The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is connecting academic excellence worldwide by knowledge transfer and cooperation at the highest level. Its objectives are:


  • Excellence worldwide: Sustained by individual sponsorship for excellent scientists and scholars from all countries and disciplines based on research fellowships and research awards. There are no quotas, either for individual countries or for individual academic disciplines. The selection committees, which comprise academics from all disciplines, make their decisions independently and solely on the basis of the applicants’ academic quality.


  • Autonomy and freedom: Humboldtians are free to choose their own hosts and research topics and work without any stipulations being made by the Foundation. The Foundation does not instruct how research proposals should be implemented.


  • Neutrality and independence: There are no ideological, commercial, political or denominational ties.


  • Durability and sustainability: The Foundation maintains an active worldwide network of 22,000 scientists and scholars. Even after the research visit has come to an end the sponsorship continues.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859) was a cosmopolitan explorer, humanist, patron of excellent academic talent and a fighter for the freedom of research. Shortly after his death, a circle of his friends established a foundation in his memory in 1860 to use science and international exchange to overcome boundaries and promote peace. After a varied history and temporary closures, today’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has been running steadily since 1953.


Mutual understanding coupled with academic freedom and excellence have remained the principal objectives of the Foundation to this day. In accordance with those fundamentals, the Foundation maintains an international network of cooperation and trust. It links together more than 22,000 Humboldtians worldwide, including 40 Nobel Prize winners.


From 2009 to 2013 a total of 2,745 new research fellows from abroad participated in the Humboldt programs. Since 1953, about 650 guest researchers from Canada have participated in the Humboldt programs. For the period of 2009 to 2013, 112 of 239 applications from Canadians were accepted.