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Philipp Schwartz Initiative

researchers at risk
all countries (excluding EU)
24 (+12) months fellowship in Germany
Icon image Philipp Schwartz Initiative: Three yellow spots showing a figure runs from a destroyed temple towards an intact temple

Current call for applications:

In view of the crisis in Afghanistan, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is making a number of special provisions, which are published here (PDF, last updated 17 September 2021).

Applications for the 10th call of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative can be submitted until 10 September 2021. Application forms are available here (zip). The results of the selection process will be published in early December 2021. We expect to be able to grant approximately 25 fellowships.
Requests for threat assessment through SAR (Rose Anderson) or CARA (Stephen Wordsworth) must be received by the respective organisation by 13 August 2021. Requests received on a later day cannot be considered. Please note that requests for threat assessment can only be submitted by nominating institutions.

Coronavirus pandemic:
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation makes every effort to ensure that Philipp Schwartz fellows are not left alone in the current extraordinary situation. To this end, we have drawn up and communicated a series of special regulations for fellowship holders. Please learn more here (PDF, last updated May 2021). Please note that the special regulations have been updated on 1 May 2021.

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Frank Albrecht
Programme Director Philipp Schwartz Initiative
Phone: +49 228 833 122

Birgit Bujard
Programme Director Special Projects Philipp Schwartz Initiative
Phone: +49 228 833 534

Programme Officers Philipp Schwartz Initiative
Katja Machacsek, +49 228 833 182
Katrin Schlemme, +49 228 833 166
Svetlana Strobel, +49 228 833 409

Fax: +49 228 833 114

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 no longer able to work in their own countries because they are threatened or persecuted 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.

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The Philipp Schwartz Initiative marks fifth anniversary


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

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.

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, IIE Scholar Rescue Fund and Council for At-Risk Academics, which may be able to help find suitable candidates.

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, such as the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR) or the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), within the previous 12 months.

Please note the separate deadline for requests for threat assessment through SAR or CARA.

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

The documents for the 10th call for applications can be found here: Programme Documents Round 10. Fellowships can be applied for in the programme line research fellowship or employment contract.

We require the following documents (German or English):

  • concept describing the strategy for hosting researchers at risk (institutions that applied successfully in a previous round do not need to re-submit)
  • application for a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship, including all required documents
  • in the research fellowship programme line: fellowship calculation (in the contract employment programme line a lump sum will be calculated)
  • financial plan

The application must be signed by a member of the executive of the applicant institution (executive board, rectorate or similar) and sent by the project leader, password protected, to schwartz-initiative[at] Unfortunately, we are unable to accept electronic signatures, but we can accept documents that have been signed by hand and then scanned.

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?

Funding and reporting documents

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 2022, 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

All awards and grants