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FAQ: Temporary Positions for Principal Investigators

General Questions

I’m interested in applying to the DFG for a grant. Where can I find more information?

The DFG’s website contains links to programme information and contacts. Please clarify detailed questions on proposal submission, subject-specific inquiries, or the review status of proposals with the respective scientific programme staff.

Can I include endorsements with my proposal?

Please do not attach any endorsements from third parties to your proposal. Only the information provided by you in the proposal will be reviewed and evaluated. To make sure all applicants receive equal treatment, endorsements are not passed on to reviewers or decision-making bodies.

What is the earliest date that I can submit a proposal for a research fellowship?

You can submit a proposal as soon as you have submitted your dissertation to the responsible examining body. In this case please transfer your submitted dissertation electronically, as well as evidence that you have submitted your doctoral thesis. A statement from your supervisor regarding your chances of success must also be submitted together with the proposal. Proof of successful completion of the doctorate, including the doctoral grade, must be submitted as soon as possible. In the event of grant approval, this can only be claimed if the doctoral degree has been awarded and the DFG has received appropriate proof.

How long will it take until I receive a decision on my proposal?

The current processing time cannot be predicted for individual cases. At present, the average processing time for the individual grants programme is approximately six months.

What are my chances for success?

The funding rate for proposals in the individual grants programme (including research fellowships and temporary positions for principal investigators) is between 30% and 40%.

May I submit my proposal in English?

Yes, information regarding the research project can also be submitted in English. Whether and to what extent other parts of your proposal can also be written in English differs according to subject area. Please discuss this with the responsible programme contact. If you plan to complete your proposal in English, please note that the title, summary, and requested funding sections must also be submitted in German.

I would like to do a doctorate and am looking for funding. Can I apply to the DFG directly?

The DFG does not offer direct, individual support for doctoral researchers. To be eligible to apply for a temporary position as principal investigator or a research fellowship, you must already have a doctorate. Doctoral researchers can be funded either through Research Training Groups or within other DFG-funded projects. Research Training Groups are university training programmes established for a specific time period, in which doctoral researchers gain their degrees in structured research and qualification programmes.

Researchers who are eligible to submit proposals to the DFG may also apply for such positions within the individual grants programme. Please note, however, that doctorates must be completed outside of the DFG-funded project positions in such cases.

Additional information:

Temporary Positions

I would like to apply for funding of a temporary position as principal investigator. Can I also apply for additional direct costs, especially funds for staff?

Yes, you can also apply for additional direct costs and funds for additional staff, provided this is necessary for your research project. In the event that your proposal is approved, the DFG expects you to devote 100% of your working capacity to this research project. Your proposal should include justification for additional staff, the employment of whom results from the nature or scope of the project, who could support you in carrying out your project.

I am employed as a researcher outside Germany. Can I apply for a temporary position for principal investigator in Germany?

Yes, researchers based abroad can apply for a temporary position for principal investigator in Germany regardless of nationality and whether or not they have previously worked in Germany. However, you must have an employer’s declaration (DFG form 41.027) from a German research institution.

The prescribed template can be found here:

Can I apply for a part-time temporary position as principal investigator to supplement my current part-time employment?

No, it is not possible to combine a temporary PI position with an existing part-time position. PI funding can only be requested and approved as a full-time position. However, you may apply for PI funding at any time during your current employment. If your proposal is approved, prior to taking up the PI position you must terminate your previous employment as you are required to devote your full working time to the project.

I am not sure whether I can get another fixed-term employment contract at my research institution. Who can I get in touch with in order to find out?

For all questions regarding fixed-term positions please contact the human resources office at your scientific institution, since it is they alone who can and must decide on such matters as how the legal fixed-term possibilities can be used in your case and to what extent the institution is prepared to offer you a fixed-term employment contract.

I would like to apply for a temporary position as principal investigator to complete my research project independently. What programmes are available? Which funding modules do I need to request?

You may apply for a temporary position as principal investigator as part of a research grant or in the Research Units and Priority Programmes. To learn more about the research grants programme, its objectives, eligibility requirements, and what types of funding are available, please visit

For more information on the temporary position for principal investigators module, please refer to the module’s guidelines

When preparing your proposal, we encourage you to read the Proposal Preparation Instructions for Project Proposals, which will guide you through the proposal process.

If, in addition to the temporary position module, you would like to request funding for further staff, direct project costs or publication grants in conjunction with your project, please apply for the basic module

I would like to take up the temporary position as principal investigator part time, since I have children to look after/disabled relatives to support or I am disabled or suffer from a chronic illness and therefore cannot work full time. What do I need to know?

Funding for a temporary position as principal investigator is approved for a full-time position. After approval, the position can be taken up part time at a level of at least 50% for the reasons given above. Other reasons are not accepted. The duration of the temporary position and the project can be extended according to the extent of the part-time work. Reduced working times or later increases to 50% to 100% of a full-time position can be handled flexibly according to your current needs.

If, at the time of proposal submission, you know that you would like to take up the position part time due to family reasons, disability, or chronic illness, please apply for a full-time position anyway. Calculate the duration of your position and your project according to how much time it would take with a full-time position.

I would like to apply for the temporary position at a non-university research institution. Are there specific regulations?

The deciding factor is where you want your temporary position as principal investigator and your project to be based, not which institution you come from. In the case of non-university research institutions a distinction must be made between institutions whose permanent scientific staff members have to cooperate with colleagues at a university when submitting proposals to the DFG and those whose permanent scientific staff are not subject to this obligation to cooperate.

For the first kind (e.g. Max Planck institutes, Helmholtz centres and Fraunhofer institutes) the following applies: You can only apply for a temporary PI position for a joint project in which you cooperate with a colleague at a university. The focus of the joint project must lie with the university.

An exception to this obligation to cooperate is only possible within six years of obtaining the doctorate. In this case the obligation to cooperate can be waived if the non-university research institution funds 45% of the total costs of the project including the temporary position for the principal investigator.

For non-university research institutions whose permanent scientific staff are not obligated to cooperate, the following applies: A temporary position as principal investigator can be applied for without any cooperation obligations. The financial obligation within six years of obtaining the doctorate described above is also not relevant.

Scientists at Leibniz Association (WGL) institutes are generally not subject to the cooperation requirement. If you are uncertain, please contact the DFG Head Office for more information.

I am aware that I have to submit a statement from my future German host institution together with my proposal and that a template (DFG form 41_027) is provided for this purpose. Can changes be made to the wording in the template?

Wording that deviates from the template in key areas cannot be accepted. This especially pertains to limitations regarding regulations on the funding recipient’s ability to pursue his/her project independently and the host institution’s commitment to provide sufficient core support.

However, the following sentence may be added by the host institution: “This statement is an internal agreement between the host institution and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. It will be used in preparing the DFG’s funding decision.” The last sentence may also be omitted: “This institution has reviewed whether reasons for contract limitations exist.“

Can the host institution’s statement (which must be submitted with my proposal) be signed solely by the head of the working group, chair, head of the institute, dean or someone in a comparable position?

Statements that are signed solely by the individuals listed above, or persons in similar positions, cannot be accepted. Statements can only be signed by an organisational unit entitled to make binding statements of employment. For universities, this includes human resources, the chancellor or another member of the university’s administration. For non-university research institutions, this generally applies to the manager or managing director.

DFG Contacts

Proposal Submission

Additional information on the proposal process can be obtained from the relevant programme staff

Queries on programme eligibility can be addressed to

  • Birgit Gemein
  • Marco Steffes

by e-mail: Verfahren-Nachwuchs@dfg.de,
by telephone: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 am to noon,
at 0228/885-3008

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