Eligibility/Application Conditions

I am neither a German national, nor am I currently living in Germany. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, neither German citizenship nor residency in Germany is a requirement. PRIME is open to both Germans and foreigners, no matter whether they are currently living in Germany or abroad. You are eligible to apply if you already hold a PhD or if you will have completed your PhD before the prospective starting date of your PRIME fellowship.

Are there any limitations with regard to the age of the applicant or the time when the PhD degree was awarded?

There are no such restrictions within the PRIME programme. However, when assessing an application, the scientific accomplishments, and the publication record, reviewers may take the applicant’s “scientific age” into consideration, i.e. the time since the PhD was completed.

I have been funded by DAAD before. Does this have positive or negative consequences for my PRIME application?

Your eligibility for PRIME will not be affected if you have received a DAAD scholarship in a different funding programme before. Of course, a former DAAD scholarship can be a proof of excellence and scientific competitiveness and should be mentioned in your application (e.g. in your CV). But the main decision criteria are the soundness of your research project, your scientific accomplishments, your publication record, and your long-term career perspectives.

I have applied for a PRIME fellowship in the previous year(s). Can I apply again?

Yes, you may apply again. Unsuccessful candidates receive an anonymized reviewer’s feedback from us, and you should take these remarks into consideration when revising your research project. In case of a renewed application, it is also advisable to obtain updated letters of reference, so that referees can comment on the latest version of your research project.

Does the German host institution have to be a university, or are non-university research institutes also eligible host institutions under PRIME?

DAAD will conclude funding agreements with German universities only. Hence, the German host institution has to be a university and cannot be a non-university research institute. However, we will not object if you conduct your actual research at a non-university research institute (e.g. Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Centres, Fraunhofer Institutes, Leibniz Institutes) in coordination with a university. Please discuss any such arrangements directly with your German host.

Can I choose my current home university in Germany as prospective host for my PRIME fellowship?

You should choose the German host university that provides the best research environment for your project. If this is the situation with your current home university, this is a legitimate choice and there will certainly be no formal rejections on these grounds.
Please be aware, however, that reviewers will look for a certain degree of independence when assessing a postdoctoral application. Remaining within the same research area, with the same doctoral supervisor or the same team of researchers may potentially be considered as counterproductive on the path to an independent research career.

Can DAAD support me in finding a suitable host university in Germany?

It is your responsibility as an applicant to identify your German host university. You can check DAAD’s/DFG’s Research Explorer as a directory for your specific subject-area in Germany or you can make use of the Research Map, a service provided by the German Rectors’ Conference. Furthermore, we provide a list of universities that nominated a contact person for the PRIME programme on our website Please keep in mind that all other German universities that did not specifically nominate a PRIME contact person are equally eligible as host institution.

Can I use PRIME to spend the full 18 months of funding in Germany only?/
Or can the funds be used to spend the full 18 months abroad?

No, the 18-month funding duration in PRIME consists of a 12-month research stay abroad and a 6-month (re)integration phase in Germany. Both phases are mandatory and not interchangeable.
The only exception is being made for reasons considering the specific employment status. If a candidate is not yet employed within the German social security system, it may be necessary to spend one month in Germany first – to formally enter the German social security system – before starting the 12-month research stay abroad. In this case the (re)integration phase afterwards will only consist of five months. Thus, the regular funding cycle of 12+6 months can be adapted to a funding cycle of 1+12+5 months, if required by the employing German university and the social security status.

Can I use PRIME for a research stay in my home country?

In general, every foreign country is an eligible destination for the 12-month research stay abroad, as long as you have not stayed in the respective country for more than 12 months in total during the three years preceding the application deadline. Depending on your personal circumstances, this may rule out your home country or the country where you currently reside as potential destinations for a research stay under PRIME.

Are there any limitations as to the host institution abroad? Does it have to be a university as well?

No, the foreign host institution can either be a university, a non-university research institute, or an industrial research entity. The host should be chosen according to your scientific needs and preferences. Please be aware that DAAD cannot make funds available to the foreign host institution.

Can I conduct my research stay abroad at two different institutions / in two different countries?

This is generally possible, but the decision shall be solely based on the scientific necessities. If a research stay at two different institutions and/or countries is beneficial to your project, you may choose to do so. Of course, you would then have to obtain letters of invitation from both foreign institutions.

Application Process

What documents do I need for my application?

All necessary documents are listed in the call for applications. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a complete application and we reserve the right to exclude applications that are incomplete or were completed only after the deadline.

When does the deadline exactly end?

The deadline ends on Friday, 31 August 2018, and the application portal will close at 11:59 pm CET (23:59 Uhr MESZ) on that day. It is highly advisable not to wait until the very last day (or even the last second) to submit your application, as we cannot guarantee an unrestricted portal access if too many users log in simultaneously to file an application.
By submitting your application in good time you will avoid technical problems in the very last minutes before the deadline ends. We will not be able to re-open the application portal after the deadline.

I will not have completed my PhD at the time of application. Can I apply anyway?

You are eligible to apply if you will have completed your PhD before the prospective starting date of your PRIME fellowship. Please be aware that you have to submit a certificate of your highest degree. Thus, if a PhD certificate has not yet been issued, you must provide a certificate of your master’s degree (or an equivalent document, e.g. diploma). Furthermore, your doctoral supervisor must confirm – either in the letter of recommendation or in a short separate statement – when completion of the PhD is expected.

I will not be able to provide all necessary documents in time before the deadline ends. Can my application still be considered?

It is your obligation to submit a complete application before the deadline ends. The absence of a document that has to be provided by the applicant herself/himself (e.g. CV, research proposal, time schedule, ethical issues declaration etc.) will lead to exclusion. This equally applies to the letters of invitation from the foreign and German host institutions (incl. form 1), which are essential documents for your application. The call will be open for four months (May-August 2018) which we think fully sufficient to obtain these mandatory documents.
Since the letters of recommendation have to be sent to DAAD by post (usually directly by the referees), these documents present the only real exemption from the requirement to strictly observe the application deadline. Timely providing the letters of recommendation may simply be beyond your control as an applicant, and in such cases we will allow for some delay and will not automatically exclude an application.

What proof of language skills do I have to provide?

Your language skills must be sufficient to successfully conduct your research project abroad and in Germany. In general, you will need a proof for all languages relevant to your research project unless the language in question is your mother tongue or one of the exceptions listed in the call for applications does apply.
Knowledge of German may not be necessary if your German host confirms that English is the institute’s working language, and German is not otherwise required by the topic of your research project. The same holds for foreign host institutes in non-English speaking countries.

Do I have to provide a passport photo along with my CV?

Providing a photo along with an application is very common in some countries but inadmissible in others. We do not need a photo but will not exclude an application that comes with one.

How do I have to submit my application?

The DAAD online application portal is the only way to submit your application. All documents have to be uploaded there, with the two letters of recommendation being the only exception.
Following registration in the portal you must generate and download the letter of recommendation form in the section "Personal Funding" → "Gutachten anfordern". This form must be sent to your referees. The letters of recommendation consist of the generated form and a freely-worded letter of reference. They must be sent by post in a sealed envelope to DAAD (Section ST43/PRIME), either by the referee or the applicant.

The call for applications denominates 1 April 2019 as regular starting date. What if this schedule does not suit my personal and/or scientific preferences?

1 April 2019 will be the earliest possible starting date. We can offer a time frame of up to four months (1 April 2019 - 1 August 2019) in which to start the PRIME fellowship. Any further postponement of the starting date will only be possible under exceptional circumstances, and will be decided on a case-by-case basis after the selection process.

Selection Process

How long will the formal examination take and when will I be informed if my application enters the review process?

Every application will first undergo a formal examination (eligibility check, completeness, compliance with deadline etc.). We expect to inform all applicants no later than October 2018 whether their proposals are being forwarded to reviewers or were excluded for formal reasons.

Who will read and evaluate my application?

Each proposal will be sent to two external reviewers whose expertise corresponds to the proposed research topic. External reviewers will be recruited among scientists from all over the world.
An interdisciplinary selection committee which adequately reflects the disciplines of the applicants will then be responsible for the final rating. This will result in a ranking list, according to which successful and reserve candidates will be identified, taking into account the available funding.

What are the main evaluation criteria?

The criteria for evaluation are (1) the achievements of the applicant to date (scientific and other qualifications, and particular conditions which have influenced the academic progress) and (2) the quality of the proposed project and the consistency with long-term career planning.

How does DAAD prevent a potential conflict of interest for reviewers?

Our evaluation forms include a checklist and a self-declaration in which reviewers have to indicate if a potential conflict of interest exists. If so, a scientist will not be able to serve as reviewer.

When will I know if my application has been successful?

The selection committee meeting will be in February 2019, and we will inform applicants about the outcome that same month (probably 18-22 February 2019). Successful candidates will then be invited to an information seminar in Bonn on 10-12 March 2019. Please save this date but do not make any travel arrangements before receiving a letter of acceptance.

Are there any quotas in place in terms of subject area/discipline, gender, nationality or other criteria?

No, PRIME is strictly oriented on DAAD’s principle to provide funding for the best candidates.

What are my chances of being funded?

The funding ratio will depend on the total number of applications and the available funds. We expect a success rate of 10-20%.


How much money do I get as a PRIME fellow?

The position of a PRIME fellow will usually be remunerated according to the level set by the German pay scale “TV-L E13”. The exact amount depends on the personal circumstances. Expect a salary range of € 3,500 - € 4,500 per month pre-tax, plus approximately € 1,000 - € 2,000 per month expatriate allowance during the 12 months of your research stay abroad. DAAD will provide the employing German university with a grant agreement to cover these costs.
Furthermore, as a PRIME fellow you will receive a lump sum travel allowance depending on the country of destination. This is the only payment that fellows will receive directly through DAAD.

Can I get additional family support as a PRIME fellow?

There is no extra family support for PRIME fellows available through DAAD, but since funding is provided via a work contract there are usually deductions from your income tax that take into account your family situation.
The decision on the entitlement to state-funded child benefits (“Kindergeld”) rests with the respective German authorities.

Do I get extra funds for my research or for conference travel?

No, PRIME funding covers the costs for an 18-month temporary position, but the German and foreign host institutions are expected to provide the necessary research infrastructure.
As a PRIME fellow you will be eligible to apply for extra support within DAAD’s programme for congress travel. However, this programme is entirely separate from PRIME and requires a completely new application.

Is it possible to receive supplementary funding from a different source?

It is certainly not admissible to receive additional personal funding like a further salary or scholarship from a different funding provider. However, PRIME does not cover additional costs for research infrastructure/equipment or travel expenses for conferences and visits to cooperation partners. Thus, it would be legitimate to receive such funds that will further improve your research environment and that will be beneficial to your project.
In case your research project specifically depends on such additional support, you should make very clear in your application that such additional sources are secured. If reviewers have doubts with regard to the feasibility of your project due to the dependence on uncertain third party sources, they might call the likelihood of a successful research stay into question.

Does DAAD provide further financial support in the process of obtaining visas?

No, we will issue a letter of award to successful applicants but cannot provide additional support in the process of obtaining the relevant visas for either Germany or the foreign host country. The payment of the lump sum travel allowance is meant not only to cover travel expenses but also those costs for obtaining the necessary documents.
It is a fellow’s obligation to obtain a correct legal immigration status in the country of destination. Do not enter a country on a visa that does not provide the legal basis for your research stay (e.g. tourist visa or other short-term visitor visas), as this may lead to detention, deportation, or even a ban to re-enter a country.