Doctoral grants

Purpose of funding

The SONNENFELD FOUNDATION awards doctoral grants to support the development of young scientists. The grants are named after the foundation. In the case of certain specific donations, a grant can also carry the name of the donor. The grants are usually administered by the funding departments of the research institution to which the recipient belongs in accordance with the applicable budgetary and cash management regulations. The grants are intended to support recipients at research institutions in Berlin.

Application and selection procedures

Depending on the number of available places, decisions about grant applications are taken at the foundation’s next board meeting. In exceptional cases (e.g. applications for extensions), a decision may also be taken by ‘circulation’, i.e. the application is forwarded from one board member to the next for review.

All applications may be reviewed by the foundations board in a two tier process. During the first round all applications will be reviewed for general approval or rejection by the board. If a second review is deemed necessary, the board will reconvene within four to six weeks after the initial board meeting. For this second round applicants may be invited to present their application in person.

Natural scientist are required to have completed their studies, whilst applicants in the medical field can apply during their studies. (see grant 1)

Doctoral grants are divided into three categories:

Grant 1: This grant is directed at medical students, who e.g., interrupt their studies after the 6th or 7th semester (essay in 6th semester) to work at their dissertation for a full year. This work may be done abroad and the topic may be chosen freely. During this year the SONNENFELD-STIFTUNG will pay the grant receiver € 834,00 monthly as well as health insurance contributions (Proof is required and these are momentarily capped at around € 200,00 each month, but some flexibilty may be possible.) and child allowance in the amount of € 100,00 (Birth certificate required.) This regulation will take effect on 01.01.2019.

Grant 2: After graduation another grant may be requested for an additional year to further work on the already started dissertation. (see grant 1) During this year the SONNENFELD-STIFTUNG will pay the grant receiver € 1200,00 monthly as well as health insurance contributions (Proof is required and these are momentarily capped at around € 200,00 each month, but some flexibilty may be possible) and, starting on 01.01.2019, child allowance in the amount of € 100,00 (Birth certificate required.) At request this grant may be prolonged for another year.

Grant 3: As beforehand this grant is directed at post-graduates, who want earn a doctoral degree in the field of human medicine. The topic may be chosen freely. All financial details are identical with grant 2.

Further requirements for these grants are:

  • a valid approval vote by the ethic committee
  • the supervising professor must be eligible to guide doctoral candidates

All requests must include:

  • cover letter
  • CV including professional career
  • school leaving certificate or examination results
  • state examination certificate or master’s certificate (except medical students)
  • records of academic performance (only medical students)
  • projected timeline of all steps regarding the PhD work
  • data sheet

We explicitly ask for your home address as well as your telephone number or e-mail address.

Applicants who have been specially qualified and who are no older than 26 years are preferred. In addition, the grant should be taken up immediately following completion of the State exam or master’s program (except medical students), unless it follows on from another grant and the purpose of the funding is to support completion of the recipient’s PhD. The following in particular should be submitted

  • a brief outline of the project, suitable for assessment, in which the applicant’s integration in the relevant research institution is clear (maximum 10 pages), and
  • an opinion from the relevant academic advisor (PhD supervisor) regarding the applicant’s suitability

To save both you and ourselves unnecessary work we would ask you not send us any document folders, but to arrange your application using file strips.
Seven copies of the application (in hard copy) should be submitted. Additionally one copy should be sent as a PDF via email.

We point out that if an application is rejected, no justification will be given.

Terms of the grant

Receipt of a grant does not constitute an employment relationship. The recipient of the scholarship is responsible for the discharge of any necessary taxes and other charges.

Additional terms

All grant recipients undertake to submit to the SONNENFELD FOUNDATION a brief interim report describing the progress and results of their scientific research at the end of the first year and a final report at a later date. Publications prepared with the support of the SONNENFELD FOUNDATION must contain a reference to this support and a copy must be provided to the FOUNDATION.
The foundation should be informed immediately of any change to the circumstances of the doctoral research (e.g. change to the subject or supervisor, or discontinuation of the PhD).

Trust foundation

Under the umbrella of the SONNENFELD FOUNDATION, the ANTJE BÜRGEL TRUST FOUNDATION has been established. Starting 2018, this foundation will also grant scholarships to a small extent. These scholarships are no different from those of the SONNENFELD FOUNDATION. All formalities and correspondence continue to be handled by the SONNENFELD FOUNDATION, only the payment of the scholarship itself is made from another fund.

Mentoring by the foundations board members

The foundations board members are willing to offer guidance to all doctoral grant applicants. Applicants may freely choose a board member, who they want as their mentor. The mentor is meant to critically challenge the mentee and his approach to the chosen topic, whilst offering constructive feedback.