Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers
Submit an application if you are a researcher from abroad with above average qualifications, at the beginning of your academic career and only completed your doctorate in the last four years. A Humboldt Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers allows you to carry out long-term research (6-24 months) in Germany. Applicants choose their own topic of research and their academic host.
Scientists and scholars of all nationalities and disciplines may apply to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation directly at any time. The Humboldt Foundation grants approximately 500 Humboldt Research Fellowships for postdoctoral researchers and experienced researchers annually. Short-term study visits, participation in congresses and training courses cannot be financed.
To apply, please only use the application form which can be downloaded here.
Academics from developing and emerging countries may be eligible to apply for a Georg Forster Fellowship.
- Doctorate or comparable academic degree (Ph.D., C.Sc. or equivalent), completed less than four years prior to the date of application. Candidates who have nearly completed their doctoral degrees are eligible to apply provided that they submit the manuscript of their dissertation or publications containing the results of their dissertation.
- Academic publications reviewed according to international standards and printed in journals and/or by publishing houses.
- Confirmation that research facilities are available and mentoring agreement and a detailed expert's report by an academic host at a research institution in Germany. Details of the research outline including information on the intended duration of the fellowship must be agreed with the intended host before applying.
- Expert reviews from the doctoral supervisor and two other academics qualified to give well-founded comments on the applicant's eligibility, preferably including reviewers not working at the applicant's own institute.
- Language skills: scholars in the humanities or social sciences and physicians must have a good knowledge of German if it is necessary to carry out the research successfully; otherwise a good knowledge of English; scientists and engineers must have a good knowledge of German or English.
- Applications to continue a research stay already underway can only be considered in exceptional cases. The applicant may not have spent an extended period in Germany prior to application. Potential applicants who have been in Germany for more than six months at the time of application are not eligible to apply.
- The Humboldt Foundation assumes that candidates will abide by the Rules of Good Scientific Practice and the ethical rules of the 7th EU Framework Programme during the application and sponsorship periods.
Applications may be sent to the following address at any time:
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Selection Department,
Jean-Paul-Str. 12, 53173 Bonn, Germany
The complete application should be submitted to the Humboldt Foundation at least four to seven months ahead of the prospective selection date.
The Humboldt Foundation will confirm receipt of the application by email. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that he or she has submitted all the necessary documents. Applications not submitted as a single entity will take longer to process. Grossly incomplete applications will be returned to applicants unprocessed.
After providing all the documents and receipt of the host’s statement, applicants will be notified about the proposed selection date. The application documents will then usually be forwarded to two independent reviewers for written review. On the basis of these independent peer reviews a selection committee composed of about 50 academics from all disciplines reaches a decision on approving research fellowships. The selection committee meets three times a year, in March, July and November. If an application has been approved a fellow arriving from abroad may start the fellowship two months after the selection meeting at the earliest. Fellows must start their fellowships within twelve months of the selection meeting; otherwise the fellowship will be forfeited.
When submitting applications candidates may also apply to be informed about the reasons for a rejection should their applications be turned down by the selection committee. In this case, applicants and their hosts will receive separate notification on this issue in addition to the selection decision approx. four to six weeks after the selection committee meeting. It is not possible to appeal. However, applicants who have been rejected may submit a revised application provided that fundamental aspects of the original application have been manifestly improved.
Additional documents for your application
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 monthly research fellowship: from invitations to events, via language courses to family allowances.
Once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian: Even after your 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.
This programme is financed by:
I have worked in an English-speaking country for several years. Do I need an English language certificate?
Can I apply before I have completed my doctorate?
What determines the date of a doctorate?
Which date is valid if I have several doctorates?
My doctorate was completed less than four years ago. Can I apply for a fellowship for experienced researchers?
My doctorate was completed more than four years ago. Can I apply for a fellowship for postdoctoral researchers?
Will you take into consideration the time I devoted to bringing up my children?
I am from a developing/threshold country. Should I apply for a Humboldt or Georg Forster Fellowship?
Do I need to know German in order to apply?
- Natural scientists and engineers: good knowledge of German or English is sufficient (language certificate required).
- Scholars in the humanities and social sciences: should have knowledge of German if it is necessary to carry out their research successfully. In this case, a German language certificate confirming proficiency must be submitted. Otherwise, a good knowledge of English is sufficient (language certificate required).
- Physicians: If the research involves work with patients, the candidate must have a good knowledge of German (language certificate required). Otherwise, a good knowledge of English is sufficient (language certificate required).
English or German is my native language. Do I have to submit a language certificate proving my proficiency?
I'm a physician (MD / Dr. med.). Are there any special admission requirements?
In addition, please read our Admission Questionnaire for Physicians (MD / Dr. med.) for detailed information.
If you have several research doctorates, the above mentioned FAQ on the subject of "several doctorates" applies.
I already am or recently have been in Germany. Are there any formal grounds militating against my application?
- you have been in Germany for less than six months at the time the Humboldt Foundation receives your application or
- you have returned from a stay in Germany of more than six months and have subsequently stayed abroad for more than twelve months at the time the Humboldt Foundation receives your application.
Candidates who have completed their school education and a university degree or a university degree and doctorate in Germany are subject to the regulations governing German citizens (see following FAQ).
In all other cases we regret that we cannot consider your application.
From December 1, 2011 onwards it is not possible anymore to apply during or immediately after a doctorate in Germany.
I'm German / educational resident. Can I apply if I'm working abroad?
- for more than 10 years or
- for more than 5 years, and your strong connections to your current country of residence can be deduced indubitably from one of the following criteria:
- You have a tenured position in your current country of residence abroad.
- You are in possession of a permanent residence permit issued by your current country of residence. Please note that a permanent residence permit which is based solely on your citizenship (e.g. EU-States) is no sufficient proof.
- You and/or your marital partner are a national of your current country of residence.
If in doubt, send us a seamless CV and list of your publications so that we can then advise you. Please state which of the criteria applies to you (info(at)avh.de).
* Educational residents are candidates who have completed their school education and a university degree or a university degree and doctorate in Germany.
Who can be my academic host?
How can I find an academic host?
We would like to draw your attention to the following search engines for hosts and research institutes:
We would also like to draw your attention to the open access part of the Network Online. This database features a large proportion of the Foundation's more than 25,000 academics sponsored worldwide. Here you can search for names, disciplines and keywords.
Can I conduct my research with two academic hosts?
Will my host institute receive any additional funds for the costs it incurs in connection with my research stay?
Please see the respective FAQ of the Department Sponsorship and Network.
Are there deadlines for submitting applications?
Selection committee meetings take place three times a year, in March, July and November. Applications should be submitted at least four to seven months ahead of the prospective selection meeting. If we do not receive the application package in its entirety you must assume that processing will take longer.
A graphic display of the complete application process can be found under timeline of selection procedure.
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?
Can I apply for a fellowship from another institution at the same time I submit my application to the Humboldt Foundation?
Can I do part of my research work abroad?
Research stays in the fellow's country of origin or in a non-European country will, however, normally result in a temporary suspension of the fellowship.
Can I apply for a research fellowship for a period of less than six months?
I am a postdoctoral researcher. Can I divide up my research stay?
When do I have to start the fellowship period at the latest?
What is the value of the fellowship?
Will you pay the fellowship retroactively if I am already at the host institute at the time of being selected?
Is the intensive German language course part of my research fellowship?
When can I attend a language course?
Do I have to take a language course?
Who bears the travel expenses to and from Germany?
Can I bring my family?
How soon can I begin the fellowship period?
If you are coming from abroad, the earliest you may begin the fellowship period is usually two months (three months if you need a visa) after your application has been approved by the Selection Committee. If you are already in Germany, you can start at the beginning of the following month at the earliest.
Where should I send my application?
Can I submit my application via e-mail?
What form should the application documents take?
Should my expert reviews be sent directly to the Humboldt Foundation or enclosed with the application?
What happens if expert reviews are submitted before the application is received?
Who should provide expert reviews for my application and how many expert reviews are required?
Which publications should I enclose with my application?
If you wish to cite your dissertation as a key publication but have not yet submitted it for print, please enclose the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis (three copies on CD-ROM).
You will find detailed information in our Guidelines for completing the application for researchers coming to Germany and for researchers going abroad.
May I include works that have not yet been submitted for publication in the list of key publications and the complete list of publications?
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 print, please enclose the original manuscript of your doctoral thesis on CD-ROM.
I have not yet completed my doctorate. Do I have to hand in my doctoral certificate later?
What are key publications?
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 applying for a fellowship for experienced researchers you must choose at least three key publications. You may cite a maximum of five. Surplus key publications will be removed from the list without notifying the applicant.
How should I explain why I have chosen a key publication?
Should my key publications also be cited in the complete list of publications?
Please note that it is not possible to amend the list of publications submitted to the Humboldt Foundation once the selection process has begun.