'Freigeist' Fellowships


A 'Freigeist' fellow: for the Volkswagen Foundation this means a young researcher with a strong personality, a creative mind, an ability to identify and use freedom, dedicated to overcoming resistance. If necessary, he or she will be a free spirit, enjoying the unexpected, even unexpected difficulties. A 'Freigeist' fellow opens up new horizons and combines critical analysis with imagination and innovative solutions. By thinking ahead the 'Freigeist' fellow will act as a catalyst in overcoming existing disciplinary, institutional and even national boundaries.

Scope of Funding

The main focus is on junior researchers (up to 4 years of postdoctoral experience) working at the borders of neighbouring fields or disciplines. The 'Freigeist' initiative offers freedom for creative thinking, whilst at the same time providing security for at least 5 years and in the long run the opportunity to establish a career within a scientific research organization or university in Germany.

Details of conditions and the application procedure can be found under Information for Applicants. Applications must be filed electronically via the application portal.

Please note: The deadlines 2020 and 2021 will be merged. The next date and only deadline in 2021 is April 1st 2021, which has no effect on the eligibility of those who are eligible to apply by October 15th 2020. Please submit your application by April 1st 2021. Persons who obtained their doctorate (date of defense) less than one year ago as of April 1st 2021 are not eligible to apply. Please read the FAQ for further information.


The initiative focuses on early-career researchers from all disciplines. The aim of the Foundation is to facilitate the implementation of extraordinary research projects and to make a substantial contribution to the establishment of dependable career paths for the upcoming generation of researchers. Since 2014, ten to fifteen Freigeist fellows have been selected each year

  • area of research: all disciplines
  • type of funding: own position (head of junior research group)
  • depending on the nature of the project, up to 2.2 million Euro for two funding phases
  • up to 5 (+3) years or 6 (+2) years
  • outstanding junior researchers who wish to carry out research at the boundaries between established fields of research
  • prerequisites: PhD degree no longer than four years prior to submission; linked to research institution in Germany; completed change of academic environment and research sojourn abroad
  • additional benefits: funding for communication of science and research; special family related benefits; additional funding for refugee scholars and scientists; training programs
Date de candidature
5 ans
Sciences sociales