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Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers

Timeline of selection procedure
Timeline of
selection procedure

Submit an application if you are a researcher from abroad with above average qualifications, completed your doctorate less than twelve years ago, already have your own research profile and are working at least at the level of Assistant Professor or Junior Research Group Leader or have a record of several years of independent academic work. A Humboldt Research Fellowship for experienced researchers allows you to carry out long-term research (6-18 months) in Germany. Applicants choose their own topic of research and their academic host. The fellowship is flexible and can be divided up into as many as three stays within three years.

Scientists and scholars of all nationalities and disciplines may apply to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation directly at any time. The Humboldt Foundation grants approximately 500 Humboldt Research Fellowships for postdoctoral researchers and experienced researchers annually. Short-term study visits, participation in congresses and training courses cannot be financed.

To apply, please only use the application form which can be downloaded here.

For the time being, researchers from Brazil can only apply for a Capes-Humboldt Research Fellowship. For the duration of the joint Capes-Humboldt Programme it is not possible to apply for a Humboldt Research Fellowship.

Academics from developing and emerging countries may be eligible to apply for a Georg Forster Fellowship (HERMES).

Further information

  1. Doctorate or comparable academic degree (Ph.D., C.Sc. or equivalent), completed less than twelve years prior to the date of application. If it is not possible or customary to take a doctorate in the candidate's subject or country, applications may be submitted up to twelve years after commencing publication activity;
  2. The candidate's own research profile documented by a comprehensive list of academic publications reviewed according to international standards and printed in journals and/or by publishing houses;
  3. Confirmation that research facilities are available and mentoring agreement and a detailed expert's report by an academic host at a research institution in Germany; details of the research outline including information on the intended duration of the fellowship must be agreed with the intended host before applying;
  4. Three expert reviews from important collaborative partners and/or academics from the candidate's own institute and, if possible, from abroad;
  5. Language skills: scholars in the humanities or social sciences and physicians must have a good knowledge of German if it is necessary to carry out the research successfully; otherwise a good knowledge of English; scientists and engineers must have a good knowledge of German or English;
  6. Applications to continue a research stay already underway can only be considered in exceptional cases. The applicant may not have spent an extended period in Germany prior to application. Potential applicants who have been in Germany for more than six months at the time of application are not eligible to apply;
  7. The Humboldt Foundation assumes that candidates will abide by the Rules of Good Scientific Practice and the ethical rules of the 7th EU Framework Programme during the application and sponsorship periods.
 

Applications may be sent to the following address at any time:

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Selection Department,
Jean-Paul-Str. 12, 53173 Bonn, Germany

The complete application should be submitted to the Humboldt Foundation at least four to seven months ahead of the prospective selection date.

Timeline of selection procedure
Timeline of
selection procedure

The Humboldt Foundation will confirm receipt of the application by email. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that he or she has submitted all the necessary documents. Applications not submitted as a single entity will take longer to process. Grossly incomplete applications will be returned to applicants unprocessed.

After providing all the documents and receipt of the host’s statement, applicants will be notified about the proposed selection date. The application documents will then usually be forwarded to two independent reviewers for written review. On the basis of these independent peer reviews a selection committee composed of about 50 academics from all disciplines reaches a decision on approving research fellowships. The selection committee meets three times a year, in March, July and November. If an application has been approved a fellow arriving from abroad may start the fellowship two months after the selection meeting at the earliest. Fellows must start their fellowships within twelve months of the selection meeting; otherwise the fellowship will be forfeited.

When submitting applications candidates may also apply to be informed about the reasons for a rejection should their applications be turned down by the selection committee. In this case, applicants and their hosts will receive separate notification on this issue in addition to the selection decision approx. four to six weeks after the selection committee meeting. It is not possible to appeal. However, applicants who have been rejected may submit a revised application provided that fundamental aspects of the original application have been manifestly improved.

Further information

One of our hallmarks is the degree of support we try to provide for every single guest researcher. This is why we offer you extra benefits in addition to the monthly research fellowship: from invitations to events, via language courses to family allowances.

Further information

Once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian: Even after your research stay has come to an end, we shall still maintain close contact with you. Our alumni sponsorship is flexible and designed to support every Humboldtian’s particular path in life and development as well as collaborations between individuals.

Further information

Application requirements

I have worked in an English-speaking country for several years. Do I need an English language certificate?

No, a language certificate is not required.

It is either not customary or not possible to take a doctorate in my country of origin. Can I apply?

You can apply if you can prove that your academic performance is equivalent to a Ph.D., e.g. by academic publications in internationally reviewed journals and for publishing houses. Should this be the case, you may apply to the programme for experienced researchers, however, only until up to 16 years after you obtained your first university degree (Master's degree, Diploma, etc.). It is, furthermore, possible to apply to the programme for experienced researchers if you hold an academic position that is equivalent to or higher than Associate Professor / Senior Lecturer / Reader etc., regardless of the date of your first university degree, within the first twelve years of working in this position. Please send us your CV and a list of your publications before you apply so we can advise you (info(at)avh.de).

What determines the date of a doctorate?

The relevant date is that of completing the final academic part of the doctoral process (e.g., defence of thesis, doctoral viva). This date will usually be included on your doctoral certificate alongside the date of issue. The key date for calculating the period following your doctorate is the date on which your application is received by the Humboldt Foundation. If you already held an academic position equivalent to or higher than an Associate Professor / Senior Lecturer / Reader before completing your PhD/C.Sc. the relevant date is the one on which you assumed this position.

Which date is valid if I have several doctorates?

If you hold several doctorates, the doctorate that is closest related to the topic of your research outline is relevant. Please list both doctorate dates with the associated disciplines in your CV on the application form. We would also ask that you submit photocopies of both doctorate certificates and list both theses in the complete list of publications.

I obtained my doctorate more than twelve years ago. Can I still apply?

We cannot consider your application if you obtained your doctorate more than twelve years ago. If you have narrowly missed the deadline, an exception may be made in well-founded cases (e.g. recognition of parental leave). Please send us your CV and a list of your publications before you apply so we can advise you (info(at)avh.de).

My doctorate was completed less than four years ago. Can I apply for a fellowship for experienced researchers?

Yes. You should, however, already have a clearly recognisable own research profile and, as a rule, be working at the level of at least assistant professor or junior research group leader, or have a record of several years of independent scientific work.

Will you take into consideration the time I devoted to bringing up my children?

If you have ever interrupted your academic career for child-rearing purposes, either partially or completely, please list all periods of leave on the application form. We will assess whether these periods can be taken into account in calculating your eligibility in relation to your career stage. The time limit set by the programme for the period after completing a doctorate may be extended by a maximum of two years per child if you did indeed interrupt your academic career after completing your doctorate for the periods stated and claim for these periods. If you have any further questions please contact info(at)avh.de.

I am from a developing/transition country. Should I apply for a Humboldt or Georg Forster Fellowship?

If your primary life focus (nationality and permanent residence) is in a developing or transition country (see list of countries) and the research you plan to carry out in Germany is of relevance to the future development of your country of origin and, in this context, particularly suited to transferring knowledge and methods, you should apply for a Georg Forster Fellowship. If your project is more oriented towards basic research, we recommend that you apply for a Humboldt Research Fellowship. If in doubt, please contact us before submitting your application so we can advise you (info(at)avh.de).

Do I need to know German in order to apply?

  1. Natural scientists and engineers: good knowledge of German or English is sufficient (language certificate required).
  2. Scholars in the humanities and social sciences: should have knowledge of German if it is necessary to carry out their research successfully. In this case, a German language certificate confirming proficiency must be submitted. Otherwise, a good knowledge of English is sufficient (language certificate required).
  3. Physicians: If the research involves work with patients, the candidate must have a good knowledge of German (language certificate required). Otherwise, a good knowledge of English is sufficient (language certificate required).

English or German is my native language. Do I have to submit a language certificate proving my proficiency?

No, a language certificate is not required.

I'm a physician (MD / Dr. med.). Are there any special admission requirements?

You are eligible to apply if you hold a research doctorate or a comparable academic degree.

In addition, please read our Admission Questionnaire for Physicians (MD / Dr. med.) for detailed information.

If you have several research doctorates, the above mentioned FAQ on the subject of "several doctorates" applies.

I already am or recently have been in Germany. Are there any formal grounds militating against my application?

You can apply if
  • you have been in Germany for less than six months at the time the Humboldt Foundation receives your application or
  • you have returned from a stay in Germany of more than six months and have subsequently stayed abroad for more than twelve months at the time the Humboldt Foundation receives your application.
Both employment and/or residence in Germany are considered a „stay“ in this context.

Candidates who have completed their school education and a university degree or a university degree and doctorate in Germany are subject to the regulations governing German citizens (see following FAQ).

In all other cases we regret that we cannot consider your application. For information about other funding opportunities please refer to the Internet Portal EURAXESS Germany, which is maintained by the Humboldt Foundation.
From December 1, 2011 onwards it is not possible anymore to apply during or immediately after a doctorate in Germany.

I'm German / educational resident. Can I apply if I'm working abroad?

If you are a German citizen / educational resident* you can apply provided that you clearly fulfil the requirements stated in the following. Your uninterrupted, permanent place of residence has been abroad

  1. for more than 10 years or
  2. for more than 5 years, and your strong connections to your current country of residence can be deduced indubitably from one of the following criteria:
    1. You have a tenured position in your current country of residence abroad.
    2. You are in possession of a permanent residence permit issued by your current country of residence. Please note that a permanent residence permit which is based solely on your citizenship (e.g. EU-States) is no sufficient proof.
    3. You and/or your marital partner are a national of your current country of residence.

  3. If in doubt, send us a seamless CV and list of your publications so that we can then advise you. Please state which of the criteria applies to you (info(at)avh.de).

    * Educational residents are candidates who have completed their school education and a university degree or a university degree and doctorate in Germany.

Academic host

Who can be my academic host?

Any researcher working at a university or research institution in Germany who offers to make research facilities available for the research stay.

How can I find an academic host?

You are free to choose your own academic host. The Humboldt Foundation does not provide any direct support in finding a host. You can, however, start your search for research institutions in Germany on the Internet Portal EURAXESS Germany which is maintained by the Humboldt Foundation.

Can I conduct my research with two academic hosts?

Yes. If the hosts work at different research institutes, they must each provide a host's statement and confirmation that research facilities can be made available.

Will my host institute receive any additional funds for the costs it incurs in connection with my research stay?

In general the host institute will receive an allowance for research costs of 800 EUR per month for research in the field of natural sciences and engineering, and 500 EUR for research in the field of humanities or social sciences.
Please see the respective FAQ of the Department Sponsorship and Network.

Preparation/Planning

Are there deadlines for submitting applications?

There is no closing date for submitting applications. Applications are processed as part of an ongoing procedure. As soon as we have received your complete application we shall forward it to independent peer reviewers. Their written evaluations will then be presented to the selection committee at the next selection meeting at which a decision will be made.
Selection committee meetings take place three times a year, in March, July and November. Applications should be submitted at least four to seven months ahead of the prospective selection meeting. If we do not receive the application package in its entirety you must assume that processing will take longer.
A graphic display of the complete application process can be found under timeline of selection procedure.

Can I apply to several Humboldt Foundation fellowship programmes at the same time, or can I apply for a Humboldt Fellowship and the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award at the same time if I fulfil the formal requirements?

No, it is not possible to apply to several fellowship programmes or the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award programme concurrently. Should you be rejected by any of them, you may, however, apply to any other programme as long as you fulfil the formal requirements.

Can I apply for a fellowship from another institution at the same time I submit my application to the Humboldt Foundation?

On principle, it is possible to file parallel applications. You must, however, indicate this on the application form and inform us immediately of any other applications you submit and any other sponsorship decisions that occur while we are considering your application.

Can I do part of my research work abroad?

If it is necessary for the success of the project, fellows may conduct research at research institutions in other parts of Europe during the fellowship period (excepting their country of origin). Please do not apply for this stay until you have been awarded the fellowship. As a rule, the total length of your Europe Research Stay may not exceed 25 percent of the projected total duration of sponsorship. Furthermore, if the fellowship is divided up into several stays (experienced researchers), the duration of the Europe Research Stay may on principle not exceed half the duration of the respective fellowship period.
Research stays in the fellow's country of origin or in a non-European country will, however, normally result in a temporary suspension of the fellowship.

Can I apply for a research fellowship for a period of less than six months?

The first research stay in the context of a postdoctoral fellowship must last at least six months. Experienced researchers must also apply for a stay of at least six months, which can, however, be divided up into two blocks of three months.

Do I have to divide up my research stays strictly according to the model specified by the programme?

Yes. It is not possible to deviate from the standard model.

When do I have to start the fellowship period at the latest?

You must start the fellowship period within twelve months of being selected. Otherwise you will have to submit a new application.

What is the value of the fellowship?

Please refer to our current programme information for postdoctoral and experienced researchers for details.

Will you pay the fellowship retroactively if I am already at the host institute at the time of being selected?

No, the fellowship cannot be paid retroactively.

Is the intensive German language course part of my research fellowship?

A two- to four-month language course takes place immediately prior to the start of the research fellowship. The language fellowship is not part of the research fellowship. (In other words, if you apply for a two-month language course in connection with a 12-month research stay in Germany, your stay will last a total of 14 months.)

When can I attend a language course?

The intensive German language course can only be taken immediately prior to the start of the research fellowship. If this is not possible, you may apply for funds to attend evening classes during the research fellowship.

Do I have to take a language course?

There is no obligation to take a language course. However, the Humboldt Foundation strongly encourages all its fellows and their partners to learn German during their research stay so that they can fully participate in social and cultural life in Germany.

Who bears the travel expenses to and from Germany?

If the fellow's own institution does not cover travel expenses, the Humboldt Foundation will pay a single lump sum for return travel. The Humboldt Foundation will only pay travel expenses for family members in exceptional circumstances.

Can I bring my family?

The Humboldt Foundation welcomes the idea that fellows' partners and children should accompany them and encourages this by paying family allowances in addition to the fellowship, provided that the family members accompany the fellow for more than three months.

How soon can I begin the fellowship period?

There are three Selection Committee Meetings each year: in March, July and November.
If you are coming from abroad, the earliest you may begin the fellowship period is usually two months (three months if you need a visa) after your application has been approved by the Selection Committee. If you are already in Germany, you can start at the beginning of the following month at the earliest.

Application documents

Where should I send my application?

Please send your application directly to the Selection Department of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Jean-Paul-Str. 12, D-53173 Bonn, Germany. If this is not possible, you may submit your application via the branch offices of the DAAD or the German Embassy or Consulate, which will then forward them to the Humboldt Foundation.

Can I submit my application via e-mail?

No. Please send your application by air mail or surface mail.

What form should the application documents take?

You should submit three stapled or bound copies of publications. Please submit a single loose copy of all other documents. Please refer to our Guidelines for completing the application for researchers coming to Germany and researchers going abroad.

Should my expert reviews be sent directly to the Humboldt Foundation or enclosed with the application?

Expert reviews may be submitted with the application or be sent directly by the expert reviewers to the Selection Department at the Humboldt Foundation. Please ask your expert reviewers to use the form for expert reviews. Expert reviews should not be more than 24 months old at the time of application.

What happens if expert reviews are submitted before the application is received?

Expert reviews and hosts' statements that cannot be immediately matched to an application will be kept on file for up to six months and matched with the corresponding application when it is received.

Who should provide expert reviews for my application and how many expert reviews are required?

Expert reviews should address your development as a researcher, your potential, and your academic accomplishments to date. Therefore it is important that expert reviewers are really familiar with your academic work. You should submit three expert reviews. Please note: The host's statement does not count as an expert review! For further important details on how to select expert reviewers effectively, please refer to our Guidelines for completing the application for researchers coming to Germany and for researchers going abroad.

Which publications should I enclose with my application?

Your application should contain three copies of each of the key publications you have chosen (bound copies/books). Other publications will not be accepted (exception: reviews of your key publications by other authors).
If you wish to cite your dissertation as a key publication but have not yet submitted it for print, please enclose the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis (three copies on CD-ROM).

You will find detailed information in our Guidelines for completing the application for researchers coming to Germany and for researchers going abroad.

May I include works that have not yet been submitted for publication in the list of key publications and the complete list of publications?

No. Please only cite publications that are already in print, have been accepted for publication or have at least been submitted to a publishing house. In the latter case you must include the acknowledgement of receipt from the publisher; in the case of publications that have been accepted, please include the letter of acceptance from the publisher. Any other works cited on the list will be deleted.
Exception: Your dissertation may be cited as a key publication even if you have not yet submitted it to a publisher. If you wish to cite your dissertation as a key publication but have not yet submitted it for print, please enclose the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis on CD-ROM.

What are key publications?

You yourself should choose the key publications from your publications. You should choose works which present your most important academic results. In cases of multiple authorship you should select those to which you have made a major contribution. When choosing key publications we recommend including works that reflect your more recent publication activity.
Please note that you cannot amend your selection of key publications once the selection process has begun.

How many key publications should I cite?

If you are applying for a fellowship for postdoctoral researchers, one key publication is sufficient. You may cite a maximum of three.
If you are applying for a fellowship for experienced researchers you must choose at least three key publications. You may cite a maximum of five. Surplus key publications will be removed from the list without notifying the applicant.

How should I explain why I have chosen a key publication?

Please address the particular academic relevance of the results contained in the key publication and briefly explain the significance of the publication for your academic profile (cf. Sample key publications). In cases of multiple authorship please also indicate your own personal contribution to the publication.

Should my key publications also be cited in the complete list of publications?

Yes. Please cite all your publications in the complete list of publications, including your key publications. In this list they should be cited without explanations (cf. Sample publication list).
Please note that it is not possible to amend the list of publications submitted to the Humboldt Foundation once the selection process has begun.

Selection procedure

Will you confirm receipt of my application, as well as other documents, expert reviews and the host's statement?

As soon as we receive your application, we will notify you (usually by e-mail). Due to the number of applications, we cannot confirm the receipt of further documents, expert reviews and the host's statement separately. If, however, important documents or information should be missing from your application, we will notify you.

How much time do I have to submit further documents or update my application?

Please only submit complete applications. Your expert reviews and the statement from your academic host should reach us about the same time as your application. We shall only be able to inform you about the expected decision date when we have received all the required documents. Once the review process by independent reviewers has been initiated, it is not possible to submit or exchange any documentation. If any papers or books that have only been submitted for publication at the time of application should subsequently be accepted, you should send us a copy of the acceptance letter immediately. This information can be fed into the process prior to the selection meeting. It is not possible to add to the publication list once the procedure has started.

Will I be notified of the date the Selection Committee will decide on my application?

When all the documents, including the host's statement, have been received we shall notify you about the proposed date of the selection meeting. Should the peer review process of your application take longer than expected you will also be informed if it becomes unavoidable to postpone the date of the decision.

Who will review my application?

Your application will be reviewed by independent peer reviewers.

Who will decide on my application?

The final decision on all applications is made by the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee consists of researchers of all disciplines who decide on all applications by majority vote. The Humboldt Foundation has no vote on the Selection Committee.

Will I be notified of the reasons for a rejection?

When receiving the information about the selection decision candidates may apply to be informed about the reasons for a rejection should their applications have been turned down by the Selection Committee (informally by email). In this case, applicants and their hosts will receive notification on this issue approx. four to six weeks after the selection committee meeting. Please note that we cannot provide any personalised information before this juncture so as not to delay the notification process.

Will my application documents be returned to me at the end of the selection process?

No. The documents submitted with your application will be archived for a period of three years and then destroyed. Please only submit copies, no originals. Books that you submit as part of your publication record will be returned to you at the end of the selection process. However, we assume no liability for lost or damaged books.

When will I be informed about the decision?

We shall notify you and your academic host about the decision by email in the days immediately following the selection meeting. At larger selection meetings it may take a few days longer to contact all the applicants and academic hosts.

Selection

How high is the success rate?

Currently, approximately one third of the applications are approved.

What are the most important selection criteria?

The essential aspect of the application is the individual applicant's academic qualification. Please refer to the relevant programme information for more details on the selection criteria.

Can I re-apply after being rejected?

It is possible to re-apply. The new application should, however, differ significantly from the original, rejected application. Generally, it makes sense to re-apply after developing one's academic profile, e.g. after academical publications have been accepted by internationally reviewed journals and publishing houses. Our experience shows that applicants should wait about two years before re-applying. Submitting a new application that differs little or not at all from the rejected original may result in a formal rejection of the new application.