Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities 2018, USA, Canada


September 04, 2018


Opportunity Cover Image - Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities 2018, USA, Canada

Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities 


The Volkswagen Foundation offers postdoctoral fellowships in the Humanities to enable postdoctoral fellows currently based in Germany to conduct studies at institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Applicants can either select an institution of their own choice for their fellowship or, alternatively, apply to one of the cooperating institutions in the U.S. and Canada (listed below). The fellowships are usually granted for a period of 9 to up to 12 months. In exceptional cases, a funding period of 18 months is also possible. Through these fellowships, junior scholars are offered a chance to

  • pursue research in the Humanities in an international environment,
  • take advantage of interdisciplinary scholarly discussions and build research networks,
  • use the local libraries, archives, and other facilities, and attend international conferences, symposia, etc.,
  • gain experiences in a non-Germany university system by teaching courses, depending on the opportunities offered by the relevant host institution.

Eligibility and Finances

This call addresses promising scholars from the Humanities in their postdoctoral research phase currently based at academic institutions in Germany (via employment). Scholars who work in an interdisciplinary field are especially encouraged to apply if their project has a clear humanistic focus. To be eligible, applicants should have finished their PhD after October 1st, 2013. As this call addresses postdoctoral candidates, the PhD must be completed by the time of application (i.e. by September 4th, 2018). Please also note that, to be eligible under this scheme, candidates must have been based in Germany for at least two years directly prior to the application.

The grants will usually be awarded for the academic year 2019/2020. In general, the starting month for a fellowship is August or September. Alternative starting dates may be arranged upon consultation with the host institution after a grant has been awarded. To be eligible to apply, applicants must be employed by a German institution, which will grant them leave of absence for the duration of the fellowship. This employment must also cover the duration of the time abroad. The grant will be made to this German institution, which is then also responsible for administering the funds. Before an application is submitted, candidates should discuss the administrative details with their home institution (in particular the financial administration and the continuation of the payment of salaries).

Grants cover a monthly salary as paid by German universities at the time of application (“Arbeitgeberbrutto”, approx. 68,400 Euros; please consult with your university administration prior to application and apply for the amount relevant to your employment) or a postdoctoral stipend (“Stipendium”, 2,100 Euros per month) plus international health insurance, visa, travel expenses (two return flights Germany-U.S.-Germany), conference participation (preferably) in North America, and a rent subsidy (1,000 Euros per month). Fellows can also apply for funds for small technical equipment (limited to up to 5% of the total budget), consumables (research and work-related), literature, etc. Please note that non-personnel expenditure can add up to 10,000 Euros for a period of three months (i.e. up to 40,000 Euros for a fellowship of 12 months). In addition, the Foundation provides a total sum of 10,000 Euros for a workshop to be organized by the fellow. These workshop funds cannot be 2 used to cover honoraria for invited guests. Please also note that these fellowships do not cover the employment of any support staff (e.g. research assistants). Please indicate in your application whether you intend to travel with family and would like to apply for an allowance for child care and other family-related costs, according to the information on family-related benefits provided by the Volkswagen Foundation (see “additional information”, p. 6). Any such items must be included in the proposed budget. If you apply for any such subsidies, the total sum of the fellowship increases accordingly.

Choosing a Host Institution

As noted, candidates can either choose a host institution independently or select one of the cooperating institutes listed below. Candidates who apply for a fellowship at an institution not listed below have to provide a letter from this institution confirming its support of the application and its willingness to host the fellow (see “additional information”, p. 6). Please note that choosing an institution different from those cooperating with the Foundation has no effect on the prospects for success. The following institutions are willing to host postdoctoral fellows as part of this scheme. If one of these institutes is chosen, there is no need to provide a separate letter of support.

  • Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University 
  • Washington University in St. Louis 
  • The Getty Research Institute 
  • Georgetown University Department of History/German Historical Institute Washington DC 
  • Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies at USC 
  • Emory University’s Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry 

Application and Selection Procedure

Applications must be written in English and submitted to the Volkswagen Foundation electronically via the online application system (see “additional information”, p. 6). Please note that financial commitments entered into prior to receipt of a grant letter can not be covered. The Volkswagen Foundation can award grants to academic institutions only. For applications from institutions other than universities and well-known publicly-maintained research institutions, please provide details on the legal status, statutes, trustees and boards, charitable/non-profit status, and budgeting and auditing of the institution to be funded. Please also include an annual report of the institution.

The selection of candidates is organized in a two-stage procedure, in cooperation with the abovementioned institutes. In the first step, all proposals submitted to the Foundation are reviewed and assessed by international experts to generate a shortlist of candidates, who are then invited to present their proposed project at a review panel meeting at the Volkswagen Foundation’s premises in Hanover. This forms the second step of the selection process and the basis for final decisions on the applications. The personal presentations of shortlisted candidates are scheduled for the end of February 2019. 

Application Checklist

Please make sure that your application includes the following documents:

  • Uploaded signature sheet (generated as part of the online application),
  • Cover letter (max. 1 page), clearly indicating the proposed host institution,
  • German and English summary of the research project (2,100 characters including spaces each),
  • Research proposal (limited to 10 pages; arial, 12, 1.5 spaced, max. 17,000 characters excluding spaces), which includes the following:
  1. description of the research topic (incl. theory, methodology, methods, etc…),
  2. list of referenced literature,
  3. relation to previous research,
  4. importance for intended career,
  5. expectations with respect to the stay at the proposed host institution and benefits of the stay,  a preliminary workshop topic/description,
  6. a topic for a course to be offered to undergraduate/graduate students, including a preliminary course syllabus, if applying to an institution where teaching is possible. 

Budget (in Euros) as follows:

  • personnel expenditure (either a salary of around 68,400 Euros (TVL 13) for up to 12 months or a fellowship/stipend of 2,100 Euros per month),
  • travel expenses for two return fligths Germany-U.S.-Germany, conference participation in North America, international health insurance (based on the information provided by the DAAD “tariff 751/A”), rent subsidy (1,000 Euros per month), visa,
  • workshop funds (10,000 Euros), 
  • recurring non-personnel expenses (e.g. consumables),
  • non-recurrent expenses (e.g. literature, small technical equipment (limited to up to 5% of the total budget)),
  • if applicable, allowance for child care and other benefits according to the information on family-related benefits.
  • Budget justification (a brief explanation of the budget, max. 1 page),
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of publications (max. 4 pages),
  • Copy of the PhD certificate,  One short publication of interest (article-length),
  • Letter of confirmation to administer the funds and to grant leave of absence by the home university/institution in Germany (see “additional information”, p. 6),
  • Letter of confirmation to support the candidate’s application by the potential host institution (only applicable if not listed as a partner institute, see “additional information”, p. 6).

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Study Levels
Publish Date
April 18, 2018
Link To Original