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National Research Funding

In this page we provide information on national funding opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), with an eye on those programmes and schemes which are open to international researchers. Important differences still exist across countries in terms of openness to non nationals. However, there is evidence that both within general national funding schemes or ad hoc schemes targeting international researchers, ministries and research agencies are trying to attract 'brains' from outside the country.


The information on national funding in individual regions and countries is based on the presentations given during the MWP-ACO Workshop on National Funding Opportunities Open to International Researchers (11 February 2009) and during the 4th MWP-ACO Conference Openness and Competition in European Research Funding: Grants for International Researchers (11 November 2009).

The Academic Careers Observatory would like to thank all the participants to the two events.



In Denmark, the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation is the national governmental body that provides funding for research (EUR 138.7 million in 2007). Within the agency, the Danish Council for Independent Research - Social Sciences (FSE) and the Danish Council for Independent Research - Humanities (FKK) are competent to support research in the SSH.

Postdocs are available. Two rounds of applications in the SSH take place each year in early March and September. The quality of the research and the academic qualifications of the researchers are the only criteria to evaluate applications. Grants are awarded for 1-3 years.

The Young Elite Researcher's Award, established in 2005, targets researchers below the age of 35 and provides a lump-sum grant of 200,000 Danish Krones (about EUR 27,000) for research-related expenses. Some of these grants went to researchers with a PhD obtained outside of Denmark. However, a prerequisite for obtaning the award is to have previously received a grant from one of the research councils (including the DSSRC and DRCH).

Information on calls and deadlines is available in English on their website, which has a section for the social sciences and one for humanities.

Another possibility to do research in Denmark is to take part to a research group applying for funding in the country. To take advantage of this opportunity, it is important to get in contact directly with professors working at Danish universities, eventually during international conferences.

More details are available in the presentation by Lars Christensen at the MWP-ACO workshop on national funding.



The Academy of Finland is a research council within the Ministry of Education, which provides international funding. Its strength is research training and funding of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. The professional advancement of young academics is seen as a priority.

No nationality restrictions apply, but non-Finnish nationals are required to work in Finland. The Academy supports graduate schools, provides funding for researcher training abroad and it supports doctoral studies of employed persons. There are bilateral research agreements with countries outside the EU, such as India, China, Japan and Chile. 

For further information, consult the presentation by Eili Ervelä-Myréen at the 4th MWP-ACO Conference.



The French National Research Agency (Agence National de la Recherche, ANR) supports an average of 1,500 projects every year (the agency's budget was 896 million euros in 2008, 15 of which for the SSH) under different schemes. Affiliation to a French research institution is often a pre-requisite for applying.

Both thematic and non thematic programmes are open at the ANR. With respect to non thematic programmes, the following schemes may be of interest:

  • Young researchers provides grants to academics at an early stage of their career and younger than 38 to develop independently their own project.
  • The White programme supports new and ground-breaking projects, with an eye on raising the international profile of French research.
  • Chairs of excellence aims to bring high profile academics to France. It offers short (18-24 months) or long (36-48 months) visiting professorships for both junior or senior academics.

Thematic programmes in the SSH cover different aspects of the discipline. Calls for 2010 focus on 'Les Suds aujourd'hui', 'territories and governance', and 'creation and creativity'. See the ANR website for up-to-date information.  

Finally, the ANR administers bilateral and quadrilateral calls in collaboration with Germany, the UK, the US, Argentina and Japan.



Germany is developing fast a wide range of opportunities for research, including for young and/or non national researchers. With a budget of EUR 1,500 million , the German Research Foundation (DFG) is the central research funding institution in Germany. DFG promotes young researchers and international co-operation, seeking to attract international researchers at an early stage of their careers.

For young international researchers, the DGF has a vast number of funding opportunities both through its Individual Grants Programme and via national and international collaboration offered by the Coordinated Programmes

The individual programmes are targeted at young post-doc researchers irrespective of nationality, they are non-thematic and have no deadlines. There are  requirements tied to residence and research experience in Germany. Non-Germans are sometimes expected to continue researching in Germany after the end of the grant. The following opportunities are worth mentioning:  

  • The Emmy-Noether Programme supports researchers with 2-4 years of postdoctoral experience - including non-Germans - on their way to independence.
  • The Scientific Networks programme targets research exchange by young researchers in the SSH based in German research institutions. The duration of the grant is of up to 3 years.
  • The Heisenberg Programme offers fellowships for researchers pursuing a tenured position, including foreign researchers interested in advancing their careers in Germany.

As for the Coordinated Programmes, the DFG offers multiple collaboration facilities:


There are several other opportunities in Germany from postdoctoral to senior research studies. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a budget of 57 and 55 million euros targeting respectively foreign and German young researchers. The Humboldt Foundation manages the Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowships and the Lynen Research Fellowships for postdoctoral researchers and, separately, for senior scholars. The Max Planck Portal offers a wealth of information on Max Planck Institutes, Projects and Facilities.

Finally, there are several search engines that may help foreign scholars to find their way between the several funding options in Germany. A broad picture of the German research environment is offered by 'Germany - Land of ideas'. The search engine of the Federal Ministry of Science and Research guides scholars through different research programmes. The DAAD website contains information on German research institutions and the DAAD scholarship search engine is a versatile tool to retrieve personalised information on the availbility of grants by educational title, experience and nationality.

For more information on the opportunities offered by public and private research institutions, it is possible to consult the EURAXESS Germany portal.  



Due to low overall spending on R&D, Hungary does not offer many funding opportunities for foreign researchers. Co-funding provided by the EU plays a major role in the Research and Technological Innovation Fund (RTIF), which finances the National Office for Research and Technology (NKTH). This is responsible for running the Mobility/Cofund Scheme as well as the ERC national ‘runner up’ scheme. Another hub managing research programmes is the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund.

On the university front, even though only 10% of Hungarian high education institutions are research-intensive, there are notable exceptions. In particular for the SSH, the Central European University and the Collegium Budapest offer various doctoral and post-doctoral opportunities. Additionally, 17 of the 40 Research Institutes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences are dedicated to SSH research. 

The presentation by Erika Szendrak at the 4th MWP-ACO Conference provides both a general overview and further information on funding oppurtunities in Hungary and in Central Europe.



The Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research (MIUR) offers grants to international researchers coming from EU countries within the scheme Futuro in Ricerca (FiR). 

Some private institutions provide research grants to international scholars. Among these, it is worth checking the Collegio Carlo Alberto and the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), both located in Turin.

For more information related to the last call for FiR applications (closed in February 2009, but not yet renewed for 2010) check the presentation by Ida Nostro at the MWP-ACO workshop on national funding opportunities. For a general overview, see the presentation by Tullio Jappelli at the 4th MWP-ACO Conference.



The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) provides funding to researchers from all nationalities under a number of programmes. Information for most research projects in the Netherlands is available through the NWO search engine, but some information is provided only in Dutch.

The most relevant funding offers regard the Talent schemes. These aim to attract academics from abroad in all disciplines and working on whatever research topic. Two broad programmes encompass these schemes:

  • Innovational Research Incentives Scheme is a new instrument to retain talented researchers. It offers the veni, vidi and vici grants, which target, respectively, researchers who have just gained their doctorates, researchers with several years of postdoctoral experience, and, finally, experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated that they can develop their own innovative line of research. The deadlines for 2010 are out now.
  • Multidisciplinary, person-specific programmes are aimed at researchers in different phases of their career and/or special groups that need an extra stimulus. For example, Rubicon provides young researchers with a postdoctoral international experience. Research can be carried out either at a Dutch (1 year) or a foreign (between 6 months and 2 years) institution . There are three rounds of applications for Rubicon: 1 April, 1 September and 1 December.

Other NWO programmes are open to all scientists in Dutch universities and offer funds through both open and thematic calls. Specific schemes support exchange and visiting opportunities, including bilateral programmes with Germany, Belgium as well as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China.

Finally, the Money Follows Researcher (MFR) scheme was established in 2005 by the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs), of which NWO is a member. The MFR is particularly interesting, as it guarantees the portability of the grant across research institutions that are part of the network.

There are five institutes in the Netherlands which provide postgraduate education. Those relevant for the SSH are:

The following list of websites providing research funding in the Netherlands was supplied by the Academic Transfer and Career - Association of Universities in The Netherlands. Check also the presentation by Jeroen Sparla at the MWP-ACO workshop on national funding opportunities.



The Foundation Science and Technology (FCT) provides funding opportunities from doctoral  (Bolsas de Doutoramento, BD) or postdoctoral (Bolsas de Pós-Doutoramento, BPD) levels up to the senior researcher level. Grants are available for both national and international researchers. Applications can be made online. Information and instructions are provided in both Portuguese and English.

The FCT website provides detailed and updated information on different schemes and related deadlines.



Spain has developed a range of research opportunities for foreign scholars at both the state and regional levels. There is increasing interest by non-Spaniards to take advantage of these options. Some important programmes are established within the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation. Here is a brief review of the main state programmes open to international researchers:

  • Juan de la Cierva gives the possibility to young researchers within 3 years after their PhD to join a research group in the country for 3 years. In 2009 the positions available were 350 and the annual salary started at EUR 25,250 . Since 2004, 1,400 researchers were funded, 16.5% funding was assigned to the SSH and 28% were foreign scholars.
  • Ramón y Cajal paves the way to a long-term position (up to 5 years) in Spanish academia to scholars not based in the country and with an established record of publications. 233 positions were offered in 2009, with an annual salary of EUR 33,250 (15,000 as a start-up). In the 7 calls since 2001, 3 thousand researchers were funded, 15.5% of funding assigned to the SSH, of which 21% went to foreign scholars. 
  • Junta para la Ampliación de Estudios (JAE-Doc) scheme is managed by the Spanish National Research Council (CISC) and offers to researchers within 10 years of obtaining their PhD, and who have spent 18 months outside CISC, the opportunity to join a team in Spain and work on a specific research project. 259 positions were offered in 2009, with an annual salary of EUR 28,903 .

Regional programmes are increasingly popular in Spain.  They require researchers to be based in the region providing the grant:

  • Catalonia offers two interesting options. ICREA is targeted to researchers, who have completed tehir PhD at least 4 years earlier adn who have 4 years of international experience. There are 30 available positions per year with a salary comparable to that of a full professor.  At the postdoctoral level, the Beatriu de Pinós scheme provides 2-year postdoctoral grants of EUR 26,555 per annum (circa 40 positions are available each year). 
  • The Basque country funds the IKERBASQUE, which runs two subprogrammes: and Fellowships. The former offers permanent positions to 30 researchers each year and the latter offers grants for 6-12 months.

More information is available in both the presentation by David Sayago at the MWP-ACO workshop on national funding opportunities and the presentation by Cecilia Cabello Valdés at the 4th MWP-ACO Conference.


United Kingdom

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) provides several funding schemes for researchers at different stages of their career. A number of programmes are devoted to early career researchers. In most cases, applicants need to be hosted at a UK research institution. When applying, it is advisable that the research workplan be supported by the chosen host institution. Below, we hilight some interesting opportunities:

  • Postdoctoral fellowships are available to researchers with no restriction based on nationality for a period of either 1 year on a full-time basis (2 years for economics) or 2 years part-time. Applicants should not have more than 3 years of postdoctoral experience to be eligible. Applications from priority disciplines, such as economics and quantitative methods, are encouraged. The success rate is 20-25%. 
  • Mid-Career Development Fellowships of 2 years are available for established scholars with a research experience of between 5 and 15 years. Multidisciplinary research is encouraged and programmes have to be linked to substantive career developments. Applications can be sent at any time of the year.
  • The ESRC Research Grants Scheme supports individual or team research - possibly multidisciplinary - involving talented scholars with an international profile. Small grants amounting to GBP 15-100 thousand and standard grants up to 1.5 million are awarded with a success rate of 15-20%.

Newton International Fellowship last for 2 years and provide a grant of GBP 24,000 per annum (plus other bonuses). They are sponsored by the UK Research Councils and require the co-application of a UK home institution. The current call closes on 8 February 2010.


United States


There are different institutions that provide funding in the SSH in the US. Among these, the National Science Foundation (NSF) administered a budget of about 5,000 million dollars in 2008 (the fiscal year 2009 benefited from the stimulus package). Of these, more than 200 million were granted to the directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences that supports research in the SSH. Themes promoted by its two divisions, Social and Economic Sciences (SES) and Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), focus on interdisciplinarity and on the connections between the social and the natural sciences. Projects are often co-funded by more research partners in a cross-divisional perspective within the NSF. The type of support provided by the NSF spans from typical research grants to postdocs and grants for training and research.


Grants target research based in US research institutions. Non-US nationals may benefit from these funds either upon invitation by US investigators to work on specific projects or by becoming co-principal investigators within newly conceived collaborative research. When browsing for funding opportunities in the SSH under the NSF check the following divisions:


The NSF collaborates with the European Commission, which in turn supports US scholars participating in research carried out at the European Science Foundation.



Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe

The International Higher Education Support Programme (HESP) of the Open Society Institute (OSI) focuses on the SSH and promotes individuals as well as institutions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to operating in several Central,  Eastern and Southeastern European countries and in Central Asia, the HESP relies on the broader international academic community by offering scholarships, mentoring programmes, as well as hosting and partnership schemes. Research funds for individuals are distributed primarily through the following schemes:

  • The Academic Fellowship Programme (AFP) aims to fight the brain drain from Southern and Eastern European countries, from states belonging to the former Soviet Union (but the Baltic states) and Mongolia. The programme provides researchers who are nationals of the target countries, but who are based abroad, the opportunity to return to their region of origin.
  • Central Asia Research and Training Initiative Junior Fellowships (CARTI) promotes original academic work and networking of young scholars in Central Asia, including the region's post-Soviet states and Mongolia. Academics with an expertise in specific fields of concern for fellows within CARTI can become mentors as CARTI International Scholars. During 2009, more than 70 scholars from Europe, North America and Asia were CARTI International Scholars. Those interested in taking part to the programme should send a CV and a statement on research interests to the CARTI Office.
  • The Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching and the Student Initiatives (ReSET) aims to develop and support teaching excellence at the undergraduate level. The program establishes a framework for long-term regional and international collaboration in areas important to the region's undergraduate SSH curricula.

Another important opportunity offered by OSI to international researchers is the Open Society Fellowship. More information on the funding scheme and related research priorities should contact OSI and visit the dedicated parts of the OSI's website.

Further information is also available through the list of programmes provided by the International Higher Education Support Programme (HESP) of the Open Society Institute.

Page last updated on 29 August 2018

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