Research in Germany


Research in Germany

Are you thinking about conducting research in Germany? Or doing your PhD there?

Germany is an excellent choice to carry out a research project and to get in touch with the German and international scientific community. Today in Germany money is invested in research like never before: Around 45 billion Euros are put into research and development every year. Consequently, science and research are carried out on the highest international level, and Germany occupies a leading position in science and research. So far, German scientists have received a total of 79 Nobel Prizes for their achievements in the field of natural sciences, including 29 in chemistry, 28 in physics, and 22 in medicine or physiology.

Science and research in Germany are characterized by a distinguished infrastructure, a wide variety of disciplines, well-equipped research facilities and competent staff. The country offers a variety of research locations: universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university institutes, companies and Federal as well as state institutions. The common language of research is - besides German - English. Many German scientific journals use English as a publishing language.

With a total of nearly 400 institutions of higher education, approximately 750 publicly funded research institutions, dozens of research-supporting organizations plus research and development centers run by industrial corporations, Germany is becoming more and more attractive to the world's best and the brightest. In selected fields or regions, industrial and academic institutions pool their research and development activities in networks and clusters. This will help you build up your own professional network with contacts not only in Germany, but in other European countries and beyond.

And bear in mind that spending time in Germany for research is regarded as a career booster all over the world!


Establishing Contact

If you wonder how to establish contact to a German institute for your research project or how to find scientific staff in Germany, kindly inquire the Research Explorer.

To help you reach your goal, the DAAD, in cooperation with the German Research Foundation (DFG), offers you the opportunity to search through some 19,000 German research institutions. The database includes information on institutes and departments at German universities as well as on research institutions and organizations working outside the university sector.


Finding a suitable funding option

A wide range of funding options is available to foreign scientists, provided by government bodies and large organizations. Besides others the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and the DAAD as well as numerous prominent foundations such as the Alexander von Humboldt foundation. In addition, there are also individual programmes provided by universities and other research establishments.

To help you get access to German partners in research, we have put together some useful online resources for you:

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst / German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

The DAAD is the world’s largest funding organization for the international exchange of students and researchers. With considerable public funds at its disposal, the DAAD is committed to supporting research through its scholarship programme. Furthermore, the worldwide network of DAAD representatives  is available to assist you in learning more about DAAD's activities in the different regions in the world. The DAAD offers foreign (junior) researchers funding opportunities to become acquainted with the German research landscape. Another goal of the DAAD is to strengthen the international networking of German higher education institutions and make them more attractive.

Direct link to the DAAD homepage:

Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung / Foundation

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is among the most important research foundations for international scientists. As an intermediary organization of German foreign cultural and education policy, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation aims to promote international cultural dialogue and academic exchange. Towards this aim, the foundation awards up to 500 research fellowships and prizes to highly qualified foreign scholars annually, enabling them to undertake long-term periods of research in Germany. Researchers from all nations and from all fields of research can apply for these fellowships.

Direct link to the organization:

The Researcher's Mobility Portal Germany

The German Mobility Centre at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is part of a network of mobility centers in the EU Member States. The Mobility Centre's purpose is to provide information and assistance to international scientists and scholars coming to Germany to work in research. The Mobility Centre offers general information on a variety of topics related to research and offers comprehensive information on the German research landscape.

Direct link to the website:

Leibniz Gemeinschaft / Association

The Leibniz Association is the umbrella organization for 87 non-university research institutes and service facilities in Germany. It stands out for its enormous diversity of themes addressed by the institutes. The research work carried out and the services provided by the institutes range from regional infrastructure research and economics to research projects in the area of social sciences to natural sciences, engineering and environmental research. The Leibniz institutes are demand-oriented, interdisciplinary centers of competence and provide infrastructure for science and research and perform research-based services – liaison, consultation, transfer – for the public, policy-makers, academia and business. Scientific cooperation with universities is particularly close and intensive.

Portrait of the organization

Direct link to the organization:

Max Planck Gesellschaft / Society for the Advancement of Science

The Max Planck Society (MPG) is an independent, non-profit research organization named after world-famous physicist Max Planck (1858 - 1947). Max Planck Institutes carry out innovative basic research in the natural, biological and social sciences and the humanities, complementing research projects at universities. A special effort is made to promote young scientists in the Independent Junior Research Groups within the Max Planck Society. Here, talented young scientists who have excelled in their respective fields are given the chance of qualifying for top positions in the scientific field as part of a five-year fixed-term research program. There are currently more than 40 Independent Junior Research Groups in the Max Planck Society. In addition, about 3000 guest scientists and visiting scholars a year work at the Max Planck Institutes.

Direct link to the organization:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / German Research Foundation

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is the largest research funding organization in Germany. It provides financial support for research in higher education and public research institutions, but does not run any research establishments itself. The DFG funds research in all disciplines using a bottom-up approach. That means any researcher can submit an application without any subject restrictions. One of the most important aims of the DFG is to promote young scientists and scholars. As the "central institute of self-administration for Science", the DFG annually promotes 20,000 research projects and awards fellowships to foreign scholars.

Direct link to the organization:

Hermann von Helmholtz Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren / Association of National Research Centres

The Hermann von Helmholtz Association is the largest German research organization, funded mainly by the federal government. Its task is to pursue the long-term research goals of the state and society as a whole. The numerous Helmholtz centers conduct research in fields relevant for the future of society, e.g. health, the environment, energy, traffic, materials, space flight and key technologies. The Helmholtz Association integrates 17 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centers and provides top scientific achievements to society, science and industry to tackle major challenges facing them.

Direct link to the organization:

Fraunhofer Gesellschaft / Society

The Fraunhofer Society is the leading organization for institutes of applied research in Europe, conducting applied research for private as well as public enterprises and for the general benefit of the public. It also offers information and service features. At present, the organization maintains over 80 research establishments at 40 locations throughout Germany. Typical research fields in Fraunhofer's own centers include communications, energy, microelectronics, manufacturing, transport and the environment.

The Fraunhofer Academy is the Fraunhofer Society’s specialist provider of further training for people in employment. Its study programmes, certificate courses and series of seminars enable specialists and managers in business and industry to profit from a unique form of knowledge transfer from Fraunhofer research to companies.

By the way: Did you know, that Fraunhofer Society developed the MP3-format?

Direct link to the organization:

Internet Portal for Research in Germany

The “Research in Germany” portal is an information platform and contact point for all looking to find out more about Germany's research landscape and its latest research achievements. The portal not only provides researchers and scientists with information about research in Germany, but also addresses a whole host of other players from politics and government, business and industry. One key goal of the portal is to provide an overview of the research and funding opportunities in Germany. It also delivers the latest science and research news from Germany and upcoming events. Additionally, practical information supports foreign scientists and researchers in their decision to collaborate with German research organizations or to complete a research stay in Germany.

More information can be found here.


Search Engine for Research in Germany

Apart from a search engine, the portal also offers information about Germany's research landscape as well as the "Bundesbericht Forschung" (Federal Report on Research) that is compiled every four years by the federal government. 



Germany is home to nearly 400 universities offering a variety of disciplines. Academic formation is characterized by a close link between education and research. The Federal Government and the states have set up an Initiative for Excellence that is intended to support research activities in various disciplines at German universities. More information about universities and their research activities can be found here.

Photo: Daad / Lichtenscheidt
Photo: Daad / Lichtenscheidt


Academies of Science

The key mission of the German academies of science is the coordination and support of long-term basic research projects and the development and cultivation of interdisciplinary dialogues. They have a long tradition in the German research landscape. Academies are research facilities where long-term projects of basic research are carried out. They also provide guidance and advice to society and policymakers related to general and specific issues of science, including emerging issues.

Portrait of the organizations

Dirct link to the organization:

Overview of funding opportunities


Federal and State Governments

The Federal Government funds 38 research institutes that the Federal Ministries are in charge of. This departmental research is always directly related to the activity fields of a ministry. Its main task is to support the respective Federal Ministry’s activities and to provide the necessary scientific basis for the execution of sovereign tasks.

Over the last few years, the Federal Government has initiated a series of projects aiming at the creation of networks and clusters that promote new technologies. They pool both industry and academic institutions in their research and development activities. One key aim of these aggregations is to accelerate the process of making new technology products marketable.

Federal and state governments are the main sponsors of research in Germany alongside industry. Ministries significantly fund research through so-called project management organizations.

The Federal States of Germany act as research funding bodies, but they also run several research institutions which contribute to supporting the research activities of the states. There are more than 100 institutes covering a broad range of research areas.

More information:

Federal research institutes

Networks and clusters

Photo: Daad / Volker Lannert
Photo: Daad / Volker Lannert
State-funded research


Companies / Industrial Research

German companies are among the most innovative in Europe. Industry based and financed investments account for almost two thirds of all R&D funding in Germany. Companies co-operate especially closely in the field of applied research, working together with globally operating Fraunhofer Institutes and the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations "Otto von Guericke" (AiF).

Companies play an important role in German research: more than two-thirds of the annual funds invested in research come from industry. Although many companies achieve high standards of research themselves, they also invest in collaborations with research partners. Industry-funded research often produces rapidly realizable results and applications.

Portrait of the companies

Direct link to the Federation of German Industries:

Overview funding opportunities


German Federation of Industrial Research Associations – AiF

The German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen "Otto von Guericke" e. V., AiF) was founded in 1954. It concentrates on application-oriented research and development at small and medium-sized enterprises. As a registered non-profit association, the AiF promotes research and development in all industry sectors. The association acts at Federal as well as the European level and primarily promotes interchange between industry and science in order to swiftly put new research findings into practice. Its services are especially oriented towards German companies.

Portrait of the organization

Direct link to the organization:

Overview of funding opportunities



Research Infrastructures

Germany is home to several research infrastructures with global significance in physics, earth science, climate research and the humanities.

Examples of research infrastructures such as DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, German Electron Synchrotron) and the German Climate Computing Centre (Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum, Photo: Daad
Photo: Daad
DKRZ) can be found here.


European Funding

The influence of European funding is increasing as Europe grows closer together. The European Commission’s Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development define key areas for research and research funding. In addition, the Commission’s various programmes make a significant contribution to the networking of the European research landscape and the formation of a European Research Area (ERA). For more information please click here.




y of the large organizations that foster young research talent are organized as foundations. The range of different foundations is multifaceted. You can inform yourseld about this here.

Funding for Young Talent

A variety of organizations in Germany (Begabtenförderungswerke) specifically aim to foster young talent. Twelve organizations that work nationwide have formed a working group 

Photo: Daad / Volker Lannert
Photo: Daad / Volker Lannert

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Begabtenförderungswerke in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland); they support outstanding undergraduate and doctoral students. More information can be found here!

Further links and brochures

In addition to the above mentioned, you may find useful information and brochures through this website: