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DRS was established as an umbrella organizational structure for doctoral programs. It incorporates new doctoral programs with innovative curricula which are distinguished by structured training and supervision sensitive to the phases of the respective research project and ensure their excellence by conducting regular quality assessment procedures.

DRS acts as a seed agency for the development and adoption of new programs within the existing focus research areas. Moreover, potential for new research clusters will be identified in collaboration with the Center for Cluster Development (CCD) also in view of providing integral opportunities for the training of young researchers.

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DRS formulates comprehensive standards for its member programs and sets quantitative and qualitative benchmarks. As a pre-requisite for admission, programs have to guarantee:

  • Curricula structures consisting of research complemented and supported by training
  • Transparent and competitive selection procedures for its candidates
  • Planning reliability concerning the duration of the doctoral project (3 years)
  • Supervision by a team of at least two professors
  • Conclusion of a supervision agreement stipulating mutual responsibility
  • Regular assessments of the candidates’ research progress


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DRS provides seed money for the conception and implementation of new and promising doctoral programs.

At the same time DRS offers additional funding to doctoral candidates with the aim to support outstanding quality and research activities. This comprises, among other things, mobility grants supporting early contacts and integration into the international scientific community.

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Whereas the doctoral member programs of Dahlem Research School are responsible for the disciplinary and interdisciplinary training of their doctoral candidates, DRS provides complementary training in key qualifications.

On the one hand these training measures are targeted at optimizing the performance of young researchers in regard to not only quantitative aspects, such as research output but also to the quality of research, e.g. imparting Rules of Good Scientific Practice.

On the other hand, the concept bears in mind that between 80 and 95 % of doctoral graduates will not remain in academia but will seek employment on the non-academic labor market. Therefore, a section of the training program aims at developing appropriate career paths and opportunities meeting the needs of the wider employment market. Individual support with regard to creating personal employability profiles is offered.

The concept consists of five pillars considered essential for the training of future leaders in academia and beyond:

  • Academic Performance
  • Managerial Skills
  • Information Technology
  • Language Skills
  • Professional Development


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The Welcome Center will provide information, support and services in all non-academic aspects of the doctorate. Especially candidates moving to Berlin for their research require assistance, all the more if they come from abroad.

One component of this service consists of the so-called Orientation Weeks targeted at the early integration of new international candidates. The program includes intensive German language training, support with official procedures, e.g. residence issues, as well as advice concerning personal issues, e.g. housing and insurance. Furthermore a leisure and cultural program will facilitate the participants to get-acquainted with each other but also with their new environment.

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In the last years, Freie Universität has achieved considerable results with regard to the increase of the proportion of women at all stages of an academic career. DRS complements and extends these efforts to the pre-professorial stage. The aim is to raise the doctoral graduation rate and percentage of females in fields where they are still underrepresented. This includes trainings and other specific measures which are currently under development.

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