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Global Change Ecology (M.Sc.) within the Elite Network of Bavaria

Global Change Ecology (M.Sc.) im Elitenetzwerk Bayern, Lehrstuhl Biogeografie, Universität Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany

+49 (0)921 55 2306

E-mail address

Type of course
Full-time degree program

Language of tuition

Length of course
4 Semester (2 Years)

Date of commencement
Mid October

Class size
About 30 students

Cost / fees
No study fees.
Students have to pay an administration fee of roughly 120 Euros per semester.

Student grants / Financial assistance
International students: Nomination for the International Grant of the University of Bayreuth possible (see International Office, starting from the third semester onwards)
German students: Nomination for the Max-Weber Program possible

Student dorms are available

Exchange partner schools
Exchange program with University of Bologna, Italy

Student profile
1. Ratio of National / Overseas students: 50 national / 29 international students
2. Ratio of Men / Women: 27 male students and 52 female students
3. Age range: 22 to 48

Admission requirements
Admission Prerequisites:
To qualify for the international elite graduate program Global Change Ecology (M.Sc.) requires

1. an excellent Bachelor's degree in biology, hydrology, meteorology, environmental physics, environmental informatics, geoecology, landscape ecology, geography, science of forestry or agricultural science, philosophy & economics, international economics and development or an equivalent degree, and
2. the successful passing of an aptitude assessment test for the international elite graduate program Global Change Ecology at the University of Bayreuth.
Language certificates are not mandatory, as the language skills will be assessed regarding to a motivation letter and an interview.

Spokesperson of the Program
Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein

Contact details for application
Application is done online via the Application Platform

For further inquiries regarding the application form or the assessment procedure please visit our, or mail to gce(at) or call: +49 (0)921 55 2306

University of Bayreuth

Master Program in Global Change Ecology (M.Sc.)


The ecosystems of the earth are exposed to rapid and varied alterations of environment, such as the global changes of climate, element cycles, land use and biodiversity. Risks to ecosystem services such as protection against natural hazards, filtration of drinking water, provision of food, health and other resources can be expected. Resulting consequences are a source of economic, social and political uncertainty.


The graduate program Global Change Ecology GCE is devoted to understanding and analyzing the most important and consequential environmental concern of the 21st century: global change. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the program aims to combine natural science perspectives on global change with approaches of social science disciplines.

The program is part of the Elitenetzwerk Bayern (elite network of Bavaria) The elite study program combines the expertise of the Universities of Bayreuth and Augsburg, with that of Bavarian and international research institutions, as well as economic, administrative and international organizations. The program is unique in Germany from the standpoint of content and at the forefront with respect to international efforts. The goal is training of highly qualified leaders for tasks and problem solving in science, environmental protection, and with respect to political or economic decision making.


The general structure of the program (120 ECTS) brings together natural sciences (70 %) and social sciences (30%). The obtained degree is a Master of Science. The courses in the graduate program require a high level of performance. Students are selected via a standardized aptitude assessment procedure that meets the highest international criteria. Bachelor degrees related to all fields of environmental and social science will be considered for acceptance to the program. Finally, a select number of students who may profit from excellent infrastructure and direct one- on-one communication with supervisors will be accepted.

The program is in continuous contact with international internship providers in the fields of research (e.g. DLR, MPI, UFZ), economics (e.g. Munich RE), international organisations as well as governmental (e.g. BfN, UBA) and non-governmental organisations (e.g. IPBES, CITES, GIZ, WWF). Internships at high ranking institutions are a core component of the GCE curriculum.

Modules & Courses

Course modules are subdivided into A, B, C and M. Modules A and B focus on environmental change and ecological change. The C module group addresses the interdisciplinary nature of global change, dealing with the integration of natural and social sciences. M courses aim at teaching practical skills and methods relevant for other courses. The language of instruction is English. I and S modules represent the unique opportunity to credit internships and science schools as a part of the program.

A (Environment): In the module group A, students will have the opportunity to learn about global change. The focal point is placed on the physical and chemical aspects of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, the dynamics of climate change, recent and historical developments, land use change as a determining factor for biotic and material changes as well as biogeochemical cycles.

B (Ecology): Block B deals with issues of ecological change; in the associated modules, the ecological effects of global change will be addressed. Featured topics include the response of organisms and ecosystems, land use change and human impacts, as well as the impacts on species distribution within the framework of global change and changing environmental conditions

C (Society): Global environmental changes have been directly caused by anthropogenic influences. Simultaneously, society also has to bear the consequences of climate change and ecosystem changes. The module block C deals with the global interplay between societal and ecological changes, including mechanisms of global economy, policy and governance related to climate, ecosystem services, land cover and land use change.

M (Methods): Methods courses are offered in order to deepen knowledge of methodological approaches in various fields, whereby the personal interests of students can be strengthened. The methods courses offered adhere to those applied in current global change research, including working with open-source statistical software, time series analysis, remote sensing, spatial analysis tools, international environmental law as well as key soft skills and more.

Internships: The study of global change ecology is not only covered in course modules, but also includes the opportunity to gain practical experience via internships. Internships are possible within four main areas including economy, research, administration (national or international) and international organizations (including consortia).

Science Schools: Science schools aim at integrating students in current developments in the rapidly changing scientific field of global change research. Intensive external and internal courses allow for students to make direct contact with not only other lecturers and real-world practitioners but peers of other study programs, universities and countries.

Additional activities

Students and alumni inform about activities Global Change Ecology students take part in or organize, such as visited conferences (e.g. IPBES, COP UNFCCC) and talks on their Blog:

Additionally students organize so called “Fireside events” featuring scientist from all over the world.

The network “Friends of GCE” was also founded by GCE students and provides a platform for students, alumni and lectures to still be part of the Global Change Ecology community :

Global Change Ecology is also represented by students on Social Media (Twitter and Facebook).

About The University of Bayreuth at a Glance

The University of Bayreuth is a young, research-oriented campus university. The University's founding mission in 1975 was to support interdisciplinary research and teaching and to develop interdisciplinary research priorities with which it could strengthen its own profile.

Its research programmes and programmes of study are frequently updated and cover the natural sciences, law, business and economics, languages and literature, and cultural studies.

A good instructor-to-student ratio, high performance standards, interdisciplinary collaboration, and academic excellence have allowed the University to maintain its strong position in the rankings. The University of Bayreuth ranked 51th among the 414 best young universities in the world in this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings out of 1,400 universities around the world. The University is also a top choice for studying law, business and economics in Germany, as borne out in the university ranking published by the Centre for Higher Education (CHE).

The University of Bayreuth has been an international leader in African Studies for many years; the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) is part of the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments and The ‚Africa Multiple‘ cluster of Excellence seeks to realign Bayreuth’s African Studies focus area in close cooperation with Africa partner institutions. High Pressure & High Temperature Research carried out at the Bavarian Research Institute of Experimental Geochemistry & Geophysics has established a strong reputation worldwide. Polymer research at the University is a frontrunner in the funding ranking published by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The University of Bayreuth has a tight international network of strategically selected university partnerships.

There are currently around 13,329 students enrolled in 151 different programmes of study offered by the University's seven faculties. With around 1,500 members of the academic staff, 240 professors and roughly 1000 non-academic staff members, the University of Bayreuth is one of the region’s largest employers. Third-party funding for research reached € 52,449,000 in 2019.