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What to keep in mind while searching for a scholarship

The following questions aim at drawing your attention to several issues connected with funding through scholarships. Please be aware that this list is not comprehensive and can only cover those aspects that are relevant to most doctoral candidates.

How much funding do you need?

Please refer to the following link in order to get a general idea of living expenses in Germany: DRS Welcome and Info Services

Residence Permit

If you need a visa and/or a residence permit for your stay in Germany, you have to prove that you have at least 700€ per month and person (approximately 8000€ per year) when applying for your visa/residence permit.

Semester Fees and Public Transportation in Berlin

If you enroll at Freie Universität Berlin, you will have to pay semester fees. They include the costs of a ticket for Berlin’s public transportation system.

Taxes and Social Security Contributions

In most cases, you do not have to pay taxes on your scholarship. The funding organization can tell you whether the scholarship is exempt from taxes. Unlike employees, you do not have to pay social security contributions. This means that you neither pay into your pension fund nor for unemployment insurance. For more information on taxation in Germany, visit EURAXESS. Further details on the social security system in Germany can be found at German Social Insurance and EURAXESS.

Health Insurance

Check whether your scholarship covers health insurance. Mostly, they do not. In this case, you will have to pay for your health insurance using part of your scholarship money. For further details on health insurance, visit DRS Welcome and Info Services and EURAXESS.


Does the scholarship secure funding of your whole doctorate? If not, do you have means to cover the rest? Please be aware that, in general, it is very difficult to find completion grants.

Choice of Research Topic

Will you be able to define a research question of your own or is the project determined by the scholarship organization?