Children of doctoral candidates playing with books

Doctorate and family

How do I manage to combine family and doctorate?
Children of doctoral candidates playing with books
Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

A doctorate with children can confront you with special challenges: How to get through the conference the next day, after waking up all night beside your feverish child? How to master the balance between loving parenting and outstanding research work? How to find room for partnership when every free minute is filled with nappies, feeding, playing and comforting beside work?

You will receive support in harmonising family and career from the Family Office of Jena University, the Graduate Academy and the Studierendenwerk Thüringen. The support ranges from additional childcare and financial support to special workshops.

For the implementation of the DFG's "research oriented standards on gender equality", Jena University holds the highest valuation level in 2013 (level 4). Since 2008, Jena University has been a member of the best practice club "Familie in der Hochschule" of the Robert Bosch Foundation. Further, the university has been repeatedly awarded with the Total E-Quality certificate and is a founding member of the Jenaer Bündnis für Familie (Jena alliance for family).

You may find all information on doing a doctorate with a child here:

Consultancy Expand entry

Feel free to contact the Graduate Academy with your individual questions concerning the compatibility of a doctorate and family and if required, arrange an appointment for a personal consultation.

Moreover, you may use the service and consultation offer of the "JUniFamilie" University's Family Office in case you have any further questions. Further information and business hours can be found here de.

Funding Expand entry

Both doctoral candidates with and without children face a number of ways to finance a PhD: a scholarship, a job as an academic employee, or external funding.

For doctoral candidates with jobs as academic employees, the same rules apply at the university as with other employers with regard to parental leave, a reduction of working hours, fixed-term employment contracts and maternity protection.

Doctoral candidates with children who hold a scholarship can – depending on the funding institution – receive special financial support and an extension on the length of the scholarship. Doctoral candidates who have one or more children under the age of 12 can receive a monthly allowance of about 150 to 400 Euro per month. This amount depends on the organisation offering the scholarship, the number of children, and also the nationality of the doctoral candidate. In addition, the maximum duration of the scholarship can be extended by up to 12 months. For questions about the children's allowance and possibility of extending the length of your scholarship, please consult your scholarship provider directly.

Pregnancy and maternal leave Expand entry

Here you find information (in German) for Jena University staff members about pregnancy and maternal leave. Scholarship holders can interrupt their doctorate for maternal leave. Please ask your funding body. Also contact your funding body because of possible scholarship extensions and/or part time work.

The university hospital offers prenatal classes in which you will be informed about all aspects of pregnancy and birth. They are held in english language. For more information, click here.

Information regarding the topic of maternity leave of the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers ("Deutscher Hochschulverband", DHV) can be found here (in German).

Childcare Expand entry

There are several childcare options for doctoral candidates with children – daycare centres, child minders, the flexible childcare centre on campus, or babysitters.

The Studierendenwerk (student services organisation) of Thuringia runs childcare centres in which children of enrolled doctoral candidates and employees at Friedrich Schiller University are given priority places (click here for an overview of Thuringian Studierendenwerk Childcare Centres in Jena). You will find an overview of all child daycare centres in Jena here. The Jugendamt (youth welfare office) of Jena will put you in touch with child minders.

Fees for child daycare centres or afternoon nurseries are based on the parents' income. You will find a fee calculator for the City of Jena here (in German). To register for a day care centre, you can use the Kita-Portal of the city of Jena.

Enrolled doctoral candidates and university employees with children can benefit from the flexible daycare offer on campus. The daycare centre is open from Monday to Thursday, 8.00h to 20.00h, and from 8.00h to 16.00h on Fridays.

Special benefits of the Studierendenwerk and Jena University Expand entry

Newborn children of Jena University students and staff get a baby welcome package from the university. Congratulations to all new parents!

Additionally, all children up to an age of six years of enrolled doctoral candidates receive a child's identity card. This way they may have a free meal at a canteen of the student services. At the canteen at Ernst-Abbe-Platz, Philosophenweg and Carl-Zeiss-Promenade there are children's chairs and children's corners.

All centrally located disabled toilets of Friedrich Schiller University Jena are equipped with baby's changing tables which makes it easier for parents to also take care of their youngest around campus and in the city centre. An overview of all the locations with baby's changing tables at Jena University can be found here [pdf, 878 kb] de.

Government benefits Expand entry

Doctoral candidates with children are entitled to a number of government benefits. The following is a legally non-binding overview of available benefits. Should you have any questions on specific benefits, please contact the authority in charge for more information.

Child benefits (Kindergeld)
Every child that is resident in Germany or usually lives in Germany is entitled to child benefits, irrespective of its nationality. You can apply for the child benefits here. For more information, click here (in German).

Additional child allowance (Kinderzuschlag)
If the income is not sufficient for the whole family, parents can receive additional child allowance in addition to child benefits, irrespective of their nationality. This amounts to a maximum of 185 euros and is granted for six months (after which a new application can be submitted). You are entitled to this supplementary allowance if you have a certain monthly income and meet certain other requirements – you can check your eligibility here (in German). An additional advantage of receiving additional child allowance is that families who receive it are exempt from the KiTa fees and can receive the education and participation package of the city of Jena. You can find further information here (in German).

Parenting allowance (Elterngeld)
Parents who are in gainful employment and live permanently in Germany are entitled to the parenting allowance (for non-EU citizens depending on the residence permit). This also applies to doctoral candidates who receive a grant. There is no requirement to interrupt the doctorate in the period during which the allowance is paid. The parenting allowance is calculated based on the salary in the last 12 months before payment of the allowance begins. If you were not in gainful employment in this period, you are paid the minimum amount of 300 Euro. To support part-time work after birth, the "parental allowance plus" and the "partnership bonus" were additionally introduced in 2015. For more information and contact, click here.

Advance child support (Unterhaltsvorschuss)
If you are a single parent of a minor who lives with you and are not receiving any or only a small amount of child support from the other parent, the child is entitled to advance child support payments. For more information, click here.

Housing allowance (Wohngeld)
Housing allowance is a rent subsidy. It depends on the number of family members, the amount of your total income and the amount of allowable rent you pay. For more information, click here.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: International doctoral candidates should refrain from applying for housing allowance, as an application automatically implies that you do not have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Germany. Applying for housing allowance may, consequently, lead to losing your residence permit.

Information events at Jena University Expand entry

The Graduate Academy offers information events (e.g. in the context of the annual PhD day) and workshops regarding the topic "Doctorate and family" in its qualification programme.

On the family website de you will find all current events and activies for families in Jena.

Information brochures Expand entry


Family with a small child
Information on all necessary steps for doctoral candidates who are going to have a child