Bridge Fellowships for Scholars from Afghanistan

Small national flags of the Afghanistan on a light blurry background
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Head of Division Philipp Schwartz Initiative and Academic Freedom
Frank Albrecht

Programme Coordinator Bridge Fellowships
Holger Radke
Phone: +49 (0)228 833 162


Press inquires
Phone: +49 (0)228 833 144

Bridge Fellowships for Scholars from Afghanistan

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is a sponsorship programme for supporting researchers and scholars who are subject to significant and continuous personal threat in their country of origin. The initiative continues to accept nominations of Afghan researchers with good prospects for their provisional integration into the German science system or academic system.

To supplement this, the Alexander von 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 of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative is not the ideal option, and who will give special consideration to prospects outside science and academia. The special programme was developed with the aim of offering these individuals a bridge to safety with the support of a host institution and the Humboldt Foundation. Up to 20 fellowships are available.


Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to apply for the Bridge Fellowships for Scholars from Afghanistan.

Online seminar on the application process in the bridge fellowship programme on 8 February 2022: Presentation (PDF, 294 KB) and video recording (MP4, 533 KB)

Our sponsorship

  • Twelve-month fellowship in the Post-Doctoral Candidate category plus family benefits as set forth in the Programme Guidelines (the special programme does not provide for sponsorship through employment contracts)
  • Lump-sum allowance of EUR 5,000 per fellowship recipient for qualification measures
  • The funding period generally runs from May 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023

Who is eligible to make an application?

Any university or other research institution in Germany that falls into one of the following categories is eligible to submit an application:

  • state or state-recognised higher education institutions (see HRK Higher Education Compass);
  • research institutions belonging to one of the members of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany (Max Planck Society, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft);
  • research institutions belonging to the federal government or a state (Land) government;
  • other research institutions that can conclusively demonstrate their research focus and structures.

Any eligible institution may submit one application. In light of the limited number of fellowships available, up to five persons may be nominated per application.

Who is eligible to receive a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship?

Afghan scientists and scholars

  • who have a research profile and most recently worked as a lecturer and/or researcher at an Afghan university or research institution or who were employed as local staff at a German research institution;
  • who, as a minimum, have a post-graduate degree (master’s degree or doctorate) and are not officially enrolled at a university in Germany (the German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD – is responsible for students, doctoral candidates, and lecturers with a bachelor’s degree interested in graduate studies);
  • who left Afghanistan on or after 1 June 2021 and now reside in Germany or a third country, or who still reside in Afghanistan (persons who have resided outside of Afghanistan for longer than this should be nominated for a fellowship through the core programme of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative when they fulfil the requirements);
  • who would be in substantial danger if they were to remain in Afghanistan.
  • In light of the increased threats that women in Afghanistan face, special attention will be given to supporting female researchers.

Application and selection procedure

Please find the programme information and nomination documents here:


We require the following documents (German or English):

  • outline of a research project that involves training that is relevant to the nominee’s occupation; in the event that more than one individual is nominated, a separate application form and appendices must be submitted for each individual
  • Preliminary calculation of the fellowship
  • Financing 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 brueckenfoerderung[at] Unfortunately, we are unable to accept electronic signatures, but we can accept documents that have been signed by hand and then scanned. In view of the vulnerability of electronic communication and the sensitivity of the data transmitted, we urgently request that application documents be encrypted in e-mail correspondence. Alternatively, you can provide the documents via secure download link.

The selection of nominees to be sponsored will be made by the relevant selection committee of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation on the basis of the application documents and the availability of budgetary funds.

The following criteria will be applied:

  • the research profile of the nominated individual;
  • the commitment of the host institution and proposed academic mentor on behalf of the nominated person
    • with respect to concrete support and training measures;
    • with respect to the nominee’s prospects for the time following the end of the sponsorship;

  • research project well-suited to the host institution that also serves advanced training of relevance to the nominee’s occupation.

This programme is financed by