International Programmes 2023/2024

Graduate School of East Asian Studies (GEAS) Graduate School of East Asian Studies (GEAS)

Freie Universität Berlin • Berlin

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Teaching language
  • English

The entire programme is taught in English.

A basic understanding of everyday German is highly recommended, but not necessary. German language courses are offered by the FU language centre.

Full-time / part-time
  • full-time
Programme duration
8 semesters
Winter semester
Additional information on beginning, duration and mode of study

The programme starts in October each year on-site. The PhD study programme is a three-year coursework programme, including six months of fieldwork, for a four-year PhD procedure. We expect an additional writing phase of two semesters after finishing the course programme. The PhD dissertation and defence are expected to be finished within eight semesters.

Application deadline

All applicants, including CSC applicants: 15 November for the following winter semester

The application portal by Dahlem Research School is open between 15 September and 15 November at

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

The PhD programme East Asian Studies consists of a three-year course phase and a one-year writing phase (four years altogether). GEAS combines social science methods with comprehensive training in area studies for Early Career Researchers (ECR) to become experts in the region of East Asia. It offers Japanese, Chinese, and Korean language training for non-native speakers on demand. ECR will participate annually in interdisciplinary colloquia. They will interact and meet with other ECR, faculty, and international guests in colloquia, seminars, summer schools, and PI's research projects. The school also welcomes visiting academics and professional fellows focusing on East Asia. In the first year of study and after the second year, members' progress will be evaluated by papers and presentations in public symposia. GEAS offers fieldwork preparation workshops and research ethics as East Asia-specific skills. Dahlem Research School additionally offers further training for a set of transferable and soft skills, particularly research integrity, project management, writing, networking, and career advice and coaching.

Course organisation

The PhD training programme combines mandatory elements required for all doctoral candidates within GEAS with methods and training that support the individual researchers' needs in the context of their dissertation research. Early Career Researchers (ECR) will work closely together with several cohort peers in the programme. They will also encounter phases that will predominantly focus on empirical research and individual dissertation projects. ECR will receive 30 credit points from coursework during their training at GEAS. The amount of coursework will be highest in the programme's first year. It will decrease gradually over the second and third years to allow members to focus on their dissertations and fieldwork mobility phases and to finish writing up in the fourth year.

A Diploma supplement will be issued
Certificates for specific modules are awarded
International elements
  • Content-related regional focus
  • International guest lecturers
  • Training in intercultural skills
  • Study trips
  • Projects with partners in Germany and abroad
  • International comparisons and thematic reference to the international context
Integrated internships

Internships are not mandatory. Should Early Career Researchers like to work at partner institutions or during the fieldwork phase, dissertation advisers and the graduate school administration will assist them in finding appropriate internships.

Teaching/work obligations or opportunities

There are no teaching or work obligations. Co-teaching and teaching assistant opportunities are possible in the later stage of the programme.

Special promotion / funding of the programme
  • DAAD
Name of DAAD funding programme
Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP)
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 312.89 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 include a 50 EUR enrolment fee, a 54.09 EUR semester contribution to the student support service ("studierendenWERK Berlin"), and a 10 EUR contribution to the student union.

Funding opportunities within the university
Academic admission requirements

Master's degree (MA/MSc, etc.) in Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, Korean Studies with social science background or Political Science, Business or Economics, Law, History, or Cultural Studies with a focus on East Asia.
A BA fast track option is possible.

Language requirements

Applicants must provide proof of their English skills (C1) as well as skills in one of the following East Asian languages: Chinese, Japanese, or Korean (B2).

- English: TOEFL 100 or IELTS 7.0
- Chinese: HSK 5
- Japanese: JLPT N2
- Korean: TOPIK 4

Application deadline

All applicants, including CSC applicants: 15 November for the following winter semester

The application portal by Dahlem Research School is open between 15 September and 15 November at

Submit application to

Structured research and supervision
Research training / discussion
Career advisory service

The GEAS coordinator and Dahlem Research School provide career advisory services for Early Career Researchers on a regular basis. Members can also find support through the Berlin University Alliance (BUA).

Support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Welcome event
  • Buddy programme
  • Accompanying programme

Freie Universität Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin is a leading research institution. It is one of the 13 German universities being funded through the German government’s Excellence Strategy and is part of the only University Consortium of Excellence, the Berlin University Alliance, which consists of four partners in Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

You can choose from more than 180 subject areas. No matter which area you are interested in, be it archaeology, physics, Jewish studies, law, or psychology, you will find your subject at Freie Universität Berlin.

As an international university, Freie Universität Berlin has partnerships with numerous universities across the world and maintains offices in Beijing, Cairo, Eastern Europe (Tbilisi, Georgia), New Delhi, Moscow, and São Paulo. About 17 percent of the students come from abroad, as do 38 percent of the doctoral students. At Freie Universität Berlin, you will meet people from all over the world.

Various support services are available for students. In particular, students who are new to a German university and to Berlin will profit from these services, for example, the introduction week, the mentorship programme, or the Student Services Centre. UniSport offers programmes ranging from Aikido to Zumba, which are very popular among students. The many cafeterias and canteens on campus offer food and drinks; this also usually includes fair trade, organic, vegetarian, and vegan options. Environmental protection and sustainability are generally important topics at Freie Universität Berlin, and there are many opportunities to get involved in related activities offered by students and the university.

University location

Freie Universität Berlin is one of the major universities in the capital of Germany. It is located in the 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 Universität 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, or reading between cherry and apple trees. Dahlem is also home to one of the biggest botanical gardens in Europe. By using public transport, you can easily access the heart of Berlin and enjoy its cultural life and diversity. The U3 subway line connects Dahlem with the popular and central districts of Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain; however, all of the other districts can also be easily reached.

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