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 new call for 2025 is expected to open at the end of June 2024.

Currently no Call

Program Description

Through several initiatives, the University of Melbourne and the University of Bonn have recruited over 50 joint PhD candidates. In 2023, 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 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 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 funded through 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 at their own cost. However, involvement of shared external partners that benefit the project, for example through research transfer/translation support or providing internship opportunities, are encouraged.

Up to three proposals by Bonn-Melbourne pairs of Principal Investigators will be funded, with each application supporting two joint PhD projects. Successful applicants in this round will recruit PhD candidates for these projects by June 2024. Together the recruited candidates will form a 2024 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 to progress in their candidature.

These projects also have the potential to be organized into clusters, bringing together multiple proposals by up to three supervisor pairs under a shared research theme. While each proposal should be able to stand on its own and not depend on the funding of another project, supervisory teams combining multiple proposals should consider how forming a cluster will lead to the creation and proliferation of a new collaborative research network

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 Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

Bonn-based PhD candidates (to commence in summer or fall 2024)

  • 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: July 2023
  • Call closes: September 15, 2023 
  • Outcome notification and start of recruitment: Mid-November 2023
  • Recruited joint PhD candidates commence: By October 2024 (Bonn-home candidates) and November 2024 (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)
  • Summary of previous collaboration, if applicable
  • A summary of the overall program design and the individual 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.
  • Cluster information, if applicable
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statement
  • Endorsement for the Melbourne applicant from their Head of School/ Department and Faculty Associate Dean (Graduate Research).

Complete applications must be received by September 25, 2023.

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


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Dr. Christian Klöckner

Partnerships and International Researchers


Poppelsdorfer Allee 102

53115 Bonn (Germany)

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