Frequently Asked Questions

Find the most frequently asked questions concerning the application process as well as the Green Talents programme at a glance. Please schedule sufficient time to compile the required documents and be aware that all documents have to be in English. No other language can be accepted. 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 it 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

» Organising the research stay

Who can apply?

Applicants must meet the following mandatory requirements:

  • Enrolment in a master’s or PhD programme or a degree (master’s/PhD) completed no more than three years before the end of the application process
  • Strong focus on sustainable development and an interdisciplinary approach in any field of sustainability research
  • No more than three years of professional work experience (this excludes professional work experiences gained within the scope of an academic degree)
  • Proven excellent command of English
  • Significantly above-average grades
  • Not a German citizen nor a resident of 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 and are willing to collaborate with German experts and to contribute to sustainability research in Germany. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) fosters interdisciplinary approaches in this regard. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form the framework for this year’s competition and applicants must indicate, which SDGs their research is contributing to. Applicants can, therefore, come from any scientific field closely related to sustainability research.


How can I apply?

Applications can only be submitted via our online tool. Documents that are sent to us by email cannot be accepted. Please note that applications cannot be changed once they have been submitted nor can any missing document be handed in after the application deadline.


Can we apply as a team?

This programme is directed at and looking for outstanding individuals with exceptional personalities. 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. Fortunately, everyone is different and it is this uniqueness that we want to embrace. 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 is why we do not fund projects but aim to foster individual development.


What is in it 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 Green Talents Award 2022 includes:

  • Invitation to a multi-day Virtual Science Forum in October 2022:  
    • “Science Sessions” with leading German sustainability facilities, institutions and companies, which will virtually provide exclusive insights into their leading-edge research and projects,
    • Virtual appointments with German experts of your choice to discuss possibilities for upcoming joint research and cooperation efforts,
    • A wide range of workshops dedicated to the SDGs and advancing your scientific career,
    • Networking opportunities with other Green Talents, participating Green Talents alumni and researchers,
    • Formal Virtual Award Ceremony with your fellow Green Talents and special guests
  • A fully funded on-site research stay of up to three months at an institution of your choice in Germany
  • Exclusive access to the distinguished Green Talents alumni network.

You will have the opportunity to come to Germany for up to three months to conduct a research stay at an institute of your choice the year after the Virtual Science Forum. Learn more about how the Green Talents story continues for the awardees when they return to Germany for their research stays.

The research stay will be fully financed by the BMBF.


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

The research facilities taking part in the “Science Sessions” at this year’s Virtual Science Forum demonstrate the broad scope of the German research environment. The Green Talents awardees will be introduced to a mix of research institutes, universities and companies and additionally get to know some of Germany’s major research organisations such as the Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association, and Max Planck Society. 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: Science Forum.

Learn more about this year’s “Science Stations” 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 our online tool, which 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 point in time.

The selection will be based on the 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 must also indicate, which SDG your research is contributing to. You will not have to upload a CV.
  • Questions regarding your motivation to participate in the Virtual Science Forum (we recommend that you write your answers in advance and simply copy them into the text fields):
    • Please briefly explain your current research by showing how it is related to sustainable development and to the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs) and demonstrating 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? Which field/aspect of sustainability research in Germany is most relevant to you/your research? 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? Which part of the Green Talents award is most important to you/your future career?
  • Questions regarding your scientific qualification. We kindly ask to upload your latest FINAL graduation certificate as well as your latest course record. Full academic transcripts are required, because they convey important information, such as specifics about the composition of the study programme, credit requirements and student performance. If you have only recently started a post-graduate study programme (Master or PhD), please upload your graduation certificate as well as a confirmation of matriculation.
  • Questions regarding your publications and patents. You are not asked to hand in full articles. We merely require a list of books/chapters/articles you (co-)authored. Therefore, please complete the Excel template you find during the application process and list your publications in chronological order, naming titles, potential co-authors, publisher and context (book/chapter/article/conference paper etc.).
    • Include articles/papers that have been submitted but have not yet been approved.
    • Exclude articles/papers under preparation.
  • Letter of recommendation: a 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.
  • Please note that one letter of recommendation is totally sufficient, but you are free to upload up to three. Your application is 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 email to, stating your name and application ID number. We will add the letter to your documents. 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 proficiency 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 self-declaration of proficiency in English signed by yourself, indicating your fluency.


Who are the experts I should nominate in my application?

When applying to the Green Talents Competition, you will be asked to name German experts (mandatory requirement) you would like to virtually meet during the Science Forum if you are selected (see individual appointments). These experts must be based in Germany but neither do they have to work at any of the “Science sessions” institutions nor be a member of the jury. You can nominate someone of your choice but you should bear in mind that these virtual one-on-one conversations 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. The appointments will be completely organised by the Green Talents team. Please do not contact any expert yourself.

When selected as a “Green Talent”, your chosen interlocutors will be contacted by the organisers of the Science Forum, who will provide information about you and arrange meetings. Please 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

On the basis of their scientific excellence and innovative research potentials, a high-ranking jury of German experts from academia and industry selects the 25 “Green Talents” from numerous applicants.

Due to the large number of applications submitted every year, the assessment and selection process is very complex and takes until mid-August each year. 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.

Organising the research stay

The research stay in the year following the Virtual Science Forum should last between a minimum of 4 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.