International Programmes 2021/2022

Graduate School of the Social and Behavioural Sciences (GSBS) Graduate School of the Social and Behavioural Sciences (GSBS)

University of Konstanz • Konstanz

Doctoral degree in biology, economics, linguistics, political science and public administration, physics, psychology, sociology or statistics
Teaching language
  • English

Courses and seminars are held in English.

The doctoral thesis is written in English.

Programme duration
9 semesters or more
Winter semester
More information on beginning of studies

The GSBS begins each year in October (winter semester).

Internal doctoral candidates may begin the GSBS in April.

Application deadline

15 April for admission in October (winter semester)

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

The Graduate School of the Social and Behavioural Sciences (GSBS) at the University of Konstanz brings together researchers from eight disciplines – biology, economics, linguistics, political science and public administration, physics, psychology, sociology and statistics – to perform high-end frontier research in the social and behavioural sciences. Our doctoral candidates benefit from a structured training programme of courses and research seminars/colloquia, which provide them with the tools to complete their doctorate in line with the highest international standards. The GSBS also offers three optional interdisciplinary specialisations:

  • Collective Behaviour
  • Decision Sciences
  • Inequality

Two of these specialisations are linked to the clusters “Collective Behaviour” and “The Politics of Inequality”, which have been established in the framework of the third round of the Excellence Initiative. The “Decision Sciences” specialisation emanates from our very successful “Graduate School of Decision Sciences”, which was established in the framework of the second round of the Excellence Initiative in 2012 and has provided a basis for the development of the clusters and the GSBS. The GSBS is also anchored to two research priorities of the University of Konstanz: “Social and Cognitive Sciences with a Special Focus on Inequality Research” and “Collective Behaviour and Ecology”.

The research of the GSBS investigates behaviour from both the micro and macro perspective. At the micro level, research questions address determinants and processes, which guide individual behaviour. At the macro level, questions on decision-making in collectives are explored, for instance, in groups, markets, societies or political organisations. Since biology is also included in the GSBS, research concerns not only human behaviour but also the behaviour of non-human animals.

The combination of eight disciplines and three interdisciplinary specialisations in the GSBS provides the basis for fascinating synergies, as similar research questions are addressed from different perspectives. For instance, framing is particularly investigated in psychology and linguistics, but it also finds applications in economics and political science. The topic of culture attracts the interest of diverse fields including biology, sociology and economics. Likewise, the emergence of institutions is relevant to such fields as political science, sociology and economics. Synergies also emerge from sharing methods, such as statistical methods and methods for data collection. The GSBS provides coursework in the respective fields. Interdisciplinary courses are taught by lecturers from different fields, and courses are offered concerning the necessary methods.

Course organisation

For the successful completion of the GSBS doctoral programme, a total of 180 ECTS credits must be obtained. The courses, research seminars/colloquia and the defence of the doctoral thesis account for a total of 60 ECTS credits. The remaining 120 ECTS credits are allotted to the preparation of the doctoral thesis.

At the beginning of the GSBS, doctoral candidates select either a disciplinary programme of study in one of the participating disciplines (biology, economics, linguistics, political science and public administration, physics, psychology, sociology or statistics) or they select an interdisciplinary programme of study in one of the interdisciplinary specialisations (Collective Behaviour, Decision Sciences or Inequality).

Within the framework of the GSBS doctoral programme, a total of 52 ECTS credits must be obtained in the following courses and research seminars/colloquia:

a) A concept for the doctoral thesis, which is included in the first progress report and presented at a colloquium
With the successful completion of this requirement, a pass is given for the first research seminar/colloquium (7 ECTS credits).

b) Four courses (each worth 6 ECTS credits)
(Two courses, each worth 3 ECTS credits, account for one course worth 6 ECTS credits)

c) Three research seminars/colloquia (each worth 7 ECTS credits)

If an interdisciplinary specialisation is selected, three courses according to b) must be completed in the selected specialisation. One course must be completed outside of the doctoral candidate’s own discipline. If no specialisation is chosen, three courses according to b) must be completed in the doctoral candidate’s own discipline.

The courses and research seminars/colloquia, according to a), b) and c) are graded with a pass or fail.

The GSBS doctoral programme is structured into milestones.

The first milestone is reached with the successful completion of a). It is also recommended to complete courses in this phase. This milestone has to be reached by the end of the third semester (one and a half years).

The second milestone is reached with the successful completion of b) and c) and by the submission of a progress report by the end of each academic year, which documents further work on doctoral thesis. This milestone has to be reached by the end of the sixth semester (three years).

The third milestone is reached with successful completion of the following requirements:

  • The submission of a progress report at the end of each further year, documenting further work on the doctoral thesis
  • The completion of the doctoral thesis
  • The defence of the doctoral thesis at the colloquium about the doctoral thesis (8 ECTS credits)

This milestone has to be reached by the end of the 12th semester (six years).

On application, the active participation in a workshop or conference, involving a presentation and paper, may be recognised as a research seminar/colloquium according to c).

On application, credits can be acquired for a maximum of two courses or research seminars/colloquia, according to b) and c), by means of longer-term work on a third-party funded project or through independently taught courses.

Key skills courses can be taken in addition, but they cannot replace the formal course requirements.


Types of assessment

Courses are typically assessed by means of a written examination. Lecturers can decide on an equivalent form of assessment, such as a paper or project work. Research seminars/colloquia are generally assessed by means of the presentation of a research paper. Following the completion of the doctoral thesis, the defence of the doctoral thesis takes place. The doctoral thesis can comprise three or more connected papers.

A Diploma supplement will be issued
International elements
  • International guest lecturers
  • Language training provided
  • Projects with partners in Germany and abroad
Integrated internships

Doctoral candidates have the opportunity to undertake study and research periods at selected partner universities and research institutes.

Teaching/work obligations or opportunities

Doctoral candidates have the opportunity to work as research or teaching assistants in the university departments and for research projects involved with the GSBS.

Special promotion / funding of the programme
  • Other (e.g. state level)
Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution

There are no tuition fees for doctoral candidates.

Doctoral candidates enrolled in the GSBS pay the following fees each semester:

  • Administrative fee: 70 EUR
  • Student services fee: 80 EUR
  • Student body fee: 14 EUR

Total fees per semester: 164 EUR

Further information

Costs of living

Average monthly living costs for a doctoral candidate in Konstanz:

  • Rent incl. utilities: 352 EUR
  • Food: 168 EUR
  • Clothing, laundry, personal hygiene: 42 EUR
  • Learning materials (books, copies): 20 EUR
  • Health/nursing care insurance, medical care, medicine: 115 EUR
  • Phone, Internet, broadcasting fees: 31 EUR
  • Leisure time, culture and sports: 61 EUR

Total: 789 EUR

Further information

Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university

Doctoral candidates are generally financed by employment as research or teaching assistants by the participating departments and research projects. The "Collective Behaviour" and "The Politics of Inequality" Clusters of Excellence also offer doctoral positions for GSBS applicants. In addition, doctoral candidates are funded by scholarships.

Further information about financial support

Academic admission requirements

Applications are welcome from highly motivated graduates or pending graduates with an outstanding Master’s degree or equivalent, which is relevant to one or more of the following disciplines or specialisations of the Graduate School of the Social and Behavioural Sciences (GSBS):


A1. Biology
A2. Physics
A3. Psychology
A4. Statistics
B1. Linguistics
B2. Sociology
C1. Economics
C2. Politics and Public Administration


D. Collective Behaviour
E. Decision Sciences
F. Inequality

For further information on how to apply, please visit:

Language requirements

Proof of English proficiency via one of the following English language tests is required for applicants whose native language is not English or who have not previously studied at a higher education institution, which has English as its official language of instruction:
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (minimum: grade C)
IELTS (minimum: band 6.5)
TOEFL (minimum: 92 Internet-based points)

Alternatively, your Master’s transcript may provide proof that you have obtained at least half of the credits required for your Master’s studies in modules taught in English.

Application deadline

15 April for admission in October (winter semester)

Submit application to

The online application form and a full list of the application requirements are available here:

Possibility of finding part-time employment

Doctoral candidates can develop their teaching skills by working as tutors for tutorials of the undergraduate degree courses in the participating departments of the GSBS.

The university administration and departments offer student assistant jobs. Job advertisements for work both on and off campus can be found on the following online platforms (in German):

Jobs are also posted on the university’s noticeboards in the foyer and canteen areas as well as in the departments.


Various types of accommodation are available for doctoral candidates: apartments, flat shares, or residence halls run by the university. Check out our websites, where we provide an overview of the different options as well as general tips. You can also contact the team of our Welcome Centre for advice on housing.

Please note that it is important to begin your search for accommodation as early as possible, since our city and surroundings are very popular not only with students but also with families and outdoor enthusiasts. Since both Switzerland and Lake Constance border Konstanz, the available living space is limited and is not always inexpensive.

Structured research and supervision
Research training / discussion
Career advisory service

The GSBS offers various measures for the development of transferable skills. In cooperation with the Academic Staff Development (ASD) service, a programme of workshops and seminars for young researchers at the doctoral phase and beyond is offered. This programme is aimed at competence development and career planning. Among the courses offered are academic writing, time management, negotiation, leadership and team development skills, social networking in a scientific environment, job application training, and project management.

Placement officers of the GSBS assist with career preparation. In addition, the GSBS offers training for the international academic job market.

Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Welcome event
  • Cultural and linguistic preparation
  • Visa matters
Support programmes for international students

The Welcome Centre supports doctoral/PhD students from abroad, visiting scientists and researchers, post-docs and newly appointed professors. As a family-friendly university, the Welcome Centre also supports students' families in the planning, preparation, and realisation of their stay in Konstanz. Information and specifically targeted assistance in all non-academic, extracurricular fields are also provided. The International Office and the Language Institute (Sprachlehrinstitut) offer orientation on living in Konstanz, German academic culture, and language courses, to make it easier for newcomers to settle into their new surroundings. intensive German language courses are offered to students with a basic knowledge of the German language. The "Kon'Start" orientation programme offers study preparation for German and international degree-seeking students. The Check-In Office is the service point for new arrivals (six weeks prior to the lecture period).

Supervisor-student ratio
Each doctoral candidate is allocated two academic supervisors and an external adviser from another department or university.

University of Konstanz

Content Bild
University of Konstanz – aerial view © University of Konstanz

Flexible, communicative, strong in research: founded in 1966 as a reform university and situated in one of Germany's most attractive regions, the University of Konstanz is one of the most successful universities in Germany and one of the leading younger universities worldwide. Konstanz has been successful in both phases of the German Excellence Initiative. The University of Konstanz was ranked seventh in the world and first in Germany in the 2016 "THE 150 Under 50" ranking.

Our university is currently home to some 11,500 students enrolled in around 120 different degree programmes in the fields of mathematics and natural sciences, humanities, politics, law, and economics. With students from more than 90 countries around the world, we are proud to call our university an international community.

In Konstanz, you will find optimal conditions for research, studying, and teaching. The main research foci are nanoscience and material science, chemical biology, ecology, cultural sciences, and decision sciences. As a student, you will benefit from interdisciplinary cooperation between departments as well as from first-rate teaching, which is directly influenced by our cutting-edge research. A wide range of additional programmes and services complement your academic training and prepare you for your future career.

Our modern university is located on a beautiful hill above Lake Constance, with short distances on campus and an open-door policy, which will make it easy for you to feel at home. The University of Konstanz has been recognised for its measures to promote equal opportunities and family-friendliness, and all the while, it seamlessly bridges work and study with everyday life and recreation.

Find out more about our university and student life in Konstanz on our website.

University location

Konstanz is situated in south-west Germany in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, and it shares its border with the Swiss town of Kreuzlingen. It is beautifully located on the shores of the Rhine River and Lake Constance, central Europe's second-largest lake, where the borders of Austria, Germany and Switzerland converge. The lively university city, with 84,000 inhabitants, among them more than 15,000 students, is the economic and cultural centre of the Lake Constance region. Take a stroll through the shopping mall and the historic centre, with its department stores and small specialist shops. Take a break in one of the many cafés, restaurants, ice cream parlours, pubs and wine bars. Konstanz is not only a popular tourist destination but also an attractive business location (light industry, commerce, high technology). It is a very safe place to live, and it offers a high quality of life, with its excellent infrastructure and its diverse range of cultural and recreational facilities. Konstanz has a long and rich historical tradition. The first settlements were erected in Konstanz Bay in 2000 BC, and the city was given its name "Constantia" by the Romans in the fourth century AD. Konstanz has a well-preserved medieval town and numerous historical buildings from the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods.

Konstanz has the perfect location for all kinds of outdoor leisure activities. The region has an excellent network of routes for walking, cycling and in-line skating tours. The beaches are a major attraction for relaxing in the sun and swimming in the lake or the Rhine. The lake offers various water sports, such as sailing, canoeing and diving, and the nearby Alps provide year-round enjoyment for skiers, snowboarders, hikers and climbers. Konstanz is the home of the oldest running theatre in Germany and of the famous Southwest German Philharmonic Orchestra. There are several museums, art galleries and art centres offering a broad spectrum of events: art and documentary exhibitions and concerts in all genres of music. Konstanz is also an ideal starting point for excursions to many attractions in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein. On the city's doorstep are the famous gardens of Mainau Island and the Island of Reichenau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take boat trips to beautiful towns around the lake, such as Meersburg, Überlingen and Lindau. The lakeside town of Friedrichshafen is the home of the Zeppelin, and the Austrian city of Bregenz is renowned for its summer festivals, with spectacular opera and musical performances on a floating stage in the lake. A boat trip along one of the most beautiful parts of the Rhine takes you to the magnificent Rhine Falls at the Swiss town of Schaffhausen. From Konstanz, you can easily reach major cities, such as Zurich, Basel, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Munich and Milan.