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Updated: 2020-08-12 | Duration: 6:00 min.

DAAD Scholarships: A Guide for International Students (2020/21)

An overview of the DAAD, their scholarships, and how to apply

If you are looking to come and study in Germany then you have surely heard of the DAAD - because it is “the world's largest funding organization” of its kind and supports tens of thousands of students each year. If you haven’t, then this is a great article to introduce to you as you will definitely hear about them throughout your study journey.

 

The DAAD is actually called the German Academic Exchange Service. In German, it is called the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst which is where the “DAAD” comes from.

photo of the front of the DAAD headquarters in Bonn, Germany

© MyGU GmbH.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

  • Headquarter: Bonn.
  • Category: non-religious/Apolitical.
  • Main sponsor: German government (mainly BMBF, BMZ).
  • Affiliation: none, neutral.
  • Annual budget: approx. 558 million €.
  • No. of fellows: 145,188 (2018).

Luckily for you, the two founders of MyGermanUniversity both used to be directors of local DAAD offices abroad (Tobias in Italy, Stephan in Peru) and have a great deal of knowledge and experience regarding the organization. Therefore, it seems fitting that this is used to help international students like yourself get an inside look into how the DAAD can help you fund your dream study program in Germany!

photo of stephan, founder of my german university

Stephan Paulini (former director of the DAAD Information Center in Peru, until 2017)

photo of tobias, founder of my german university

Tobias (former director of the DAAD Information Center in Italy, until 2016).

What is the DAAD?

daad headquarters in bonn, germany

DAAD Headquarters in Bonn.

© MyGU GmbH.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the largest German funding organization for international academic cooperation and is, therefore, the largest scholarship provider for international students looking to study in Germany.

 

Since its foundation in 1925 by a student in Heidelberg (see below), the DAAD has financed more than 2.5 million scholars in Germany and abroad. True to its motto, "Change through Exchange," the DAAD finances both Germans who want to go abroad and international students who want to come to Germany.

 

In the last decades, the DAAD has grown considerably. It now funds about 150,000 people per year and has an annual budget of half a billion euros. The majority of this money comes from public funds (the Federal Government and the European Union). Nevertheless, the DAAD remains independent. As an association of the German universities and their student bodies, it represents their interests and is not a governmental organization.

DAAD information center in YaoundĂ©, Cameroon

DAAD information center in YaoundĂ©, Cameroon.

© Bdx. Type of license: CC BY-SA 4.0.

In addition to its headquarter in Bonn (the old capital of Germany) and the branch in Berlin, the DAAD has a worldwide network of:

  • 18 regional offices and 51 information centers (in more than 60 countries), plus
  • approx. 500 DAAD “Lektors” (who teach mainly German language and culture).

So, wherever you live, the chances are high that the DAAD has an office close to you. You should not hesitate to contact the local DAAD representatives who offer regular counseling hours (of course, for free) - especially for DAAD scholarships. Here you find the list of all DAAD offices worldwide.

Geeky Stuff Box

Did you know the foundation of the DAAD in 1925 originally goes back to the initiative of a single student from Heidelberg? In the early 1920s, a young student of Social and Political Studies (Carl Joachim Friedrich) was able to leave his German Alma Mater and study abroad in the US. And since he was so impressed by this experience he wanted to share it with others - by organizing scholarships to go abroad. After his return to Germany, he founded the “Akademischer Austauschdienst e.V.” (AAD) which was offered scholarships to his fellow students in Heidelberg. However, when moving to Berlin and merging with two other organizations (1931), it became a national initiative and opened to students from all subjects (source).

Almost 100 different DAAD scholarship programs for internationals

guy staring at this tablet with a happy face

International students are sometimes reluctant to seek out funding because they believe that they must be German citizens or EU nationals. With the DAAD, nationality is not an issue! While there are certain scholarships that are targeted to students from specific regions, there are also general scholarships which all students can apply to where nationality is not taken into account.

 

Since the DAAD offers about 100 different scholarship programs for internationals who want to study or research in Germany, it can be challenging to find the right scholarship. This large number is due to the fact that the scholarship programs may vary for certain criteria, e.g.

  1. Country: for all countries - only for specific countries.
  2. Level: Bachelor - Master - Ph.D. - PostDoc - Professors.
  3. Subjects: for all disciplines (e.g. “Study Scholarships - Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines”) - only for specific disciplines.
  4. Duration: from short terms (e.g. summer/winter courses) to several years (e.g. for a full Ph.D.).
  5. Intent: e.g. language learning, internship, study stay, research stay.
  6. Language prerequisites: German skills needed - no German skills need (in English).

The best thing for you to do is to use the Funding Guide to show you how to find the scholarship that suits you best.

Further Reading

10 things you need to know about scholarships in Germany

Funding guide: your source for applying to DAAD scholarships

Euro bancnotes on a table

Because the DAAD offers so many different types of scholarships for students and researchers, narrowing down the specific scholarships that are applicable to you can be overwhelming. For this reason, we have listed some easy to follow steps below on how to search for your perfect scholarship from DAAD. Additionally, we have chosen one scholarship which is general and applicable to most students and illustrated the important details below.

 

In the following sections, we’ll guide you through the steps on how to search for a DAAD scholarship that is tailored to you and your goals in coming to Germany. However, please keep in mind that this is a general overview as it is not possible to cover all details (since there are so many scholarships for many different backgrounds). Be sure to use the DAAD as a resource for any doubts you may be having and also visit their regional country pages for more specific information relevant to you.

Five Easy steps to your DAAD scholarships

numbers from 1 to 5

This is the page for the scholarship database of the DAAD which will connect you to endless funding options (including also non DAAD-scholarships)! We have taken all of the guesswork out of the search process and created this easy-to-follow 5 step guide on how to find DAAD funding, custom to your study needs. Whether you’re interested in an internship, language course, or degree program, the DAAD has funding options for mostly everyone!  Well, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get started below!

1

Visit funding-guide.de

The image below is what you should see at the top of your screen. Under the “Refine Your Selection” column on the left of the page, you should have different search criteria as well as a section to type keywords.*

2

Select your Program: Which applies to you?

This question specifically is asking what your current qualifications are. The categories are undergraduate, graduate, Ph.D., PostDoc, and faculty.

 

Please note: For many scholarships, you can also apply before the start of the project. For example, Bachelor students can usually apply for a graduate scholarship before the start of the study program. In this case, we recommend trying both filters and reading the respective application requirements carefully.

3

Country of Origin: where do you (usually) live?

This filter allows you to see funding you qualify for based on where you’re from. Make sure you choose your home country (i.e. where you reside or where your home university is) and not just your nationality. Instead, choose the country where you currently reside if that’s different. For example, a Peruvian student who is fully enrolled in Spain should choose “Spain” as their country of origin.

4

Intention: What is the funding for?

The DAAD has funding options for graduate studies, internships, language courses, and more! In this section, select the category which most closely fits your funding needs.

5

Search through your scholarship options!

Once you have found some scholarships tailored to you and your interests or background, you can prepare your application to apply. Each different scholarship may have different application deadlines on when you can apply; some may allow you to apply before you even apply to your study program. Additionally, different scholarships will also have different requirements.

 

For example, if you are applying for a scholarship targeting artists, musicians, or students with a background in fine arts, you may be required to submit a portfolio or samples of past work. Be sure to keep this in mind when searching through scholarships so that you don’t miss out on an important requirement for your funding.

Advice Box

How to find the right DAAD scholarship in the Funding Guide

  • Play with the filters: many scholarship programs allow you to apply before starting your stay in Germany. So if you are a Bachelor's student, you should check the scholarships offered for Master students, too.
  • Plan ahead: as a rule of thumb, you need to apply for DAAD scholarships with at least 6-10 months advance. So we highly recommend you start checking the scholarships early.
  • Don’t use the text search (unless you are experienced): many students might give the search for “Keyword or program title” a first try and end up frustrated quickly as they simply don’t get any results (e.g. if you type in “Humanities” you will see zero scholarship options). So, only experienced users should use the text search. 
  • Use the drop-down menus: the DAAD database likes to use drop-down menus. Some application requirements depend on your country of origin. To see what applies to you, be sure to use all drop-down menus throughout the page to select your details to see your respective requirements, deadlines, etc.

“Study Scholarship - Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines” (1-2 years)

To make it easier for you to use the Funding Guide, we would like to introduce you to one of the most popular and attractive scholarship programs. The scholarship we chose to highlight is a general one which is applicable to all graduate students from more than 60 countries and is called the Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines Scholarship. Take a look below:

Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines Scholarship (click here)

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The study scholarship for Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines above is just one of many scholarships that the DAAD offers. Whether you are interested in coming to Germany for a graduate, Ph.D., or Post-Doc program, there is a funding option available for you. Furthermore, the DAAD not only offers scholarships for study programs but also has other funding for research projects, language courses, or summer programs.

 

The best thing you can do is to make sure that you search and apply for your funding early and contact the DAAD directly should you have any questions regarding your application. The next time someone says that there is no funding for international students in Germany, tell them about DAAD and know that there is funding for everyone who applies!

Further Reading

Scholarships for international students in Germany (2020/21)