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Funding for PhD

Funding for PhD

Students Purpose of Funding

PhD projects are closely integrated into the research and development programme at Forschungszentrum Jülich. At Jülich, PhD students can concentrate fully on their dissertations, allowing them to complete their PhD within the funding period of three years. PhD students are allowed to work on research and development projects for no more than an average of half the usual working hours of a full-time employee. As the remaining time is to be used by PhD students to work on their PhD theses, the post is considered to involve full-time employment.

Conditions for Employment as a PhD Student

Persons who have completed a university course entitling them to take a doctor's degree can be employed as a PhD student by Forschungszentrum Jülich in the form of a written contract of employment.

Funding Period

As a rule, the funding period is three years. In principle, a contract can only be renewed beyond this period on compassionate grounds (e.g. long illness, maternity/paternity leave).

Additional causes for renewal are times of the employment of the PhD student as a teaching assistant (e.g. JARA) for 3 months to a maximum of 6 months in exceptional cases, times of a structured initial training of up to 6 months, a stay abroad as part of the PhD project of up to 6 months or times needed to acquire an additional qualification, which is compulsory for admission as a PhD student (e.g. qualifying examination). In all cases, however, PhD students will be granted funding for a maximum of 48 months, if two or more cases occur together. Once the respective measure has come to an end, corresponding proof of completion must be presented to the Doctoral Committee.

Delays in the review process caused by cumulative doctoral examinations can also be incorporated into the funding period. However, the upper limit of 48 months also holds in this case.

Employment shall be terminated before the original term of the contract at the end of the month in which the oral examination for the doctoral degree is successfully passed. However, it may also be terminated at any time in compliance with the legal period of notice, particularly if it becomes evident that successful completion of the PhD is no longer expected within the term of the contract. The right to terminate employment in exceptional cases (§ 626 German Civil Code) shall not be affected by this clause.

Application Procedure

Orders of implementation for the employment of PhD students shall be addressed by the hiring organisational unit to the Personnel Division, Personnel Management (P-B). The Personnel Division will implement the conclusion, renewal and termination of a contract based on recommendations from the Doctoral Committee. The following documents are required to process an order of implementation for the employment of a PhD student (the forms to be used can be downloaded in the intranet of Forschungszentrum Jülich):

  • application form completed by the head of the organisational unit
  • PhD agreement including the required documentation

In order to speed up the processing of orders of implementation for the employment of PhD students by P-B, the secretary of the Doctoral Committee can establish the prerequisites for a recommendation for funding provided the following criteria have been satisfied:

  • the PhD agreement, which must be submitted along with order of implementation must be filled in completely
  • the work and time schedule within the PhD project documentation is designed for a maximum of between 36 and 48 months and includes at least three months to write the PhD thesis as well as a risk assessment where necessary (e.g. proposition on the criteria required in order to maintain the time schedule)
  • the undergraduate degree qualifying for a doctorate was obtained with a mark of at least good (or a comparable mark of a foreign university
  • the length of study is no more than 12 semesters
  • the PhD student is not older than 30 years at the start of the PhD project

Orders of implementation for employment that satisfy all of the above criteria will be submitted to the Doctoral Committee afterwards. All applications that deviate from the requirements will be reviewed in one of the monthly meetings of the Doctoral Committee, as has been the case up to now.

Closing Date for Applications

The Doctoral Committee meets on a monthly basis, usually on the second Monday of every month. Applications must be submitted to P-B two weeks before the meeting.

Doctoral Committee

The Doctoral Committee consists of representatives of the Scientific and Technical Council and the Head of Personnel. In addition to classical functions such as the evaluation of new applications and progress reports, the Doctoral Committee is also the point of contact for PhD students, supervisors and heads of institutes should any problems arise. In such cases, however, individuals should first contact their human resource manager.

If the human resource manager cannot directly provide assistance, then they will decide together with the individual concerned whether the Doctoral Committee should be contacted in writing or whether it would be beneficial to speak to a member of the committee. The current members of the Doctoral Committee are as follows: Prof. Dr. Uwe Rau (IEF-5), Prof. Dr. Peter Weiß-Blankenhorn (INM-3) and Dr. Mathias Ertinger (P).

PhD project documentation (→ former progess report)

As of December 2012, a new form entitled “PhD Project Documentation” replaced both the work and time schedule to be submitted with the application documents for PhD funding, and the form entitled “Report on the progress and results of the PhD project”.
At the beginning of the funding period, the PhD project documentation is to be completed in as much detail as possible – paying particular attention to the work and time schedule which is to be entered in the form of work packages – and submitted to the Doctoral Committee together with the application documents described above. The time required to write the thesis must also be included in this timetable. The PhD project documentation must be signed by the PhD student, his/her supervisor, the head of the organizational unit and the adviser.
Documentation containing an up-to-date account of the progress and current results of the PhD research is to be submitted to the Doctoral Committee at three intervals within the three-year period of funding. For this purpose, the PhD project documentation must be updated, supplemented to include details of new activities/requirements or incidents that may arise, and submitted to the Doctoral Committee via the Personnel Division, Personnel Management (P-B) no later than 6, 18 and 27 months after starting the PhD project.

The form to be used for these reports can be downloaded in the intranet of Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Remuneration/Pay Slips

The Collective Agreement for the Civil Service (TVöD) does not apply to PhD students employed at Jülich (neither does any other collective agreement such as BAT).

PhD students will be paid analogous to TVöD salary grade 13 level 1, and after one year salary grade 13 level 2, the salary totally 50 % of that due in each case to persons employed under TVöD.

In addition a recruitment allowance may be paid under certain conditions.

A Christmas bonus will be paid according to §20 TVöD. This bonus amounts to 60 % of normal monthly pay.

PhD students have no claim to holiday pay, capital-forming payments, or other subsidies. PhD students are not insured in a supplementary pension scheme (VBL).

Questions related to pay slips will be readily answered. In the case of questions regarding gross pay, the human resource manager should be contacted. Questions related to net pay, for example deductions (income tax, social security, etc.) should be directed to the relevant contact person in Personnel Accounting (P-V).

Social Security

PhD students in employment are generally obliged to pay social insurance contributions, i.e. health insurance, insurance for long-term nursing care, contributions to a pension scheme and unemployment insurance contributions. This is also the case if they are still enrolled as PhD students at a university.

With respect to health insurance, Forschungszentrum Jülich is obliged to register PhD students with the local branch of the national health insurance scheme (AOK). If an individual is insured with another health insurance company, they are required to submit proof of insurance to P-B. Even if a health insurance company informs a PhD student that they are not liable to pay insurance premiums as they only work 19.5 hours per week, this does not apply to the terms of their contract with Forschungszentrum Jülich in which PhD students are considered to be in full-time employment, thereby outweighing considerations of treatment as a full-time student.

PhD students who already have a social insurance card are requested to bring this with them on their first day at Forschungszentrum Jülich. Otherwise, Forschungszentrum Jülich will register students with the German statutory pension insurance scheme and request a social insurance card on their behalf. Upon receipt of their social insurance card, PhD students are required to submit a copy on to P-B without delay.


PhD students are entitled to recreational leave in accordance with the Annual Leave Act, which currently corresponds to 20 working days per leave year. If employment begins in the second half of the year or ends in the first half of the year, leave entitlement will be divided by twelve and multiplied by the number of months worked.

In compliance with the Annual Leave Act, leave remaining after 31 March of the following year will be forfeited.

Research Grants and Secondary Employment

Research grants and research scholarships may not in principle be awarded to PhD students in addition to the remuneration specified in the contract. Secondary employment may only be undertaken if approval has been granted by Forschungszentrum Jülich. The form to be used can be downloaded in the intranet of Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Stays Abroad

It is important for young scientists to gain experience working abroad. Such stays also provide our PhD students with new opportunities. A good example is the exchange programme offered by the American Nuclear Society (ANS). Since 1978, the programme has offered up to six scientists per year (specifically PhD students) at Forschungszentrum Jülich the opportunity to apply for an ANS scholarship allowing them to work for three months at the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois.

Furthermore, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers our PhD students scholarships for stays abroad for a period of three to six months. A prerequisite in this case is that the work conducted during the stay abroad must be directly related to the PhD.