The Pre-Doc Award programme begins annually in spring. The application period is between April and June. This page tells you everything you need to know about applying and answers a number of common questions.

15 tandems were selected for the Pre-Doc Award 2023/24. The next round of calls is scheduled for April 2024.

enlarge the image: Student working on laptop
Photo: Christian Hüller

What is expected of Pre-Doc Awardees?

If chosen for funding under the Pre-Doc Award programme, all awardees (pre-docs and postdoctoral researchers) are expected to commit to the programme guidelines:

  • Seeking to obtain external funding for their doctoral project
  • Participation in additional Pre-Doc Award programme activities
  • Contributing to our Pre-Doc Award PR work
  • Providing information for programme evaluation purposes
  • Keeping contact information up to date.

The programme details explain what is expected of you.

Application and selection

Pre-docs can apply if they...

Hold a master’s, teaching or state examination degree from a German or international university entitling them to study for a doctorate in Germany

  • Have an excellent academic record
  • Are currently during the transitional period at the end of their university studies (maximum six months before and eight months after graduation)
    Non-EU citizens are required to their degree certificate at the latest in the month before the start of the contract.
    In order to ensure the transition to teaching practice in the event of an unsuccessful application, teaching degree students who complete their state examination no later than the summer semester following the start of the programme.
  • Intend to pursue a doctorate at Leipzig University
  • Have ideas for a research question for their doctorate
  • Do so together with a postdoctoral researcher who will work with them during the course of the Pre-Doc Award year (and ideally beyond) and can provide them with subject-specific and conceptual advice and support.

Postdocs can apply...

  • And so can holders of a junior and tenure-track professorship
  • From all Leipzig University subject areas and research institutions
  • If they have a fixed-term employment contract at our university or a position financed by a scholarship
  • In the postdoctoral qualification phase, i.e. if they intend to acquire a further academic qualification
  • Together with a pre-doc candidate who would like to pursue a doctorate and where a certain thematic overlap exists.
  • Ideally if they have some experience in the acquisition of external funding.

The list below is merely an overview. Please refer to the current programme details for the exact requirements.

You can submit your application documents in German or English. Please note that due to the international character of the programme, the preferred language for the supporting events is English.

Overview of application documents:

  • Cover letter
  • Project proposal
    Including current state of research, research questions, hypotheses, research aims, possible results, work plan for the funding year, plan for securing funding
  • Pre-doc: Degree certificate, curriculum vitae and, if applicable, list of publications
  • Postdoc: Curriculum vitae, external funding and list of publications
  • Declaration of support from a senior scientist, usually a professor (either future doctoral supervisor or supervisor within the employing faculty during the funding period)
  • Declaration that both have read and accept the programme details and FAQs.

If you will receive your degree up to six months after the start of the programme (or, in the case of teaching degree students, no later than in the summer semester after the start of the programme), please also submit the following documents:

  • Justification
  • Personal schedule of the most important steps left before completing your degree
  • Documents proving the project status and that you will be able to obtain the degree within six months of the start of the funding period (e.g. the section of your examination regulations that stipulates the standard time allowed in which to complete your master’s thesis, and confirmation from the competent examination office that you have registered and begun working on your thesis)
  • Transcript of records
  • One-page summary of the content of your master’s thesis (if applicable).

The exact dates will be published together with the call for applications.

  • April: Publication of call for applications
  • June: Application deadline
  • August: Funding decision and notification

Selection criteria

  • Qualification of both pre-doc and postdoc: previous (academic) achievements, for postdocs including publications and external funding
  • Whether the tandem is a suitable match
  • Innovativeness of the approach and the topic
  • Plausibility and comprehensibility of the proposed project and schedule
  • Plausibility and comprehensibility of the proposed funding concept, including planning diversity and balance between intended grant applications and external funding acquisition
  • Equality of opportunity and diversity of subjects

Application evaluation

The vice-rector for talent development heads a selection committee which decides which projects will receive funding. Although committee members are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, not all subjects are represented, which is why the committee does not conduct a detailed evaluation of the content of the research projects.

The selection committee will include:

  • The vice-rector for talent development 
  • The assistant to the vice-rector for talent development
  • At least three professors from the Research Commission
  • One representative from the Department of Research Services
  • The Commissioner for Equal Opportunities
  • If applicable, the disability officer.

The staff development officer, who is currently in charge of coordinating the Pre-Doc Award, assists the selection committee in an advisory capacity and by taking minutes.

Necessary documents and support

If an application is successful, then in cooperation with the institution at which they will be employed, the pre-doc will be required to submit the necessary form (Antrag auf Einstellung einer Hilfskraft an der Universität Leipzig). The form is supplemented by the Anlage: Begründung für Befristungen nach dem WissZeitVG and various other documents, and must be signed by the head of the institution and the vice-rector for talent development as head of the programme. Detailed information on the necessary steps, contact persons as well as templates for the forms will be provided to successful applicants. International candidates will receive separate information and individual support with the administrative side of preparing their contract.

I think I benefitted a lot from my time in the Pre-Doc Programme. I have also told my friends and acquaintances a lot about the Pre-Doc and have now even been able to encourage a friend of mine to apply this year.

Louisa Schmidt, 2021/2022 cohort

Distribution of roles during the funding period

During your funding period, you will have different contact persons who are responsible for different things. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with these (see below) and conclude a supervision agreement with your postdoc and your superior. It defines the roles, rights and obligations of the persons listed below for the period of the Pre-Doc Award. You are welcome to use the Graduate Academy Leipzig’s template for doctoral agreements and adapt this to your situation as a Pre-Doc Awardee.

The pre-doc joins or collaborates with the postdoctoral researcher’s working group. They focus on preparatory activities such as pilot studies and literature research, also preparing scholarship applications as appropriate. How exactly the working and supervisory relationship is structured is left to the tandems.

For administrative reasons and because a doctorate will be planned, it is essential that you involve a professor. They act as the predoc’s superior. This means that they must sign the recruitment application and all other official documents (such as requests for annual leave). The predoc should also be offered the best possible support, both conceptually and with organisational matters (for example, by allowing them to attend the working group’s colloquia and providing them with a workstation). At the same time, this person usually supervises the future doctoral thesis.  Other (junior) professors and – depending on the faculty-specific regulations for supervising doctorates – postdocs may be involved in supervising the doctorate at a later stage, for example in the form of an advisory board for the dissertation.

The postdoc can have different roles at the same time. If the tandem’s discipline allows and depending on the individual research topic, they may act as a mentor for the pre-doc candidate and also offer the candidate advice on content.  They will assist with the process and progress, as well as in other matters related to the Pre-Doc Award and subsequent dissertation period. It is strongly recommended that they continue to contribute to supervising the doctoral thesis after the Pre-Doc Award year.

Gleichzeitig ist die oder der Postdoc selbst preistragend. They can also approach suitable people interested in doing a doctorate and thus perhaps convince them to joint their own research group. They gain access to the programme’s network and also improve their own supervision skills. If needed, individual consultations can be provided regarding the acquisition of external funding, or regarding the postdoc’s role within the programme or their own career path.

The Pre-Doc Award team is the first point of contact for organisational issues related to the award. You can also raise any concerns you may have about further education, careers or mental health.

Do You Have Any Questions? We Are Here to Help:

Dr Nicole Koburger

Dr Nicole Koburger


Ritterstraße 26
04109 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97-35093
Fax: +49 341 97-35009

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