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Humboldt Research Award

Diagramm Auswahlverfahren
Timeline of
selection procedure

The award is granted in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date to academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.

Academics from abroad, regardless of their discipline or nationality, may be nominated for a Humboldt Research Award. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation particularly encourages the nomination of qualified female academics.

Award winners are invited to spend a period of up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany. The stay may be divided up into blocks.

The Humboldt Foundation grants up to 100 Humboldt Research Awards annually.

Nominations may be submitted online by established academics in Germany. Nominations may also be initiated by award winners of the Humboldt Foundation working abroad, provided that the nomination is made jointly with a colleague working in Germany. Direct applications are not accepted. The award is valued at €60,000.

Online nomination

Further information

  1. The nominee must be recognised internationally as an outstandingly qualified academic (e.g. awards, positive responses to publications, etc.).
  2. The nominee's future perspectives must indicate that she/he will continue to be an active, academically influential researcher in the coming years.
  3. Detailed expert opinion by an academic working at a research institution in Germany who would like to invite the nominee to spend time researching in Germany.
  4. The Humboldt Foundation assumes that candidates will abide by the Rules of Good Scientific Practice during the application and sponsorship periods.
Diagramm Auswahlverfahren
Timeline of
selection procedure

Nominations may be submitted online to the Humboldt Foundation at any time:

The Humboldt Foundation will confirm receipt of the online nomination by email. It is the nominator’s responsibility to ensure that he or she has submitted all the necessary documents.

Subsequently, the nomination documents will usually be forwarded to independent peer reviewers for written review. On the basis of these independent peer reviews a selection committee composed of approximately 22 academics from all disciplines will decide on the submitted nominations.

The competition between nominations is independent of discipline. There are no quotas for countries, research areas or the gender of the nominated individuals. The Committee makes its decision based exclusively on the nominated researchers' academic qualifications.

Selection criteria include:

  • Previous outstanding academic achievements,
  • Fundamental discoveries, new theories or findings that have had a lasting effect on the nominee's discipline beyond their immediate research area (international impact),
  • The nominee's previous body of work as a whole,
  • The expectation of further outstanding achievements in the future.

The Selection Meetings take place twice a year – currently at the beginning of spring and in the early autumn of each year.

Nominees will be notified about the Selection Committee's decision immediately after the meeting.

In the event that a nomination is rejected, our colleagues in the Selection Department will provide information on the competitive situation and the selection criteria on request.

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 award amount: from invitations to events to language courses.

Further information

Once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian: Even after your initial 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


Who is entitled to nominate a candidate?

An established academic who is employed by a university or other research institution in Germany must take the initiative to nominate a candidate for the Humboldt Research Award. Self-nomination is not possible.


Is there an age limit for nominees?


Can academics from any academic discipline be nominated for a research award?

Yes, there are no quotas for specific subjects; nominations can be made in any academic discipline.

Is an academic eligible to be nominated for a research award if he or she has already received an award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation?

Academics who have already received a (research) fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are eligible for nomination. A nomination, typically, is possible five years after completion of initial sponsorship (if applicable, including extension) in a fellowship programme at the earliest.

Academics who have already received a (research) award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are not eligible for another nomination.

All Alexander von Humboldt Foundation alumni are eligible for alumni sponsorship measures. If you are unsure whether alumni sponsorship or a nomination would be more appropriate, please contact us at info(at)

May I nominate a candidate who has already stayed or is currently staying in Germany?

At the time of nomination, the nominated candidate must have been predominantly living and working abroad for at least five years. Previous and short-term stays in Germany (such as visiting professorship) do not usually exclude a candidate from nomination. In cases of doubt, please contact us at info(at) so we can advise you.

Can a German national be nominated?

You may nominate academics with German citizenship if they have been working abroad in an academic position for at least five years. Please send us a CV and a list of publications before you nominate the candidate so we can advise you (info(at)

Can I nominate an academic who does not hold a doctorate?

Nomination is possible if a doctorate is either not customary or not possible in the nominee's country of origin or discipline, and if the nominee can prove that his or her academic performance is equivalent to a Ph.D., e.g. by academic publications for internationally reviewed journals and publishing houses. Should this be the case, please send us a CV and a list of publications before you nominate the candidate so we can advise you (info(at)

Are roughly the same number of awards granted to men and women? Is priority given to either a male or female nominee if both candidates are considered to be equally qualified and suitable?

No. Academic excellence is the sole criterion for selection. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation does, however, explicitly welcome the nomination of qualified female academics because women are currently significantly under-represented in this programme.

Award amount

What is the sum of the award?

The award amount is €60,000.

How is the award amount paid? Does the nominee need a German bank account for this purpose?

The award money is paid in instalments. The first instalment is normally transferred to the cashier’s office of the host university at the beginning of the research stay in Germany and can be collected there by the award winner.

For the payment of further instalments, award winners are asked to open an account at a bank of their choice as soon as possible after arriving in Germany, and to provide the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with their account number, bank address and bank code.

The research award is granted in recognition of the academic achievements and the personality of the award winner and may only be claimed by the award winner personally. Similarly, payment of the award amount may also only be made to the award winner personally and exclusively. Claims to the award may not be transferred.

Is the award amount subject to taxation?

Award winners are responsible for all matters pertaining to their taxation.

However, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation would like to point out that according to German tax law, awards are not usually subject to income tax in Germany if they are primarily granted in recognition of the award winner's lifetime achievement or entire academic work, personality, convictions, or function as a role-model. This is precisely the intention of the Humboldt Foundation in granting the research awards which honour the entire life's work of award winners in their capacity as internationally outstanding researchers.

Tax law in the award winners’ home countries or countries of residence may contain special regulations on the taxation of awards. If in doubt, a tax accountant in the award winner's own country should be consulted.

Nomination documents

Will you confirm receipt of my nomination?

As soon as we receive your nomination we will notify you by email. We will also notify you if any important documents or information are missing from your nomination.

Is there a template for the list of publications?

Yes. You will need to submit two lists: a) a list of key publications and b) a complete list of publications covering the past 10 years.
a) Name three to five key publications from the nominee’s entire body of work and explain the special significance of each one of these key publications (e.g. significant scientific breakthrough).
b) Please draw up a complete, chronological list of all the nominee’s scientific publications of the past 10 years (including all authors, identifying the corresponding author(s), titles, publisher/journal, edition, year, first and last page number); if relevant, also include published conference papers and patents. If applicable, you may include a link to the nominee’s complete digital bibliography at the beginning of the list.

What will happen to the nomination documents after the selection procedure has been completed? Will they be destroyed or archived, and will they be treated confidentially?

Unless I expressly object, my nomination documents will be archived for a period of seven years and then destroyed in a manner compliant with data protection regulations. All documents are, of course, treated with utmost confidentiality. It is a matter of course that peer reviewers and committee members are also obliged to observe strict confidentiality.


Are there deadlines for submitting nominations?

No. Nominations may be submitted online at any time.

When does the Selection Committee meet?

Decisions are made twice a year in spring and in autumn. Reviewing a nomination takes approximately six months.

Will you sponsor participation in German language courses?

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation strongly encourages its award winners and their partners to learn German during their research stay so that they can participate in social and cultural life in Germany beyond their research work. Upon request, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation can pay the cost of a German language course.

Selection procedure

Who will review my nomination?

Your nomination will be reviewed by independent peer reviewers who are appointed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for this purpose.

Who will decide on my nomination?

The final decision on all nominations is made by the Selection Committee that is appointed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for this purpose.

Who is on the Selection Committee?

The Selection Committee consists of academics and researchers of all disciplines and a smaller number of members who are not associated with any specific discipline (e.g. representatives of the funding institutions). The Selection Committee decides jointly on all submitted nominations. An award is granted if two thirds of the Committee members vote in favour of application nomination and sufficient financial resources are available. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has no vote on the Selection Committee.

The experts in each discipline are expected to be internationally established, have a broad understanding of their discipline and experience of serving on committees. For each new or additional appointment, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation creates suggestion lists in consultation with the respective predecessors on the Committee and other experts in the same or related disciplines, and integrating recommendations from the German Research Foundation (DFG). The order in which the suggested academics are listed is determined by the President of the Humboldt Foundation. Appointments are confirmed by the Foundation's Board of Trustees. The term of office is initially three years; it can be extended twice by reappointment.

The total number and distribution of experts across disciplines in the committees depends on the average number of received nominations and their distribution across disciplines. New appointments replacing departing experts or to add disciplines not previously represented are based on the following factors:

  • Academic qualification,
  • A balanced age structure,
  • A balanced gender ratio,
  • Balanced regional distribution of experts, including academics from abroad

Please refer to the following link for a list of Selection Committee members for the allocation of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation research awards:

Will the nominee be notified about his or her nomination?

No. During the nomination process, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will only be in contact with the nominator, and only the nominator will be notified of the result of the Selection Committee meeting. Only if the nominee is selected, will he or she receive the conferral documents approximately four weeks after the selection meeting.


How high is the success rate?

In recent years, approximately 35% of all nominations have been successful.

What are the most important selection criteria?

The main selection criteria are the internationally outstanding academic qualification of the nominees as manifested e.g. in fundamental discoveries, new theories or findings which must demonstrably have had a long-term impact beyond the nominee's immediate research area and hold promise of future outstanding achievements. Decision-making criteria are thus an outstanding international reputation and the overall personality of the nominated individual.

Will the nominee be notified of the outcome of the selection procedure?

The nominee will not be informed of a rejection. Communication during the selection process takes place between the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the nominator in Germany only. In case an award is conferred, the winner will receive the award documents approximately four weeks after the selection meeting.

Can I re-nominate a researcher whose nomination was not successful?

Yes, if the nominee has shown significant academic development since their previous application was rejected. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's headquarters are happy to answer any questions nominees may have regarding the assessment of this question.

Acceptance of the Award / Use and Provision of Award Funds

How soon after the selection decision can the research stay begin?

The research stay in Germany can normally begin as early as four to six weeks after the selection decision and should start within 12 months after conferral, if possible. The date must be agreed upon with the academic host in advance.

Does the nominee have to complete his or her stay in one go, or can it be divided up?

The duration of the research stay of up to one full year may be divided into segments. However, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will only cover travel costs once. Please inform the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation about the time schedule for the research stay early so that all necessary preparations can be made in good time.

May the award winner teach at the host university during his or her stay, or is it strictly a research stay?

Should the award winner wish to teach during the research stay, he or she may do so.

Will travel costs be covered?

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation pays a lump sum to cover the award winner's travel costs (return tickets). The conferral documents contain a list of lump sums for travel. The relevant sum will be transferred to the award winner's German bank account (which the award winner will have to open) after the research stay in Germany has begun.
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation can only cover the costs of one return journey, regardless of the number of trips to and from Germany.

A lump sum towards the travel costs of marital partners and children under the age of 18 accompanying the award winner may be granted if they stay with the award winner in Germany for at least six months. Fifty per cent of the lump sum will be paid for children between the ages of two and eleven, ten per cent for children under the age of two. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will not cover any additional expenses for the transportation of luggage.

Do I have to file a report after completion of the research stay?

Towards the end of the research stay, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation asks award winners to give personal feedback about their experiences in Germany and to describe their impressions of academic collaboration and daily life in Germany. For this purpose, the award winners will receive an e-mail in good time that contains a password-secured web link to an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation online questionnaire. With regard to the content of the report, comparisons with conditions in the award winners’ own countries are of particular interest. Comments on the design and organisation of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation sponsorship and funding programmes are welcome.
Similarly, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation also asks academic hosts in Germany to report on how they have experienced cooperation with the award winners.