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BGSS International Doctoral Program in Social Sciences, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #74 (WUR) Berlin, Germany
The Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences’ (BGSS) mission is to train and promote doctoral researchers from Germany and the world in social sciences. Located within the Institute of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, it offers a structured doctoral curriculum and intensive academic supervision. 
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  • The BGSS provides support and intensive supervision for writing an excellent dissertation within three to four years, thus preparing doctoral researchers for a career within and outside the academic sphere. In order to maintain its international competitiveness, BGSS relies on a faculty consisting of more than 30 professors and senior lecturers of the Department of Social Sciences (ISW) and its partner institutions.
  • The curriculum of the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences offers multiple programs and tracks, tailor made to the specific needs of aspiring young researchers. It focuses on the systematic training of doctoral researchers combined with intensive supervision and mentoring. 
  • Hence, the doctoral curriculum of the BGSS comprises high-level courses on theory, methods, supporting courses and doctoral workshops. Annual milestones ensure continuous progress and mutual feedback.
  • The first and second year of membership are each limited to one year and the prolongation depends on the fulfillment of the curriculum. At the end of every summer semester, the membership committee decides on the extension, basing on the completion of the requirements.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • More details:

    We will have a 2nd Call for Applications in August 2019 for candidates who have already been granted doctoral funding

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Credits
    180 ECTS
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

  • Milestone 1st year: The positive evaluation of the Dissertation Prospectus (equivalent for publication-based thesis, see curriculum below) is the most important criteria for the prolongation of the BGSS membership into the second year. The supervisor will give feedback by filling in the Progress Report 1st year.
  • Milestones 2nd year: The positive evaluation of two Thesis Chapters (equivalent for publication-based thesis, see curriculum below) is the most important criteria for the prolongation of the membership into the third year. The supervisor will give feedback by filling in the Progress Report 2nd year.
  • Milestone 3rd year: The last milestone of our doctoral program is the third Thesis Chapter (equivalent for publication-based thesis, see curriculum below). The supervisor will give feedback by filling in the Progress Report 3rd year.

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Get a free IELTS practice test
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®

General Requirements

Minimum Requirements
  • M.A. degree (120 CP, state accreditation) or equivalent (Magister, Diplom) in Social Sciences (Sociology, Political Science, International Studies).
  • English language proficiency at C1-level or equivalent
Application Documents
  • The application is to be submitted via our online application platform. The following documents are compulsory and need to be uploaded:
  • Mission Statement (500 words maximum)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Certificate of English Language Ability (TOEFL, IELTS, C-level etc.)
  • Exposé of your doctoral project (5-10 pages)
  • Copies of degrees and certificates (official transcripts, diplomas, including translations into German or English)
  • Two letters of recommendation sent directly to the BGSS

Tuition Fee

  • EU/EEA

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 0 EUR per year and a duration of 36 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Berlin

  • 836 - 1340 EUR/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Applicants who successfully passed the selection procedure need to secure doctoral funding in order to start the program. BGSS invites candidates to simultaneously apply for outside sources of funding, such as the DAAD, Erasmus Mundus Funding and fellowships from foundations. 

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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