The Cusanuswerk is one of the thirteen German sponsorship organizations financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany) to promote gifted students. It is headquartered in Bonn.
The Cusanuswerk was founded in 1956 under the authority of the German Bishops' Conference. Name giver of the organization is the medieval scholar Nicholas of Cusa. The aim of the Cusanuswerk is to promote gifted Catholic students until their university graduation.
From 1988 to 1995, the Cusanuswerk was directed by Annette Schavan; from 2004 to 2011 it was led by Josef Wohlmuth. On October 1, 2011, he was succeeded by Georg Braungart. Auxiliary bishop Christoph Hegge, Münster, is the commissary of the German Bishops' Conference for the Cusanuswerk since 2013.
The Cusanuswerk awards public funds to "particularly gifted catholic students of all disciplines."
For admission, candidates have to apply at the organization or suggested for application by university lecturers or high school teachers.
The selection is a multi-step procedure. At its end, around one quarter of all applicants will be admitted. Admission depends on three main criteria including academic performance, social engagement and catholic denomination. Admission is possible starting at the entrance to university but also at later stages as long as five semesters of standard study period remain.
An annual exhibition is organized for applicants studying arts, displaying works of all nominated applicants.
Financial support is subject to the rules by the Federal Ministry of Education. It consists of either a fixed monthly lump-sum or a more generous means-tested scholarship for students in need, similar to the regulations of the BAföG. Doctoral students receive a scholarship independent of their financial background. Additional support is available for study and research stays abroad.
The academic support includes regular educational events as well as a spiritual enrichment program. It is expected that support recipients attend an annual summer school organized by the Cusanuswerk.
During their studies, Cusanuswerk scholarship holders form groups at the location of their college. An appointed liaison professor provides additional support. All local scholarship groups elect representatives. Representatives of all local groups meet semiannually for a joint assembly (Cusanerkonferenz).
Social engagement and the acquisition of international experience are particularly encouraged for scholarship holders.
The Cusanuswork also offers special career support for women based on mentorships and additional seminars.