Bonn-Melbourne Joint PhD Program 

Call for Joint PhD Project Proposals (supervisor-led competition)

Funding for up to six joint PhD projects across three Bonn-Melbourne pairs of Principal Investigators, plus additional seed funding for PIs to support collaborative activities. 

Submission Deadline

A single, jointly prepared application by supervisor pairs must be submitted via University of Melbourne’s SmartyGrants Portal by 07:00 am CET/ 03:00 pm AEST on September 19, 2022.

Program Description

Through several initiatives, the University of Melbourne and the University of Bonn have supported research collaboration and recruited over 50 joint PhD candidates. In 2022, Melbourne and Bonn are seeking to expand on these opportunities through a university-wide call for joint PhD projects. Applications are invited, and encouraged, from all faculties and research areas.

Up to six joint PhD projects will be funded across three separate pairs of Principal Investigators (PIs), comprising of one PI from Melbourne and one from Bonn. Each of these PI pairs will receive funding to support two joint PhD candidates, plus additional seed funding to support collaborative activities. Candidates and supervisors will join the established community of the Bonn – Melbourne joint PhD programs. Additional integration of PhD candidates into the respective research environments at each institution, e.g. into a Bonn International Graduate School (BIGS), is expected.

Joint PhD candidates are enrolled at both institutions, perform their research under joint supervision, and are graded according to the academic standards of both institutions. Upon successful completion of the program, each candidate will be eligible to receive a joint PhD, recognised by two testamurs acknowledging the joint nature of the award.

The supervisory team must consist of at least two Principal Investigators (PIs), one from Melbourne and one from Bonn. The PIs must have the capacity and be authorized to serve as primary supervisors for two jointly enrolled PhD candidates.

Previous Bonn-Melbourne Research Excellence Fund recipients and applicants are eligible to apply.

Current supervisors of joint PhD candidates in the Bonn and Melbourne Research and Graduate School in Immunology; and/ or the pilot cohort of the Bonn and Melbourne Research and Graduate School in Decision Neuroscience are not eligible to apply.

Additional colleagues (including other partners in Australia, Germany, or internationally) are not eligible to apply as PIs, although they can participate in the co-supervision of joint PhD candidates.

Up to three proposals by Bonn-Melbourne pairs of Principal Investigators will be funded, with each application outlining two joint PhD projects. PhD candidates for the successful proposals will be recruited through another open call to be published in late 2022. Together the recruited candidates to these projects will form a 2023 cohort of six jointly enrolled candidates. The successful PIs will also receive seed funding to support the growth in collaborative activity.

Each pair of PIs should submit one proposal that outlines two joint PhDs projects intended for two joint PhD candidates. These projects can be on a similar research topic or theme, but the candidates cannot rely on each other’s results or completed thesis material to progress in their candidate.

In each proposal pair, one candidate will have Melbourne as their Home institution, and the other will have Bonn as their Home institution. The Home institution is where the candidate will conduct the majority of their research, where they receive their scholarship from, and where they are likely to commence and conclude their degree. The candidates must spend at least 12 months at each institution.

The supervision concept put forward by the PIs should outline the planned integration of PhD candidates into their respective research environments. Bonn-home candidates are expected to be integrated into a Bonn International Graduate School or other structured PhD program at the University of Bonn.

The joint PhD projects should be designed to be completed within three years, with a maximum duration of four years (one additional year available upon extension request).

Bonn-based supervisors

A €15,000 lump sum to support relevant project activities, including funds for: 

  • Graduate recruitment;
  • Workshop costs or virtual collaboration;
  • PI travel;
  • Candidate relocation, travel and OSHC

Bonn-based PhD candidates

  • A tax-free scholarship (stipend) of €1,500 per month;
  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of research in Australia;
  • Relocation allowance to commence at Bonn of up to €1,500.

For more detailed information, please see the program guidelines

  • Project design and rationale
  • Potential impact
  • Collaborator complementarity
  • Quality of supervision
  • Capacity for expanded collaboration

For more detailed information on the selection criteria, please see the program guidelines.

  • Call opens: May 2022
  • Call closes: September 19, 2022 (07:00 am CET)
  • Outcome notification and start of recruitment: Mid-November 2022
  • Recruited joint PhD candidates commence: By July 2023 (Bonn-home candidates) and November 2023 (Melbourne-home candidates)

A single, jointly prepared proposal must be submitted via the University of Melbourne’s SmartyGrants page and consists of:

  • Information about the Bonn and Melbourne PIs, including a short CV
  • Nomination of co-supervisors (if applicable)
  • A summary of the Bonn-home and Melbourne-home projects, including:
    • A 250-word abstract, to be used for candidate recruitment if the proposal is successful. This abstract will be published online to advertise the project to prospective joint PhD candidates, so it should be written in lay terms.
    • A project timeline, outlining the proposed periods of research at Bonn and Melbourne.
  • Responses to the selection criteria
  • Endorsement for the Melbourne applicant from their Head of School/ Department and Faculty Associate Dean (Graduate Research).

Complete applications must be received by 07:00 am CET/ 03:00 pm AEST on September 19, 2022.

For more detailed information on this call and the PhD program, please consult the guidelines.


Avatar Klöckner

Dr. Christian Klöckner

Partnerships and International Researchers


Poppelsdorfer Allee 102

53115 Bonn (Germany)

+49 228 73-1872

Funded by the Federal and State Governments as part of the German Excellence Strategy

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