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Recognising Individual Career Paths

The individual career path is an important criterion in DFG funding decisions – age is of no relevance

Research knows no age limits


An applicant's age is of no relevance to the DFG's decision on a funding application. We are interested in the project idea and the applicant's previous research output.

This principle is embedded in the DFG's "Guidelines for the Review" and guides the decisions of DFG statutory bodies.

The eligibility requirements specify no age limits. In funding programmes which are linked to specific career stages, the DFG is interested in relative time frames in an individual's career development. The DFG does not define "early career researchers" by age, but measures the career stage as appropriate to the discipline with reference to the applicant's career to date. For example, for the Emmy Noether programme applicants must have received their doctorate within the last four years. Allowance may be made for career breaks due to family reasons, disability or illness. For researchers who work at non-university research institutions, to be categorised as an early career researcher for eligibility purposes it is generally sufficient to be employed in a temporary post.

Persons who are over the legal retirement age are also eligible to submit proposals. As with all proposals submitted to the DFG, however, the applicant must be able to guarantee the necessary availability for the project work. In the case of researchers who are not formally employed by or affiliated with a research institution, evidence to this effect can be provided by a declaration from the institution at which the project is to be carried out, for example.

Although the DFG does not apply any age limits for the purposes of funding decisions, applicants are required to state their date of birth in the proposal documents. This is purely for the purposes of clear identification, to avoid confusion and to allow statistical evaluation.