How to Finance Your Doctorate

Trying for a scholarship or admission to a graduate school, applying for a PhD position at HSBI, remaining in your current job and working on your doctoral project part-time – there are many ways to finance your doctorate and all of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. Find out more about the different routes here.

Doing a doctorate as a research associate

Most of our doctoral candidates are employed at HSBI as research associates. Work with us and make progress on your doctoral project at the same time! As a research associate, you carry out research and teach in the respective research area or project while you’re working on your doctorate. This model has many benefits for your career. 

Secured financing

During your employment, you need not worry about the financing of your doctoral project. As a research associate in the public service, you will receive a salary up to salary grade TV-L 13, depending on your personal qualification and the tasks you are given. The employment is usually part-time (50 to 75 percent) and fixed-term for three or four years.

Social insurance included

Research associates have an employment that is subject to social insurance contribution. This means that you need not worry about health insurance, nursing insurance, accident insurance, pension insurance or unemployment insurance during your doctorate as an employee of HSBI.

All under one roof

For several years, HSBI will be the place where you engage with your doctoral topic in all of its facets in great detail. As an employee, you will receive unrestricted access to our research-friendly infrastructure without any complicated procedures. This includes numerous IT services, your own workstation and the library.

Inspiring environment

Mastering your tasks at the faculty, research institute or research project and your own project at the same time is a challenge. However, it also creates synergy effects: you will work in an interdisciplinary environment, be in permanent exchange with other researchers and gain teaching experience. In addition, we will assist you with many offers to make your doctorate a success!

Doctorate at a graduate school

In a graduate school, several doctoral candidates form an interdisciplinary group to conduct research in a determined subject area. Several supervisors accompany them in this. If you apply for a PhD position in a graduate school, you will do your doctorate in a structured doctoral programme, which also includes colloquiums and other offers for doctoral candidates. In some cases, you can be employed as a research associate at the university simultaneously in order to secure financing.

At the moment, doctoral candidates from HSBI carry out research at the Data-NInJa research training group, an interdisciplinary doctorate network for more trustworthy AI technology, which connects NRW-based universities.

Financing through a doctoral scholarship

A scholarship makes it possible for you to concentrate on your doctoral project full time. There is a large number of scholarships you can apply for as a doctoral candidate. In Germany, they are sponsored by foundations, development agencies, companies or private donors. Most scholarship providers have a denominational, party political, trade union or entrepreneurial orientation.

In addition to scholarships that provide for the entire duration of the doctorate, there are also some that are dedicated to sponsoring certain phases, e.g. proposal or completion scholarships. Moreover, you can apply for printing subsidies, equipment subsidies or financial support for (research) travels.

PK NRW offers a scholarship information session every year. Please find more information on PK NRW’s website.

Am I allowed to work as a scholarship holder?

Usually, scholarships can be combined with a job to a limited extent, i.e. you are allowed to work for a maximum of ten weekly hours at the university/in research or up to five weekly hours outside the university while you receive your scholarship.

Financing through a job outside the university

Of course, you can also take up or continue an employment outside HSBI in order to finance your doctorate. In this case, you are doing a part-time doctorate.

Financing through a doctoral loan

You can also finance your doctorate through a loan with a monthly pay-out. For example, doctoral candidates can apply for a student loan from the KfW development bank.

Where do I find PhD positions and further information?

We regularly advertise PhD and research associate positions. Thank you for your interest – we look forward to your application!

Do you have any other questions on doctorates? Please get in touch at We look forward to hearing from you!