Application: Frequently Asked Questions 

Below we've listed the most asked questions. If your questions is not answered, please contact us via e-mail.

General Questions (regarding all applications):

What should I write in my motivation letter? Do I need to describe a specific research proposal? How long should it be?

Basically, you should briefly write why you want to take part in our  program! What are your research interests, which research group you aim to join and what do you want to accomplish at the school are points to be mentioned. Be precise! Please, note: you do not have to go far back to your childhood to introduce yourself! It is a good idea to ground your motivation and interests developed during your studies and from the courses you took. You do not need to have a concrete research idea, we only want to get an impression of your general interests and motivations. Usually, one page is a good length.

I have a great idea for a research project I would like to pursue. Can I submit my own proposal as part of my application?

We do expect our students to be innovative and creative regarding their research projects. That means we appreciate applicants who can develop own ideas within the areas covered by the IMPRS. We will discuss suitable scientific projects with you during our selection symposium. However, you are free to add an own proposal as part of your application.

Whom should I list as references in my application?

This is up to you. We recommend you to pick senior academic staff and scientists though, like principal investigators (PIs) or group leaders with whom you have worked for an extended period of time. You need someone who can provide a meaningful assessment of your skills to perform high-level scientific research as a PhD candidate. For example, the supervisor of your thesis would be a good choice. Please, note: you can either upload the letters together with the other documents or alternatively, you can provide the names and e-mail addresses of your referees. We will contact them and ask them to send their recommendations directly to us. Please note: Deadline for all reference letters (also for those we ask for) is the day the call closes!

Do I need to take an English language test?

We expect all applicants to have a profound knowledge of the English language, which is at the basis of the research work at the institute. You will make presentations in English and write scientific articles for top-quality scientific publications in English. Thus, a proof of English proficiency (IELTS/TOEFL exams or equivalent) is mandatory.  In case you graduated at an officially English-speaking program, you are exempted from this demand.

Do I need to master the German language?

No, you don’t. The teaching and supervision language at the IMPRS ProEng is English. Thus, German language skills are not mandatory. However, learning German is quite useful for your general integration in Germany.  We do offer free German language courses at the Max Planck Institute.

I don't have a degree in Engineering, Mathematical or Biological areas. Can I also apply with a non-standard scientific background?

Joining our program with a non-standard background might be challenging. If you don't shy away from those challenges and feel that your scientific experience might fit into the scope of our research, you are welcome to submit your application.

Do I have to pay a fee when I apply to the IMPRS Pro Eng?

No, you don’t. We do not charge any application fees.

PhD-Related Questions:

I have a Bachelor degree and want to start my PhD directly. Is that possible?

No, for pursuing your PhD a Master degree is mandatory. Currently, we do not offer a fast track program (joint Master and PhD program).

Can I apply before getting my official Master degree?

Yes, you can already submit your application before you get the official degree. In this case, you need to indicate the expected date of your degree, and submit the most updated academic transcripts. Please, note: the degree must have been awarded before you actually start the IMPRS program.

Is there a tuition fee?

There are no fees at the Max Planck Institute. However, you have to register as a PhD student at the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (OVGU). For the enrollment, you pay a fee of about 113,50 Euros per semester. That includes free public transportation.

What kind of financial aid do you offer for the PhD-Program?

All our doctoral candidates receive a standard working contract (OVGU) or support contract (MPI) with payment and benefits in accordance with a public collective agreement (TVL or TVöD). Your salary is based on TVL/TVöD E13 75%, which means that after taxes and social security contribution the average starting salary is around 1.800 Euro per month. More information.

How long does it take to complete the PhD?

The expected PhD duration time is four years.

What is the technical name of the awarded degree?

This depends on your research field. Engineering faculties award the title Dr.-Ing. while the Math faculty awards the title Dr. rer. nat.

Does the Max Planck Institute award the doctoral degree?

No, it doesn’t. Doctoral degrees are only awarded by universities. So, if you are admitted to our graduate school, you should enroll at the OVGU. You do not need to apply to the university at the time of applying to the IMPRS! You just have to enroll at the university after you are accepted to the IMPRS!

Does the Max Planck Institute or the Otto-von-Guericke University offer PhD students' residences?

There are no student residences for PhD candidates in Magdeburg. The institutes have guesthouses, where new PhD candidates can stay for 1-2 months until they find their own place to live, which is not difficult in the city.

When will I be able to start at the MPI if I my application has been approved?

The beginning of the work at the institutes varies a lot. Most applicants tend to start between February and October. The exact starting date is often dependent on the visa process. The vast majority of PhD-students were able to start immediatly after they have received their visa.

Is it possible to have an external supervisor for the thesis in Magdeburg?

Yes this is possible.

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