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GCSC doctoral members benefit from our excellent infrastructure, strong research orientation and extensive three-tiered mentoring programme, all of which enables them to complete high-quality dissertations whilst at the same time gaining valuable further qualifications.

The benefits of GCSC membership

Members work alongside fellow doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and professors in our cutting-edge research areas, discuss their projects in colloquia, workshops and master classes, exchange ideas with leading national and international scholars and are integrated into our vast network. Furthermore, GCSC's doctoral students are eligible to apply for funding towards research and conference trips, and benefit from our Career Service and Teaching Centre.


Applicants must fulfil the following criteria:

  • He or she must have graduated with excellent marks from two-year research-track master's programmes in one of the GCSC's academic subjects or in cultural studies no longer than two years ago and
  • He or she must not have already been pursuing his or her doctoral studies for more than one year (exceptions are considered on a case-by-case basis) and
  • He or she must be writing a dissertation which is relevant to the GCSC’s research profile.

Any graduate student in the faculties of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, History and Cultural Studies, and Language, Literature and Culture, as well as those in the Centre for Philosophy, can apply for membership.

Members are expected to:

  • have their pimary supervisor at JLU and
  • register as a graduate student at JLU.

Please note: The supervisor may be chosen before or shortly after admission. Likewise, you may register as a graduate student before or after being awarded member status. There are no tuition fees for doctoral students at JLU, except for an enrolment fee of approximately € 270 per semester.

For detailed information about the disciplines and scholars involved, see the our affiliated departments. If your main subject does not appear on this list (for example, if you have a degree in Cultural Studies), you may still be eligible for membership of the GCSC, provided your research project fits into one of the GCSC’s research areas.


As GCSC membership is not connected to internal funding, we are happy to assist our members in securing a suitable grant from other scholarship-granting institutions.

Applying for membership

Applications for non-funded places on the programme need to be submitted by either March 1st for October entry or October 1st for April entry, and include the following:

  • A short CV and copies of all degree certificates.
  • A research proposal (of no more than 10 pages) including an explanation of the project’s relevance to the GCSC’s research profile.
  • A proposed time-frame indicating whether the applicant can realistically comply with the GCSC’s guidelines for completion of a PhD (within 4 years if in conjunction with a work contract, within 3 years if not).
  • For JLU students: A letter of recommendation from the principal supervisor commenting on both the research proposal and the proposed time-frame and actively endorsing membership of the GCSC. If you are already a PhD candidate at JLU, please provide a supervision agreement.
  • For external students: Two references composed by faculty of your home institution.
  • A covering letter that outlines the candidate's motivation for applying at the GCSC
  • A print-out of the online application form, available in English and German.

Applications should be sent directly to:
Director of Graduate Studies
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ansgar Nünning
International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC)
Justus Liebig University Giessen
Alter Steinbacher Weg 38
D- 35394 Giessen

The Selection Process

The GCSC admits up to 30 new doctoral candidates per year.

On the basis of written applications, the Selection Committee will invite qualified candidates to an interview at Giessen. Interviews take place in June (for October entry) and January (for April entry). Candidates who have already been awarded places on JLU doctoral programmes with similar entry requirements (including an interview) are exempt from this requirement (see section Reduced Applications).

Reduced Application

For Members of the IPP, the PhDnet, the Research Group “Gewaltgemeinschaften”, and the Leibniz Graduate School.

Graduate students who have already joined the International PhD Programme, the PhDnet,  through an application and selection procedure can submit a reduced application to the GCSC as follows:

If they have been part of the programme for no more than 6 months, they only need to provide

  • A covering letter outlining your motivation for applying at the GCSC,
  • The application form, available in English and German,
  • A short research proposal (of no more than 5 pages) including an explanation of the project's relevance to the GCSC's research profile.
  • A proposed time-frame indicating whether you can realistically comply with the GCSC's guidelines for completion of a PhD (within 4 years if in conjunction with a work contract, within 3 years if not) and
  • A supervision agreement signed by you and your supervisor (you can hand the supervision agreement later).

If more than 6 months have elapsed, the research proposal and time-frame should be brought up to date and resubmitted.

Additionally, partner programmes are asked to submit the following documents:

  • the candidate’s full application pack s/he presented at the respective programme
  • the partner programme’s internal assessment(s) of the application submitted (alternatively, the supervisor’s evaluation, should such an appraisal not be part of the internal assessment).

Please use our application form, available in English and German.   


Please contact Ann Van de Veire for further details:

+49 – 641 – 99 30041