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Bielefeld Graduate School
in History and Sociology
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Start-up Scholarships

The Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) awards up to six four-month start-up scholarships to international MA graduates who would like to pursue a doctoral degree in history, sociology, anthropology, or political science at the BGHS. Recipients receive the opportunity to prepare a persuasive proposal for a dissertation project. Subsequently, they may apply for the doctoral degree programme at the BGHS and/or for scholarships, doctoral positions and funding programmes in Germany or worldwide.


Applicants should hold a Master's degree or equivalent in sociology, history, political science, social anthropology or gender studies; applications from related disciplines are welcome. We strongly encourage women to apply. Graduates from abroad who wish to pursue a doctoral degree in history, sociology, anthropology or political science may apply for a start-up scholarship. We welcome applications from pre-doctoral researchers. Applicants should speak either German or English fluently. Neither German nationals nor foreigners with a tertiary education from a German university may apply (Bildungsinländer/innen). The start-up scholarships are meant to further networking with scientists at the BGHS, therefore no prolonged archival or research trips should take place during this period.
By the end of their stay the candidates present their developed projects to the BGHS community and submit a final report.
To ensure that your project fits with the BGHS profile, you should take a close look at the Areas of research covered by the BGHS. Your project should be relatable to those areas.


The scholarships will be awarded for the Summer Term of each year (1 April until 31 July) and include a stipend of EUR 1,200 per month. This amount will be supplemented by an allowance for children if applicable. Upon application, travel costs can also be covered by the Graduate School. Moreover, the BGHS will offer a study programme tailored to the particular needs of international MA graduates. Scholarship holders will participate in workshops on German academia as well as on writing a project description and will be supported intensively in finding a funding for their research project. Frequent exchange with peer researchers, BGHS staff, and professors facilitates guidance and support during these four months. Scholarship holders will also take part in a German or English class at PunktUm.

Required application documents

Applications should be submitted until January 15, 2017 via the online application portal.

Please submit the following documents:
  • Covering letter (600 words max.) (guidelines)
  • Curriculum Vitae (1,000 words max.) (guidelines)
  • Summary of your MA thesis (600 words max.)
  • Project description (800 words max.) (guidelines)
  • Letter of recommendation from your supervisor/advisor at your university (If preferred, your supervisor/advisor can send the letter directly to the BGHS:
  • University and college certificates and transcripts (Master's certificate or a statement from your examination office that you have successfully completed your Master's studies. All your grades, including the grade for your Master's thesis, must be displayed in this statement). Please enclose a certified translation if certificates are not written in English or German.

Please read the FAQs carefully. They contain all important information on application requirements and procedures. Please also read the project description guidelines for information on formal design and content as well as the covering letter and curriculum vitae guidelines. Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions:

Further information about the BGHS

The BGHS: Degree programme with international character

Education: Our degree programme includes not only candidates' work on their own research, but also a structured curriculum that combines research-oriented courses with courses providing general qualifications.

Research: It is a primary mission of the BGHS to offer a structured doctoral training programme for both participating departments, with a strong focus on theories and methods. Sociology at Bielefeld University features a plurality of theoretical orientations unparalleled at any other German university. In the Department of History, all chairs are staffed by professors who have a record in theoretical reflection, are interested in special methods or are particularly attentive to - among other areas - historiography. Moreover, Bielefeld is well-known for interdisciplinary research. While disciplinary strength is the prerequisite for interdisciplinary exchange, the BGHS fosters dialogue on theoretical and methodological issues in all of its research fields.

Areas of research: Both the broad range of research and teaching capacities in history and sociology at Bielefeld University as well as familiarity with the current state of research guarantees that a large spectrum of dissertation projects can be supervised. In history, thematic fields range from ancient to contemporary history and from political, social and cultural history to the comparative history of modern societies, as well as transnational and global history. In sociology, supervision can be provided in thematic areas such as world society studies, social inequality, social policy, migration studies, sociology of networks or organisations and professions, just to name a few. Chairs in political science and social anthropology further extend the scope of potential supervision. Teaching and supervisory capacities overlap in a considerable number of thematic fields.

Supervision: Supervisors for doctoral projects are found within specific areas of research. It is key to the success of your application that you are able to assign your project to at least one area of research . Therefore, when writing your covering letter you should take the opportunity to locate your own research within at least one of the research areas. Doctoral researchers and their supervisors sign a Supervision agreement to ensure regular, reliable supervision of all research projects.

Internationality: The diverse biographical, social, and cultural backgrounds of BGHS community members are an exceptional resource that enriches research and (international) cooperation. For this reason, increasing the percentage of international doctoral researchers is a central aim of the BGHS. BGHS degree programme courses are held either in German or in English. In addition, there are many other ways in which the BGHS helps build international networks for its doctoral researchers.

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