Philipp Schwartz Initiative

For whom
researchers at risk
From where
all countries (excluding EU)
For what
24 (+12) months fellowship in Germany
Symbolbild Philipp-Schwartz-Initiative: Drei gelbe Kreise mit einer Figur, die von einem zerstörten Tempel zu einem intakten Tempel läuft

Register here for the next call of applications!


The closing date for applications has elapsed. Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to apply for this programme. The next application round is scheduled to begin in summer 2024. If you register for the next call of application now, we will send you an email informing you when the next application round opens.

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Head of Division Philipp Schwartz Initiative and Academic Freedom
Frank Albrecht

Programme Director Philipp Schwartz Initiative
Cornelia Hörtner

Senior Programme Coordinator
Katja Machacsek
Phone: +49 228 833 182

Programme Officers
Judith Dömer-Warneke, +49 (0)228 833 417
Natascha Dworschak, +49 (0)228 833 166
Christian Finke, +49 (0)228 833 565
Sandra Grziwa +49 (0)228 833 574
Bianca Schneemayer (parental leave)
Lena Vos (Sonderprogramme), +49 (0) 228 833 596


Programme Director Special Programmes
Holger Radke
Phone: +49 (0)288 833 162

Programme Director Inspireurope+
Dr. Maike Didero
Phone: +49 (0)228 833-423

For Press Inquiries
Phone: +49 228 833 144

Philipp Schwartz Initiative for researchers at risk

Due to his Jewish faith, the Austrian pathologist Philipp Schwartz lost his professorship in Frankfurt in 1933. He emigrated to Switzerland and founded the “Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland” – Emergency Society of German Scholars Abroad. In 2015, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Federal Foreign Office chose to name the programme they launched after him: the Philipp Schwartz Initiative. The programme allows researchers who are subject to significant and continuous personal threat in their country of origin to continue their work at German universities and research institutions.

In the context of the Initiative, the Humboldt Foundation cooperates closely with international partner organisations such as the Scholars at Risk Network, the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund and the Council for At-Risk Academics. The Initiative is financed by the Federal Foreign Office, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Klaus Tschira Foundation, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Stifterverband and the Stiftung Mercator.

Our sponsorship

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative enables universities and research institutions in Germany to host researchers at risk on the basis of a full fellowship. Accordingly, host institutions receive funding which is composed of two components:

Fellowship amount: Sponsorship covers a fixed-amount fellowship or contractual employment. It is earmarked for a period of up to 24 months; application may be made during the initial fellowship period for an extension of up to 12 months in the framework of a co-financing model.

Allowance for host institution: The host institution receives a lump sum allowance of € 20,000 for each individual sponsored.

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The Philipp Schwartz Initiative marks fifth anniversary

Publication "A new beginning" (PDF, 8 MB)
Press release: Forerunner for academic freedom

Who is eligible to make an application?

Applications may be submitted by the following categories of academic institutions in Germany only:

  • public and state-recognised universities
  • Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Institutes, Leibniz Institutes, Fraunhofer Institutes
  • federal and federal state research institutions
  • other research institutions that can convincingly demonstrate their research portfolio and structures

Institutions that would be interested in hosting researchers at risk but do not have anyone specific in mind can approach the Scholars at Risk Network and Council for At-Risk Academics, which may be able to help find suitable candidates.To this end, Scholars at Risk has published a list of researchers with confirmed risk who are currently seeking placement in Germany:

Please note that researchers cannot apply for this programme directly. Interested researchers should contact potential host institutions in Germany that can then make an application.

Who is eligible to receive a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship?

Researchers who are demonstrably at risk – irrespective of discipline and country of origin – are eligible for sponsorship under the Initiative. At-risk status can be verified either by

  • a residence status in the context of an asylum-granting procedure within the EU that confirms a recognised threat
  • or a credible threat assessment issued by a third party.

Threat assessments: Assessments are provided, for example, by the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR, contact: Rose Anderson), the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara, contact: Stephen Wordsworth), or - in the case of nominations of individuals from Belarus, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Central Asian countries – also by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde (German Society for Eastern European Studies, DGO, contact: Due to the impact of the ongoing worldwide crises, our partner organisations can only carry out a limited number of threat assessments. We therefore advise you to contact them as soon as possible. Requests for risk assessments can only be submitted by nominating institutions. Please note: As their capacities are exhausted, SAR is unable to process any further requests for the current call for applications.

We kindly remind you that threat can be proven not only by the above mentioned organisations, but also by a corresponding residence status in connection with an asylum procedure within the EU or by the detailed, personal statement of a credible third party (e.g. non-governmental organisations). Please refer to our handout (PDF) on threat assessments and contact us before requesting a third party organisation to prepare a threat assessment. In the case of Afghan and Ukrainian nominees, a self-report on their at-risk status (1 – 2 pages, written and signed by the nominee) is sufficient.

Candidates for a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship must, moreover, fulfil the following criteria:

  • have completed a doctorate or comparable academic degree (PhD, CSc or equivalent); in the case of legal or medical doctorates, provide evidence of equivalence to a research PhD
  • not be or have been resident outside their own country for more than five years at the time of application; researchers who hold German university entrance qualifications (“Bildungsinländer”) are not eligible
  • have the language skills required to successfully conduct their research projects
  • have academic qualifications (e.g. publications)
  • have the potential to be integrated in the (broader academic) employment market

Researchers who have already received sponsorship under the Philipp Schwartz Initiative or who have access to residence in safe countries due to dual nationality or other circumstances (e.g. marriage to an EU citizen) are not eligible for sponsorship; the same applies to German citizens. Multiple nominations of one and the same individual by various potential host institutions are not permissible.

Application and selection procedure

Kindly note that all application documents must be submitted exclusively via the online portal which can be accessed by clicking on the green button "Start online application" in the right-hand column.
We kindly ask for your understanding that only complete applications, consisting of a submitted framework form and the individual nominations, can be considered.

Please find the relevant application documents here for your information and preparation:

All documents are also available in the online portal. Documents marked with an asterisk* can be prepared offline and uploaded in the online portal later.

In addition, the following documents are required:

  • Documentation of at-risk status (threat assessment) (see section “Who is eligible to receive a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship?”)
  • Proof of the research doctorate (e.g. doctoral certificate) or confirmation of equivalence (e.g. in the case of medical or law doctorates) by the head of the institute or department or a document examination office of the applicant institution; if a certificate is not available in German or English, a professional translation is required (including name of translator and signature; no self-translations).

We kindly ask you to submit all application documents exclusively via the online portal. Should it be necessary in exceptional cases to send documents by e-mail correspondence, we urgently request you to encrypt them in view of the vulnerability of electronic communication and the sensitivity of the data transmitted. Alternatively, you can provide documents via secure download link.

Please find further documents relevant to the funding in the "Funding and reporting documents" section on this website.

After submission of the applications and expiration of the application deadline, a multi-step selection process follows. The regular time frame is shown in this graphic.

The decision on which applications are approved is taken by the Humboldt Foundation’s relevant, independent Selection Committee on the basis of the application package submitted. The selection is made according to the following central question:

Does the impression arise that from the combination of the

  • the concept of the host institution
  • the professional fit between the guest and the intended scientific mentor (also with regard to the research project)
  • scientific qualification of the guest
  • commitment of the host institution to the nominated person
  • concrete support measures on the part of the host institution and the mentor
  • perspectives for the time after the end of the funding

a promising new start in a scientific or science-related career in Germany, another country, or the country of origin beyond the Philipp Schwartz Fellowship seems likely?

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Online information event on the administrative implementation in the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of 3 May 2023

Presentation (PDF, 295 KB)
Video recording

Funding and reporting documents

Please note: All English documents are provided for information purposes only. Only the German versions are binding.

War against the Ukraine: support for researchers at risk

In addition to the main programme Ukrainian researchers are funded through the MSCA4Ukraine initiative. The European Commission has tapped the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, together with its partners Scholars at Risk Europe hosted at Maynooth University, Ireland and the European University Association (EUA) to conduct the new programme for which the EU is providing €25 million in funding. Fellowships are already running and applications are no longer open.

Special programme “Bridge Fellowships for Scholars from Afghanistan”

To supplement the main progamme, the Humboldt Foundation has established a special programme titled “Bridge Fellowships for Scholars from Afghanistan” with the support of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. This special programme targets another group of Afghan researchers and scholars who are at acute risk, for whom, due to their specific qualifications, the main programme  is not the ideal option, which gives special consideration to prospects outside science and academia. Fellowships are already running and applications are no longer open.

Further information

In order to support and offer sanctuary to researchers at risk, universities, research institutions and science organisations in Germany, under the responsibility of the Humboldt Foundation, joined together on 20 September 2016 in Bonn to establish the Germany Section of the global Scholars at Risk Network. Until 31 March 2025, the Humboldt Foundation is hosting the section’s secretariatand acting as its central contact point.

This programme is financed by

This programme is supported by

Further donations:

We should like to thank all our private donors for supporting the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, especially for the generous Buschmann-Simon donations.

All awards and grants