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Bielefeld Graduate School
in History and Sociology
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FAQ on Start-up Scholarships

Frequently asked questions on:

Your stay at the BGHS

The description of the Start-up scholarships states that no prolonged archival trips should take place. How is "prolonged" defined?
You should spend around 80% of the Start-up scholarship period at the BGHS. Research and archival trips are of course possible in the remaining time. However the BGHS does not cover any travel costs for these trips.

Is a Start-up scholarship linked to matriculation into a doctoral programme in History or Sociology?
No, because during the Start-up scholarship period you will be preparing for your doctoral studies. You will however be enrolled in Bielefeld University as a guest.

Do I already need to have a supervisor for my doctoral project?

Will I be offered accommodations?
If you are accepted as a BGHS Start-up scholar, the main office of the BGHS and Bielefeld University Welcome Centre will aid you in all practical affairs (accommodations, visa, etc.). If applicable, please contact a German embassy or consulate in your home country to clarify any formalities that must be observed.

Research contacts at Bielefeld University

How can I find researchers at Bielefeld University who are potentially interesting for my academic network?
We recommend you study the BGHS areas of research, where you will find doctoral candidates and professors whose work may be relevant to your research.

What do I need to know about potential research contacts?
First gather ample information on the research associates and professors (for example from their websites). The research interests of your contacts should fit well with the subject of your dissertation project.

Should I already write to professors and/or research associates at Bielefeld University who are potential research contacts, or simply mention them in my application and make contact only if I receive a scholarship?
Before applying for a scholarship you only need to name potential research contacts at Bielefeld University in your application. Should you receive a Start-up scholarship, you can make the appropriate contacts then. The BGHS office is happy to assist you in these efforts. Please make sure the research interests of our faculty members fit your doctoral project before naming them in your application.

Degrees and language skills

I am enrolled in a Bachelor's programme. May I still apply?
No. You are only eligible if you have a Master's degree.

I have not yet completed my Master or am currently completing my Master's thesis. However, I plan to have it completed before the Start-up scholarship begins. May I still apply?
No. You may only apply for a Start-up scholarship if you can send in your Master's transcript with your application documents (before the deadline) or, alternatively, a preliminary certificate of completion from your Examination Office that also contains all marks. In the latter case, your complete transcript including the mark for your Master's thesis must be handed in later.

I received my Master's degree quite a while ago. May I still apply?
Yes, as long as you have not yet begun work on your dissertation.

I am currently enrolled in a doctoral programme. May I still apply?
No. Start-up scholarships are for Master's degree holders who are preparing their doctoral studies, and you have already completed this phase.

I completed my MA in Germany, may I still apply?

I received my MA in a joint degree programme between a German and a non-German university. May I apply?

I completed my BA in Germany, but my MA abroad, may I still apply?
Yes, as long as you are not a German citizen.

I speak no or only very poor German and/or English. May I still apply? Are there language tests or minimum requirements?
You should be fluent in either German or English so that you can participate fully in Bielefeld University's academic community. The BGHS does not however require any language certificates as proof of your knowledge of either German or English. Start-up scholars will have the opportunity to attend classes to improve their German or English.

Application documents

Which documents do I need to send in with my application?
You will find a list of the required application documents here. Please use our online application portal.

How do I create one PDF file from many documents?
You will find instructions for creating one PDF file here.

What should be in my doctoral thesis proposal?
Please take a look at the project description guidelines.

How complete must my proposal be? Do I need to include a comprehensive bibliography? Does the maximum word count include the bibliography?
Since you are only beginning your dissertation, your proposal should provide a concise overview and only need to name key research literature and sources. Your proposal may not be longer than 800 words excluding the bibliography. Proposals that are longer than 800 words will not be considered.

Who should write a recommendation? Does it have to be my Master's advisor/supervisor? Can I also send in more than one recommendation or is one sufficient?
Please send in only one letter of recommendation with your application. This recommendation should be written by a university professor who knows your work well (for example the advisor/supervisor of your Master's thesis).

Should letters of recommendation be sent separately or can they be integrated into the application?
You can either integrate the letter of recommendation into your application, or have your advisor send the letter directly to the BGHS at

Does the deadline for the application documents also apply to the letter of recommendation?
Yes. Your application will not be considered without a letter of recommendation.

Which information do I need to include in my CV?
Please take a look at the guidelines for the curriculum vitae.

Financial support

What is the amount of the additional payment if I have a child or children?
You will receive an additional payment of EUR 400 for the first child and EUR 100 for every child thereafter.

Can I receive financial support after the first four months are over?
No. Start-up scholarships run for a period of four months, no extensions are possible.

Will I receive after the start-up scholarship a doctoral position or a doctoral scholarship by the BGHS to finance my research project?
No. The Graduate School currently does not offer full doctoral positions or doctoral scholarships to finance a research project, but supports start-up scholarship holders intensively in finding funding for their research projects. In addition the Graduate School provides a comprehensive programme of individual measures to fund research by its doctoral researchers. These measures include, for example, reimbursement of travel costs for archival and field research or trips to conferences as well as mobility grants.

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