ProFund programme

Professional third-party research funding for academics

The ProFund programme aims to ensure young researchers are familiar with the procedures involved in applying for third-party funding.

We provide support in this important area while the programme provides you with the opportunity to participate in targeted continuing education courses designed to further your research career.

ProFund is aimed at young researchers from all FAU faculties, in particular postdoctoral researchers, habilitation candidates and junior professors.

The objective is to learn how to develop ideas for new projects, apply for third-party funding, and organise and carry out third-party projects. The programme provides participants with the skills they need to create promising applications and successfully carry out third-party projects funded by providers such as the DFG, the EU, the BMBF and major foundations.

profund-zertifikat-grafikTo obtain the ProFund certificate, participants must attend the following seminars and events:

  • Module 1 – Funding providers
  • Module 2 – Application workshop
  • Module 3 – Management and leadership

You can register to take part in the individual seminars at the Graduate Centre and apply for the certificate after completing the programme.

The modules at a glance

Who are the main funding providers for academic research? What are the unique features of these funding providers? What do I need to consider when writing an application? You will learn the answers to these questions and more during the seminars on funding providers. This module currently consists of four seminars:

  • DFG
  • EU
  • BMBF and foundations
  • Mobility funding through Humboldt, DAAD, EU (in particular Marie-Skłodowska-Curie programmes)

Participants must attend at least three seminars to obtain the certificate.

At the core of ProFund is the application workshop. We recommend you attend at least two seminars on funding providers (DFG, BMBF or EU) before taking part in the application workshop (see Module 1). If you would like to participate in the workshop, you must first submit an application consisting of a project outline (problem statement, work plan, current state of research, planned funding format) of around two pages in length. It is essential that you have a realistic idea for a project in order to get the most out of the workshop. The application workshop consists of a one-day kick-off workshop, which lays the foundation for the following weeks, and a two-day closed-door conference. Course instructors will be available between these sessions if participants need individual help.

Knowledge of how to organise third-party projects and of research project management is essential if you want to bring such projects to a successful conclusion. The two seminars on this topic are therefore a compulsory part of the ProFund certificate programme. Participants must also complete two further seminars offered by the Graduate Centre on topics such as knowledge communication, conflict management, supervising thesis projects and doctoral degrees, or personnel management. The optional seminars that can be selected to obtain the certificate are identified accordingly in our programme. If there is a topic that you think should be covered in a seminar which is not yet included in our programme, please let us know. We would be glad to plan seminars in the coming semester if there is sufficient interest, provided we can find suitable speakers.

Methodology and origin

The seminars are mostly conducted in small groups to ensure that participants learn as much as possible. The methods used include presentations, group works, analysis of best and worst practice examples, and discussions of real examples with colleagues. Much of the content is presented using the tandem trainer principle to ensure that various different perspectives and approaches are made apparent. Furthermore, FAU researchers who have experience in submitting successful funding applications are invited to many of the seminars to share their knowledge at first hand.

ProFund was set up on the initiative of the Office of Research Career Development led by Dr. Stefanie Herberger, the research representatives of the Faculty of Business, Economics, and Law (Dr. Dennis Kirchberg) and the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology (Dr. Robert Fischer). Patron of this certification programme for young researchers is the Vice President for Teaching and Learning, Prof. Dr. Friedrich Paulsen.

Contact persons in the faculties

Dr. Robert Fischer

  • Job title: Büro für Forschung und wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs (Philosophische Fakultät und Fachbereich Theologie)
  • Organization: Serviceeinheiten der Philosophischen Fakultät und des Fachbereichs Theologie
  • Working group: Office for Research and Young Scientists
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85-23049
  • Email:

Dr. Dennis Kirchberg

  • Organization: Verwaltung und Serviceeinrichtungen Rechts- und Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät
  • Working group: Forschungsreferent der Rechts- und Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät (RW)
  • Phone number: +49 911 5302-685
  • Email:

Dr. Stefanie Herberger

  • Job title: Referatsleiterin
  • Organization: Department of Research Services and Research Development
  • Working group: Office of Research Career Development and Graduate School
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85-20723
  • Email:


All postdoctoral researchers, habilitation candidates and junior professors who are members of FAU may participate. Doctoral candidates may participate if they are close to finishing their doctoral degree and there are places free in the seminars.

If there are places free and your application to attend the application workshop is accepted, you may participate as a doctoral candidate if you are close to finishing your doctoral degree (usually in the final year before submitting your thesis).

You should register through FAU’s Graduate Centre which is responsible for the administration and organisation of the programme. Please contact Kerstin Puls. You will receive confirmation of participation for each seminar that you complete.

To obtain the certificate you must complete at least three of the seminars in Module 1, the application workshop, two compulsory seminars in Module 2 (organisation of third-party projects and research project management) and two further seminars of your choice from the Graduate Centre’s programme.

You do not have to complete the courses within a specific time frame. As soon as you have obtained verification that you have attended all the required courses you can request a certificate from the Graduate Centre.

After you have presented confirmation of participation in all required parts of the programme, the Graduate Centre will issue you with a certificate signed by the Vice President of Teaching and Learning. If you have completed relevant courses at other institutions, they may be accredited provided they are judged equivalent.

To participate in the workshop, you must first submit an application consisting of a project outline (problem statement, work plan, current state of research, planned funding format) of around two pages in length to one of the responsible representatives. The representatives select participants for the application workshop on the basis of the project outlines. The focus is also on the likelihood of success of an application for third-party funding and not solely on the details of the research project.

The quality of the project outline and the applicant’s qualifications are the key criteria.

The optional ProFund seminars that can be selected are identified as such in our seminar programme. In the summer semester 2017, these include for example, conflict management in an academic context; supporting doctoral programmes; leadership and team management. An overview of these and other courses and seminars offered by the Graduate Centre is available here.

Please contact Kerstin Puls. Our programme is based on the interests of our participants. We will be happy to evaluate your suggestions and plan a new seminar for the next semester if there is sufficient interest, provided we can find suitable speakers.

If you can demonstrate that you have completed other seminars with the same content, they may be accredited by the Graduate Centre. We will pass on information about accredited seminars to the responsible representatives directly. The representatives select participants for the application workshop based on the potential of project outlines.