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Postdoctoral Career Paths

Various qualification routes can lead to an academic career.

Various qualification routes can lead to an academic career.
Image Credit: Alexey Ivanov / iStockphoto

These days, candidates who wish to embark on an academic career in the German academic system generally work toward obtaining a professorship. Up until a few years ago, obtaining an appointment to a professorship almost always required that a candidate complete the Habilitation process, in most cases in a limited-term assistantship under a professor’s supervision.

Since the late 1990s, there has been an increasing push to create alternative qualification channels in order to limit the often lengthy period of dependency. Various funding institutions now sponsor programs for leaders of junior research groups, providing the young researchers with funding for a longer period to enable them to develop their own groups.

Junior professorships introduce junior scholars and scientists to academic self-management and autonomous research and teaching activities at an early stage. These qualification positions are often preceded by one or more postdoctoral phases in Germany or abroad.