Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

  • Will my master degree be recognized by your institution?

    The PhD degree is given by one of the neighbouring universities, and therefore their official admission rules apply. In general, most master degrees with good marks are accepted, for details see the information provided by Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Potsdam.

  • Can I apply before I got my official master degree?

    Yes, you can send your application before you got the official degree. The only condition is that you should hold your master degree when you start here.

  • What background in physics or mathematics is required?

    We expect an excellent background in theoretical physics and mathematics - the precise profile depends of course on the field one is applying for (more towards mathematics or theoretical physics).

  • Does the Max Planck institute award the doctoral degree?

    Doctoral degrees are only awarded by the universities. If you are admitted in our graduate program, you will also have to enrol officially in one of the neighbouring universities in Berlin or Potsdam. You do not need to apply to the university at the time of applying to the IMPRS; you have to matriculate at the university only after you have been accepted in the IMPRS.

  • How does the IMPRS PhD work?

    The doctoral training within the IMPRS is primarily focussed on research. There are no compulsory lecture courses that need to be attended although students are encouraged to benefit from the courses offered at the neighbouring universities (see here for the current offer). In addition, the IMPRS organizes lecture days for its doctoral students on more specialized topics. 

  • How long does it take to get the PhD?

    The expected time is 3 years, extensions are possible in excpetional circumstances.

  • Is there a tuition fee?

    There are no fees at the Max Planck Institute. For the enrolment at the university you have to pay a fee of about 500-600 Euro per year which includes free public transport.

  • What kind of financial aids do you offer?

    For all students (of any nationality) based at AEI we offer a working contract following the rules of the collective wage agreement "Tarifvertrag öffentlicher Dienst" that includes contributions to health insurance, pension funds and is taxable. Extra payment for children is possible. The net salary is in the range of 1300 Euro.

  • Does the Max Planck Institute offer some kind of students' residences?

    There are no student residences for graduate students. The institute has a guesthouse, where new students can stay for 1-2 months until they found a place to live.

  • Do I need to take an English language test?

    We expect all applicants to have a good knowledge of the English language which is at the basis of the research work at the insitute. We however do not require any language test. If you have a test result, you can of course include it in your application.

  • Do I need to take the GRE in order to apply?

    No, the GRE is not required. If you have a test result, you can of course include it in your application.

  • When is the deadline for applications?

    The deadline for applications is announced on the applications page. All applications that are complete (including both letters of recommendation) will be reviewed in the meeting of the selection committee.

  • When will I be informed about the outcome of my application?

    The selection committee will meet and discuss all complete applications with both letters of recommendation. All the concerned groups will have reviewed your application until then, and a decision will be made on your invitation for an interview. The maximum time between application and offer of a position can be up to six months. Please take this into account when submitting your application.

  • How do I know that my application is complete?

    After submitting your application you will receive an automatic confirmation e-mail. You will also receive a confirmation message when your application is complete with two letters of recommendation.

  • Do I need to ask my referees to send their letters?

    You should make sure that your referees agree to send their letters. After you have submitted your application online, they get an automatic email with instructions how to upload the letter. Please inform them that they should expect such an email, so that it is not ignored. If they wish, they can also send their letter by email to .

  • I want to work in one of the research groups at the universities. Is it enough to apply via the IMPRS homepage or should I send an additional application?

    It is advisable to contact the research group you are interested in directly, and to inform them about your application.

  • Do I need to apply for financial support separately?

    No, every applicant is considered also for financial support. 

  • Do I need to provide certified translations of my transcripts and degrees?

    At the point of your application, you do not need a certified translation. You can put scans of your original documents, and provide a list of your transcripts in English (along with an explanation of the meaning of the grades, e.g. you should specify the scale of the marks: what is the lowest/highest possible mark). You might be required to provide an official translation later in case you are selected.

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

    The essay should describe your motivation why you want to come to our institute. You do not have to go far back in your past and motivate your choice from your childhood, but you can motivate it from the interests you 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. Half a page is usually a good length, and it should certainly not be longer than one page.

  • If I am about to finish my master degree, can I put it in the field 'Highest degree obtained'?

    Yes, you can put the degree you are expected to obtain with the foreseen date.

  • Do I need to name a 'Preferred Advisor'?

    No, you can leave this field blank. On the other hand, if you have a strong wish or maybe already had personal contact to one of the advisors, you may put his/her name.

  • Can I make more than one application specifying different preferred advisors?

    Please only submit one application, but you can enter several names in the entry 'Preferred advisor'.

  • What should I put in the field 'Comments'?

    You do not need to put anything. This field can be used for additional important comments, e.g. if you could come with your own fellowship, or if you will not be available for interview in a certain period, or if you can only name one referee, or if you have a clarifying remark regarding your application material...

  • I would like to name a third referee. Is this possible?

    If you think that it gives a more complete picture of your application, you can also name a third referee (e.g. if you have studied/worked in several places). In this case please mention this in the 'Comments' field, and ask the third referee to directly send the letter to . Please do not overdo it and do not name four or more referees.

  • I have done my degree in Cambridge in the 'Master of Mathematics / Master of Advanced Study' program, which does not include a master thesis. Can I still apply?

    Yes, you can apply, the degree will be accepted.

  • In my master program I can choose between a written thesis/essay, and more advanced courses. What is better for my application?

    We would always advise you to choose a written thesis, in which you can make your first research experience. Also, a letter from your thesis advisor will always be more important than letters from lecturers who only know you from the courses.


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