Fellowship for prospective leaders

We are searching the leaders of tomorrow. Are you a graduate with initial leadership experience? Do you come from Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, India, South Africa or the USA? Would you like to implement a self-chosen project that supports your career development, is societally relevant and has a lasting public impact? Are you interested in actively participating in an international network of dedicated leaders? Then come to Germany with a German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to take the next step of your career.

The fellowship programme is under the patronage of the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. Up to 50 German Chancellor Fellowships are awarded at the moment.


Programme information
German Chancellor Fellowships for prospective leaders

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s German Chancellor Fellowship Programme is targeted at university graduates from Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, India, the Russian Federation, South Africa and the USA who have an international outlook and initial leadership experience. It addresses prospective decision-makers, multipliers and thought leaders from a broad range of professional fields such as politics, public administration and business as well as society and culture. This fellowship programme is intended to give them the opportunity to spend a year in Germany exploring new solutions to the global issues of our times and widening their networks. With this programme Germany
once again presents itself as a destination of choice for intercultural dialogue and as a meeting place for the international leaders of tomorrow.

During their stay in Germany, the German Chancellor Fellows pursue self-developed, research-based projects that are societally relevant and have the potential for long-term, publicly visible impact. They are supervised by hosts in Germany whom they select themselves and who have the necessary level
of expertise to mentor the respective topics. Their projects enable the fellows to advance their careers by expanding their specialist knowledge, gaining new international experience and strengthening their intercultural skills in Germany in order to develop into successful international leaders. By sponsoring them through the German Chancellor Fellowship programme the Alexander vonHumboldt Foundation invites fellows to become active members of an international network of trust and cooperation characterised by exchange and contacts that persist beyond the shared fellowship experience in Germany. This creates a lively, continuously expanding network of international decision-makers, multipliers and thought leaders who maintain lasting ties with Germany, thereby acting as intermediaries between their countries of origin and Germany.

This fellowship programme is under the patronage of the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and is financed by the Federal Foreign Office. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants up to 60 German Chancellor Fellowships every year – up to ten of which go to prospective leaders from each of the six countries mentioned above.

Potential candidates who are interested in studying or training in Germany should apply for the programmes offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or other funding organisations. Postdoctoral scientists and scholars planning an academic research project should apply for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Humboldt Research Fellowship Programme.


Fellowship benefits

German Chancellor Fellowships are awarded to the fellows for a period of twelve months for the purpose of carrying out their proposed projects as agreed with their hosts at host institutions in Germany. The twelve fellowship months are awarded as one-year fellowships to begin on 1 October of the year in which the selection takes place. Fellows, however, have the option to flexibly adapt the
schedule of their stay in Germany to suit the demands of their projects, meet existing work obligations or allow for family circumstances; the twelve months of the fellowship can be used within a time frame from 1 August of the selection year to 31 March of the year after next. Fellows must agree the intended
distribution of their fellowship periods with their respective hosts and notify the Foundation of their intended schedule when accepting the fellowship.

The fellowship grant amounts to 2,000 EUR, 2,300 EUR or 2,600 EUR per month, depending on the applicant’s qualifications and professional experience. In addition, a mobility allowance and a contribution to health and liability insurance are paid.

Essential to the German Chancellor Fellowship programme are events designed to enable fellows to network and offer them insights into current topics and trends in German society, business, politics and culture. These events include:
• an opening conference in November (approx. one week);
• a half-time conference in the following spring (approx. one week);
• a meeting in Berlin in July with a reception at the German Chancellery (three days).

Complementing these events, fellows are given the opportunity and encouraged to independently collaborate in peer groups as well as organise smaller network formats and events during the sponsorship period.
It is very important to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation that the German Chancellor Fellows learn German. It therefore provides funding for fellows who do not already speak German fluently to attend German language courses both before they begin their fellowship and during their stay. In particular, the Foundation awards language fellowships covering an intensive language course of up to three months immediately prior to the start of the fellowship in Germany. Accompanying marital partners may also receive funding for language courses under certain circumstances.

Additional benefits
lump sum for the fellow’s travel expenses if the costs are not borne by a third party;
family allowances for accompanying family members staying at least three months (up to 346 EUR a month for marital partners and up to 289 EUR a month per child); for single-parents: flat-rate allowances for accompanying children under the age of 18 for stays of at least three months (400 EUR a month for the first child and 100 EUR a month for every additional child);
a subsidy towards research costs to be paid to the hosts in Germany amounting to 500 EUR per month;
Europe allowance for a stay at an institute in another European country (though not the fellow’s own country); for one to two months during the course of the fellowship if necessary to ensure the success of the project;

extensive alumni sponsorship after the stay in Germany has been completed successfully, in particular to promote networking with cooperation partners in Germany during the further professional career of the alumni.

Application requirements
citizenship of Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, India, the Russian Federation, South Africa or the USA, including predominantly living and working in one of these countries;
Bachelor’s or comparable academic degree completed no more than twelve years ago. The key date for calculating this twelve-year period is 1 October of the year following the application;
initial proven leadership experience. Applicants with a predominantly academic background should have acquired initial leadership experience in addition to their own research activity;
English and/or German language skills;
a letter of motivation;
a project plan; candidates must independently draw up a project plan for a twelve-month stay in Germany and agree this plan with their intended host before applying;
a detailed statement, including a confirmation of research facilities and mentoring
agreement, from a host in Germany;
two references by individuals qualified to comment on the candidate’s professional, personal and/or academic background.
Applicants who have previously been to Germany must have been predominantly living and working in a programme country for a minimum of 12 months in the 18-month period prior to the application deadline (15 October of each year). Applicants who have previously lived in a third country (neither programme
country nor Germany) must have been predominantly living and working in a programme country for a minimum of 12 months in the 24-month period prior to the application deadline. All stays in Germany and in third countries are taken into account, regardless of their duration and reason. Any persons who,
regardless of their country of residence, have or have had an employment contract with an institution in Germany, are only eligible to apply if if they did not have such an employment contract for a minimum of 12 months within the last 18 months prior to the application deadline. The same applies to any persons
who are or have been enrolled at a scientific institution in Germany.
Anyone who has already been sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation with a fellowship is not eligible to apply or reapply for any fellowship of the Foundation. They should turn to the Foundation’s Alumni
Programme to get support for further stays in Germany.
Please consult the FAQ for further details of the application requirements and fellowship benefits.


Selection criteria

Applicants are chosen in a quality-oriented selection procedure based on the following criteria:
previous career and leadership potential;
significance of fellowship for further career development;
potential to build bridges between country of origin and Germany;
international outlook and future role as an international leader;
existing knowledge to help complete the project successfully;

persuasiveness of project plan and relevance to societal dialogue.

Application and selection procedure

Applications must be submitted online. The application deadline is 15 October of every year.
The completed application form, including the necessary additional documents, should be submitted
online by the application deadline. A confirmation of receipt will be issued immediately after the
application has been submitted. Visit the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s website for further
information on the online application process and all necessary documents as well as access to the online application system.
Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their documents are complete and correct. Incomplete applications cannot be included in the selection procedure.
The selection process consists of two steps. The most promising candidates are initially selected from all formally eligible applications on the basis of the written documents, and invited to a selection
meeting in the respective programme country. During an interview, the applicants present themselves and their projects to an independent selection committee which decides on how the fellowships for the respective programme country should be allocated. A further selection tool involves a group discussion on an overarching topic of general interest. Additional information on the selection process can be found in the FAQ section on the Humboldt Foundation’s website.

The Humboldt Foundation
will be pleased to answer any further questions about the German Chancellor Fellowship Programme by email (
US candidates for the German Chancellor Fellowship Programme can also approach the office of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for advice.
American Friends of the Tel: +1-202-783-1907
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fax: (+1) 0228-783-1908
1401 K Street NW
Suite 1005
Washington, DC 20005

Our sponsorship

This fellowship for prospective leaders brings you to Germany for one year to implement a project idea you have developed yourself. We will help you network with international future leaders here to find new answers to the global issues of our time. We offer you

  • a monthly fellowship grant of 2,000 euros, 2,300 euros or 2,600 euros – depending on your training and career level
  • an intensive language course before you begin your fellowship and funding for German courses during your fellowship,
  • individual support during your stay in Germany
  • additional financial support, e.g. for mobility, for accompanying family members, for travel expenses, for full private health insurance or for additional German language courses
  • joint events where you experience professional and personal intercultural exchange with other fellows from your year group and gain insights into German culture and society,
  • networking activities that enable you to collaborate in peer groups and independently organise smaller network formats with other fellows,
  • a two-week study tour through Germany as well as a number of events where you can connect with other fellows and meet representatives of German businesses and institutions
  • extensive alumni sponsorship, in particular to support long-term connections with your cooperation partners in Germany over the duration of your entire professional career

Your host will have a monthly subsidy of €500 at their disposal for any costs arising while conducting the project.

You must meet the following criteria/What is required of you

The German Chancellor Fellowship sponsors future decision-makers, multipliers and thought leaders – regardless of industry. We invite you to apply if you

  • hold Brazilian, Chinese, Indian, South African or American citizenship
  • work in a field such as politics, business, media, administration, society or culture and have demonstrable initial leadership experience
  • will have completed your first academic degree (Bachelor or comparable degree) no more than twelve years ago. The key date for calculating this twelve-year period  is 1 October 2023.
  • want to conduct an independently developed project with a host of your choice in Germany
  • have good knowledge of English and/or German

How to apply

Before applying, you should discuss the details of your project with your chosen host.

Please submit the necessary application documents to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation online only.

  • letter of motivation: Tell us what drives you, what leadership experience you already have and what your career goals are
  • project plan: Outline the project you have developed yourself and agreed with your intended host prior to applying. Why is your project of societal significance, and how will you be able to build bridges between Germany and your home country in the future?
  • extensive statement including mentoring agreement from your host in Germany
  • two letters of recommendation (not more than 12 months old) from individuals who can provide information on your professional, personal and/or academic background

The online application form contains links where the letters of recommendation and statements can be uploaded. Please forward these links to the relevant individuals as soon as possible. We will send you a confirmation e-mail as soon as we have received all the required documents.

If you have any doubts or questions, please contact us (info[at] before submitting your application. We are happy to help.

Apply now

Please note

We accept applications from the start date in March to 15 October of each year. Outside this period you may register for the next round of applications; you will then be automatically notified by e-mail when the next round of applications begins.

The most promising candidates among all formally eligible applicants will be selected and invited to a selection meeting in their respective country of origin, where they will have the opportunity to present themselves and their project.

In recent years, 25 to 30 percent of applicants have received a fellowship on average.

All the best for your application!

More information is available HERE

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