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Application Procedure

When should I apply?
Before starting to complete the application form, make sure you have all the necessary information and documents ready (see Guide for applicants). Careful preparation of these documents will take some time. After this preliminary work, you can begin your online application. In order to avoid facing any technical problems, we request you to start uploading information well before the deadline and submit early. The closing date for applications for scholarship is the 15th of September.

Applications for the rolling intake and visiting doctoral candidates have no deadline.

What if I have technical difficulties using the online application system?
If you experience problems, try accessing the DLGS application form through a different browser. It is recommended to use either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. As the interface of the application form may not be compatible with some mobile devices, please use a computer/laptop. Refresh the browser if the form looks corrupted. It is recommended to use either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. If you still experience technical difficulties, please contact dlgsioer@ioer.de and describe your problem as well as any error message received or error observed.

PDF files: How can I create, merge, upload and re-upload them?
Use a PDF generator to create PDF files from different types of original files. Visit the web page www.wikihow.com/Merge-PDF-files to learn how to merge PDF files easily. Be aware that upload is limited to one file per section with a maximum file size of 32 MB (certificates and transcripts) or 20 MB (Motivation Letter, TOEFL/IELTS/TOEIC score sheet). To change a file that has been uploaded already, you must: (1) delete the uploaded version by clicking the small red 'X' to the right of the file name, and (2) upload the new file. In case of any problems with uploading, try to shorten the file name and delete any special characters in the file name. You should ensure that all documents are clearly legible.

Is it possible to send application materials by post?
As a general rule, we do not accept application materials that are sent as a hard copy either by post or by fax. The entire application should be made online. Exceptions can only be granted under very specific circumstances. For clarification, please contact the DLGS Office (dlgsioer@ioer.de).

Can I change/edit my application after submission?
A link will be provided in a confirmation e-mail after the submission of your application. By clicking this link, you can re-access your application to make changes before the closing date. However, please note that it is impossible to change the original email address that you have provided! After the application deadline no further changes can be made.
To replace files after submission, you should: (1) Access your account in edit mode. (2) Delete the originally uploaded incorrect file by clicking the small red 'X' to the right of the file name. (3) Save your changes (preview / submission). (4) Access your account once again. (5) Upload the newly corrected file (short file name, no special characters!) and save your changes (preview / submission). 

Academic and Professional Qualifications

What Academic background should I have to apply?
The announcement is aimed at excellent graduates with a Master’s degree in any field of pertinence for studying spatial sustainability transformations, such as geography, urban and regional planning, urban studies, environmental sciences, science and technology studies, geoinformatics, civil engineering, architecture, economics, sociology, political sciences, and anthropology, etc. Applicants from any disciplines are welcome as long as they are able to convincingly relate their research proposal to the DLGS call topic, DLGS scientific profile and remit, and IOER research areas. Applicants must hold a Master’s degree (at least a two-year Master’s programme and a Master’s thesis) from a recognized university.

It has been a while since I finished my Master’s studies. Can I still apply?
You can apply if no more than three years have passed since the date of receiving your Master’s degree certificate, counting from the application deadline.

How do I know if my university/degree is eligible for consideration?
We will assess your qualifications after receiving your application. If you have doubts about your university/degree, please contact the International Office of the TU Dresden for a preliminary assessment .

How do I know if the total Grades obtained in my Masters is equivalent to ‘good’ or better (‘gut’ in the German grading system)?
Master degrees obtained from countries other than Germany are subject to a grade conversion process in order to see whether the grading is equivalent to the German standard of ‘gut’ (good) or better. In many German universities the grades from 1.51 to 2.50 are considered ‘gut’.

To help you obtain a first orientation, you can use this online tool for grade conversion formula offered by the TU Munich. It allows you to convert your grades obtained abroad into the German equivalent: https://www.tum.de/en/studies/application/grade-conversion-formula-for-grades-earned-outside-germany/

Please note that indications of this tool are in no way binding for the DLGS, and that the final selection depends exclusively on the grade conversion calculated after submission by the International Office of TU Dresden.

What documentation do I have to submit?
Please refer to the application checklist. You are required to upload the following documentation in the DLGS application form:

  • Digital copies of original certificates and transcripts documenting your academic qualifications (Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree, University entrance qualification*)
  • Digital copy of your certificate of English proficiency test

Documents must be issued by the institution where you studied, with their official seal and/or stamp and the signature of their representatives. Photographs of documents will not be accepted. Whenever official documents are written in a language other than English of German, applicants must submit both the original version and an authorized translation provided by an official institution. Certified true copies of these documents are to be sent to the DLGS Office at a later stage of the application process.
*University entrance qualification here is the official certificate you receive when completing the level of school which qualifies you for admission to a university or another higher academic institution. 

I have not graduated yet - can I submit my application form without a final Master’s transcript / certificate?
If you expect to finish your Master’s degree before the application deadline but final Master’s transcripts and certificates are not yet available, you are requested to upload the latest transcripts of records or mark sheets recording your study activities. Applicants nearing completion of their Master’s degree may be provisionally accepted. Note that registration at the TU Dresden is contingent upon completion of all requirements before the DLGS Programme starts.

Please note, in order to start the program in March, one must be able to provide all the degree certificates and transcripts by January. 

English Proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC)

Am I required to submit a certificate of proficiency in English?
Please refer to the Guide for applicants. The DLGS programme is conducted and taught entirely in English. Applicants who are not citizens of English-speaking countries, or who did not receive an academic degree in one of these countries, are therefore required to demonstrate their level of English language proficiency in either of these tests:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): 7 or higher on a 9-point scale
  • English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): 600 for paper based test, 250 for the computer-based test, or 100 for the internet-based test
  • English for International Communication (TOEIC): 490 for listening, 455 for reading, 180 for speaking, and 180 for writing

How do I submit my English language proficiency score?
A PDF scan of your test certificate should be uploaded in the online application form. You will be asked to mail original documents (or certified true copies) as soon as you have been pre-selected for the programme.

How long are my test scores valid?
The test scores are valid for three years from the date of examination.

Do I need to submit evidence of English proficiency if my Master’s programme was taught in English, but in a non-English speaking country?
Yes. If the Master’s Programme was conducted in English in a non-English speaking country (e.g. Germany or The Netherlands) you are required to demonstrate your level of English language proficiency. 

What knowledge of the German language will be required of me?
Your dissertation at TUD can be written in German or English. For foreign students without prior knowledge of the German language, this means that their English language proficiency is decisive. German is therefore not necessary for your academic work – but it will be very useful for your everyday life. The DLGS therefore supports German courses for all its fellows, starting from level zero.

Research Proposal

What research areas can my proposal be about?
A key basis for each application is a sound research proposal. As an applicant, you are free to design research proposals according to your individual interests and abilities. However, you must ensure that your research is within scope of the DLGS and will:

  1. address the topic of the current DLGS call ; and/or DLGS scientific profile and remit
  2. align with IOER research areas (one or several)
  3. have a thesis supervisor (professor) at the TU Dresden / IOER (suggest up to three)

What format should my research proposal have?
Your research proposal should be limited to text only with a max. length of 13 000 characters (incl. blank spaces). The text must be inserted into the online form, so no pictures or tables can be included. It should provide a clear description of the research you intend to carry out, include references to support your argument, and must be structured by the following headings:

  1. Background and motivation: What is the specific research subject and problem you want to address?
  2. State of the art: What is the current scientific knowledge and debate in this field?
  3. Research approach: What are your research questions and objectives, and what concepts and theories do you use to address them?
  4. Research design: What methodology do you propose to answer your research questions?
  5. Work plan: What are the main tasks, and what is the timeline of your research?

What characterizes a transdisciplinary research approach?

DLGS considers a research proposal transdisciplinary where the approach and the entire research process (identifying research needs and setting-up joint research initiatives, problem diagnosis, solution design, decision-making, implementation, evaluation) is characterized by using and merging different forms and stocks of knowledge by actors from science and practice, as well as by the joint production (co-production) of new knowledge. For e.g. urban experiments and urban living labs in which stakeholders can participate substantially and continuously in the research process (as researchers in citizen science, or as project partners with equal rights).

To ensure feasibility, transdisciplinary approaches can be proposed only in relation to the local DLGS context (Dresden/Saxony region - requires German language proficiency) and pertinent IOER projects.


Do I need to submit a letter of recommendation?
No. You do not need to request or submit letters of recommendation as part of the application. However, you are required to provide the names and contact details of two references in the Online form. Both references should be familiar with your work and should be able to evaluate the quality of your work. 
List only those individuals who have agreed to write a letter of recommendation upon request. The DLGS may contact your references for additional information in the course of the selection process.

General Issues

Do I have to search for a supervisor before I apply?
Yes. All applicants are required to demonstrate that their research proposal can potentially be supervised by a suitable professor at TU Dresden or IOER (the institute shares several joint professor appointments with TUD). Therefore, you must inform yourself about the options available at the institute and the different faculties of the university, and suggest up to three potential supervisors (professors) in the application form. Important: Do not contact any potential supervisors yourself. This will be done by the DLGS following your application submission.

Is there an age limit or other restriction on applications?
Admission to DLGS is without regard to race, gender, physical disability, religion or nationality. Selection is based on the evaluation criteria (please refer to the Guide for applicants) and an applicant’s potential to succeed. The DLGS is tailored towards young graduates and aims to support future sustainability leaders. Therefore it is important to note that the date of receiving your first Master’s degree certificate should not be older than three years, counting from the date of the application deadline.

Can I re-apply if my application has been unsuccessful?
There is no barrier to re-application. Please mention in your motivation letter if you have already applied in the past. In your new application, you should demonstrate how the conditions for your application have improved. We may draw upon all information from your previous applications when assessing your suitability for the DLGS.

Can I get a feedback or comments on my application?
Due to the high number of annual applications, the DLGS does not give any feedback and cannot comment on individual applications, or give reasons for why an application was unsuccessful.

I don't need a scholarship. Is there a way to benefit from the DLGS without being funded?
It is possible to join the doctoral programme without applying for funding. See also rolling applications for open topics. However, all applicants must pass through the same admission procedure

If I already have a PhD, can I still apply for a DLGS scholarship?
No. We do not admit applicants already holding PhD degrees (even if these are in a different research field).

I am already studying for a PhD at a different university / in a different programme. Can I apply for a DLGS scholarship and transfer to Dresden?
Yes. Applicants who are currently enrolled in another doctoral programme or who are studying at a different university are subject to the same review process as all other applicants. If you are offered admission to DLGS you will have to quit the other programme and/or scholarship and apply for acceptance as a doctoral candidate at the TU Dresden.

How will you notify me if my application is successful?
If you are selected for the programme, you will be informed directly by e-mail. This will be done immediately after the decision has been taken by the DLGS. Please ensure that you provide a valid e-mail address when completing the application form. All correspondence regarding the selection process will be sent to this email address. Please ensure that your inbox accepts these emails and that you check your emails regularly.

My specific question has not been answered by these FAQs. What should I do?
If you still have unanswered questions, please contact the DLGS Office: dlgsioer@ioer.de

Visiting Doctoral Candidate

How do I know I am eligible to apply as a Visiting Doctoral Candidate?
If you are currently enrolled in a PhD program at a university (in Germany or abroad) and wish to stay at DLGS for a part of your PhD duration, you are in principle eligible as a Visiting Doctoral Candidate. You can read about the eligibility criteria in detail in the Guide for Applicants.

Do I have to enroll at TUD?
No, it is not mandatory to enroll at TUD for the duration of your stay at DLGS. However, there are certain benefits that arise from being enrolled as a student. For example: you can chose to attend lectures at the university, also a student ticket ensures reduced fare for transportation in the city and unlimited travel in the regional trains. TUD has an enrolment fee of around 290 EUR per semester. For information see TUD International office.

How do I enroll as an exchange student at TUD?
You should enrol yourself at the university, applications are received at any time of the year. Along with the application you should additionally send a Learning agreement. Learning agreement outlines your activities during your research stay, the duration of visit, and the courses you wish to take (if credits are required). Please know that usually PhD students at German universities are not required to take courses for credits, hence it is important to mention in your learning agreement and clearly outline how many (if required) credits you are obliged to collect. Also add the confirmation letter from the Professor who has agreed to supervise you for the duration of your stay at DLGS.

You can also write directly to TUD international Office, if you have any other query regarding the application procedure.

You can also take part in the courses offered as a part of DLGS Academic Program. You can chose to receive a participation certificate for such courses, however no credits are offered.

As a part of the PhD program at my home institution, I am obliged to take courses for credits. How can I do so?
If you choose to enroll as an exchange student at TUD, you can attend the regular courses offered at the university. Please state clearly in you Learning agreement, how many credits you need and what courses you would like to attend. Information on types of courses offered at TUD can be found here: https://tu-dresden.de/studium/im-studium/studienorganisation/lehrangebot

Do I need a visa for the duration of the research exchange?
Permission to enter and reside in Germany depends on the applicant’s country of origin and nationality. Citizens from certain countries (Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the USA) are allowed to enter Germany without a visa. However, one must apply for and obtain the residence permit if staying for longer than three months. This permit is issued by the Foreign Resident Authority (Ausländerbehörde). In Dresden, for foreign skilled workers and scientific researchers, the residence permit application is handled by the Dresden Welcome Center.

If you are not from one of the above mentioned countries, you will need a visa to enter Germany. The visa can usually be obtained from German embassies or consulates in your country of residence. When registering your residency at the Ausländerbehörde after your arrival, your visa may be replaced by a residence permit.

More information regarding visa requirements can be found here: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/einreiseundaufenthalt/visabestimmungen-node

The candidates are obliged to check the visa regulations for themselves and inform DLGS of any requirements necessary.

Will there be any support provided for finding accommodation and life in general in Dresden?
DRESDEN-concept Welcome Center supports international researchers in planning and carrying out their research stay of three months or more. As a service point, the Welcome Center team provides advice on all non-academic and practical issues in order to make your stay in Dresden as pleasant and simple as possible. You can find more information here: https://tu-dresden.de/forschung-transfer/services-fuer-forschende/welcomecenter?set_language=en

Fees, Funding, Living Costs

Are there any tuition fees involved?
No, DLGS raises no tuition fees. However, students entering the doctoral program must be able to finance their study, which includes covering living costs and research costs. As a DLGS PhD candidate, you are also obliged to enrol as a student at the TUD. TUD has an enrolment fee of around 290 EUR per semester, which includes unlimited use of public transportation in the region and around the city. For information see TUD International office.

In what ways can I secure funding for my studies at DLGS?

  • DLGS Scholarships: A full-time scholarship for a period of three years and is offered by the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER). The applications are invited once a year, submitted via the online application system and are subjected to a selection process. Please note that call for applications open every year in June and close Sep 15th. The successful applicants are expected to start their PhD program on March 1st of the following year.

  • External funding: The second way that applicants can enroll in the DLGS doctoral program is if they are externally funded. External funding sources are typically other institutions, foundations and/or organizations. These are all considered external funding sources and are reviewed through the same selection process. Applications are invited on a rolling basis through-out the year. However, applicants who apply for external funding should inform us about deadlines by the funding institutions and other requirements that may be necessary. Independent self-funded candidates are also invited to submit their applications.

What does the scholarship cover?
In general, the scholarship provides the following: A fixed monthly stipend to cover living expenses in Dresden (determined by the DFG - German Research Foundation; Currently: 1.365€), funds to attend the DLGS academic programme (including German lessons for non-native speakers), limited funds for project-related travel (incl. one international round-trip to conduct field work) and other research expenses, and the round-trip from your country of origin to Germany (both subject to approval by the DLGS Management Board). There is no additional family supplement provided to fellows accompanied by a partner and/or children

How much does it cost to live and study in Dresden?
Dresden, the capital of Saxony and home to more than 550,000 inhabitants, is located on the Elbe river and renowned for its baroque architecture, opera, concert halls, theatres, museums, and art galleries. Besides offering excellent cultural activities and a vibrant student scene, the city is surrounded by a beautiful and diverse countryside (e.g., Saxon Switzerland National Park), which offers a plenitude of opportunities for hiking, biking, mountain climbing, swimming, and skiing.

The following price list gives a rough estimate of the living expenses per month in Dresden.

Health insurance*  |  30-250 EUR

Housing                |  250-450 EUR

Food                    |  250-300 EUR

Clothes, etc.         |  100 EUR

Miscellaneous       |  100 EUR

Total                    |  730-1200 EUR

*Health insurance contributions depend on whether it is a public or private health insurance. Dresden Concept Welcome Center can give you more information on health insurances in Germany.

You can read more about the general the cost of living for International Students in Germany here: http://www.internationale-studierende.de/en/prepare_your_studies/financing/costs_of_living/