A bit confusing perhaps for all those who are familiar with the Anglo-American use of the term is the fact that German universities feature numerous “Graduate Schools”. Some of them are umbrella institutions and do not have students of their own (as is the case with the Dahlem Research School, s. below), others on the contrary have developed a research agenda and offer PhD studies in their fields. Having been approved by the German “excellence initiative” and receiving funding from the German Research Foundation, graduate schools in the latter sense grant stipends for a period of 36 months. Available places are announced once a year (deadline for applications varies), begin of studies generally is 1st October each year. The selection process is complex and – due to the financial benefits – highly competitive. From the application deadline till the final interviews the whole process might well take a few months.
All schools have their own research fields. They can be either disciplinarily or thematically or regionally specified.