FAQ: Research Fellowships
Frequently asked Questions
Should reference letters be submitted together with the proposal, or can they be sent directly to the DFG by the persons who are writing them?
Reference letters are generally optional. If you will be including references, they can either be submitted together with the proposal or sent directly to the DFG by the reference writers.
In the latter case, please note the following: Approximately two to four weeks after you have submitted your proposal, the DFG will send you a confirmation letter including the reference number assigned to your proposal. Please forward this to those people who would like to send their statements directly to the DFG. Please note that should references be received earlier than your proposal or without reference numbers, the correct assignment to your proposal cannot be guaranteed.
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.
The funding rate for proposals in the individual grants programme (including research fellowships and temporary positions for principal investigators) is between 30% and 40%.
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.
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I also require additional direct costs for my fellowship: can I apply for these together with the fellowship?
In general, no additional funding can be requested in conjunction with a research grant apart from the funds for a fellowship and requested publications costs; the host institution is expected to provide the necessary direct support (desk space, support staff, equipment, consumables, etc.).
Fellowships are intended to cover the recipients’ costs of living and enable them to devote their full working capacity to their research projects. Therefore, secondary employment is only possible in exceptional cases and in instances where it will not interfere with the fellowship objective. Fellows are required to inform the DFG fellowship office of secondary employment; such employment also requires approval by the DFG fellowship office.
The following items will be offset against the fellowship: income from employment, e.g. secondary employment; contributions to assist with the cost of living and benefits with monetary value provided by the host institute or other funding organisations; and benefits received by the fellow in accordance with the legislation on parental allowances and parental leave.
If you receive another fellowship or equivalent either prior to or during the fellowship period, please contact the DFG fellowship office staff as soon as possible to clarify if or to what extent this must be offset against your fellowship.
I am working at a research institution abroad and would like to apply for a research fellowship abroad. Is this possible?
German applicants educated at home (i.e. people who have completed the majority of their school and college education in Germany) are generally eligible to apply for an overseas research fellowship from abroad if they have spent no more than three years in the same foreign country following completion of their doctorate, they plan to spend their future career in Germany following the fellowship, and they declare this in writing at the time of application.
No, research fellowships can only be requested to carry out research projects abroad. If you would like to conduct a project in Germany, the DFG offers funding for a temporary position as principal investigator.
I have spent the majority of my school and college education abroad, but am currently working in Germany. I would like to apply for a research fellowship abroad. Is this possible?
Yes, persons who have been working for at least three years in the German research system (in the doctoral or postdoctoral phase) are eligible to apply. Applicants must intend to continue their scientific career in Germany after the funding.
The DFG expects the host institution to provide the necessary direct support (desk space, additional staff, equipment, consumables, etc.). Additional support by the host is welcomed but not mandatory.
No, your proposal will not be treated or reviewed differently on account of this. Please note, however, that you are required to specify the other organisations to which you have applied in your proposal. You may not accept parallel funding. Please inform the DFG immediately if, during the review process, you decide to accept fellowship funding from another organisation.
Can I apply for a return grant if I was given a sabbatical in Germany by my research institution for the period of the fellowship?
Can I also apply for a return grant from the DFG if I am working as a researcher abroad but funded from elsewhere, and not by the DFG?
Planning Your Fellowship
Additional information on the proposal process can be obtained from the relevant programme staff
Queries on programme eligibility can be addressed to
- Marco Steffes
by e-mail: Verfahren-Nachwuchs@dfg.de,
by telephone: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 am to noon,
If you have any questions regarding your fellowship, please contact our fellowship office staff.
DFG Reference Numbers A-G
0228/885 - 2643
DFG Reference Numbers H-J, Sa - Sz, T – Z
0228/885 - 2497
DFG Reference Numbers K – L
0228/885 - 2625
DFG Reference Numbers M - R u. Sch.
0228/885 - 2103