Universität Bonn


Please notice:

The next application period for BIGS Mathematics will be October/November 2024.

Applying to BIGS Mathematics

We welcome applications from motivated, interested students who would like to join our graduate program.

Applications for the Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program and for the Qualifying Year can be submitted twice annually during the application period, which is in October/November for admission in April of the same academic year and March/April for admission in October of the following academic year.

Please, read carefully through the information on the required qualifications, funding and the application process. All applications are submitted electronically through the application portal. If you have questions, or if you need advice on how to apply, contact the BIGS Office.

Required Qualifications

To be eligible for the Bonn International Graduate School in Mathematics you need to hold a M.Sc. (Master) degree - or an equivalent thereof - in mathematics (or complete your degree prior to the beginning of your studies at BIGS). Only in exceptional circumstances can students holding Bachelor degrees be admited to the BIGS graduate program.

If you hold an M.Sc. degree, but you do not feel prepared to start your dissertation thesis work immediately, you can apply for the Qualifying Year. You can read more about the Qualifying Year at BIGS under Academics.

You also need to be proficient in English (TOEFL iBT >80 or IELTS 5.5). Knowledge of German is not required.

© Daniela Schmidt

Funding Opportunities

While the admission to BIGS Mathematics does not automatically include funding, there are various sources of funding available to BIGS Mathematics students. BIGS screens applications for available sources of funding during the admissions process, and informs successful applicants on the opportunties available to them. Applicants are also advised to consider individual sources of funding early in the application process, and when a suitable potential doctoral advisor has been identified.

Hausdorff Doctoral Positions

Selected candidates who are ready to embark on their dissertation thesis research are offered Hausdorff Doctoral Positions for a period of three years. These positions constitute employment at the University of Bonn and come with health care and social security benefits. The net salary (TV-L E13, 75%) ranges from appr. 2000 to 2300 Euros per month depending on personal circumstances.

Qualifying Year Positions

Selected candidates who are offered admission to the Qualifying Year program at BIGS are offered positions with a net salary (TV-L E13 50%) of appr. 1400-1500 for the duration of that year. These positions come with health care and social security benefits. Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Year, candidates can be offered a Hausdorff Doctoral Position or a comparable position.

DAAD Graduate Scholarship Program

BIGS participates in the Graduate School Scholarship Program of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Council). This program awards doctoral scholarships to selected foreign students. BIGS automatically screens applications for eligibility in this program and nominates suitable candidates.

Check out: GSSP - DAAD

IMPRS Moduli Spaces - MPIM

The International Max Planck Research School IMPRS at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics offers PhD positions and grants in various areas of pure mathematics. BIGS automatically screens applications for eligibility in IMPRS "Moduli Spaces"

Check out: IMPRS

Teaching and Research Positions

The four University of Bonn mathematical institutes regularly offer teaching and research positions. Your potential supervisor might advise you on the availability of any such funding sources.

Individual Scholarships

Many German and foreign finstutitions offer individual doctoral scholarships. Most major foundations that support excellent students ("Begabtenförderwerke"), such as the Studienstiftung, also award their scholarships to foreign students who are planning on doing their doctoral degree in Germany. The DAAD is another major source of scholarships for international students with offices in many countries.

Required Documents

All applications have to be submitted online via the application portal during one of the two annual application periods. In the application portal, you will fill out a detailed application form and you will be asked to upload the required documents that are described here. All documents have to be in English or German. If you submit degree certificates in another language incdue a certified translation. Please, make sure that you only upload regular PDF files and that no attachment is larger than 2MB. File names should not include any special characters. Letters of recommendations have to be sent separately via e-mail.

You will need to fill out an online application form via our application portal. Among other thing the form will ask you to specify whether you have or are in the process of securing your own funding and/or what funding (Hausdorff Positions etc.) you are applying for. It will also ask about your visa requirements.

Please submit a curriculum vitae that lists in short form your highschool and your university education as well as your academic and non-academic work experience and other relevant achievements such as publications, prizes, scholarships or professional presentations.

Please submit a letter of motivation of not more than 2 pages explaining the reasons for you to pursue a PhD in mathematics and why you are interested in doing your PhD in Bonn. State which field of mathematics you are interested in, and describe your background in ths field. Also state if you know or are in contact with a faculty member in Bonn who might be a potential suitable advisor.

Provide evidence of your English language proficiency by submitting one of the following:

  • a copy of the result of a standard test (such as IELTS or TOEFL)
  • evidence that you obtained a degree in a program that was taught in English
  • a record of English classes leading to a B2 competence level that you completed successfully

The language of instruction and the working language of BIGS Mathematics is English. Your thesis can be written in English and the examinations are taken in English. Therefore, your ability to speak English should be clearly on the level of B2 (corresponding to TOEFL iBT 80, or IELTS 5.5).

If you are a native speaker of English or German, you are exempt from providing evidence of English language proficiency. In this case, you will need to state this on the online application form.

Please upload your latest Master transcript. Make sure you include information on the courses you are taking or will be taking in your last term.

Please upload your Bachelor transcript and degree document.

Submit a substantial sample of your academic work in mathematics in English. You could submit one of the following:

  • your Master thesis, or a draft thereof
  • a chapter of your Master thesis
  • a substantial piece of work published or being prepared for publication
  • a detailed and informative abstract of your Master thesis

You sample should reflect your mathematical background and development.

You will be asked to enter the information and e-mail addresses of at least two recommenders into the system. You recommender will be contacted automatically to upload the letter of recommendation.

Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated by the Graduate Admission Committee in consultation with faculty members. Interviews of shortlisted candidates will take place in December and January for applications submitted by the November due date and in May and June for applications submitted by the April due date. Successful candidates will receive offers of admission in Febuary (November due date) or July (April due date).

We value diversity and gender equity. To advance the opportunities of female (and non-binary) researchers in mathematics, we award a significant proportion of our positions and scholarships to women (and non-binary researchers), and preference will be give to suitably qualified female (and non-binary) candidates all other considerations being equal.

Further Information

If you have questions about the BIGS applications and admissions process, you are welcome to contact the BIGS Office.

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