Volkswagen Foundation Freigeist Fellowships for International Researchers in Germany, 2018



Volkswagen Foundation is offering fellowship for international young researchers in all disciplines.

About the Fellowship

The Freigeist funding initiative provides an opportunity for outstandingly qualified, creative and independent early career researchers to conduct their own research. It aims to encourage exceptional research personalities to embark on visionary, risk-taking research projects at the intersections between established fields of research.

The ‘Freigeist’ initiative builds upon the previous funding scheme for junior research groups and the Dilthey- and Schumpeter Fellowships which were terminated recently.



The ‘Freigeist’ scheme is deliberately open to all disciplines and topics.

The initial funding period is five years; depending on the field of research and career experience, projects in a total amount of up to 1,000,000 Euro can be applied for:

1. The Fellow’s position (salary scale TV-L 14, comparable to similar junior research group leaders)

2. Positions for scientific personnel (doctoral students, PostDocs)

3. Non-personnel costs relevant to the project (e. g. consumables, travel expenses, equipment)

1. The Foundations does not grant any overheads.

2. In case the maximum amount of funding has not been fully taken up with the initial application, additional funds (so called modules) can be applied for during the course of the Fellowship to provide flexible support (e. g. for personnel, resources, sojourns abroad, cooperation measures, translations, workshops, stays at institutions representing other research fields). Applications for these modules should be submitted – if possible – within the context of annual reporting on the funded project.

3. A second funding period of up to three years may be provided. This requires a positive evaluation (by the Foundation), generally at the end of the fourth year, and a clear perspective for a permanent position for the Fellow at the host institution. The maximum funding for this second period amounts up to 400,000 Euro.


1. The funding scheme is open to early-stage researchers of all nationalities.
2. Anyone can apply who identifies with the goals of a ‘Freigeist’ Fellowship and whose proposed research project fits in with the aims pursued by the Freigeist initiative.
Candidates must, however, conform to the following conditions:
1. Their doctorate must have been obtained not longer than five years previously (with regard to the date of the defense relative to the deadline of the initiative).

2. The Fellowship must from the outset be integrated within a university or an extra-mural research institution in Germany.

3. Candidates must already have changed their academic environment and moved to a new location – at the latest when starting the Fellowship. A return to the working context of the doctorate will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances.

4. A previously completed research sojourn abroad, at the latest integrated into the proposed research project.

5. Applicants from outside the home country will often need to meet specific English language/other language requirements in order to be able to study there.

Their doctorate must have been obtained not longer than five years previously (with regard to the date of the defense relative to the deadline of the initiative).

October 12, 2018

Application Process
Application is online

Visit the webpage of the Volkswagen Foundation Freigeist Fellowships for more specific details and application process


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