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The call for applications for 2017 is closed.  

Positions in 2018 will be announced here end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

Further information can be found here .

Please apply online. Application by email will not be considered.

Here your find more information about our online application procedure


Here your find more information about our online application procedure

How to apply for a PhD position in the Max Planck Society

More information

IMPRS Application

The call for applications for 2017 is closed. Positions in 2018 will be announced here end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

Please, carefully read our Application Instructions and check out all available projects .

Please note: Some of our positions are located in our partner institutions at the University of Cologne (UoC) and the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf (HHU).

Application deadline for 2018 will be in January/February, 2018. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to our Selection Symposium (March/April, 2018).

Successful applicants start their PhD projects in autumn 2018.

Below you will find more information on the requirements, how to apply, single steps of your application process, required documents and the selection procedure!


The program is open for students from all countries. Once you get accepted you will be enrolled at a University, which is usually the University of Cologne or Düssedorf. To be accepted as a doctoral student you must hold a Master’s degree, comparable to the German diploma (4,5 years of university studies in relevant areas).

It is not necessary to hold the degree at the time of application. However, you must have been awarded your degree prior to the start of the program. The quality of the degrees (i.e. eligibility) will be checked by the University of Cologne or Düsseldorf on a case-by-case basis.

The entire doctoral program is in English. Therefore, a good knowledge of English is absolutely required. We encourage you to support you candidature with scores of internationally valid language exams like TOEFL, IELTS or other tests. However, they are NOT mandatory.

How to Apply

You can only apply via our electronical online application process . Please do not send any other type of application by regular mail or email as they will be rejected. The application must be completed in English only. Besides the online application form, we need several documents from you. Documents that are not in English or German need to be translated.

You need to upload all the required documents as one single PDF file. Please give yourself enough time to submit your application and do not wait until the last moment as technical difficulties or other problems might occur. The Max Planck Society and the Universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf are equal opportunity employers.

Single steps of your application process

  • First of all: take the time to read all instructions and project proposals in detail.
  • Before you start with our online application: assemble all required documents, scan them and convert them into one single PDF file and name it LastName.FirstName.pdf.
  • Carefully fill-out the online application form , upload your pdf and press the start-button. You will receive an email confirming your upload.
  • You will receive an email with your personal registration code and a link which will lead your referees to the online recommendation form.
  • Provide your referees with your personal registration code and the link to the online recommendation form. Make sure they realize that we can consider your application only if they fill-out the recommendation form and upload their recommendation letter prior our application deadline (January/February 2018). You will receive a confirmation email after each of your referees uploaded her/his recommendation letter.
  • After we received your complete application and the two recommendation letters in time you will get an email (end of January or beginning of February 2018) telling if you are shortlisted and therefore invited for the Selection Symposium (March/April 2018) or not (occasionally there will be a scheduled telephone interview before the invitation is sent out).

Required Documents

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Letter of Motivation
  • We need certain documents that prove your specifications in your online application form. Documents that are not in English or German need to be completed with a translation.
  • High school degree transcripts (school leaving certificate, Abitur (for German students)) or equivalent
  • Your academic background is verified by certificates of relevant university examinations (e.g. BSc and MSc degrees), and a detailed record of study / transcript (a list of attended courses and – if applicable – corresponding grades). Please include an explanation of the grading system at your university, since we get applications from all over the world but do not know all the different university grading systems (obviously, the German grading system does not need to be explained).
  • The official teaching language of our IMPRS is English. Therefore you need to convince us that your English proficiency is sufficient for immediately starting with your research work. The best and most reliable way is an acceptable result in an internationally recognized test (e.g. TOEFL). Nevertheless, a verifiable higher education in English, or a reasonably long stay in an English speaking country are also convincing. However if you wish to prove your English skills, we need it documented by a third party.
  • Add further certificates that prove the given information in the application. But please, only provide documents which are important to support your application. Do not overload your application with certificates and documents of minor significance.
  • Scholarships, prizes and awards (if applicable)
  • Copy of passport (international applicants only)
  • Portrait picture

Selection Procedure

The admissions committee will review all applications received prior to the deadline (January/February 2018). Students will be selected according to their written application, grades and the letters of recommendation. Selected candidates will be invited for a personal interview (Selection Symposium: March/April 2018).

During the interview shortlisted candidates will be asked to present a 10 minute scientific presentation about the research of their Master's project or most recent research followed by a short panel discussion. This presentation is followed by a personal interview with senior scientist from the institute.

Decisions about final admission will be made shortly after the interview process. Candidates who are accepted for the program will be notified by email.

Please also read the application tips and application FAQs found in the menu to the right.

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