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German Academic Scholarship Foundation, Headquarters, Bonn
Scholarship foundation overview
Formed1925 (1925)
Annual budget€103 million
Scholarship foundation executives

The German Academic Scholarship Foundation (German: Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, or Studienstiftung for short) is Germany's largest[1][2] and most prestigious scholarship foundation.[3] According to its statutes, it supports "the university education of young people who, on account of their exceptional academic or artistic talents and their personalities, can be expected to make an outstanding contribution to society as a whole".[4] The Studienstiftung is non-political, non-denominational and ideologically independent. Its headquarters are located in Bonn; it also has an office in Berlin. The current president is University of Bonn director Michael Hoch [de], and its patron (Schirmherr [de]) is the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.[5]

The Studienstiftung, like 12 other scholarship foundations (Begabtenförderungswerk [de]), is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research,[6] with funds from the federal government, the German federal states and local authorities, numerous foundations and businesses as well as numerous private donors.[7] In 2015, the Studienstiftung's budget was over €103 million. Between 1925 and 2015, it has supported over 65,000 students and doctoral candidates; as of 2015, it had over 60,000 alumni worldwide.[8]

German Academic Scholarship Foundation, branch office, Berlin

The selection process is extremely rigorous and only those students who show outstanding academic and personal promise are chosen. The Studienstiftung awards scholarships to fewer than 0.5% of German students.[9] It is often referred to as Germany's "secret elite university".[10]



Initially founded in Dresden in 1925 as a department of the Deutsche Studentenschaft, an amalgamation of German student committees, the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes was dissolved in 1934 under National Socialism and replaced by the "Reichsförderung", a department of the newly founded Reichsstudentenwerk. The Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes was newly formed as a registered association in Cologne in 1948.

Presidents of the Studienstiftung
President In office
Adolf Grimme 1948–1963[11]:364 [12]
Karl Theodor Bleek 1963–1967[11]:276
Rudolf Sieverts 1967–1980[11]:276
Werner Maihofer 1980–1982[11]:276
Manfred Eigen 1982–1993[11]:276
Helmut Altner [de] 1993–2003[13]
Gerhard Roth [de] 2003–2011[14]
Reinhard Zimmermann 2011–2023[15]
Michael Hoch [de] 2023–[16]
Secretaries General of the Studienstiftung
Secretary General In office
Heinz Haerten 1948–1970[11]:286
Hartmut Rahn 1970–1995[17]:365
Gerhard Teufel 1995-2012[18]
Annette Julius 2012–[19]



The Studienstiftung offers a general scholarship for bachelor's and master's studies that consists of both financial and academic support. Eligibility is based on the criteria for BAFöG, the German state support system for students. The Studienstiftung scholarship accepts only applicants that study full time at university. A part of an applicant's university studies must be at a university in Germany, in another EU country, or in Switzerland. German or EU citizenship are not required, and there are no age criteria.[20]

The Studienstiftung accepts exceptionally talented students and doctoral candidates selected in accordance with its mission statement, which is based upon the principles of "excellence, initiative and responsibility".[21] Scholarship holders (scholars) are admitted through various channels:[22]

  1. Nomination by a school: The principal of a high school or school with an upper secondary level can nominate one in 50 senior students for admission to the Studienstiftung. This student must excel both academically and in terms of social commitment. Nominated students attend a three-day selection seminar where their eligibility for funding is assessed in individual interviews and group discussions. 23.8% of students nominated in 2015 were offered admission to the Studienstiftung. There is no set admissions quota for the number of students admitted each year.[citation needed]
  2. Nomination by professors: Students at universities and universities of applied science can be nominated directly by university teachers. Again, candidates attend a selection seminar. In 2015, 48.3% of students nominated by their professors were offered admission to the Studienstiftung.[citation needed]
  3. Nomination by an examination board: Just as students can be nominated by schools, one in every 50 students in the second academic year in his/her respective study programme can be nominated by universities and universities of applied science. The nomination must be supported by a professor. The selection seminar is organised along the same lines as the selection seminar for students nominated by schools. In this case, however, the candidate's proven academic achievements at university also carry weight. In 2015, 28.8% of nominees were offered admission.[citation needed]
  4. Winners of a national or federal competition or nomination by select cooperation partners: Winners of or participants in various competitions on a national, federal or international level (e.g. Bundeswettbewerb Informatik, Bundeswettbewerb Mathematik, Bundeswettbewerb Fremdsprachen, Jugend forscht, Jugend debattiert, Internationale Mathematik-Olympiade, Internationale Physik-Olympiade, Altsprachenwettbewerb des Landes Baden-Württemberg) may be offered admission to the Studienstiftung. Select cooperation partners (e.g. START-Stiftung) may also nominate potential sponsorship candidates.[citation needed]
  5. Assessment Test: Since February 2010,[23] candidates can also put themselves forward for a scholarship. First and second-semester students can sign up for the Studienstiftung assessment test in January/February/March[24] each year. The test is held at test centres throughout Germany. The applicants with the best results are invited to attend the selection seminar. While the assessment test determines applicants' cognitive abilities, the selection seminar focuses on motivation, extracurricular interests, social commitment and social skills, which are assessed in personal interviews and group discussions.
  6. Nomination by alums: Studienstiftung alums may also nominate students who they consider appropriate, having taught them personally in school or university courses.[citation needed]
  7. Support of musicians and artists: After an internal pre-selection procedure, universities can nominate students of the fine arts, music and the performing arts for participation in a Studienstiftung selection seminar.[citation needed]

If admission occurs before the end of the fourth semester, sponsorship is usually granted until the end of the sixth semester. An extension of the scholarship beyond the sixth semester usually depends on academic performance in the first four semesters. In borderline cases, aspects other than academic achievements – such as exceptional social engagement or particular personal circumstances – may positively influence the decision to approve further funding. After an application has been approved, funding is awarded from the 6th semester until studies are completed (for example, until the master's degree or state examinations have been completed). In 2014, 91% of requests for further funding were approved.[citation needed]

The Studienstiftung also offers a doctoral scholarship for highly qualified and prosocial PhD students. The doctoral scholarship accepts applications from doctoral candidates at universities in Germany and at universities worldwide under certain conditions.[25]



General scholarship for undergraduate, graduate and PhD students


The general Studienstiftung scholarship consists of both financial and academic support.

Financial support


Financial support includes an allowance (€300 monthly). Scholars can receive a need-based basic scholarship, which is calculated according to the BAföG (Federal Training Assistance Act) and can be up to €744 per month.

PhD scholars receive a monthly award of €1,350 plus a research allowance of €100.[26] Additional funds are provided for students and PhD students with children. Financial support is regulated by the guidelines of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Visits abroad are also supported by grants or overseas allowances and the partial payment of tuition fees. Under the terms of No. 11 Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG – German Income Tax Law) scholarship payments are tax-free.[citation needed]

Academic support


The Studienstiftung's academic support includes summer schools, research groups, language courses, workshops and mentoring by local tutors, academics who carry out this task for the Studienstiftung on a voluntary basis. Scholars are required to submit a report on their studies and other activities every semester during the first semesters (usually until the end of the fourth semester), and once a year thereafter. Scholars can also apply for funding in order to organise their own conferences and other events.[citation needed]

The Studienstiftung offers yearly two-week subsidised summer academies, which are its "central event format" for scholarship holders.[27] Scholars themselves can also organise shorter academies and benefit from similar subsidisation.[28] For instance, queer scholarship holders have been making use of this possibility to organise annual meetings since 2001,[29] with financial support from the Studienstiftung since the 2014 edition.[30]

Internal scholarship programmes


In addition to its regular scholarship scheme, the Studienstiftung offers internal scholarship programmes for selected scholars and alumni. Examples include the KAUST-Studienstiftung programme, a joint partnership between the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Studienstiftung under the patronage of the German Federal Foreign Office which allows scholars from the STEM disciplines to join KAUST for research internships or to enrol in Master or PhD programs.[31] In the musical field, for example, in cooperation with the Beethoven House residence scholarships are awarded for young composers.[32]

Open scholarship programmes


Moreover, the Studienstiftung offers open scholarship programmes, which are run and financed in cooperation with other organisations. They include the McCloy Academic Scholarship Program, the ERP-Stipendienprogramm and the Carlo-Schmid-Programm. Participation in these scholarship programmes does not require previously holding a regular scholarship by the Studienstiftung.[33]

Since 2005 the Studienstiftung has also been running the Max Weber scholarship for students in Bavaria, introduced by the regional (Land) administration via the Bavarian Elite Support Act (BayEFG).[34][35][36]


  • In 2020, the Studienstiftung approved 2,898 scholarships and 362 doctoral scholarships.[37]:109,120
  • As of 2020, 71.1% of scholars received a study expense allowance of €300, 18.8% received a partial need-based scholarship, and 10.1% the maximum need-based scholarship.[37]:114
  • 52.7% of scholars in 2020 were women.[37]:112
Year Studienstiftung scholars[38][37]:109 Number
of students
in Germany[39]

scholars as a share of students[a]


and graduate

Doctoral Total
2005 6,966 993 7,959 1,985,765 0.40%
2006 7,352 946 8,298 1,979,043 0.42%
2007 8,438 1,080 9,518 1,941,405 0.49%
2008 10,030 1,194 11,224 2,025,307 0.55%
2009 11,482 1,211 12,693 2,121,178 0.60%
2010 11,336 1,303 12,639 2,217,294 0.57%
2011 11,123 1,350 12,473 2,380,974 0.52%
2012 11,373 1,274 12,647 2,499,409 0.51%
2013 11,195 1,273 12,468 2,616,881 0.48%
2014 11,858 1,184 13,042 2,698,910 0.48%
2015 12,158 1,141 13,299 2,757,799 0.48%
2016 12,879 1,156 14,035 2,807,010 0.50%
2017 12,749 1,202 13,951 2,844,978 0.49%
2018 12,752 1,270 14,022 2,868,222 0.49%
2019 12,953 1,321 14,274 2,891,049 0.49%
2020 13,402 1,393 14,795 not available not available
German universities where over 1% of students are Studienstiftung scholars[37]:113–114
University[b] Type Studienstiftung

scholars as at

15 March 2020

Students in

the 2019/20

winter semester


scholars as a share of students

Heidelberg University public university 639 27,818 2.30%
Hannover Medical School public university 74 3,465 2.14%
Charité public university 155 7,869 1.97%
University of Freiburg public university 336 24,028 1.40%
University of Lübeck public university 70 5,331 1.31%
University of Tübingen public university 289 26,842 1.08%
University of Mannheim public university 122 12,088 1.01%
Bucerius Law School private university 74 858 8.62%
Hertie School private university 22 651 3.38%
Witten/Herdecke University private university 42 2,617 1.60%
Zeppelin University private university 12 903 1.33%
Cusanus Hochschule private Fachhochschule 6 113 5.31%

Notable alums


Natural sciences


Social sciences


Business and NGOs


Politics and civil service






See also



  1. ^ The percentages would be lower if one only counted the scholars studying at universities in Germany
  2. ^ Universities with more than 5 Studienstiftung scholars


  1. ^ "Begabtenförderungswerke: Die 13 Stipendiengeber im Überblick". myStipendium (in German). 12 April 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Begabtenförderungswerke". fowid.de (in German). 31 August 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  3. ^ "Studienstiftung mit technischen Problemen". Der Tagesspiegel Online (in German). Retrieved 9 July 2021. Eine Förderung durch die Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes ist nicht nur wegen des monatlichen Förderbetrages attraktiv. Das Stipendium gilt auch als höchste Auszeichnung im Feld akademischer Begabtenförderung.
  4. ^ "Facts and figures | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Schirmherr | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  6. ^ BMBF-Internetredaktion. "Die Begabtenförderungswerke – BMBF". Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF (in German). Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Jahresbericht | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  8. ^ "Daten und Fakten". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Facts and figures | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  10. ^ Lehn, Das Gespräch Führte Birgitta Vom (13 April 2008). "Elite sein wird einfacher". DIE WELT. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Kunze, Rolf-Ulrich (1 January 2009), "Front Matter", Die Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes seit 1925 (in German), Akademie Verlag, pp. I–17, doi:10.1524/9783050048277.fm, ISBN 978-3-05-004827-7, retrieved 31 August 2023
  12. ^ NDR. "Adolf Grimme - Kulturpolitiker und Generaldirektor des NWDR (Seite 3)". www.ndr.de (in German). Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  13. ^ "Uni Regensburg feiert ihr "Urgestein"". Mittelbayerische.de (in German). Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  14. ^ "Pressemitteilungen | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  15. ^ "Präsidentschaft von Reinhard Zimmermann | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  16. ^ "Pressemitteilungen | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  17. ^ Kunze, Rolf-Ulrich (2001). Die Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes seit 1925: zur Geschichte der Hochbegabtenförderung in Deutschland. Edition Bildung und Wissenschaft (1. Aufl ed.). Berlin: Akad.-Verl. ISBN 978-3-05-003638-0.
  18. ^ "Dr. Gerhard Teufel". www.daad.de (in German). Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  19. ^ Studienstiftung. "Lebenslauf Annette Julius" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Voraussetzungen | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  21. ^ "Mission Statement | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  22. ^ "Bewerbung und Auswahl | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  23. ^ "Aktuelles – Neuer Auswahltest der Studienstiftung". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  24. ^ "Selbstbewerbung Test". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Bewerbung | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Financial support | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  27. ^ "Akademien | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  28. ^ "SmP – Stipendiatinnen und Stipendiaten machen Programm | Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes". www.studienstiftung.de. Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  29. ^ "Queerstifti Bundestreffen". CT das radio. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  30. ^ "Stipendiaten machen Programm!". Queer Stifti Treffen (in German). 27 November 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  31. ^ "KAUST-Programm der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes – Forschung, Sprache und Kultur im Königreich Saudi-Arabien" (in German). Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. 26 February 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  32. ^ "Förderung für Studierende – Komponistenresidenz" (in German). Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. 3 June 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
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  34. ^ "Zehn Jahre Max Weber-Programm". www.studienstiftung.de. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
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  38. ^ "Jahresbericht 2015" (PDF 4,35 MB). Studienstiftung (in German). p. 212 (Tabelle 1 Geförderte in Studium und Promotion). Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  39. ^ "Studierende insgesamt und Studierende Deutsche nach Geschlecht". Federal Statistical Office of Germany (in German). Retrieved 9 July 2021.

Further reading