not held liable for damage caused within the context of their employment unless this damage was caused as a result of gross negligence or intent. You can also take out additional professional liability insurance that covers claims for damages due to gross negligence.

Doctoral candidates with a doctoral scholarship and external doctoral candidates

If the doctoral candidate is not employed at the University, they are not insured for any damage they cause whilst working on their doctoral degree at the University.

Doctoral candidates with a doctoral scholarship and external doctoral candidates are not covered by the University’s insurance for any damage they cause. You are therefore strongly advised to take out private liability insurance. Please check with the insurance provider whether your research activity is covered and whether you can take out such insurance as a scholarship holder.

Further links on health insurance