Postdoctoral Programmes


Research Opportunities and Funding

Research Career and Funding Opportunities in Germany

For an ambitious researcher, Germany is one of the most attractive and dynamic research and innovation locations.  A research stay in Germany offers the chance to work with world leading universities, influential research institutions and connect with major players in German industry.

Germany’s reputation for quality, efficiency and innovation springs from close cooperation between industry and research facilities. A cornerstone of this success is the government’s commitment to funding. The German government is investing more money in research and innovation than ever before. Therefore science and research in Germany is supported by an excellent infrastructure, covers a wide variety of disciplines, offers well-equipped research facilities and competent staff from all over the world.

Doing a doctorate in Germany

The German doctorate has one of the best reputations worldwide with more than 4,000 international graduates completing their doctorate in Germany every year. Structured PhD programmes frequently have a strong international focus with English being the team language.  

There are two models to choose from when pursuing a PhD in Germany. You can choose either the traditional, individual route, or you may prefer the structured doctoral programmes. The traditional PhD model continues to be the most popular choice where you choose your research topic and write your thesis under the supervision of a professor. Structured doctoral programmes are similar to programmes in English-speaking countries where a team of supervisors look after a group of doctoral students. There is a fixed curriculum within which they work toward their doctorate and write their dissertation.

Career opportunities for postdocs and experienced researchers

Whether you come to Germany as a postdoc, a junior professor or a visiting researcher there’s a wide range of career options open to you. Universities, non-university research institutes and companies offer young international researchers excellent opportunities to gain research experience and qualify for the next step in their career.

The initial postdoc stage is about further developing skills in research and possibly teaching while experienced postdocs can pursue the prerequisites needed for a professorship. Opportunities for experienced junior researchers with post doctorate research experience include leadership positions and the chance to realize their own research project. Conceivable is for example a leadership position in research and development (R&D) at a research-oriented company, where you could manage an international team of researchers in application and project-oriented research.

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Funding Programmes and Databases

Financing and funding your research work in Germany

There are many funding opportunities in Germany for international researchers. The largest organisations that award financial support to individuals are the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). However, a large number of charitable foundations are now focused on supporting research and junior researchers. When it comes to the support and funding of research projects, non-university research institutions and industry play a major role. They are a key part of the German research infrastructure and particularly support young researchers with job offers or scholarships.

The diversity of sponsoring options is unique. Alongside large organisations such as the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), up-and-coming scientists are also supported by numerous prominent foundations such as the Alexander von Humboldt foundation or the VW Foundation. In addition, there are also individual programmes provided by universities and extramural research establishments.

Germany has a wide range of funding options available for foreign scientists. More information can be found here:

-       Selected funding programmes:

-       List of funding databases:


Overview of selected funding programmes run by the most important research funding institutions for German and foreign academics. The brochure is dedicated to international students, graduates, junior and senior researchers interested in a research stay in Germany.    Download brochure here!


Overview of Funding Organisations

Research funding in Germany is provided by government bodies, various organisations, including many of the large non-university research institutions, and industry.


 Academies _ _daad Lichtenscheidt
Academies _ _daad Lichtenscheidt

The German Academies of Sciences and Humanities have a long tradition in the German research landscape. Academies are research facilities where long-term projects of basic research are carried out. They also provide guidance and advice to society and policymakers. The Academies offer many interesting opportunities for international researchers.

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 Logo Avh
Logo Avh

As an intermediary organisation of German foreign cultural and education policy the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation aims to promote international cultural dialogue and academic exchange. Its research scholarships and prizes enable outstanding researchers from abroad to complete long-term research stays in Germany.

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 Companies _ _daad Sigrid Gombert

Companies play an important role in German research: more than two-thirds of the annual funds invested in research come from industry. Although many companies achieve high standards of research themselves, they also invest in collaborations with research partners. Industry-funded research often produces rapidly realisable results and applications.

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 Logo Daad

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the world’s largest funding organisation for the international exchange of students and researchers. The DAAD offers foreign (junior) researchers funding opportunities to become acquainted with the German research landscape. Another goal of the DAAD is to strengthen the international networking of German higher education institutions and make them more attractive.

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 Logo Aif

The German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) concentrates on application-oriented research and development at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). That is why it primarily promotes interchange between industry and science in order to swiftly put new research findings into practice. Its services are especially oriented towards German firms.

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 Logo Dfg

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is the largest research funding organisation in Germany. It provides financial support for research in higher education and public research institutions, but does not run any research establishments itself. The DFG funds research in all disciplines using a bottom-up approach. That means any researcher can submit an application without any subject restrictions.

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 European Union _ _daad

The influence of European funding is increasing as Europe grows closer together. The European Commission’s Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development define key areas for research and research funding. In addition, the Commission’s various programmes make a significant contribution to the networking of the European research landscape and the formation of a European Research Area (ERA).

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 Goverments _ _daad Volker Lannert

Federal and state governments are the main sponsors of research in Germany alongside industry. Ministries significantly fund research through so-called project management organisations.

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 Foundations _ _daad Sigrid Gombert

Many of the large organisations that foster young research talent are organised as foundations. The range of different foundations is multifaceted. Many major sponsors of new research talent are organised as foundations.

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 Logo Fraunhofer

The FraunhoferAcademy is the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s specialist provider of further training for people in employment. Its study programmes, certificate courses and series of seminars enable specialists and managers in business and industry to profit from a unique form of knowledge transfer from Fraunhofer research to companies.

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 Logo Helmholtz

The Helmholtz Association is the largest German research organisation. Its task is to pursue the long-term research goals of the state and society as a whole. It also offers many interesting opportunities for international researchers.

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The Scientific Community Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz brings together 86 research institutions working in many different disciplines. The promotion of young talent is also an important area of work for the Leibniz Association.

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 Logo Max Planck

The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is an independent non-profit research organisation. Max Planck Institutes carry out innovative basic research in the natural, biological and social sciences and the humanities.

The Max Planck Society offers many interesting opportunities for international researchers and young researchers.

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 Organisations Young Talent _ _daad Volker Lannert

A variety of organisations in Germany (Begabtenförderungswerke) specifically aim to foster young talent. Twelve organisations that work nationwide have formed a working group called the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Begabtenförderungswerke in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. They support outstanding undergraduate and doctoral students.

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