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From Emmy Noether to “Freigeist”

The own junior research group

Junior research groups are independent working groups at a university or research institution (within an institute or Department ). An early career researcher with a doctorate and about 2-5 years of experience after the doctorate leads them. Junior research groups enable the group leader to conduct independent research and to develop a scientific profile. In selected programs, the junior research group leader even acquires the ability to be appointed to a professorship.

Charactersitics of the format

The management of junior research groups – a component of a scientific career

Various funding agencies provide funding for junior research groups – from the DFG and the EU to foundations such as the Volkswagen Foundation, and ministries.

The conditions and scope of funding vary significantly in some cases. Nevertheless, some common points of the funding formats can be outlined:

  • Typical size: 3-5 persons
  • Typical duration: 5-6 years
  • Typical equipment: approx. 1.5 million euros

Leading a junior research group provides you with the best prerequisites for an appointment as a university lecturer. As a rule, leading a junior research group is recognized as a habilitation-equivalent achievement (depending on the subject area). In detail, this means:

  • Independent research
  • Own budget = own third-party funds
  • Independent management of an own working group
  • Supervision of doctoral researchers
  • Reputation
Wegweiser mit zwei hölzernen Schildern, die in unterschiedliche Richtungen zeigen © Gerd Altmann​/​Pixabay

Overview of the different funding programs

at least 2 to max. 4 years of research experience after the doctorate (+ 2 years per child)

  • 6 (3+3) years, approx. 1-1.5 million euros (experience values)
  • substantial international research experience
  • demanding publications in international high-ranking journals or similar
  • only in exceptional cases: return to the place of the doctorate
  • Applications also possible from junior professors in temporary employment and early phase
  • without deadline

More information

Excellent early career researchers with 2-7 years of research experience after the doctorate

  • 1.5 million euros (plus 500,000 euros devices) for 5 years
  • (depending on the time of career) at least 1 “important” publication without doctoral supervisor
  • Further benchmarks:
    • Publication with first authorship
    • Patents
    • Presentations at international conferences or
    • International Science Awards
  • Observe deadlines

More information

The state and federal governments also support junior research groups within their specialist framework programs and in the course of specific calls for proposals. Please note the following for junior research groups funded by the ministry:

  • Application-oriented basic research
  • Matching the proposed projects to funding policy objectives
  • Qualification for management tasks in business or research
  • Technology transfer and product perspective
  • Concrete relation to industrial implementation
  • Aim of the research work including products and processes with sufficient market relevance and added value
Formats of the funding agencies

Junior Research Groups at a Glance

Appilcation processes at TU Dortmund University


If you are interested in applying for a Junior Research Group, please contact us as early as possible. Applications must usually be signed with a legally binding signature and usually preceded by a declaration from the employer. In addition, it must be clarified in advance with the respective Department whether the applicant is entitled to a doctorate.

The preparation of applications for external funding follows standard processes at the TU Dortmund University, which ensure that researchers receive the best possible support and that formalities and deadlines can be fulfilled or met.

Application processes

Services and contact persons

Research Support Services offers you a comprehensive range of services regarding the application for a Junior Research Group. We are happy to support you both from the Grants Services and from the Graduate Center TU Dortmund.

Team photo of Grants Services © OK et al. ​/​ TU Dortmund

Further information