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How to write a CV for a DAAD Scholarship: A Guide for International Students 2024

If you are planning to apply for a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship, get ready to submit a high-quality CV. Find out more about the format and the structure of a good German Resume!

If you want to get into a German study program, whether it is at the Bachelor's or Master's level, it is almost impossible to do so without submitting a resume. The same is true for the DAAD scholarship: you do not stand any chance of competing for it without preparing a top-notch CV.

 

The purpose of this article is to provide clear answers to the most crucial questions about the CV-writing process with regard to the DAAD scholarship context. We know that writing a CV for a DAAD in Germany is one of the most (if not the most) challenging application tasks for students. That is why we decided to make your life easier and put the answers to the central questions in one place.

What is a Curriculum Vitae for a DAAD Scholarship?

Generally speaking, a Curriculum Vitae (CV) - known as Lebenslauf in German - is a (mandatory) application document requested by the DAAD, where you should provide information regarding your academic background, work experience (including internships), extracurricular activities and skills in a concise and structured way. To put it differently, CV is your short biography, and it is through the CV that you can make a good first impression on the DAAD selection committee, which might be crucial for your successful application for a DAAD scholarship. That is why writing a very good CV is important, and that is why you should take the CV-writing seriously.

How important is a CV for a DAAD Scholarship application?

CV is a very important document for your DAAD application. Let us tell you why is it so by providing three key reasons.

  1. Whether you are applying for the DAAD Helmut-Schmidt-Programme scholarship, Leadership for Africa scholarship etc., you have to submit a CV. In other words, you cannot apply for a DAAD scholarship without a CV! If you do so, your application will be incomplete and, thus, will not be considered.

  2. CV is usually the first application document that the DAAD selection committee will examine. Hence, as already mentioned, it is the CV that is responsible for making the first impression on the DAAD evaluators. The formula is simple: if your CV is of low quality, you will leave a bad first impression, which might have a negative overall impact on your application; while if you submit a high-quality CV, you can ensure a good first impression, hence keep good chances for successful application. To create a high-quality CV, you need to employ the correct structure and format and include suitable/relevant content.

  3. If you are successful in the first round of your DAAD scholarship application, you will be invited to the interview, which is another crucial part of the selection process. During the interview, your Curriculum Vitae will be thoroughly discussed by the selection committee - they will ask you a lot of questions based on your CV. Hence, what you include or do not include in your CV might be critical during the decisive stage of your DAAD application.

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Further Reading

LOM for a DAAD scholarship: A Guide 2024

How do I write a CV for a DAAD Scholarship?

When writing a CV for a DAAD scholarship, the first thing you should do is check whether the DAAD scholarship program you are applying for has any specific requirements or guidelines in this regard. If that is the case, you must take them into account. However, it happens quite often that the DAAD scholarship programs provide very little information on what they expect from your CV. The good news is that it is not a problem at all! Why? Because in Germany, there are standardized expectations with regard to the CV (whether it is for a scholarship, for a study program etc.), which you can always follow without any worries!  Let us present to you these standards through the seven frequent questions that we get at MyGermanUniversity.

A. What does DAAD look for in a CV?

In your CV, DAAD looks for an answer (at least partial) to the question of whether you are the right person to "invest" money in and whether your background, interests and skills fit the purpose of your planned visit to Germany. Usually, the key information that the DAAD selection committee looks for in your CV is the details about your academic and professional experience.

B. What should CV for a DAAD scholarship look like?

This question can be reworded as "what is the structure of the DAAD CV". Basically, the CV for the DAAD scholarship should consist of four core sections, which are:

  • Header. In this section, you should provide your personal details, like your first and last names, physical and email addresses, phone number, etc.

  • Education. This is THE most important section of your CV for a DAAD scholarship. Here you should provide information regarding your academic background. For example, it can be a high school diploma and a Bachelor's degree. Among others, you should include the date when you attended the school/university, the names of the institutions, location, etc.

  • Work Experience. This part should encompass information regarding your professional experience, including internships and volunteerships. And again, you should specify the dates, the location, names of the organisations/institutions, your position, etc.

  • The Rest. This is a broad section, which you can break down into several parts. For instance, if applicable, it should include the parts on extracurricular activities (e.g., workshops, summer schools etc.), scholarships and awards, memberships (e.g., in case you are a member of any societies or clubs), skills (e.g., language skills, digital skills) and hobbies.

C. What is the CV format for a DAAD?

When it comes to the format of the CV for the DAAD scholarship, you might often hear the following words: Tabellarische, Lückenloser Lebenslauf. This can be translated as "Tabular CV without gaps". These are one of the main requirements with respect to the German CV formats in general. Other popular CV format-related requirements are reverse chronology and using the same script. So, what does each of these mean?

  • Let's start with the first word "Tabular". To put it shortly, when the DAAD asks you to provide a CV in tabular form, it means that you should have the CV structured like in table format rather than a narrative. Besides, the dates (of academic or professional experiences, winter schools etc.) should be on the left-hand side, while the titles and descriptions on the right-hand side.

  • As for "without gaps", let us provide you with the following example. For instance, if in your German CV you state that you completed your Bachelor's in 2016, and then there are no more entries in any section until 2019 when you started working in company "X", it means that you have around a 3-year gap in your CV. This is something that the DAAD selection committee will not like. In other words, having an unexplained gap will worsen the quality of your German CV. Consequently, you should try your best to avoid causing this kind of confusion and not leave any gaps in your CV. 

  • Another important requirement of the DAAD CV format is reverse chronology. This means that you should start with the most recent experience instead of the oldest. For instance, you should first mention your Bachelor's degree and then the school diploma.

  • Last but not least, you should use the same script type throughout your CV for DAAD, preferably a standard script like Times New Roman or Arial. The font size can be 11-12pt for general text and 14-16pt for headers/titles.

D. Should I use Europass CV for a DAAD?

If the DAAD does not explicitly ask you to use the Europass CV, you should not do that, as Europass is not a very commonly used format in Germany. Put differently, when you find out in the application requirements that your desired DAAD scholarship program asks you to submit the CV without specifying the format, it automatically means that the selection committee expects you to submit the standard German CV.

 

However, one can also find quite a few DAAD scholarship programs which directly ask you to use the Europass template. Below are some examples of those DAAD scholarships that prefer Europass CV.

E. Does DAAD CV require a photo?

Yes, DAAD usually requires you to include a photo in your CV. The headshot should be professional, LinkedIn-style. In general, a photo in a CV for any purpose, including for a DAAD scholarship, is a standard in Germany. So, even if your desired DAAD scholarship program does not mention that you need a photo in your CV (which is usually the case), you still need to include the headshot. The only case where your DAAD CV should be without a photo is when the chosen scholarship program explicitly asks for that.

F. How long should the CV for DAAD be?

Your CV for a DAAD scholarship should be neither too short nor too long. In general, you should aim to have a 1-2 pages-long CV for DAAD. And again: this is a standard "formula" which you should follow unless your desired DAAD scholarship program has any different requirements in this regard. 


In fact, various DAAD programs are fine with even longer CVs. For instance, Study Scholarships - Master Studies for All Academic DisciplinesLeadership for Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger and Senegal)Leadership for Africa (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda), and ERP Study Scholarships for Graduates of Economics and Business Administration are among those programs that explicitly mention that they accept 3-pages-long CVs.

G. Is signature required in DAAD CV?

According to German standards, a signature is generally required in your German CV. Although DAAD scholarship programs do not usually render that explicit, unless specifically mentioned otherwise, you should always sign your CV for a DAAD scholarship application.

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Further Reading

10 things you need to know about scholarships

CV Guidelines provided by DAAD

In general, DAAD does not provide any guidelines for writing your CV. In fact, it is usually "parsimonious" with respect to CV-related information. In many cases, DAAD scholarship programs just mention that you need to provide a "CV in tabular form", and that is it. However, there are still some DAAD scholarship programs saying a bit more than that. You can find their advice in Table 2.

Table 2: CV Guidelines by DAAD

Author

Country/Region

Scope

Guideline by












 

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Development and newly industrialised countries (but helpful also for other countries)

Master's & PhD

Development-Related Postgraduate Courses (EPOS)

Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger and Senegal (but helpful also for other countries)

Master's

Leadership for Africa

All

Postdoctoral fellowship

PRIME

Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda (but helpful also for other countries)

Master's

Leadership for Africa

USA, Canada, UK, Ireland (but helpful also for other countries)

Internship (for undergraduates)

RISE Germany

Developing countries (but helpful also for other countries)

Master's

Helmut-Schmidt-Programme

CV Sample for a DAAD Scholarship

Before writing their own CV, students often try to find a DAAD CV example online (especially in the pdf format) to have a hands-on guideline to follow. In general, we recommend that you be very careful with such samples. The reason is that the Internet is full of low-quality DAAD CV templates, which means that you are at high risk of ending up with a low-quality CV. If that is the case, it will negatively impact your chances of a successful application for a DAAD scholarship.

 

However, it is noteworthy that, in general, there is nothing wrong with using templates as long as they are good. In fact, unlike the case of the Letter of Motivation (LOM), using a CV template is totally fine. Why? Because the LOM is an essay where the risk of plagiarism is extremely high, while in the CV, you just provide facts related to your own biography in a structured manner - this cannot be plagiarized. So, the key challenge is to find a good DAAD CV example. As soon as you find it, you are welcome to use it as a template.