Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about PhD Fellowships

How strict is the deadline?

The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds can consider an application only when (1) the online application reaches the foundation by midnight on the day of the deadline (Central European Time) at the very latest; (2) the paper version was posted on that date at the very latest, i.e. when the date on the postmark of the letter does not exceed the deadline.

How strict is the rule about the period between university entrance qualification and application deadline? Are there any exceptions?

Exceptions are made in certain cases (i.e. children, prolonged illness, apprenticeship prior to university studies) after consultation with the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds.

Is it possible to apply for a fellowship before the certificate of the final university examination (e.g. MSc, Diploma) has been issued?

Yes, you can provide the certificate of the final university examination (BSc, MSc or diploma) within 4 months after the deadline. If your official diploma cannot be issued in time, you can send us a transcript issued by the university.

What are the chances of receiving a fellowship?

Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds fellowships have the reputation of testifying excellence; thus, about 10% of all applicants are awarded a stipend. About 25% of the applications pass the first round of the selection process (pre-selection), of these about 30% receive a fellowship.

How important are the marks of the final examination(s)?

You will be competing with the very best graduate students from all over the world. So although your marks are part of only one of the three selection criteria (“applicant’s achievement”), applicants with average grades and applicants who do not provide their marks in time for pre-selection have therefore only a slight chance of receiving a fellowship.

Is it required to be enrolled or accepted to a PhD programme before applying for the BIF PhD fellowship?

Regarding the application for a BIF PhD fellowship, it is not required that the applicant is enrolled in a specific PhD programme at the application deadline. What is essential for BIF, however, is that applicants have been accepted by a supervisor and institution to pursue their PhD – since they have to hand in a detailed PhD project description (see Application) and a letter of recommendation from the supervisor of the PhD thesis.

Can I apply for a fellowship before all recommendation letters are available?

Yes, if you can hand in the recommendation letters within 6 weeks after the deadline.

Is it possible to apply if the PhD programme requires courses and lab rotations before starting the research work?

The foundation can support only research, not education. You can therefore take up the fellowship once you commence your PhD research project, but not for the course or rotation phase of PhD programmes.

Which nationalities are supported?

We support any nationality, provided the following criteria are met: you are a citizen of an overseas country (e.g. USA, India, China) who will pursue the PhD project in Europe, or you are a European citizen. The latter applies to citizens from all European countries, including the states of the former Soviet Union, Turkey and Israel.

Is it possible to apply if working with plants, on a theoretical or computational project or a biotechnological or clinical problem?

We can support projects using plants as model systems only if it does not deal with specific botanical, ecological or agricultural topics, but aims to elucidate a general biological phenomenon. Theoretical or computational projects can be supported if they address a question in the field of basic biomedical research (e.g. bioinformatics, structure of biomolecules, neuronal networks). Applied research (e.g. biotechnological development, drug design, drug development, pharmacological tests or improvements) or clinical studies and therapeutic applications/methods are not supported.

How important is the summary of the project in the online application?

This is of particular importance for the first round of selection (pre-selection). On the basis of the information provided in this summary, the foundation's Board of Trustees decides whether your research project (its topic, objectives and experimental strategy) meets the overall requirements.

What are “university entrance qualifications” and “high school-leaving certificates”?

The final certificate of the high school, i.e. the certificate which shows that you have met the requirements for studying at a university, including marks (e.g. Abitur, Baccalaureat, A-levels) or – if not available – the result of your university qualifying (entrance) examination.

What is a “Diploma” or “equivalent thesis”?

This applies to the research work performed to meet the requirements for your final university examination (e.g. BSc, MSc, Diploma, DEA, Licentiatura, Laurea etc.).

Which address should I use when sending my paper copies incl. CD?

Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds
Vera Schlick
Schusterstr. 46-48
55116 Mainz

Will my paper application or parts thereof be returned to me?

Please note that the paper copies of the application cannot be sent back.

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