Research Careers: After your PhD

The DFG offers funding opportunities for all stages between doctorate and professorship: for new post-doctoral researchers, established postdocs and researchers eligible to be appointed as professors.

The following overview with the key facts will give you an idea of which of the DFG's funding programmes might be worth considering for you following completion of your doctorate. You essentially have three options: Firstly, you can apply in response to advertisements and for vacant positions to take part in DFG-funded projects or groups. Secondly, you can submit a proposal to an individual funding programme. These funding programmes aim to provide optimum support for your scientific career. Thirdly, you can submit proposals for project funding or networking with other researchers.

Detailed information on the individual funding programmes and the applicable regulations can be found at

Application Options for Post-doctoral Researchers

As a post-doctoral researcher, you can participate as an assistant in one of many approved DFG-funded projects or groups. These include projects associated with individual grants as well as groups such as Collaborative Research Centres, Research Training Groups, Research Units or Priority Programmes.

You benefit from assured quality: The project or group, the researchers involved and the environment have been reviewed and selected beforehand as part of a competitive process.

This option offers the opportunity to gain further research experience and further develop your research profile in the early post-doctoral phase, however, it is also possible at other stages of the research career.

Workshops for early career investigators are conducted in specific research areas in which there is high demand for early career researchers. There are advertisements with application deadlines for these workshops.

During a workshop for early career investigators, the usual duration of which is one week, you can engage in dialogue with experienced researchers from your research area and be advised on and supported in the preparation of your first DFG application.

Individual Funding to Support Research Careers

After completion of your doctorate, the Walter Benjamin Programme supports you in further developing your research career on the basis of your own independent research project. Mobility is particularly important in the early post-doctoral phase, so as a rule you move on to another research environment. You have the freedom to select the research institution where you would like to work: in Germany or abroad. There is also the option of combining a stay abroad and a period spent in Germany.

The Emmy Noether Programme funds outstanding researchers with a minimum of two and a maximum of four years of post-doctoral experience (a maximum of six years for licensed medical doctors). If you are accepted onto the programme, you can lead an independent junior research group for six years. This allows you to quickly meet the requirements for a professorship or another senior academic role.

If you already meet all the requirements for appointment to a professorship, you can submit a proposal to the Heisenberg Programme. Through this programme, the DFG will provide you with funding for up to five years, allowing you to acquire further academic merits for an academic leadership role. The programme offers four different types of funding: fellowship, position, rotation position and professorship. The special feature of this programme is that you initially apply for the programme and then select the type of financing following approval.

Other Submission Options for Project Funding

Funding under the Individual Research Grant programme enables you to implement your research idea as an individual project at a research institution in Germany.

In addition to the project funds, you can apply for the "temporary position for principal investigator" module for your project management position, as required.

The Scientific Networks funding programme facilitates topic- and task-specific dialogue with other researchers in different locations.

The Initiation of International Collaboration funding programme allows you to carry out research visits and joint events with international researchers and prepare joint activities.


If you have any questions on the DFG‘s research career support, please send us an e-mail:

Mailbox Consultation on Research Careers