Expanding your research profile in a new environment of excellence is essential for sustainable professional development. One key to success is mobility: The Erwin Schrödinger program gives highly qualified postdocs the opportunity to pursue career-enhancing stays at internationally renowned research institutions, and also provides them with support after their return to Austria.

Target group

This program is aimed at highly qualified postdocs of all disciplines in the early stages of their research career.

Funding Goals

The Erwin Schrödinger program promotes career development by giving junior researchers the opportunity to conduct an independent research project.

Key objectives are:

  • The opportunity to work on projects at research institutions abroad, gaining valuable international experience in the postdoc phase (strengthening career prospects)
  • Opening up new fields of research, new approaches, methods, procedures, and techniques
  • Contributing to the development of research in Austria
  • Knowledge transfer back to the Austrian research community

Funding period and funding amount

  • Funding period:
    • Abroad phase: 10 to 24 months
    • Return phase: up to 12 months (depending on the requested duration of the abroad phase)
  • Funding amount
    • Variable basic fellowship for principal investigators (fellowship rates depend on country)
    • Allowance of €300 per month available for career-development measures
    • Where applicable: Principal investigator’s salary (current senior postdoc rate) and project-specific costs (flat rate) depending on the duration of the return phase (maximum €12,000) 


  • The applicant must have the academic qualifications needed to lead the proposed research project.
  • Completed doctorate
  • Fulfillment of the territoriality principle
  • Support of the principal investigator by the host (= host supervisor) at an excellent research institution abroad
  • Invitation from the host research institution abroad
  • Option to return to an Austrian research institution
  • For further details, please see the application guidelines.


  • Decided by the FWF Scientific Board based on an international review process
  • Five approval meetings per year

Application information

Rolling submissions using the online application portal elane

Funding institution

Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and, if applicable, other funding agencies



Inquiries and contact

Staff members of the specialist department Strategy - Career development


May 06, 2024: FWF Webinar: Focus on Career Programs (Women Only)

May 08, 2024: Focus on Erwin Schrödinger

Application portal

Program-specific FAQ – Application phase

Can I apply if I haven’t completed my doctorate yet? 

Yes, provided that the other application requirements are met and you will officially be completing your doctoral degree within the anticipated processing time (approximately 4 months). Should your application be approved before you have officially completed your doctoral degree, however, you will not be able to commence with the fellowship until you have submitted your doctoral degree certificate.

Can the research project also include a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are only eligible for funding if they are hypothesis-based and meet the research requirements that apply for all other FWF-funded research projects.

Is funding also available for short stays abroad?

No. The minimum stay abroad is 10 months.

Does the host research institution abroad have to be a university?

No. What is essential, however, is that the applicant has access to the infrastructure and the material and human resources necessary to carry out the project and that the applicant has the option to publish the research findings in their own name. This must be confirmed by the host research institution (Declaration by the Host; part of the cover sheet).

Can a research stay abroad be conducted at several research institutions?

If it is useful and appropriate for the project, applicants may request a stay abroad at a maximum of 2 research institutions. The stay at the second research institution must be at least 3 months. In this case, the required documents must be submitted from both research institutions, and the informal project description must include the relevant information (e.g., schedule and work plan).

What should be included in the invitation from the host research institution abroad?

It should be clear from the invitation that the host intends to support the planned research project and the applicant in conducting the project. The informal letter (on the letterhead of the research institution) must be attached to the project description. Please see the application guidelines for the exact requirements.

How do I apply for the return phase?

Applicants need a declaration of consent from the head of an Austrian research institution for the return phase at the time of application. The letter of recommendation from the Austrian research institution must also refer to the applicant’s planned return. The return phase is an essential component of the planned project and must be included in the project description. The project description must include information on planned project work or the planned completion of the project in Austria and, optionally, information on further future research work based on the project. Reviewers are asked to assess the work plan for the return phase and the potential for knowledge transfer.

Can I apply for return phase funding at a later date?

No. Return phase funding is an integral part of the requested Schrödinger project. A funding request for just the return phase at a later point in time (for instance, during the stay abroad) is not permitted.

Do I have to request a return phase, even if I don’t have a definite return option?

No. In light of the program’s overall objectives, a fellowship for a stay abroad can be requested without a return phase. However, at the time of submission, applicants must submit a recommendation from an Austrian research institution that contains relevant information about their return. Please note that the international reviewers will be asked, among other things, whether the knowledge acquired abroad will be beneficial for the Austrian research community.

Program-specific FAQ – Abroad phase

How much time do I have to start the fellowship?

The fellowship must be commenced within one year from the date the grant agreement is issued. The planned start of the project is to be defined in the declaration of acceptance and commitment. This must be submitted to the FWF at least four weeks before the project is scheduled to begin. If the project start is delayed for more than one year (without explanation or any communication with the FWF), the funds will be withdrawn. The earliest possible project start is the date of approval (pre-dating is not permitted).

Can I start the stay at the host research institution abroad before the Scientific Board’s funding decision?

Yes. However, in this case, travel and stay are at your own expense and risk. The fellowship itself cannot begin until it is officially approved, and the grant money associated with it cannot be paid out retroactively.

How is the fellowship paid out?

The grant recipient must have a current account with an Austrian bank for the approved research stay (e.g., personal account). Transfers to a foreign bank account can only be made in exceptional, justifiable cases. The principal investigator is responsible for any charges arising from this transaction. The required funds are transferred in semiannual installments upon submission of a written request (Transfer request form) and an interim report.

All further installments can be paid out only upon submission of an interim report. What does an interim report need to include?

The semiannual interim report must be submitted by the specified deadline together with the transfer request for the next installment of the fellowship (on elane as a supplementary application). In most cases, the report is a brief (approx. 2-page) summary of the project’s progress to date. Please note that it usually takes around 3 to 4 weeks to process the transfer of the fellowship installments.

When can I expect payment of the additional child allowance and travel expenses?

Travel expenses are paid with the first installment. The additional allowance for children is also paid at the start of the fellowship. For projects running longer than 12 months, the funding for the second year is paid out with the third installment. Please note that you are only entitled to a child allowance and travel expenses for your family if the child/children will be accompanying you for at least 6 months. If a child is born abroad, you can apply for an aliquot child allowance (on elane as a supplementary application) upon presentation of a copy of the birth certificate.

I plan to continue to make pension insurance contributions during my fellowship abroad. When and how can I request a refund for these contributions from the FWF?

Contributions to the statutory pension insurance (“voluntary” or “continuation of insurance” pursuant to the General Social Security Act (ASVG)) for the period of the fellowship abroad are refunded. The earliest you can request a refund is after you receive the second installment of the fellowship (no more than semiannually). To request a refund, please submit the required form (included with the approval letter) together with the assessment notice issued by the insurance provider to the FWF, along with proof of payment of the contributions (on elane as a supplementary application).

Can I attend conferences/meetings/congresses abroad related to my project even after the end of the fellowship?

Conference travel funded from the professional development allowance is permissible for up to 3 months after completion of the abroad phase. However, the travel and conference costs incurred must be paid during the term of the abroad phase as part of the fellowship.

What happens if I can't complete my project as originally planned?

Notify the FWF immediately in writing of any changes to the research project that deviate from the original project plan.

What happens if I have to interrupt my research project?

If you need to interrupt your fellowship for any reason, you need to submit an informal application to the FWF (as a supplementary application on elane). This request must be sent before the planned interruption and should include an explanation for the interruption. A decision will be made on the request by the executive bodies of the FWF. In any case, you should contact the FWF in advance. No funds will be transferred during the interruption period.

When and how can I apply for an extension?

The FWF assumes that the project can be carried out in the proposed period of time. In justified cases, grant recipients can apply for an extension of up to 6 months (while remaining within the maximum funding period abroad of 24 months). Applications for extensions of 4 to 6 months are subject to external review. The application must be submitted (as a supplementary application on elane) early enough to allow for the review to be completed and the Scientific Board can reach a decision before expiration of the first funding period.

What happens if I have to terminate the project prematurely?

If a project must be terminated prematurely, please notify the FWF immediately (as a supplementary application via elane). The rest of the fellowship will either be paid out on an aliquot basis or – if payment has already been made in advance – the pro-rated amount of the fellowship funding must be refunded to the FWF.

What needs to be included in the final project report?

For projects without a return phase, the final project report must be sent to the FWF no later than 3 months after conclusion of the project. A confirmation of the duration of the stay issued by the research institution abroad must be included.

If you applied for a return phase, an interim report including a confirmation of the duration of the stay issued by the research institution abroad must be sent to the FWF after the abroad phase; the final project report on the entire research project must be submitted no later than 3 months after completion of the return phase.

I am not entitled to vacation time during the fellowship. What does this mean?

A fellowship does not involve an employment contract. This means that you have no claim to paid time off or vacation time; it’s up to you to ensure that you organize your time in such a way that you can complete the work as scheduled (this needs to be confirmed in the final project report and in a statement from the hosting research institution).

How am I insured during my stay abroad?

The fellowship does not include any insurance coverage.

Can I attend conferences/meetings/congresses abroad related to my project even after the end of the fellowship?

Conference travel funded from the professional development allowance is permissible for up to 3 months after completion of the abroad phase. However, the travel and conference costs incurred must be paid during the term of the abroad phase as part of the fellowship.

Program-specific FAQ – Return phase

What does the “option to return” mean?

A return to Austria, making the knowledge acquired abroad available to the Austrian research community, is one of the program’s key objectives. For this reason, applicants must have a recommendation from an Austrian research institution at the time of submission; the institution should express interest in the applicant after their return. Applicants who do not have a secure return option (i.e. a leave of absence from an existing employment contract) can request funding for the return phase. The FWF recommends requesting these funds to ensure a guaranteed return option after the stay abroad.

Do I have to start the return phase immediately after the abroad phase of the fellowship?

The return phase can be started – with the FWF’s approval – up to 12 months after the end of the FWF-funded stay abroad. Any delays beyond this must be explained in writing (as a supplementary application on elane) in advance and will be handled by the FWF’s executive bodies.

Can the return phase be extended?

The return phase can be extended up to a maximum of one year in a cost-neutral manner. The extension may be facilitated either by reducing the extent of employment or by reallocating funds for non-personnel costs to personnel costs.

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