FAQ for applicants to the International Climate Protection Fellowship Programme

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.

Which completion date is valid if I hold multiple university degrees?

In the case of multiple degrees, the valid date is the completion date of the first Bachelor's (or comparable) degree.

What determines the completion date of my first university degree (Bachelor's or equivalent)?

We go by the date stated on your diploma. The key date for calculating the period after your first university degree (Bachelor's or equivalent) is the application deadline of the ongoing selection round (1 March).

I completed my first university degree (Bachelor's or equivalent) more than twelve years ago. Can I still apply?

We cannot consider your application if you completed your first university degree (Bachelor's or equivalent) more than twelve years ago. The key date for calculating the period after your first university degree is the application deadline. If you have just passed the deadline, an exception may be made in well-founded cases (e.g. recognition of parental leave). Please send us your CV so we can advise you (info(at)avh.de).

I do not yet possess sufficient professional experience in the field of climate protection or climate-related resource conservation. Can I still apply?

In case you do not yet possess sufficient professional experience in the field of climate protection or climate-related resource conservation (at least 48 months at the time of application), you may still apply if you hold a further academic or professional degree in the above-mentioned fields at the time of application.

To what extent will you take into consideration the time I devoted to rearing my children?

Please indicate on your application form any periods of time during which you have interrupted your professional activity partially or entirely for child-rearing purposes so that we can take these periods into consideration when we evaluate your performance and assess the current stage of your career. The time period after your first university degree defined by the programme may be extended by up to two years per child if you interrupted your professional activity after obtaining your first university degree for the respective time periods. You must, however, indicate and claim these periods in your application. If you have any further questions, please contact us at info(at)avh.de.

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

You can apply if
  • you have been in Germany for less than six months at the time of the application deadline (1 March) or
  • you have returned from an extended stay in Germany (more than twelve months) and have worked in one of the listed countries for more than twelve months at the time of the application deadline (1 March).

In all other cases we regret that we cannot consider your application. If in doubt, please direct any questions to info(at)avh.de.

Can I apply if I completed my schooling and a university degree, or a university degree and a doctorate, in Germany?

No, an application for an International Climate Protection Fellowship is not possible. If in doubt, send us a seamless CV so that we can then advise you (info(at)avh.de).

Can I apply even if I am not in one of the listed countries at the time of the application deadline (1 March)?

You can apply if you are in this country only temporarily (for a maximum of twelve months), and the actual focus of your life and work is in a country that is on the list and you intend to return to this country soon. If you maintain stable ties to a country on the list during your time abroad (e.g. as an employee seconded abroad by an institution in a country on the list) we may also accept your application if you have been abroad for a longer period of time. In case of doubt please contact us before you apply so we can advise you: info(at)avh.de.

Do I need to know German?

Applicants must provide proof of their knowledge of German if this knowledge is necessary to ensure that the research-based proposal can be implemented successfully. Otherwise you must provide proof of good knowledge of English (language certificate required).


Who can be my academic host?

The academic host can be anyone who works at a public or private institution in Germany (university, research institute, public authority, non-governmental organization, ministry, company) and is able to agree that he or she will be your mentor during your proposed stay. In order to ensure that the host in Germany is able to act as mentor, he or she must have a professional relationship to the specialist area of your planned proposal and must be able to provide a workplace for you. In case the academic host is not authorized to provide a workplace, the host’s confirmation of support has to be signed by his or her superior (e.g. executive director or director of the institute).

How can I find a suitable host or host institution in Germany?

You are free to choose your own academic host in Germany. The Humboldt Foundation does not provide any direct support in finding a host. You can, however, start your search for potential host institutions in Germany via the project data base of the German Federal Environmental Foundation, the GERiT – German Research Institutions, the Klimanavigator and the link list provided by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research.

What are my host's responsibilities?

The host's main responsibility is to provide the right conditions for the successful completion of your proposal in Germany and to mediate the necessary contacts to other partners or institutions. The role of the host can vary depending on the requirements of your proposal and can range from regular contact to close collaboration.

Can I implement my research-based proposal with two academic hosts?

Of course you can cooperate with other partners, institutions etc. in Germany during your stay. You can however only have one official host.

Will my host receive any additional funds to cover the costs incurred in connection with my stay at the host institution?

The host institution will receive an allowance amounting to 800 EUR per month for research-based proposals in the fields of natural sciences and engineering, and 500 EUR per month for proposals in the humanities or social sciences.


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.

Is the International Climate Protection Fellowship suitable for gaining additional university degrees?

No, the International Climate Protection Fellowship is awarded in order to implement the research-based proposal, which has been chosen by the fellow and agreed upon with the host. By accepting the fellowship the fellow commits him- or herself to the objective of the fellowship during the duration thereof.

Can I conduct part of my research-based work abroad?

During the sponsorship period, fellows may conduct short-term research visits to institutions in other European countries if this is necessary to implement the research-based proposal successfully. The maximum duration should be 1 to 2 months. Further information: Europe research stays.

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

In 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.

Are there deadlines for submitting applications?

Yes. The complete application package must be received by 1 March.

How often do selection rounds take place?

There is one Selection Meeting per year. The Humboldt Foundation will pay a travel allowance and provide accommodation and meals for the duration of the meeting.

What is the value of the fellowship?

Please refer to our current Programme information.

What is the timetable for the fellowship?

The fellowship enables you to spend a year in Germany to implement a research-based proposal at a German host institution.

The following timetable is mandatory for all fellows:
January - February 2020: Intensive German course in Germany (optional)
March 2020: Introductory seminar
April 2020 – February 2021: Work on individual proposals at a host institution in Germany
Juni 2020: Annual Meeting of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, reception by the Federal President of Germany
Autumn 2020: Two-week training course
January/February 2021: Closing seminar in Berlin, reception at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment

When can I take part in a language course?

The intensive German course can only be taken immediately prior to the start of the fellowship.

Do I have to take part in a language course?

There is no obligation to take part in a language course. The Humboldt Foundation strongly recommends that all fellows who know little or no German participate in the two-month intensive language course.

Can the fellowship be postponed?

No. The fellowship must be taken up in accordance with the programme timetable.

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.

Application documents

What information should the letter of motivation contain?

Your letter of motivation should contain information about your relevant personal and professional qualifications as relating to the fellowship. It should further describe the personal and professional goals you wish to pursue with the fellowship.

What information should the research-based proposal contain?

  • The proposal must contain the following information: subject, methods, aims and bibliography of the planned proposal. You are further requested to draw up a schedule including milestones for the funding period.
  • You must independently draw up this schedule and agree it with your intended host in Germany before submitting your application.
  • Please also explain what results you expect and how these are relevant to climate change (in terms of reducing emissions, adapting to climate change and conserving of biodiversity in a changing climate).
  • We also ask that you outline how you intend to publish the results of your proposal during and after your fellowship, and what target groups you particularly plan to address.

Who must provide letters of recommendation for my application and how many references are required?

Please request letters of recommendation from two people who can give well-founded accounts of your professional, academic and personal background as well as your leadership skills, e.g.
  • Your current supervisor / mentor
  • Previous supervisors / mentors

All post-doctoral researchers should ask for an expert review written by their doctoral supervisor.

Please note: The host’s statement is not considered a letter of recommendation!

Can I apply after the official closing date for applications?

After the respective closing date it is unfortunately not possible anymore to submit an application online. In this programme applications by email, post or fax are not permitted.

How often can I submit an application online?

You can only submit your application once. It is, however, possible to save your application and return to it as often as you like prior to submission. If one of the documents should be pending you may submit it subsequently by email (info(at)avh.de). Please note, however, that your complete application must reach the Humboldt Foundation by the closing date at the latest. Incomplete applications may be excluded from the respective selection round.

Who should send the host’s statement to the Humboldt Foundation?

The host must send his or her statement including the confirmation of support to the Humboldt Foundation – by email, post or fax. It is important that the host’s statement reaches the Humboldt Foundation before the closing date for applications. Please draw your host’s attention to our List of questions for the host's statement and the required confirmation of support.

Should letters of recommendation be sent to the Humboldt Foundation directly or uploaded with the application?

Letters of recommendation must be sent to the Humboldt Foundation by email by the persons you asked for a letter of recommendation. Please draw these persons' attention to our List of questions for letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should not be more than 12 months old at the time of application.

Do my certificates have to be officially certified?

Certificates in German, English, French, Latin, Spanish or Italian do not need to be certified. If your documents are in any other language, you must provide certified translations. A translation agency, for example, can assist you with certified translations.

Further information for applicants holding a PhD or currently doing a PhD

Can I apply before I have completed my doctorate?

You may apply if you will complete your doctorate until 31 December of the respective selection year. Sponsorship during the doctorate is, however, not possible.

I already have a doctorate or am in the process of doing one. Should I apply to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for an International Climate Protection Fellowship or a Research Fellowship?

The International Climate Protection Fellowship programme is aimed at prospective leaders who are active in the field of climate protection and climate-related resource conservation either in academic or practice-oriented work in their countries of origin. The programme is structured according to a fixed schedule including training components (see “What is the timetable of the fellowship?”). Research Fellowships offered by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are aimed at scientists wishing to conduct longer-term research projects in Germany. The Humboldt Research Fellowship programme is more suitable for basic research, while the Georg Forster Research Fellowship programme is targeted at academics from developing and transition countries wishing to conduct research with relevance to development. In case of doubt, please contact us for advice before submitting an application (info(at)avh.de).

Which publications should I enclose with my application?

Your application must contain one to three key publications. 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 printing, please upload the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis.

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 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 printing, please upload the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis.

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 already holding or currently doing a PhD, you have to choose at least one key publication. You may cite a maximum of three. 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?

Yes, shortly after submitting your application online, we will confirm the receipt by email. Due to the number of applications, we cannot confirm the receipt of further documents separately. If, however, important documents or information should be missing from your application, we will notify you.

Who will decide on my application?

After evaluating the application documents, an independent expert committee will decide which applicants will be invited to a Selection Meeting in Germany, which lasts several days. The Selection Committee is composed of domestic and international experts from all fields and votes on applications by simple majority. The Humboldt Foundation office has no vote on the Selection Committee.

How can I prepare for the Selection Meeting?

At the Selection Meeting applicants have the opportunity to explain their proposal to the Selection Committee and their co-applicants in a short ten-minute presentation and to present themselves to the Selection Committee in an individual interview. The interview lasts approximately 30 minutes and is conducted in English or optionally in German. The Selection Committee will ask questions focused primarily on your professional or academic background, your expertise in the field, your proposal, your interest in Germany, your career plans as well as the significance the requested fellowship in Germany will have for your further professional career.

Will I be notified of the reasons for a rejection?

In each selection round, the best applicants will be selected for a fellowship. Approval or rejection of an application is always directly related to the qualifications of the other applicants. Those candidates who are not invited to attend the Selection Meeting and their respective hosts will receive a notice of rejection in the course of July. The Humboldt Foundation does offer individual feedback to all rejected candidates who attended the Selection Meeting.


What are the most important selection criteria?

Your academic and professional development and performance to date, your leadership experiences as well as the expert reviewers' information regarding your leadership skills and future potential will be at the centre of the evaluation. Further evaluation criteria are the quality, originality and relevance of your proposal for issues of climate change as well as opportunities for collaboration with the chosen host institute that will arise from your proposal.
In addition, for applicants holding a PhD or currently doing a PhD the academic qualification as well as the innovation potential of the proposal for the further development of the subject area play a central role.

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, a new application makes sense only after you have entered a new phase of your professional or academic development. 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.
Please note that applicants, who have already participated twice without success in the Selection Meeting of the International Climate Protection Fellowship Programme, will be rejected on formal grounds in case of re-application.

Individuelle Beratung