FAQ on the GSHS Research Proposal Scholarship

Will there be any negative consequences for me if I accept a GSHS research proposal scholarship but then do not do my doctorate at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (JGU)?
The research proposal scholarship is intended to prepare you for a doctorate at the JGU. In order to apply for the scholarship, your planned project must be feasible and fall within the expertise of the faculty or school you intend to do it in, and you must name a mentor authorized to supervise doctoral studies at the JGU. In addition, you must provide a letter of motivation which clearly lays out your reasons for wishing to undertake a doctorate.

There is, however, no obligation on you subsequently to take up a doctorate at the JGU. If you accept the offer of a doctoral position at another university, either within or following the funding period, you will not be asked to repay the scholarship for any period of time that has already passed, nor face any similar demands. The same will apply should you decide not to pursue your doctoral project any further.

If you are in receipt of any other income such as a doctoral scholarship, or if you take up a doctoral position or other form of employment where the remuneration exceeds the low income threshold, however, the funding will be terminated early. See the JGU scholarship guidelines (“Richtlinie für die Vergabe von Stipendien an der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz”, available in German here) for details.

In short, if you are considering a doctorate at the JGU, but do not want to rule out other options, you are still very welcome to apply. However, if your preferred option is to do a doctorate elsewhere, it makes no sense to apply for a GSHS research proposal scholarship. Several other universities in Germany also offer research proposal scholarships, predoctoral scholarships and similar awards.

I have already been accepted as a doctoral candidate at the JGU, can I still apply for a research proposal scholarship?
This is possible if your masters, or a comparable degree, is not more than three years old at the time of applying, or if you can provide reasons for exceeding this deadline. In your letter of motivation, you must also state what stage you are currently at in your doctoral project. The mentor’s confirmation of supervision, or letter of recommendation, should indicate that your first supervisor supports your application for a proposal scholarship.

I have not yet received important documentation that has already been requested but will not arrive in time to be submitted by the application deadline (e.g.  certificates, grade transcripts, mentor’s confirmation, recommendation letter). Can I submit these later?
You should make every effort to contact the office in good time before the application deadline. Explain which documents you are waiting for, when you requested them, and when you expect to receive them. We will let you know whether an application is still possible and, if so, by when you must submit the documents.

To whom should the application / letter of motivation be sent?
Please address your application documents to the director of the GSHS.

Can I attach a list of my publications to my application?
Yes, e.g., as a supplement to your tabular CV.

Can I add other documents, such as certificates or internship references, to my application?
We do not object to this, however, please bear in mind that as with any other application, you should only include documents with specific relevance to your application.

I am having technical difficulties filling out my application
The GSHS office will be happy to assist.

What sorts of certificates, transcripts and references must I submit?
Please ensure that you include all certificates, transcripts and references from all completed degree courses. In the case of a combined bachelor/masters degree programme, please remember also to submit the bachelor certificate. In addition to the actual degree certificate, you must also include an overview of grades attained as well as information on the topic and grading of the final thesis (except where the programme in question did not require a final thesis, in which case the reasons for this should be given separately in the letter of motivation). Where applicable, you should also submit a diploma supplement or a transcript of records with the grades relevant to your degree.

I have not yet received my degree certificate
Please enclose a transcript of records instead of the degree certificate.

Although I have already completed and passed all examinations, I have not yet received my degree certificate
If your transcript of records does not provide evidence of the full academic record, you must enclose relevant supporting documents or written confirmation that you have fulfilled the necessary requirements.

I have submitted my thesis, but it does not appear on my transcript as it has yet to be graded. Should I provide evidence of submission?
The date of submission must be given on the GSHS application form. Proof of submission is not necessary at this stage, though it may be required later (confirmation of receipt of the thesis from the examination office, for example).

In addition to my thesis, I have to take further examinations to complete my degree
Please state briefly in your letter of motivation, or in a separate list appended to your certificates, which examinations you still have to take.

My certificate(s) were issued by a foreign university, should I include an official translation?

  • My certificate is in English, French or German.
    • No further documentation is required.
  • My certificate is in a different language, but I have a transcript of records or diploma supplement in English, French or German.
    • We recommend that you have an official translation of the certificate made. You will need this later on anyway for the recognition of your foreign qualifications and for registration to the doctoral programme. If you do not have enough time to get a translation done, an official diploma supplement or transcript of records will suffice for us.
  • My transcript is in another language and I do not have a transcript of records/diploma supplement in English, French or German.
    • Please enclose an official translation. You will need this later in order to have your foreign certificates recognised and to enable you to register for the doctoral programme.

We recommend that you apply for recognition of your foreign certificates in good time, as this may take some time. Further information and contact addresses here.

Are there any guidelines on structure and content of the covering letter or outline of project?
The covering letter should outline your personal motivation for undertaking a doctorate and must not exceed two pages. You also have the opportunity to state why you think the Johannes Gutenberg University particularly suited to your proposed doctoral project. If you have already considered possible funding options (e.g. the scholarship organisation or joint research project you wish to apply to), you are also welcome to state this.

The project proposal outline should be no longer than three pages, plus one page for the bibliography. The working title of the doctorate and its subject matter must also be specified.

We will use your outline proposal to assess the quality of your research project and to gauge its suitability for our programme as well as its feasibility in terms of the general conditions applicable to pursual of a doctoral degree.

The structure of such an outline proposal depends on your subject and choice of overall approach, so there are no binding requirements on our part in this respect. However, it is advisable to consider the following aspects in advance:

• Relevance of topic
• Problem statement/research topic
• Current state of research and innovativeness of your project
• Theoretical background, corpus or data basis and research method(s)
• Own preliminary work and work plan

A preliminary table of contents is not necessary for the outline project proposal.

I have a potential doctoral topic and would like to do my doctorate at the JGU. How do I go about finding a suitable mentor?
At https://faculties.uni-mainz.de/ you can find an overview of all JGU faculties along with the School of Music and Academy of Fine Arts, which are also part of the university. The individual faculty pages provide information on the institutes/departments, the professors and junior professors working there, as well as on other authorized supervisors (e.g. Privatdozent).

On the web pages of the respective (junior) professors you can find information on their main research specialisations, latest publications and current or recently completed research projects. In many cases you will also find information about recently completed or current topics being supervised by the professor in question. This information will help you decide whether a doctorate at the JGU in the subject area and topic you are aiming for would be appropriate and, if so, which mentor might be best suited to you.

We recommend that you request the mentoring commitment and possible letter of recommendation from your intended mentor (or the person making the recommendation at your home university) well in advance of the application deadline, so that you have enough time to talk to your potential mentor about your planned topic and any other mentoring arrangements.

The mentor must be someone authorised to supervise doctoral theses in the chosen doctoral subject at the JGU.

How do I find out who is authorised to supervise in my doctoral subject?
University professors and junior professors at the JGU are generally entitled to supervise in their own specialized fields. Habilitated lecturers (e.g., with Privatdozent status, a German post-doctoral lecturing qualification) may also be entitled to supervise. If you are unsure, the dean's office or the doctoral office of your faculty, academy or school will be able to advise you.

I have an interdisciplinary doctoral project. Can I also name a mentor who does not come from my doctoral subject?
Particularly in the case of interdisciplinary projects, you may have a choice of several possible subject areas. Before you apply for the GSHS scholarship, therefore, you should clarify in which subject you want/can do a doctorate. Your intended mentor must be able to supervise you in this subject. If this is not the case, you must look for a mentor within your intended field. If this is not the case, you must look for a mentor within your intended doctoral studies subject area.

I am still unsure in which subject or faculty I would like to / can do a doctorate.
An overview of potential doctoral subjects can be found in the applicable doctoral regulations (Promotionsordnung). A masters or comparable degree in a doctoral or related subject area is the normal prerequisite. Questions about this should be clarified with your mentor or with the dean's or doctoral office of your faculty, school or academy.

What form and length should the mentoring commitment have?
The mentoring commitment can be brief; a letter signed by the mentor is sufficient as a scan confirming their willingness to mentor you during the six-month funding phase.

What form and length should the letter of recommendation have?
The letter of recommendation should be more detailed and address the applicant's suitability for a doctorate. It may also mention the chosen topic and its relation to the main research foci of the JGU. The person making the recommendation can also send the letter of recommendation directly (electronically) to the GSHS office.

Can/must the mentoring commitment and letter of recommendation come from the same person?
They can, but do not have to, come from the same person. The letter of recommendation can, for example, also be issued by a university lecturer from your home university.

When can I expect a decision on my application?
Once the deadline has passed, all completed and formally admissible applications will be forwarded to the GSHS executive committee. After the committee has made its selection of scholarship awardees, acceptance or rejection letters will be sent to all applicants by the GSHS office. We will endeavour to notify you of the decision within 4-5 weeks of the closing date for applications.

What happens if my application is successful?
If you are selected for a scholarship by the executive committee, we will send you the relevant information and further documentation required for the next stage. This will include a data sheet to fill out, which we use to determine the amount of your scholarship award (you can also provide information on children as well your health insurance contributions here), along with a declaration of obligation with regard to the scholarship award. This must be signed by your mentor and by you.

If your degree course has not concluded by the time of application, we will also require you to submit your degree certificate (e.g. masters degree certificate) or a confirmation that all components of the degree course have been successfully completed, in order to approve the scholarship.

Once these documents have been received, your official scholarship authorisation will be issued and sent out to you.

If my application is rejected, can I find out why?
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with any further information on the reasons for rejection of your application.

Can I apply again if my application is rejected?
If all general application requirements are fulfilled, unsuccessful applicants may reapply one more time. Should you have any further questions, the GSHS office will be happy to advise you.

Am I allowed to do a part-time job during the scholarship period?
Part-time work during the scholarship period is possible under the following conditions:

  • The part-time job must not have a negative impact on your scholarship goals or participation in the compulsory courses offered during the scholarship period. You must notify both the GSHS and your mentor about the job and it must be approved by both.
  • Your part-time job must not exceed in scope or extent the terms for marginal employment ("geringfügige Beschäftigung") in accordance with the German Social Security Code IV §8. In cases where there are marked fluctuations in income (e.g. self-employment), an equalisation between the individual months may be considered.
  • If your part-time job is at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, or at the University Medical Center Mainz (e.g. as a research or artistic assistant), this work must be clearly separable from the scholarship-funded research project. As a rule, this means that your scholarship mentor cannot be one and the same person as your work or research assistant supervisor. Exceptions to this are only possible where there is a clear and demonstrable separation between employment and the purpose of the scholarship. Should you have any questions on this, the GSHS office will be happy to assist.

Will income from a part-time job affect my scholarship?
No, it won’t.

Will I have to pay tax on the scholarship?
The scholarship is usually tax-free. Assessment of this is the responsibility of the relevant tax authority.

What sort of social security cover do I have during the scholarship period?
The scholarship is not subject to statutory social security cover. This is something you will have to take care of yourself. In addition to health and long-term care insurance, we also recommend taking out accident insurance. There are various health insurance options available. We recommend that you seek the advice of your health insurance provider.