Frequently Asked Questions

On this page we have put together the most frequently asked questions concerning the application process as well as the Green Talents programme. Please read them carefully. If your question cannot be answered here, feel free to contact us.

» Who can apply?

» How can I apply?

» Can we apply as a team?

» What is in for me?

» Which research facilities will be visited during the Science Forum?

» What is required from me during the application process?

» Letter of recommendation

» English language certificate

» Who are the experts I should nominate in my application?

» Selection process

» What does the funding include?

» Organising the research stay



Who can apply?

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

– Enrolment in a Masters or a PhD programme in any field related to sustainable development or must have completed their degree (Master/PhD) with significantly above-average grades in a similar programme no more than three years before the end of the application process.

– Excellent proven command of English

– A non-German citizen or anyone not residing in Germany (individuals therefore not eligible to apply: German passport holders as well as anyone living in Germany at the time of application even if the residence is temporary).

No exceptions to these requirements can be accepted. Ineligible applications will automatically be disqualified.

The Green Talents Competition focuses on outstanding young scientists who are active in the field of sustainable development. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) fosters interdisciplinary approaches in this regard. Applicants can therefore come from any scientific field closely related to sustainability research. In view of the fact that 2016 is the “Seas and Oceans” Science Year we would particularly welcome submissions relating to this topic in the 2016 Green Talents Competition. However, the competition is still open to all fields and offers equal opportunities to win.


How can I apply?

Applications can only be submitted via an online tool. Documents that are sent to us by e-mail cannot be accepted. Please note that applications cannot be changed once they have been submitted nor can any missing documents be handed in after the deadline.


Can we apply as a team?

This programme is directed at and looking for outstanding individuals with exceptional characters. We look at an individual's research potential and their passion for what they do and where we think this might take them some day. Luckily, everyone is different and it is this uniqueness that we want to cherish. It is therefore not possible to apply as a team. In addition it is not only about what you do now but also about what your aspirations are for the future. This why we do not fund projects but aim to foster individual development.


What is in for me?

The prestigious Green Talents programme offers you the unique opportunity to become part of an exceptional world-wide network of outstanding young minds and leading German institutions. The first part of the prize consists of an invitation to a two-week Science Forum in Germany, where you will be introduced to renowned research facilities and have individual meetings with experts (individual appointments). Here you will learn about potential collaborations and experience the country’s excellent research infrastructure at close hand. In addition, a workshop on research and funding opportunities will provide you with further information for your future research stay in Germany. The journey will culminate within a festive award ceremony hosted by a high-level representative from the BMBF (this was conducted by the Federal Minister personally in 2010/2012/2014).

You will have the opportunity to return to Germany for up to three months to conduct a scientific stay at an institute of your choice the year after the Science Forum.

The forum and the extended stay will be fully-financed by the BMBF.


Which research facilities will be visited during the Science Forum?

The research facilities that are visited as part of the Science Forum change every year in order to demonstrate the broad scope of the German research environment. We try to create a mix of research institutes, universities and companies and also to include Germany's major research organisations, namely the Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association, Max Planck Society and Leibniz Association. You can find a complete list of all facilities that have been visited up until now and are therefore part of the Green Talents network here:

The "stations" that will be visited during the two-week Science Forum are 5-6 pre-selected institutions, which all 25 Green Talents winners will visit as a group. Details regarding the current facilities can be found here.


What is required from me during the application process?

You first need to make sure that you meet the mandatory requirements in order to apply for the Green Talents Competition. Applications can only be submitted via an online tool. This will guide you through the application process. Please note that the application will take some time. However, you can take a break and save the information you have completed and continue at a later stage.

The selection will be based on an applicants’ achievements in the field of sustainable development and their specific interest in cooperating with German partners.

The application consists of the following four parts:

  • Forms with personal information and questions about your academic and professional career, including details about university degrees, research work, lists of publications, etc. You will not have to upload a CV.
  • Questions regarding your publications and patents. You do not have to hand in full articles. We merely require a list of books/chapters/articles you (co-)authored. Please list your publications in chronological order, naming the titles, potential co-authors, the publisher and the context (book/chapter/article/conference paper etc.).
    • Include articles/papers that have been submitted but have not yet been approved
    • Exclude papers under preparation
  • Questions regarding your motivation to participate in the forum (we recommend that you write your answers in advance and simply copy them into the text fields):
    • Please briefly explain your actual research by showing how it relates to sustainable development and demonstrate your interdisciplinary interest.
    • What new perspective are you providing to sustainability research? What is your professional goal?
    • How is your research/work related to sustainability science in Germany? Please also indicate which of the institutions in this year’s Science Forum are most relevant to you and why.
    • What do you expect to gain from the Green Talents Award for your future career?
  • Letter of recommendation: letter in which the author assesses the qualities, characteristics and capabilities of the person being recommended in terms of the individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function.
    • This should focus on your career as a scientist and activities up until now,
    • must be in English,
    • should not be older than 6 months,
    • can be written by current or past supervisors from either academia or industry.

    Your application will be incomplete and cannot be processed without this document. However, we are well aware that despite it being common practice for individuals being assessed to be handed a reference letter in Europe, this may not be the case in other countries. If your assessor refuses to give you a letter of recommendation, please upload a Word document with his/her name and complete your application. The assessor should then send us a letter via e-mail to, stating your name and application ID number. We will add the letter to your documents. In this case, you will receive an additional e-mail confirming that the letter of recommendation has been submitted. Important: the letter must reach us before the deadline. Otherwise your application will be incomplete and therefore disqualified.

  • It is mandatory to indicate the level of your English skills and to add an English language certificate to your application. For example, this can be a certificate from a language examination (TOEFL, IELTS etc.), a certificate from language classes you have taken or confirmation from your university that your courses are taught in English. As a native speaker, please simply fill out and attach the declaration of proficiency in English signed by yourself, indicating your full proficiency.


Who are the experts I should nominate in my application?

When applying to the Green Talents Competition, you will be asked to name at least three German experts (mandatory requirement) you would like to meet during the Science Forum if you are selected (see individual appointments). These experts must be based in Germany but do not have to work at any of the institutions we will visit or be a member of the jury. You can nominate someone of your choice but you should bear in mind that the individual appointments are intended to help you find a host for your Research Stay the following year. You should therefore consider someone from your own field of expertise and start to think about what you would potentially discuss with them. It is not neccessary or essential to contact the experts before nominating them.

When selected as a “Green Talent”, your chosen interlocutors will be contacted by the organisers of the forum, who will provide information about you, arrange meetings and plan accommodation and transport for the participants. Please also note that we cannot guarantee that the nominated persons will be available. Therefore, the number of named experts is likely to increase the number of individual appointments organised for you during your stay in Germany. Please also refrain from contacting the experts at any point prior to your appointment unless this has been previously communicated with us.

We have put together some information that may prove to be of use if you are facing difficulties in identifying a German expert:


Selection process

Due to the large number of applications submitted every year, the assessment and selection process is very complex and will take until mid-August 2016. Please understand that we cannot provide you with any information about the selection until the jury makes its final decision. All applicants will be informed of the results in due course.


What does the funding include?

When selected as a “Green Talent”, you will be invited to a two-week Science Forum in Germany (expected to take place in October/November 2016). This means that the BMBF will cover your travel expenses (to/from Germany and during the trip) as well as your meals and accommodation during the forum. Costs for health insurance and visa fees cannot be covered and must be paid by the participants.

We will cover return flights to Germany and also provide a monthly allowance when you return in 2017 for your Research Stay. This allowance is intended to support you during your stay and will be sufficient for accommodation, insurance, food and your daily needs. However, it is not intended to support your research.


Organising the research stay

The research stay must be conducted in 2017 and should last between a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of 12 weeks. It is not possible to conduct the research stay at two different organisations/institutions/companies or to split the time of the stay. Generally, all research facilities in Germany associated with sustainability research are eligible for funding. The awardees need to choose the host by themselves and obtain official confirmation of supervision from the host organisation. In addition, a research plan that has been coordinated with the host is required before funding for the research stay can be granted. After the stay, the participants have to submit a report, summarising the key results of their work during this period as well as an outlook on future collaborations.