Financing your PhD

German universities do not charge tuition fees for Bachelor, Master or PhD Programmes – so the German government is indirectly sponsoring German and international students. However, at BTU and any other German university, a semester fee for university services and a public transportation ticket (Berlin and the State of Brandenburg) of currently approx. 320 euros applies.

If you want to learn more about how you need to calculate monthly living expenses in Cottbus – which are generally lower than in big cities such as Berlin, Leipzig or Dresden – please visit this website.

As for accommodation, PhD students at BTU may – contrary to many other universities in Germany – apply for a place in a student dorm. The Welcome Centre provides a list of accommodation options in Cottbus and is happy to assist. Please note that student accommodation is managed by the Studentenwerk – an entity separate from the university – and student dorms are open to students on all levels (Bachelor, Master, PhD).

Apart from your living expenses, your PhD, of course, entails manifold costs for your research - e.g. field trips, experimental and lab work, software etc.

While the BTU Graduate Research School offers funding for active conference participation and research trips abroad, and PhD students profit from BTU´s software licenses for students, please bear in mind the following advice:

à When applying for our PhD Programmes and for developing your PhD proposal, you need a budget plan for your PhD research, including all possible costs and approx. budget. This is something that you also should discuss with your supervisor(s) to see where she/he can support you and for which costs you need to look for additional (external) funding, for partners in your home country etc.

Our PhD Programmes and university can, unfortunately, in most cases not offer full PhD scholarships or research positions. Applicants need to apply for scholarships on their own and should consider the following advice:  

  • Research on suitable scholarships and applications starts at least 12 months prior to the start of your PhD Programme or intended funding start
  • Competition for PhD scholarships is fierce – many funding organizations have funding rates between 10 and 30% only. Therefore, only the best applicants – with regards to grades, innovative and up-to-date research topic with suitability to the PhD Programme and Chair/Department as well as publications and extracurricular activities/work experience plus a clear motivation for and understanding of a PhD – have a chance for a PhD scholarship
  • According to our experience, international PhD candidates without knowledge of the German language of at least B2-level and without prior study experience in Germany have very limited chances of getting a scholarship from German funding organizations – for most international applicants DAAD is the best option available
  • Your application needs to be prepared as perfect as possible – for accepted PhD applicants we offer feedback and constructive feedback to their scholarship application
  • Your PhD coordinator offers support and constructive feedback for scholarship applications – as will your supervisor
  • We do not recommend starting a PhD Programme without secured funding

These databases and links might be useful for research on scholarship options:

Website of your local DAAD [German Academic Exchange Service] Office

DAAD Scholarship Database (DAAD and other selected organisations)

ELFI Database (German and selected international organisations)


German Center for Research and Innovation

Research in Germany

BTU Graduate Research School