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Recruitment philosophy

A central part of EC2/BIG-NSE activities is the recruitment of excellent national and international students that meet the highest international standards of qualification. The aim is to recruit about 10-15 highly qualified students for UniSysCat (through EC2/BIG-NSE) per year (half of them "schlolarship holders", the other half "fellows", see details here).


A Master's degree in an appropriate discipline will be required for admission into the PhD programme. If you are not quite sure if you Master's degree is equivalent to a German one (5 years graduate study, including a written thesis at the end), please ask Peter Marock, from the recognition office of TU-Berlin.


In order to meet the high quality standards required for cutting-edge science and to allow for the fast and transparent selection of the candidates, particular care will be taken in the recruitment process, which will be divided into

  • an application phase,
  • the assessment of the application,
  • and the final decision and offer.


The BIG-NSE only accepts applications once a year (autumn) and the available positions are advertised in newspapers and journals, at collaborating international institutes, and posted on the Internet.

The application have to be done online, incl. additional material (diplomas and corresponding transcripts/records, proof of proficiency in the English language, and reference letters): see details here. The decision of the acceptance of applications will be made within two months of the deadline.

A careful selection process is carried out to ensure the highest quality and suitability of the prospective candidates.

A first assessment of the applications is done by a formal screening of the applications according to the grades of the degrees, reputation of the school, age of the applicant, publications, awards, motivation, non-scientific interests, letters of recommendation and a language proficiency test for applicants whose native language is neither English nor German (TOEFL with a minimum of 550, or equivalent). Based on these criteria, a short-list of candidates is created by the managing director of EC2/BIG-NSE and presented to the other members of the Executive Board of EC2/BIG-NSE (see list here).


Candidates on the short list are subject to more extensive screening which may be carried out in collaboration with the DAAD, Goethe Institutes, embassies and consulates, or scientific contacts. On this basis, candidates are selected for individual scientific presentations and personal interviews in Berlin, In some cases, the interviews may also take place abroad, e.g. in China or India, provided a sufficient number of potential excellent candidates can be pooled.


Thus, the Master's or PhD programmes of the participating institutions only accept the best applicants (e.g. the top 10%) who have received a final grade for the qualifying degree (Master's or Diplom) equivalent to the grade “excellent” or “very good” in the traditional German educational system (1.0–1.4). Selection procedures are based on best-practice experiences in the respective disciplines. 


The PhD students themselves will be financed either by scholarships provided by EC2/BIG-NSE ("BIG-NSE scholarship holders"), by other scholarship programms (DAAD, BasCat, national programs) or directly from the respective research group that they are going to join ("Fellows"): see details here