For Research. For Berlin.

Einstein Strategic Professorship

Einstein Strategic Professorships are awarded to internationally renowned scientists. The programme allows the Berlin universities and Charité – Universitätsmedizin to attract outstanding researchers by funding the professor’s salary and additional staff, directly incurred costs, and investments for five years. After the end of the initial five-year funding period, the State of Berlin provides additional resources which can be accessed to create permanent positions for Strategic Professorships and boost the respective institution’s structural funding. The programme is supported through funds provided by the Damp Foundation.

  • Eligibility: The Berlin universities and Charité – Universitätsmedizin; non-university research institutes (ideally in cooperation with one of the Berlin university or Charité – Universitätsmedizin to allow the candidate to carry the title of professor)

  • Funding period: Five years; the funding period can be extended without an increase in funding

  • Volume: The amount of funding released depends on the rationale outlined in the submission


Questions and answers about programmes und applications

Here you can find general questions and answers about programmes und applications. 


Questions and answers about the programme "Einstein Strategic Professorship"

The Einstein Strategic Professorship program uses outstanding professorships as a strategic tool to attract world-class researchers from other countries to Berlin for long-term posts in top roles. The program helps Berlin’s universities, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, and the publicly funded Berlin-based research institutions, in particular the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, and the Fraunhofer Society, to implement pioneering research strategies, build their research profiles, explore and advance innovative research fields, and strengthen existing competencies so they can attract more top talent. Einstein Strategic Professorships play a key role in positioning Berlin as a world-leading research location in the long term.

Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Universität der Künste Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin are eligible to apply. Applications may also be submitted jointly with the publicly funded Berlin-based non-university research institutions, such as the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, and the Fraunhofer Society. In exceptional cases, the Berlin-based institutions of the Max Planck Society, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association, and Fraunhofer Society may also submit applications independently.


Institutions submit applications nominating a candidate. Researchers may not apply on their own behalf. Suitable candidates can be identified in a number of different ways, e.g. through appointment or head-hunting processes conducted by the institutions submitting the application; special search processes such as the one used by the Max Planck Society are also possible.


The candidate must hold a post abroad. Where special justification is provided, exceptional researchers based in Germany can also be nominated to keep them from leaving the country, for instance if the candidate has access to international third-party funding (e.g. from the ERC or NIH).


Einstein Strategic Professorships are open to researchers of all nationalities and can be awarded in all disciplines. The requirement is that the candidates must play a leading role on the world stage in their particular fields. Evidence can include internationally recognized prizes and awards, and at least five groundbreaking publications and acclaim for their research in the past five years. In their application, the eligible institutions present the outstanding, strategic importance of the individual for their own institution and for Berlin’s research landscape. The Einstein Foundation is particularly keen to see equality measures implemented by the institutions submitting applications. As a rule, Einstein Strategic Professorships should be new posts.

The number of funded professorships is based on the total funding volume applied for. If an individual turns down a professorship offer or leaves during the initial funding phase, the Einstein Foundation will conduct a new selection process. Even if the Einstein Strategic Professor leaves the host institution during the consolidation phase, the funds for the position are returned to the Einstein Foundation. Upon application, they can be used for the continued support of ERC grant holders.

Eligible institutions can submit an application to establish an Einstein Strategic Professorship for a named outstanding researcher in a strategically important field. The application should be submitted to the Einstein Foundation by the deadlines set out on the Einstein Foundation website. An application form with further explanations and information about the documents to be submitted can also be found on the website, along with a template for the budget plan. The application must be submitted in English.

The institution should ensure by means of exploratory talks and preliminary discussions that it will be possible to fill the professorship nine months (as a rule) – and no later than twelve months – after funding has been approved (i.e. after an authorization letter is issued).

No. The internal processes employed by the universities and the Max Planck, Helmholtz, Leibniz, and Fraunhofer institutions to identify candidates are not relevant to the Einstein Foundation. Candidates can also be identified through appointment or head-hunting processes that follow the rules and criteria of the host institutions (e.g. the special search process used by the Max Planck Society). We recommend obtaining sufficient agreement within the relevant bodies concerning a potential appointment so that if funding is approved, the appointment can go ahead without the need for further internal consultation.

The eligible institutions must provide evidence showing how the candidate will enhance the innovative scientific or artistic profile of the university and of Berlin as a research location, and show what role the Einstein Strategic Professorship will play in the institution’s medium-term strategic development, including with regard to other appointments and future focus areas. The application should detail the candidate’s research output and explain how they will fit into the Berlin research landscape, as well as the planned division of labour in the case of a joint application. The application must demonstrate how – besides the permanent position funded by the State of Berlin through the Einstein Foundation – the institution intends to retain the candidate in the long term after the initial funding has expired.


For the duration of their work in Berlin, the successful candidate will hold the title of Einstein Professor. Acceptance of the funding is linked to obligations (see below).

The Head Office of the Einstein Foundation conducts a formal check of the applications it receives. It launches the expert review process and produces templates for the independent research board and/or for the final decision by the Executive Board. All submitted applications are reviewed by independent researchers (members of the independent research board or external experts commissioned on the recommendation of the independent research board). Reviewed funding applications are ranked by the independent research board according to the funding criteria. After the independent research board has met to discuss them, the projects it recommends/rejects for funding are presented to the Berlin Board and the Executive Board (by written circulation procedure, if necessary). The Executive Board decides whether to fund or reject the applications, basing its decision largely on the opinions of the independent research board and the Berlin Board. A representative of the Damp Stiftung attends the Executive Board’s decision-making meeting, but without a right to vote, and establishes how many and which of the applications approved for funding are to be financed from Damp Stiftung funds. Additional Einstein Strategic Professorships can be financed from state funds.


The funding decision is based on the following general criteria: outstanding research quality, research prizes and awards, contribution to the dissemination of research findings, strategic importance for Berlin as a research location, and compliance with the DFG equality standards. In addition, the review takes account of the quality and originality of the research vision presented in the application, the long-term consolidation and international visibility of the research field, the influence on teaching provision, and options for local, national, and international collaboration. Further information can be found in our Funding Guidelines pursuant to §44 of the State Budget Regulations (LHO), Annex 3 (German only).


The decision concerning funding eligibility is the responsibility of the Einstein Foundation boards.

Once funding has been approved, the host institution(s) is/are responsible for carrying out the appointment procedure through to making an offer (e.g. by means of a direct appointment, without advertising the post) or the recruitment procedure. They put in place the necessary measures to make the provisional offer and carry out the appointment negotiations and/or sign the contract in the case of a non-university institution. As a rule, the professorship or executive position should be filled nine months – and no later than twelve months – after funding has been approved (i.e. after an authorization letter is issued). 


Acceptance of funding entails a commitment to comply with the rules of good scientific practice. 


Where funding is approved, the Einstein Foundation is entitled to publish a press release and information about the candidate. After the first funding instalment has been received, an interim report must be submitted, providing information about the institution and the work of the professorship and how the funds are spent. The annual interim report always covers the past budget/calendar year (the exact dates can be found in the cooperation agreement [Weiterleitungsvertrag]). A final report must be submitted no later than six months after the end of the funding period. The Einstein Foundation allows private donors to inspect the files. 


It is expected that the Einstein Foundation and the title "Einstein Strategic Professor" will appear in the acknowledgements section of publications, presentations, etc. that are produced in the context of the Einstein Foundation’s funding program. 


The deadlines set out in the transfer agreement for producing progress reports and providing evidence of use of funds must be respected.