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FUB – CSC PhD Program 2017

Doctoral Studies at Freie Universität Berlin – a Leading German Research University

In 2017, Freie Universität Berlin will continue its privileged cooperation with the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and is again offering a number of open positions in a variety of research areas for CSC candidates.

The following information is focused on high-qualified Chinese students who are interested in a PhD study abroad and who want to apply for a CSC Scholarship in March 2017.

Before you consider to apply to the FUB Beijing Office for a PhD position, please read carefully the information about the eligibility criteria and rules of a CSC Scholarship, available online at

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1. Individual PhD studies

under the direct supervision of one professor who is an expert in a given research area ("Apprentice Model").

The PhD student could be described as research assistant who works independently in a certain field of research. At present, the majority of German and international doctoral students at Freie Universität Berlin follow this model. Generally speaking, any professor of Freie Universität can supervise PhD candidates.

The FUB-CSC PhD Program is for individually supervised PhD students on the projects of professors in a wide range of subject areas.

2. Structured PhD Programs

There are a variety of Graduate Schools (GS) and Research Training Groups (RTG) focusing on interdisciplinary research. PhD studies can be undertaken within structured training program.

  • Some PhD programs are offered by Graduate Schools, jointly organized by Berlin universities (FU Berlin, TU Berlin, HU Berlin) i.e. Berlin Mathematical School.
  • Questions will be answered directly by the program coordinators in Berlin.
  • Application process and counselling are arranged by the FUB-Beijing Office.

Please check the list of structured PhD programs at FUB.

The two possibilities correspond to two different ways of perfoming PhD studies. Please read the section on General Information About PhD Studies at Freie Universität Berlin for details.

NOTE: The doctoral degree/PhD degree awarded is the same for both types of doctoral studies!

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Please check the requirements and rules for a CSC scholarship and read carefully the information given by the China Scholarship Council.

Scheme 1 (Full-time PhD study)

Scholarships for a PhD project pursued at Freie Universität Berlin and leading to a doctoral degree of Freie Universität Berlin

  • Duration of the scholarship: 3-4 years.
  • Scholarship holders under Scheme 1 enrol at Freie Universität Berlin as doctoral students. Their research will be supervised by a professor of Freie Universität. (Some of the supervisors are researchers at a non-university research institute and also professors of FUB.)
  • Istudents successfully complete all requirements and defend their dissertation, they will be awarded a PhD / doctoral degree of Freie Universität Berlin.

Scheme 2 (Part-time PhD research stay)

Scholarships for a doctoral program following the so-called "Sandwich Model"

  • Duration of the scholarship: 1-2 years.
  • According to the Sandwich Model, Chinese PhD candidates will do PhD research both at the home university in China and at Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Supervision of the PhD candidate is ensured by a Chinese and a German professor.
  • The first year of the PhD course will be pursued at the Chinese university. The PhD students then complete one to two years of research at Freie Universität Berlin and return to China for project completion.
  • The PhD title will ultimately be conferred by the Chinese university.  
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  • Very good English skills if English is the language of instruction. No prior knowledge of German required in the following disciplines: Biology, Biomedicine, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Earth Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, and Veterinary Medicine.
    English Certificate

    • IELTS certificate with an overall rating of 6.5 (no module below 5,5) or 
    • TOEFL iBT certificate with a total score of at least 95 points (no test section below 20 points)
  • Very good German skills if German is the language of instruction for PhD studies. Usually in Humanities and Social Sciences but depending on the professors' requirements.
    German Certificate

    • TestDaF certificate with a total score of at least 16 points – no subtest below 4 – or
    • "DSH-2" certificate.
    In individual cases English for PhD studies is possible, depending on the thesis’ subject and on the approval of the candidate’s supervisor.
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Two Application Processes: (1) to FUB Beijing Office (2) to CSC

The application and evaluation process for CSC candidates is coordinated by the Beijing Office of Freie Universität Berlin. All inquiries concerning the FUB – CSC Program and open positions should be sent in the first process ONLY to FUB-Beijing Office (NOT to the professor!) (Ms. Britta GAEDECKE).

The FUB-CSC Program is arranged in two steps and entails two application processes:

First Application: to Beijing Office of FUB to receive an invitation
  • Apply to Beijing Office for one of the positions offered by a professor of FUB.
    [Please note! Apply only for a research project if your academic background meets the description of the offer!]

  • The application should be submitted ONLY to (Ms. Britta GAEDECKE).

  • Application deadline for PhD Studies: January 4, 2017.

  • Beijing Office will check and evaluate the application and forward it to the respective professor. The professor will contact the candidates who submitted a complete application. After interviewed by the professor who offered the position, the final decision about the acceptance is made by the professors of Freie Universität Berlin according to the academic qualification. We inform the applicants at latest mid of February about the decisions.

     [Please note: Be patient and don’t contact the professor before the decision is made.]

  • In case the professor accepts the PhD candidate, he/she contacts the PhD candidate to discuss the research proposal which is required for the second process, the CSC application.

  • Freie Universität Berlin (Centre for International Cooperation) will issue the invitation letter for the accepted PhD candidates. The invitation letter is necessary for the application to a CSC scholarship and will be passed to the students by the FUB-Beijing Office end of February, 2017.

  • All accepted PhD candidates who submitted their complete application to the FUB-Beijing Office and were accepted by a professor will be listed on the official nomination list of the FUB – CSC Program which will be handed in to the CSC by the FUB-Beijing Office.

List of documents Freie Universität Berlin requires from applicants:

Second Application: to the CSC (end of March – beginning of April) for scholarship / funding
  • This is a separate application process which is handled only by the CSC. In case you have questions concerning the CSC scholarship, please contact the CSC directly.
  • Apply under the framework of the FUB – CSC Program (otherwise, you are not a member of the program and cannot profit by its benefits)
  • The invitation letter issued by the Freie Universität Berlin (See above, No. 1) is required for the scholarship application to the CSC in the framework of the FUB – CSC PhD Program. For the exact application period of CSC scholarships (usually: March 20 – April 5), please refer to the CSC homepage:
  • Confirmation of the scholarship awardees of the CSC will be announced at latest end of May 2017.
  • Successful scholarship holders start their research stay in Berlin in September 2017.
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No tuition fees for PhD studies and postdoctoral research and no agency fees will be charged!

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  1. Make sure your application fits the project that you would like to apply for. Concentrate on the questions in the project  description. Do not try to "make a topic fit", that you would like to work on, but which has hardly anything to do with the  project as the professor describes it in the offer.
  2. The letters of recommendation have to:
    • be on official paper sheets of the respective university.
    • have the professors' university adress at the top of the page.
    • carry the professors' signature and seal.
    Forging a letter of recommendation leads to disqualification.
  3. Make sure that all your documents together should not exceed the size of 5 MB.  
  4. Send us your abstract of Master thesis in English.
  5. The title of your Master thesis should be seen on your Curriculum Vitae.
  6. Do not delete the e-mail history of your correspondence with the FUB Beijing Office.
  7. To avoid additional efforts and workload, please do not contact the professor / supervisor. He / she will contact you after receiving and reviewing your complete application via the FUB's-Beijing Office.
  8. Based on experiences with Chinese students interested in the FUB-CSC Program in previous years, we summarized the frequently asked questions: Please check our FAQ section.
    If you do not find the information you are searching for in this FAQ section, please contact Beijing Office of Freie Universität Berlin: (Ms. Britta GAEDECKE).
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