Tho­mas San­ka­ra PhD Scho­lar­ships

Thomas Sankara Portrait by the Beninois Artist Youss Atacora

The GPN decided to name its PhD scholarships after Thomas Sankara being an outstanding personality from the Global South, whose ideas and practices of resisting neo-colonialism and promoting independent pathways for countries of the Global South are deemed to inspire the work of the Global Partnership Graduate School.

General information: Read more about Thomas Sankara

The un­i­­ver­­­si­­ties con­t­­ri­bu­­ting to the GPN

The call for Applications is currently closed.

Who can ap­p­ly?

In the framework of its Graduate School of Research for Global Partnership, the GPN invites students from ODA recipient countries to apply for a Thomas Sankara PhD scholarship at a GPN partner university. Further, it will enable and fund research co-operations between partner universities working on Global Partnership in the global economy (in the fields of agriculture, finance, and energy), in development cooperation (access, accountability, deep participation) and/or in knowledge production (Eurocentrism and alternative knowledge).

Equal Op­por­tu­nities

The GPN is committed to creating equal opportunities for doctoral candidates. We particularly encourage women and people from other marginalized groups to apply.

Re­se­arch To­pics

In the network, we call attention to the shortcomings, limitations, and problematic aspects of international partnerships that have historically been shaped by colonial relations between North and South and sometimes continue to reflect them. Redressing this historical dynamic requires reconstructing the concept towards a partnership based on mutual recognition and solidarity, adequate to the multi-polar and postcolonial 21st century.

PhD re­se­arch pro­po­sals are re­qui­red to ad­dress one of the GPN re­se­arch clus­ters:

What We Of­fer

1. Supervision:

Building on successful earlier initiatives, the network will include a graduate programme in which PhD students are co-supervised by professors from two partner universities. The supervisors are chosen by the PhD student based on thematic preferences and if they agree to the supervision, they will monitor the thesis progress at least once every three months in a one-hour online session. The PhD student will spend at least six months at the partner university of the second supervisor.

2. Virtual PhD training programme:

PhD students of the GPN Graduate School will be geographically based at the respective partner universities (see above) and enrolled in the virtual PhD training programme. Moreover, successful candidates participate in the regular virtual PhD workshops of the GPN Graduate School and get involved in the lively academic exchange and activities within the GPN network.

3. Scholarship:

The PhD scholarship will be awarded for three years. An extension is pending on the availability of funding. In exceptional cases, preparatory PhD grants are given for up to one year for students (especially from countries with weaker higher education systems) who exhibit potential for interesting research but need more academic training. This grant will enable them to attend courses in one of the partner universities and improve their proposal. The scholarships will cover a country-specific monthly living allowance, the participation in virtual GPN Graduate School activities as well as the opportunity to apply for funding towards completing empirical research. Final admission to the GPN Graduate School is conditioned on the admittance to the PhD programme of the chosen GPN partner university and a positive progress evaluation by the GPN in the first scholarship year.

Ap­p­li­ca­ti­on Re­qui­re­ments

  • a completed MA/MSc degree (exception: the defence of the MA thesis should have happened until the application deadline), with very good results, in a discipline related to the above topics; the applicant’s last academic degree should not be more than six years ago; if an applicant already started with his/her PhD project, it should have started not more than three years ago;
  • a very high proficiency in English (CEFR level: C1 or above) demonstrated by one of the following language certificates: TOEFL, with a minimum score of 95 IBT (Internet-based test); IELTS 7.0 or above; the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English or an equivalent; native speakers and applicants who have completed [one of] their first degree[s] fully in English do not have to provide an English proficiency certificate; if the PhD dissertation will be written in another language than English: a high proficiency of English (CEFR level: B2 or above) for the participation in the Graduate School demonstrated by one of the just mentioned language certificates.
  • academic or vocational experience in one of the disciplines related to the thematic field of global partnership;
  • citizenship of an ODA recipient country. If the applicant resides in Germany or other countries which are not on the DAC list and is currently not enrolled in a university, s*he  should not have lived in the country of residence longer than two years before the potential start of the scholarship.

Ap­p­li­ca­ti­on Pro­ce­du­re

The application process involves three elements. Your application is only complete if all three are submitted:

Please provide the following documents in a single PDF file. Only complete applications, in the order listed below, will be accepted:

  • a detailed curriculum vitae (including the academic background, the list of publications [if applicable], professional experience, language skills, voluntary work);
  • a preliminary PhD project proposal (about 2000 words, including topic, research question, short overview of the relevant literature, theoretical approach, research design and methodology, justified assignment to one of the three research clusters and possible supervisors from the GPN network. We kindly request you to refrain from contacting supervisors at this stage);
  • a summary of the Master thesis (about 1500 words);
  • scanned copy of an English proficiency certificate, if required;
  • scanned copies of the following documents in the original language with translations attached, if the language of these documents is not German, English or French:
    • the certificate and transcript of records of your recognised Master degree, listing all subjects and grades (if you have not yet completed your Master degree, please provide only the transcript and substitute the certificate with a letter from the programme coordinator testifying the date and likelihood of the successful completion of the course);

    • the certificate and transcript of records of your recognised Bachelor degree, listing all subjects and grades;

    • certificates for the completion of additional studies, listing all subjects and grades, if applicable;

    • scanned copies of certificates of previous professional/vocational experience, if applicable.

These items of your application package must be submitted in the order listed above, with your CV as the first item, followed by your project proposal etc. All items of the application must be assembled in one pdf document (use e.g. a pdf creator or your word processing programme) of max. 50 MB. Incomplete applications and submissions consisting of multiple files cannot be accepted!

Acknowledging the global Corona crisis and the restrictions in the private and public life which come along with it, we may exceptionally accept your application if not all of the necessary documents can be provided at all or by the application deadline. In this case, please provide proof e.g. a letter from a university staff member confirming that a transcript of records cannot be delivered due to the universities lock-down and additionally include one short notice in the field "comments" of the application.

To complete the online application form and upload your application package (single pdf file), you need to first register with your name and email address on this portal (online survey tool of the University of Kassel, Germany).
Once you have registered, a personalized link will be sent to you by email, with which you can then access the online application form. Completing the online application and uploading your application package is possible until the application deadline.

In addition to your application, two recent letters of recommendation from professors, course instructors or other persons qualified to assess your academic achievements must be provided. Referees must sign the letter and send it as a scanned copy from the referee’s email account to the GPN Graduate School staff (graduateschool.gpn[at]uni-kassel[dot]de).

As in the letters themselves, the email reference line should mention your full name and “letter of recommendation”. The letters of recommendation must also arrive at the GPN by no later than 31 March 2021.

Successful applications will need to provide officially authenticated photocopies of all the submitted documents and translations.


For further information or questions, please contact the GPN Graduate School staff

Contact: Send an email