Junior Professorships

man giving a lecture

Successful completion of a junior professorship is an alternative to habilitation and also confers eligibility to a full professorship with tenure. This path enables young, highly qualified junior researchers to begin researching and teaching immediately after completing their doctorates.

Junior professorships are usually limited to a maximum duration of six years. An interim evaluation is carried out after three years to ascertain whether the junior professor is suitable for the job. Junior researchers can apply directly for a chair on the successful completion of a junior professorship. Sometimes junior professorships have a tenure-track option, which means that qualified junior professors are subsequently appointed to a full professorship by their universities.

There are currently roughly 900 junior professorships in German higher education. 110 of these academics come from abroad. The requirements for appointment are the successful completion of a higher education degree, an aptitude for teaching and a special research ability demonstrated, for example, by an outstanding doctorate. Recognition as a specialist physician is also required in medicine.

Where are vacancies for junior professors advertised?

  • Staff vacancies and junior professorships at German higher education institutions are advertised publicly. The addresses of universities and departments as well as contacts for international junior researchers can be found in databases offered by the German Rectors’ Conference at the Higher Education Compass website. 
  • There are also a large number of job websites that have specialised on vacancies in higher education and research. List of job portals
  • The Hochschulstellen.de website enables searches of Internet job vacancies posted by universities, but does not claim to be exhaustive (only available in German). 
  • A large academic appointments section is also offered on the website of the higher education newspaper Unabhängige Deutsche Universitätszeitung (only available in German).

Funding opportunities for junior professors

Roughly one tenth of the approximately 900 junior professorships at German universities are externally funded. Thus, for example, leaders of Helmholtz junior research groups based at universities are granted the status of junior professor. Institutes of non-university research institutions, such as the Leibniz institutes, that are attached to universities can also award junior professorships – as a rule, jointly with the university.

The Lichtenberg Professorships offered by the Volkswagen Foundation are provided with a tenure-track option. This programme is especially aimed at outstanding junior researchers in innovative teaching and research fields that are outside established areas in their respective disciplines. Applicants must have completed their doctorate within the last four years. The Volkswagen Foundation funds the professorship for up to eight years provided that the university contributes to costs and then – following a successful evaluation – takes responsibility for the subsequent funding as a regular professorship. Applicants should preferably have international experience and have published outstanding independent academic work after completing a doctorate.