DAAD Research Grants in Germany: Your Gateway to Top – Notch Research Opportunities

Thousands of talented scholars and researchers from around the world look to further their academic excellence through research collaborations in Germany each year. With its world-renowned universities and cutting-edge research facilities, Germany presents unparalleled opportunities to advance one’s knowledge and career. However, securing funding can be a major obstacle.

This is where DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) steps in as a leading sponsor of international research through various grant programs. 

An Overview of DAAD Research Grants

Founded in 1925, DAAD is Germany’s most prominent funding organization dedicated to the internationalization of higher education. Operating with an annual budget of €550 million, DAAD supports the global exchange of students and researchers through scholarships, study programs, university partnerships, and professional training.

Its mission is to promote academic cooperation between German institutions of higher education and their international partners. DAAD plays a pivotal role in attracting top international talent and positioning Germany as a leader in global higher education. Each year, it enables over 100,000 scholars, students, and professionals from Germany and abroad to benefit from international academic experiences.

DAAD Grant Programs for International Researchers

DAAD offers a wide range of funding schemes tailored for international scholars at different career levels:

Doctoral Programmes and Postdoctoral Grants

These prestigious grants are specifically designed for PhD candidates and postdocs to conduct independent research projects in Germany. Full funding is provided for up to 3 years to cover all living and research costs. Topics can be in any academic discipline. Highly competitive with acceptance rate under 10%.

Research Stays for University Academics and Scientists

Short-term grants of 3-6 months for experienced researchers, professors, and lecturers to carry out joint projects, teach guest courses, or conduct feasibility studies at a German university. Covers travel and living expenses and may include a family allowance.

Travel Grants

Provide partial financial support for round-trip travel between the researcher’s home country and Germany. Eligible costs include flights, train tickets, and visas. Awarded for research, conference visits, or study stays lasting 1-10 months.

Summer Course Grants

Support the participation of international scholars in summer schools and intensive German language programs held at universities across Germany. Covers course fees and partial living expenses for 1-4 weeks.

Special Programs

DAAD also launches special theme-based initiatives throughout the year focusing on research in key areas like environmental studies, health, economics, and more. These tend to have additional funding benefits or specialized selection criteria. Keep an eye on the DAAD website for new announcements.

Application Procedure and Selection Criteria

The DAAD application and review procedure is thorough yet straightforward if you plan accordingly:

Check Eligibility

Review program guidelines to ensure you meet all citizenship, academic credentials, and language requirements. DAAD primarily supports non-German citizens or residents. Some grants require a minimum educational level (Master’s, PhD). Proficiency in German or English is assessed.

Application Materials

Compile application documents 2-6 months in advance, depending on the grant deadline. This includes a detailed research proposal, CV, letters of recommendation, proof of highest degree, language certificates, and other supporting documents. Follow formatting guidelines closely.

Online Submission

Complete the online application portal found on the DAAD website. Be prepared to upload all required documents here in PDF format. Check for completeness before submission, as incomplete applications may be rejected automatically.

Selection Process

Applications undergo multiple rounds of review by academic experts and DAAD selection committees. Criteria evaluated include the significance and originality of research, academic performance, language skills, and career development potential. Interviews may be conducted. Selection is highly merit-based and competitive.

Notification of Results

Applicants are notified by email whether their application is successful, placed on the waiting list, or rejected. Funding decisions are announced 3-6 months after deadlines depending on the grant program. Accepted candidates must confirm participation to receive award documents.

Research Project Planning

Even before applying, it is wise to devote time towards strategizing the proposed research by:

  • Identifying a suitable university/research institution with matching expertise and resources
  • Contacting potential supervisors and collaborators to discuss the project and secure letters of support
  • Clearly outlining research objectives, timeline, methodology and significance of expected results
  • Anticipating financial, material and technical requirements realistically
  • Considering the suitable grant program and duration based on project scope

Having a well-thought research proposal significantly boosts the chances of acceptance by DAAD reviewers. Starting early also allows troubleshooting and refining aspects as needed.

Practical Considerations

Securing a DAAD grant opens the doors for an enriching international experience in Germany. However, there are additional factors to prepare for:


Most programs do not include housing, so researchers must independently find and pay for long-term accommodations in their host city/university town. Start searching 2-3 months in advance from abroad. Student dormitories and shared flats work well.

Visa Application

A valid residence permit is mandatory before entering Germany. After grant confirmation, the host institution assists with applying for the appropriate visa based on grant duration (usually 6-36 months). The process takes 1-3 months. Book appointments early.

German Language Skills

Daily life and work are conducted primarily in German. While English is common in academia, basic proficiency in German makes settling in smoother. Consider taking language courses before or after arrival. A1 proficiency suffices initially.

Cost of Living

Expenses like rent, groceries, transportation, and health insurance are moderately higher in Germany compared to other countries. Monthly living costs average around €900-1200 outside of major cities. DAAD funds cover the majority but maintain savings.

Health Insurance

Public health insurance is mandatory by law. Generally included in DAAD grants or covered separately by the host institution. Bring any pre-existing medications from home. Register promptly with the statutory insurance upon arrival.

With diligent planning of these ancillary aspects well in advance, your experience can be focused fully on productive research. Having all paperwork and preparations taken care of before the grant start date eases the transition considerably.

Success Stories and Impact

Thousands of promising careers have been launched globally thanks to DAAD sponsorship over the decades:

  • Dr. Philip Pease, US biologist: “The DAAD grant gave me freedom to pursue innovative research that led to new discoveries. It opened opportunities to collaborate internationally, and I’m forever grateful.”
  • Dr. Wei Liu, Chinese materials scientist: “As a result of my DAAD-funded doctoral studies in Germany, I received top job offers in Europe and now lead cutting-edge projects. It has taken my career to new heights.”
  • Dr. Lucy Armitage, UK philosopher: “During my DAAD research stay, I refined my theories, published influential papers, and built a network that continues to advance my work today. It was transformative for my academic growth.”

Studies also show long-term knowledge exchange benefits for Germany. Over 80% of former DAAD scholars remain professionally engaged with German institutions, further collaborating, teaching, or holding joint projects. This cements Germany’s prominence as a world-leading innovation and research hub.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about DAAD grants:

1. How competitive are DAAD grants?

Very competitive. Acceptance rates range from 5-20%, depending on the program. Strong candidates have excellent grades, clear research proposals, international experience, and strong reference letters. It helps to apply for multiple rounds.

2. What is the application deadline?

Deadlines vary by grant program and intake cycle. Most are once or twice annually between Sept-Jan and March-May. Always check the DAAD website or with your local DAAD office for specific due dates.

3. Can I apply for more than one DAAD grant?

Yes, but not simultaneously for the same research project or duration. You may apply to different grant programs in separate application cycles or combine a DAAD scholarship with funding from other sources.

4. How do I find a German host university/research partner?

Search university websites, research project databases, and academic conferences. Reach out to supervisors working in your field. Getting in touch 6+ months in advance increases the chances of securing a support letter commitment.

5. Does DAAD provide any additional support services?

Yes, besides funding, DAAD assists with application processes, visa paperwork, accommodation searches, and cultural/social activities through its worldwide info center network. Scholars also receive insurance, a settlement allowance, and covered travel costs.

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