International Programmes 2019/2020

Berlin Graduate School for Global and Transregional Studies Berlin Graduate School for Global and Transregional Studies

Freie Universität Berlin • Berlin

PhD in Social Sciences, Area Studies, History, Law, Economics
Doctoral degree or degree awarded by
Freie Universität Berlin / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Hertie School of Governance
Teaching language
  • English

100% of the courses are held in English.

Programme duration
6 semesters
Winter semester
Application deadline

Application: 31 January for the following winter semester (September)

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

The Berlin Graduate School for Global and Transregional Studies (BGTS) is the full-time doctoral programme of the Cluster of Excellence "Contestations of the Liberal Script" (SCRIPTS) at Freie Universität Berlin in cooperation with Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Hertie School of Governance, Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) and Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien (ZOiS).

The BGTS offers a rigorous and dynamic English-language programme for exceptionally talented and motivated graduate students in the field of global and transregional studies, bringing together a broad spectrum of disciplines, from the social sciences to area studies to history.

The programme focuses on contemporary controversies about liberal orders from a historical, global, and comparative perspective. It is particularly focused on global and transregional processes analysed by social science or historical methods. Research at the BGTS focuses on the structures, risks, and opportunities of cross-regional interaction at various levels. Research areas include the causes and consequences of contestations of the liberal script, alternatives to the liberal model, and implications of the contestations for politics, societies and individuals in the 21st century.

The doctoral programme consists of three years of study, starting in September of each year. The bulk of the candidates' workload will take the form of independent thesis research. Apart from this, all candidates are required to successfully complete content-oriented survey courses, colloquia on research methods, and multidisciplinary skills workshops. Candidates will also be required to present the results of their research regularly at research colloquia and at academic conferences.

Course organisation

Your time at BGTS will seem relatively brief – our intensive three-year (180 CP) programme balances independent research with a structured curriculum. Unlike traditional doctoral education in Germany, our students have the unique opportunity to take part in content-oriented survey courses, colloquia on research methods, and tailored multidisciplinary skills workshops to gain a sharper academic focus. A team of three supervisors, comprising members of the BGTS faculty as well as external and international supervisors, supports each PhD candidate during his or her studies.

The PhD programme consists of three years of study starting in September of each year. In total, students earn 180 credit points during the course of three years. The bulk of the workload for candidates will take the form of independent thesis research. In addition to this, all candidates are required to successfully complete content-oriented survey courses, colloquia on research methods, and multidisciplinary skills workshops. Candidates will also be required to present the results of their research regularly at research colloquia and at academic conferences.

Do you want to be a part of the vibrant and talented BGTS community? The application period begins in December. An exceptionally strong university degree in political science, international relations, sociology, economics, law, or a related discipline is required.

International elements
  • International guest lecturers
  • Integrated study abroad unit(s)
  • Language training provided
  • Study trips
  • Projects with partners in Germany and abroad
  • International comparisons and thematic reference to the international context
Integrated study abroad unit(s)

Students are expected to conduct their field research or to go abroad for fellowships from the second year onwards.

Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution
In total, the semester contribution amounts to 311.99 EUR. It includes a fee of 198.80 EUR for the transportation ticket contribution. This allows you to use public transportation in Berlin for free. Other costs covered by the semester contribution are a 50 EUR enrolment fee, a 54.09 EUR semester contribution to the student support service ("studierendenWERK Berlin"), a 7.90 EUR contribution to the student union and 1.20 EUR contribution to the Semester Ticket Office.
Costs of living
Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, cultural events, etc. are basically in line with the EU average. You will need around 900 EUR each month to cover your living expenses. The largest expense is your monthly rent.
Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university
There are limited scholarships available. For more information, please visit the website and the annual call for applications.
Academic Admission Requirements

Anyone who has completed a Master’s degree in social sciences, area studies and history as well as economics and law (usually comprising a total of 300 European Credit Transfer System [ECTS] credits including the Bachelor’s degree) is eligible to apply. The term “social sciences” refers to political science and sociology. The programme is open to applicants of all nationalities and shows no preference to EU citizens.

Your final grade point average should be at least 2.4 (according to the German grade system), in other words, “good”. In ECTS terms this corresponds to a “B” average, starting at 79%. As grading systems vary from country to country, grade point average is only one factor among many upon which selection is based.

If you haven’t completed your Master’s degree programme at the time of application, you may still apply, but you must provide official documentation (e.g., academic transcript and official diploma) of your successful completion of a Master’s degree before enrolling in the PhD programme.

If your official diploma is not ready at the time your application, you are required to send some proof of your academic performance (e.g., a current transcript) instead. After this, please send us a letter from your university as soon as you have completed your Master’s degree, confirming the completion of your studies. This letter will allow you to provisionally enrol at BGTS while awaiting your official degree diploma.

Language requirements

The expected level of English proficiency is C1 (or better) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which translates into other tests as follows (scores indicated are minimums):

  • IELTS: 8.0
  • TOEFL PBT: 603/677
  • TOEFL CBT: 263/300
  • TOEFL iBT: 110/120
  • TOEIC: 785

If you are not a native English speaker or if the language of instruction at your previous university was not English, we will ask you to provide evidence of strong English language skills. Please include English language test results in your application if this applies to you. English language tests should not be more than two years old at the time of your application to the BGTS and should be uploaded in your online application form as a PDF or JPEG document.

The PhD programme at the BGTS does not require German language skills. However, we recommend that you study German during your time with us. This will help you in your daily life in Berlin, including communicating with others at the university. German language courses for international doctoral candidates are offered by the Dahlem Research School at Freie Universität Berlin.

Application deadline

Application: 31 January for the following winter semester (September)

Submit application to

Each year, the call for applications is open from 1 December to 31 January. Applications for our PhD programme must be submitted online. For more information, please see the website:

All required documents must be submitted online by the 31 January deadline. Late submission of documents is not permitted.

Possibility of finding part-time employment

There are many ways of earning money while you study. For example, you can work as a waiter, academic assistant or private tutor. Knowledge of German will improve your chances of finding a part-time job. Please be aware of the legal regulations.

Student services at the universities and the local representative of the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (the federal employment agency) can provide information about jobs for students. When searching, look at online job boards, ads in local newspapers and notice boards on campus.


You have the option to stay in a public/private student dormitory or in a private (shared) apartment. Student dormitories are not administrated by the university itself, so Freie Universität Berlin does not have any on-campus housing. However, it works together with "studierendenWERK Berlin" regarding student accommodation. If you do not wish to stay in a student dormitory, you can try to find a room or an apartment on the private housing market. Many students in Berlin live in shared apartments ("WGs"). You can find these offers online (e.g., or, in various Berlin magazines, or on notice boards. Rooms/apartments around the university are rare. Therefore, students mostly commute from other parts of the city. The duration of the commute on public transport typically ranges from 30 minutes to one hour.

Structured research and supervision
Research training / discussion
Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Welcome event
  • Accompanying programme

Freie Universität Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin is one of Germany's eleven Universities of Excellence and as such among the best universities in the country. Nationally and internationally, it is a leading research institution. Students directly profit from the strong focus on research. You can choose from more than 180 subject areas. No matter which area you are interested in, be it Archaeology, Jewish Studies, Law or Psychology, you will find your subject at Freie Universität Berlin.

Apart from that, Freie Universtität Berlin is extremely international. It has co-operations with universities in many different countries and maintains offices in Beijing, Brussels, Cairo, New Delhi, New York, Moscow, and São Paulo. Twenty percent of the students come from abroad, as do 33 percent of the doctoral students. Therefore, you will meet people from all over the world when you study at Freie Universität Berlin.

Freie Universität Berlin takes care of its students. Especially students who are new to a German university and to Berlin will profit from its services, for example, the introduction week, the mentoring programme, or the Student Services Centre. The programmes UniSport offers, ranging from aikido to Zumba, by are very popular with students. The many cafeterias and canteens on campus offer food and drinks, usually also including fair trade, organic and vegetarian options. Environmental protection and sustainability are important topics at Freie Universität Berlin in general, and there are many opportunities to get involved in activities offered by students and the university.

University Location

Freie Universität Berlin is one of the major universities in the capital of Germany, Berlin. It is located in the quiet and green district of Dahlem, in the south-western part of the city. There is no other campus in Berlin that is as green as the campus of Freie Universtität Berlin. You can simply step out of the university buildings to enjoy outdoor activities: lunch on one of the many terraces and rooftops, swimming in the nearby lakes, reading between cherry and apple trees. Dahlem is also home to one of the biggest botanical gardens in Europe. But of course, you can also access everything that the wonderful and inspiring city of Berlin, which draws young people from all of the world to the heart of Europe, has to offer.