Freigeist Fellowships for International Researchers in Germany

Deadline: 12 October 2018
Open to: early-stage researchers of all nationalities
Benefits: total amount of up to 1,000,000 EUR


Volkswagen Foundation is offering fellowship for international young researchers in all disciplines. Ten to fifteen fellowships for researchers will be awarded per year.

The Freigeist funding initiative provides an opportunity for outstandingly qualified, creative and independent early career researchers to conduct their own research. It aims to encourage exceptional research personalities to embark on visionary, risk-taking research projects at the intersections between established fields of research.

The ‘Freigeist’ initiative builds upon the previous funding scheme for junior research groups and the Dilthey- and Schumpeter Fellowships which were terminated recently.

Their doctorate must have been obtained not longer than five years previously (with regard to the date of the defense relative to the deadline of the initiative).


  • The funding scheme is open to early-stage researchers of all nationalities.
  • Anyone can apply who identifies with the goals of a ‘Freigeist’ Fellowship and whose proposed research project fits in with the aims pursued by the Freigeist initiative. Candidates must, however, conform to the following conditions:
    • Their doctorate must have been obtained not longer than five years previously (with regard to the date of the defense relative to the deadline of the initiative);
    • The Fellowship must from the outset be integrated into a university or an extra-mural research institution in Germany;
    • Candidates must already have changed their academic environment and moved to a new location – at the latest when starting the Fellowship. A return to the working context of the doctorate will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances;
    • A previously completed research sojourn abroad, at the latest, integrated into the proposed research project.
  • English Language Requirements: Applicants from outside the home country will often need to meet specific English language/other language requirements in order to be able to study there.


Ten to fifteen fellowships will be awarded per year. The initial funding period is five years; depending on the field of research and career experience, projects in a total amount of up to 1,000,000 EUR can be applied for:

  • The Fellow’s position (salary scale TV-L 14, comparable to similar junior research group leaders);
  • Positions for scientific personnel (doctoral students, PostDocs);
  • Non-personnel costs relevant to the project (e. g. consumables, travel expenses, equipment).
  • The Foundations does not grant any overheads.
  • In case the maximum amount of funding has not been fully taken up with the initial application, additional funds (so-called modules) can be applied for during the course of the Fellowship to provide flexible support (e. g. for personnel, resources, sojourns abroad, cooperation measures, translations, workshops, stays at institutions representing other research fields). Applications for these modules should be submitted – if possible – within the context of annual reporting on the funded project;
  • A second funding period of up to three years may be provided. This requires a positive evaluation (by the Foundation), generally at the end of the fourth year, and a clear perspective for a permanent position for the Fellow at the host institution. The maximum funding for this second period amounts up to 400,000 EUR.

How to apply?

In order to apply, please fill the application form.

For more information, please visit the official web page.