Research Opportunities in Germany: Q&A

Expanded Q&A

Q: Are the RISE professional fellowships open only to American citizens, or, are PhD candidates from other countries also eligible? What is the next deadline for these fellowships?

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD): RISE Professional is open to students in Canada and the UK as well as the US. The only way a non-German European student could participate is if they were enrolled in a degree program at a university in North America or the UK.

Q: DFG: Could you explain matching fund requirement for "initiation of international cooperation"? Does the Mercator fellowship also have this requirement?

The German Research Foundation (DFG): Researchers who have already achieved their doctorates and who are working in the German scientific system may apply for Grants to Support the Initiation of International Collaboration. Funding is available for the following collaborative measures. Trips abroad of up to three months or research stays at partner institutions. Researchers from doctoral candidates to professors may take advantage of these. Where such agreements exist, these measures may also be funded jointly by partner organizations abroad. Where such agreements do not exist – and they do not exist in the U.S. and Canada – the matching fund requirement will always be required to cover the airfare of the North American researchers coming to Germany. For all other costs, some matching funds are expected; the exact level can vary on a case-by-case basis.

To answer the second part of your question, the Mercator Fellowship can be applied for as part of project funding by researchers in Germany. To be eligible, the Mercator Fellow must contribute to attaining the project’s objective. There is no matching fund requirement.

Q: I am a PhD student from Europe doing my research in the US. Am I eligible for an industry internship in Germany? If so, which one would best suit my needs?

DAAD: You are only eligible to apply for DAAD scholarships or programs offered by your local European office. Please contact the DAAD Information Center to see which location is the most convenient for you.

Q: What are the options for a Professor from a Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI) to obtain funding from the DAAD, DFG or Humboldt Society for a sabbatical in Germany?

DAAD: As for DAAD faculty programs, as long as your institution is accredited and at least a four-year bachelor degree granting institution, then your chances are as good as a professor from any other American university. We don’t have a consistent award/applicant ratio in our faculty programs; how likely you are to receive support depends on the quality of your application and the funds available for the funding cycle.

The American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AFAvHF): There are a few programs of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), namely the Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, that might interest you. For these you would be eligible as long as you hold a PhD (or equivalent), already have your own research profile and are working at least at the level of Assistant Professor or Junior Research Group Leader or have a record of several years of independent academic work, then you might consider looking into either the Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers or the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award , both of which can be found on the Programs for Senior Academics and Faculty in Germany page on the International Center.

Q: Humboldt: I completed my PhD approximately 15 years ago (I am currently an Associate Professor). What opportunities does the Alexander von Humbolt Foundation offer those past the 12 year window you mentioned?

AFAvHF: You might consider the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award or the Humboldt Research Award, both of which can be found on the Programs for Senior Academics and Faculty in Germany page on the International Center.

DAAD: : If you earned your doctorate more than 12 years ago and still have a full-time engagement with a higher education institution (as staff or faculty), then you would probably still be eligible for a few of the DAAD programs.

Q: Does DAAD offer any programs for non-German-speaking members of Senior Faculty?

: Most of the faculty programs don’t require any German language skills. It’s our pleasure to provide information, so if you have a specific program in mind, I would be glad to answer any further questions you might have.

Q: I am from Nigeria. Are there any opportunities for scientists from developing countries to do research in Germany?

DAAD: If you are an international student enrolled in a degree program at a US or Canadian university, then you might be eligible for most of the scholarships and programs offered by the DAAD New York office. If you are enrolled at university in Nigeria, please contact our branch office in Nairobi (Kenya), which handles DAAD scholarship programs for Sub-Saharan Africa.

DAAD Nairobi

DFG: Opportunities for cooperation between German and African researchers and institutions.

AFAvHF: You might consider looking to either the Georg Forster Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers, or the Georg Forster Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers both of which allow you to conduct a research project (6-24 months) of your own choosing in Germany in close collaboration with a specialist colleague.

Q: To what extent, if at all, do the DAAD RISE and Study Scholarship programs work on pairing students with programs, specifically Masters Candidates?

DAAD: The RISE program and the Study Scholarship are two completely different things, there is no intersection. In RISE, we secure the internship offers from university and industry labs, from which the applicants choose their top preferences; and then we also coordinate the final match placements working with the internship hosts.

With the Study Scholarship, the applicant finds their own destination. Germany has the largest higher education community in all of Europe and there are so many choices in schools and Master’s degree programs, and the nature of the Study Scholarship being open to all disciplines, we have no desire to limit students’ possibilities.

Q: If I am only co-author on my publications, am I still eligible to apply for a Postdoctoral fellowship?

DAAD: The DAAD Research Grant, our post-doc fellowship, does not have any specific requirements on the authorship of publications.

DFG: That very much depends on the field and on where the respective articles were published. The DFG funds postdoctoral researchers coming to Germany with the Emmy Noether Programme, Postdoctoral Fellowship in a Research Training Group, Postdoctoral Fellowship in a Collaborative Research Centres, Research Assistants in Research Projects, and Research Grants with the Module “Temporary Positions for Principal Investigators.” More information on any of these programs is available on the International Center website.

AFAvHF: Please contact us directly to speak with a representative from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Q: Is health insurance typically included in your programs?

AFAvHF: The Humboldt Research Fellowship includes a mobility lump sum and a contribution towards health and liability insurance.

Q: Do any programs exist for those who have completed a Master’s degree and have many years of research experience, but who are not looking to pursue a further degree? I am looking to work in a German research lab to expand my research into a new area and to gain further experience in my current area of expertise.

DAAD: Master’s degree holders may apply for one year of independent research at a German institution under the guise of the DAAD Study Scholarship program. But you cannot have had too many years of research past your degree; we limit eligibility to six years after receiving your masters. We have also supported Master’s degree holders as guest lecturers when the Master’s was the terminal degree in a given field.

AFAvHF: For most of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation programs, a PhD (or equivalent) is required. However, if you are still within 12 years of your Bachelor’s degree, then I encourage you to look into the AvH’s German Chancellor Fellowship - which may be an interesting if you want pursue a career in sectors outside of academia.

Q: Can applications be submitted more than once? If so, what is the recommended wait time between applications?

AFAvHF: It is possible to re-apply for a Humboldt Research Fellowship if your application is rejected. The new application should, however, differ significantly from the original, rejected application. Generally, it makes sense to re-apply after developing one's academic profile, e.g. after academic publications have been accepted by internationally reviewed journals and publishing houses. Our experience shows that applicants should wait about two years before re-applying. Submitting two identical applications may result in a second rejection.

Q: What programs are recommended for chemists with two nationalities?

DAAD: DAAD doesn’t look at the citizenship as much as we do the country of the university at which you are currently engaged, i.e. the country of the university where you are currently enrolled in a degree program, received your most recent degree, or are currently a faculty/staff member. If any of those are a university in the US or Canada, then you are probably eligible to apply as a North American via the DAAD New York office.

AFAvHF: Nationality does not matter for most of the programs; however, there are a few that are limited to certain countries (e.g. Georg Forster Research Fellowship is for researcher from developing countries). If you want to confirm that you are eligible for a particular program, please send your CV to with information about your dual citizenship.