Freigeist Fellowships

In brief

Freigeist Fellowships support outstanding (junior) researchers who would like to conduct exceptional, high-risk research between established fields of research. They will assume the leadership of their own junior research group and receive the very broadest academic freedom for a clear time frame. The programme consists of two funding phases: the first funding phase focuses on development of independence and a specific research profile, while the second phase is intended to establish the position of the Freigeist Fellow at a research institution in Germany.

Who can apply

Outstanding postdocs of all disciplines and nationalities can apply. Applicants should have completed their doctorate at least one year, but no more than four years previously. A change of academic environment and a stay abroad are required.

Further requirements

Integration in a university or a non-university research institution in Germany is required at the commencement of the Fellowship.

Type and extent of funding

Project-related funding of up to 2.2 million euros is provided for both funding phases, including the Fellow’s own salary as junior research group leader. The funding is flexible and can be adjusted according to the progress of the project and personal development.


5 (+3) years or 6 (+2) years.


Applications can be submitted at any time through the application portal at You will find the application deadline on the foundation’s website. It is recommended that you contact the foundation before submitting your application.

Funding initiatives by the Volkswagen Foundation

The Volkswagen Foundation is dedicated to the support of the humanities and social sciences as well as science and technology in higher education and research. Find information about the foundation's funding initiatives here.