Information on the Proposal, Review and Decision-Making Process

Do you and some of your colleagues at your university and possibly another research institution, who may be from any research area or faculty, with whom you cooperate, want to work together on an innovative topic that is connected to a field of research in which your university has a leading position and that is suited to offering doctoral degrees in? If so, then you have already taken the first important step towards submitting a proposal for the establishment of a Research Training Group and are ready to go ahead, although the proposal itself must always be submitted in the name of the university rather than personally.

The proposal process for Research Training Group proposals is described here.

Draft Proposals

The proposal process is a two-stage process. In other words, you first need to submit a draft proposal. If you wish to submit a proposal for an International Research Training Group, please contact the DFG’s head office at an early stage, well in advance of submitting your draft proposal.

In preparation for an International Research Training Group you may also apply for funding for a preparatory workshop. Funding to hold such a workshop may only be applied for on condition that you already have a specific project in mind for an International Research Training Group. The workshop may be held either in Germany or in the potential partner’s country. In formation on matching funding by the partner’s country can be obtained from the DFG’s head office.

The draft proposals are reviewed and assessed by peer reviewers and members of the Review Boards. The Senate Committee on Research Training Groups gives the final recommendation regarding the submission of a full proposal. The review of the draft proposal is intended to enable rapid evaluation of the proposed project’s potential.

Once the draft proposal has been reviewed, you (as the applicant) will be informed of the outcome and progress of the review. If you are invited to submit a full establishment proposal, you can then go ahead with submitting it following consultation with the relevant programme staff responsible for your university.

Sample Proposals

The process for submitting a sample proposal is described in detail in the relevant Proposal Preparation Instructions 54.05.

As soon as your proposal is received by the DFG, head office will start arranging the review process, which will take place at your university.

If you have any questions while preparing either a draft proposal or an establishment proposal, please do not hesitate to contact the relevant person at the DFG.


There are no submission deadlines. Draft proposals, establishment proposals and applications for preparatory workshops for International Research Training Groups may be submitted at any time, following consultation with the DFG’s head office.

Renewal Proposals and Progress Report

Renewal proposals should be submitted approximately a year before the end of the first funding period. You will be sent a reminder inviting you to submit a renewal proposal by the DFG’s head office well in advance of the deadline. When submitting a renewal proposal you will also be required to submit an interim report for the funding period that has elapsed so far.

Renewal proposals are reviewed at a report colloquium, which once again takes place at your university (notes on Organisation of a Report Colloquium, 1.30 FA, Annex 4. To ensure that planning for the colloquium as early as possible, please submit the research profiles of all of the researchers and scientists connected with the renewal proposal as early as possible, and no later than three months before submitting your renewal proposal, accompanied by a brief summary describing the research programme, in particular detailing any changes relative to the original establishment proposal.

Researchers from Universities of Applied Science Participating in Research Training Groups

Research Training Groups provide the opportunity to establish innovative collaborations to offer structured training for doctoral researchers, i.e. researchers from German universities and universities of applied science cooperating with the aim of setting up collaborative doctoral programmes. This makes it possible for outstanding graduates of universities of applied science to complete their doctorate as part of a Research Training Group.

The establishment and expansion of these types of collaboration is funded in a number of ways in the Research Training Groups programme. Researchers at universities of applied science can get involved in an establishment or renewal proposal for a Research Training Group or be integrated into a pre-existing Research Training Group. Funding can also be awarded to measures aimed at preparing a joint Research Training Group consisting of researchers from universities and universities of applied science.