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Assistance for Postdocs

Research-in-germany.de - general information

Junior Research Groups

Postdoc junior researchers with experience in research abroad are able to apply for a leadership position for a junior research group. This kind of promotion was established in order to motivate young researchers to conduct independent research early in their career path.

Junior research groups consist of a group leader as well as several staff members. They are tied to either a faculty or an institute but are not associated with a professorship. The choice of the institute is free, if that institute is willing to take on the junior research group. The work of the junior groups enables research, which is then not easily adjusted to the established research structure.

Since junior research group-leaders anticipate a professorship, their engagement in the research promotes independent study.

Junior research groups are now sponsored by several third party funds, such as the VolkswagenFoundation, DFG and the BMBF.

As a rule junior research group-leaders are not junior professors. The difference lies in that junior professorships are assigned by the university which then selects the candidate. Junior professorships are usually not staff positions.

Instead junior research group leaders solicit funds for themselves and their colleagues for their individually chosen field subject.

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Other Funding opportunities

  • German Research Society (DFG)
    In order to receive funding from the DFG, it is necessary that students have already graduated with their doctorate degree. The reviewing process of each project proposal takes about six months to complete. Applicants’ citizenship or citizenship status is not of importance in the application process.

    The DFG offers subject specific counselling for applicants.


  • Heisenberg-Programme
    The Heisenberg-Programme aims to promote and maintain young outstanding and highly qualified researchers to give them incentives for continuing their careers in science and research. Outstanding researchers, who have fulfilled all requirements in order to receive tenured professorship, are able to apply for a Heisenberg Scholarship, in order to prepare for a leading researcher position and to use this time to work further on continues research subjects.
  • Emmy Noether-Programme
    The Emmy Noether Programme supports German and foreign young researchers of all disciplines in achieving independence at an early stage of their scientific careers. Young postdocs gain the qualifications required for a university teaching career during a DFG-funded period, in which they lead their own Independent Junior Research Group. As a rule, researchers who have acquired between two and four years of postdoctoral research experience are eligible to apply; qualified applicants from medical academics must have acquired up to six years of international postdoctoral research experience (up to 50 each year, duration: 5 years, no age limit).
  • Research Scholarship
    A research scholarship has the duration of two years. Often it is used for the financing of a research trip abroad.
  • Temporary Positions for Principal Investigators
    The financial assistance of independent studies encompasses the financing of ones own research for three years with employment through an institution.
  • VolkswagenStiftung
    Programme Nucleus:
    The VolkswagenFoundation offers Programmes emphasizing in certain subject matters. Citizenship or status is not of importance for the application process.
  • Freigest-Fellowships
    A great opportunity for junior researchers in all disciplines: The ‘Freigeist’ initiative is directed toward enthusiastic and charismatic scientists and scholars with an outstanding record: through a highly flexible funding scheme junior researchers are given the opportunity to enjoy maximum freedom in their early scientific career.
  • Lichtenberg-Professorships
    The VolkswagenFoundation's "Lichtenberg Professorships" are designed to combine support for people and institutions. They promote outstandingly qualified junior researchers from all countries and disciplines, addressing innovative fields of cross-disciplinary research and new teaching concepts that take account of the respective academic environment. On the one hand, they offer young scientists and scholars the perspective of a type of tenure track and, on the other, provide universities with a better basis for planning both in relation to content and strategy as well as personnel (10-12 professorships per year; duration: up to 8 years).
    The Lichtenberg-Professorships have three nuclear target groups, which are:
    a) researchers, who preferable are returning from abroad and whose graduation dates back several years,
    b) Outstanding and established international researchers up to the age of 40- who are exclusively from abroad.
    c) etablierte international herausragende Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler bis zu einem Alter von Mitte 40 - ausschließlich aus dem Ausland.
    In addition to other fields of study The Volkswagen Foundation promotes research with International Focus.
  • DAAD
    The Postdoctorate- Referat (Programme section Nord Referat 311) is responsible for the receiving of applications. There is no separate application process based on the citizenship of the applicant, as it is usually the case with the DAAD. Scholarships are being awarded for 7-12 (but no more than 24) months.
    Requirements are:
    • Graduation with magna cum laude
    • Graduation date should not date back more than two years
  • Alexander v. Humboldt-Foundation
    The goal of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is the promotion of excellence, with the emphasis on postdoc- sponsorship of every field of study from within Germany and abroad.


    The Humboldt research scholarship is awarded to foreign researchers with doctorates in all subject concentrations or equivalent qualifications with the execution of an independent research project.

    Feodor- Lynen research scholarships or Feodor Lynen Summer Research Fellowships are given to highly qualified, post doctorate, German, junior researchers (who are younger than 38 years) in order for them to carry out their own research project, which will most likely include a prolonged stay abroad.

  • Max-Planck-Society MPG
    The Max Planck Society offers young scientists and researchers through listings in international journals the possibility of independent scientific work through its Max Planck Research Facilities of which there are 80 located in Germany.
  • Fritz Thyssen-Foundation
    The Fritz-Thyssen- Foundation awards scholarships to younger researchers shortly after earning their doctorial degree.
    Award winning, gifted junior researchers, who demonstrate competency in independent scientific research, are able to show their talents within applied projects.
  • Robert Bosch Foundation
    Through the Robert Bosch Foundation, research is supported to the variation of subject concentration. For the aiding of Post doctored promotion a few bullet point are relevant:
    • Advancvcement of international junior research
    • Scholarshipe programmes for junior leadership personnel originationg from middle and eastern Europe
    • Foundation college for international affairs
    • International agricultur and forestry studies (junior research groups/ junior professors)
  • German Academy of the Researchers of Nature Leopoldina
    With its scholarships, Leopoldina supports postdoc junior researchers in the field of natural sciences and medicine.
  • Measures in the European Union
    Available to postdoc-graduates, concentrating on different measures and projects within the European research field.
  • European Science Foundation ESF
    The collaborate aid of the European Science Foundation serves only the beginning fundamental research. The endorsement of this Foundation is available to all researchers in all fields of study.

    Research programmes contain topics for the duration of up to five years. They include work shops and scientific meetings, specific to the research activity and/or small scholarship programmes such as fellowships or scientific networks. The application dead line varies from programme to programme.

  • NATO Science
    The goal of this scholarship is the creation of a career path qualification in the fields of natural sciences, engineering or medicine as a means for research promotion within the NATO states. The Advanced Fellowships are intended for researchers, who graduated with a doctorate or equivalent qualification with research experience.

    A stay at a foreign institution can extend from 3 months to up to two years. The contact agency for Germany is:
    DAAD, Referat 311 Förderung promovierter Nachwuchswissenschaftler.

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