For applicants

What does the IMPRS PhD program offer?

The Max Planck Institute for Physics participates in the IMPRS program of the Max Planck Society. Our IMPRS EPP (International Max Planck Research School on Elementary Particle Physics) offers an excellent scientific education within a structured framework. PhD students receive a three-year contract, which can be extended for one more year. With your doctoral work you have the possibility to gain insights into fascinating research questions: for example, what dark matter is made of, what accounts for the matter/antimatter imbalance in the universe, whether supersymmetry exists, or what significance string theory has for particle physics.

The research topics offered are in the fields of high-energy physics, astroparticle physics, or cosmology and have an experimental or theoretical focus.

Who is eligible for a PhD study at the IMPRS?

In order to become a PhD student at the IMPRS:

  • you must have completed your master’s study in physics with outstanding results
  • you must provide your written master’s thesis as documentation of a research project lasting at least six months
  • you should be able to show very good proficiency in English.

How can you apply?

Each year there are three calls to apply for admission to the IMPRS. The closing dates for applications are typically at the end of January, May, and September.

Application deadline is September 18th, 2023. The shortlisting will take place in October 2023. The shortlisted  candidates will be invited to participate in the IMPRS Recruitment Workshop on November 13th, 2023. Thereafter decisions will be made

Please apply exclusively with our application form. For your application, the following items are required:

  • your CV
  • your academic records
  • your master’s thesis, in German or English, or a (preliminary) summary and abstract of this work
  • two letters of recommendation, which will be transmitted from the referees to the MPP.

The Executive Committee, which consists of members of all three IMPRS EPP institutions, examines the applications. Selected candidates will be invited to the MPP for a presentation and interviews.

Successful applicants will receive an offer for admission to the IMPRS. The beginning of the doctoral work will be determined in consultation with the advisor.

Frequently asked questions

Q: When submitting my application, I made a mistake. What do I have to do to change/correct/update the information/documents provided (e.g., my email address, CV, grades, ...)?

A: Please resubmit your updated application under the same e-mail address or submit again with your correct e-mail address. If the same e-mail address is used, referees that were already notified in previous submission(s) will be reassigned automatically and will not receive another e-mail. Please do not write to the IMPRS secretariat about changes as they cannot modify any candidates submission.


Q: After submitting my application, there have been significant scientific/educational achievements which I would like to include in my application (e.g., Master thesis completed, Master degree received, research paper submitted/accepted for publication, updated transcript documenting excellent grades received, ...). What do I have to do to make these achievements part of my application?

A: Please resubmit your updated application under the same e-mail address. Referees that were already notified in a previous submission will be reassigned automatically and will not receive another e-mail. If the resubmission occurs before the application deadline, you will not have to inform the IMPRS secretariat of the changes and/or your resubmission. It will be your most recent submission that will be considered in the selection process.


Q: My referee has not received an invitation for uploading the reference letter. What could be the reason? How to fix this?

A: (1) Please make sure that the e-mail address of the referee provided in the appliction form is correct. (2) Please ask your referee to check also spam folders etc. (3) If all this fails, there will be the possibility to ask the IMPRS secretariat to re-send the invitation to your referee.


Q: My referee has already sent the recommentation letter but the status page claims that it has not been uploaded. Is this possible and what should I do?

A: The direct upload of a recommendation letter is indicated on the status page immediately after the upload. If a referee sends the letter by e-mail to the IMPRS secretariat, however, the upload may not appear instantaneously. If the recommendation letter upload does not show up one week after the application deadline, we recommend you to contact the IMPRS secretariat by e-mail to find out whether the recommendation letter has been received via e-mail.


Q: When is the optimal time to apply for an IMPRS fellowship? Should I apply for an IMPRS fellowship even though my graduation date is unknown? Is it possible to apply before completing the MSc degree?

A: We recommend applying for an IMPRS fellowship only if the finishing date of your MSc degree can be expected within the next three months. In fact, most promising candidates will be invited for a presentation of their scientific research achievements. Thus, it can be advantageous to apply only after first scientific results have been obtained which could then be part of this presentation. Also a referee may be able to write a more detailed/conclusive letter of recommendation once she/he has experienced how you have achieved results in your scientific research. It will be possible to apply before completing your MSc degree but MSc grades obtained so far should be provided as part of your application.


Q: Please find attached (chapters of) my thesis, my research paper, and/or my CV. Will it make sense for me to apply?

A: Please do not send us such (partial) information. We will not look at it separately. Only complete applications submitted via the application form above will be considered.


Q: On the application form there is a field to upload the MSc thesis or parts thereof. Should I upload the full thesis or only an abstract and a table content? What should I upload if my MSc thesis is still work in progress and not completed yet?

A: If available, we recommend to upload the full MSc thesis as a PDF document. This will be ideal as it will allow us to clarify beforehand whether it will be likely that requirements of the Munich universities will be met. Nevertheless, it is possible to apply already with an abstract and an outline (and maybe even first completed chapters) of your MSc thesis submitted in the respective field of the application form.


Q: I have not yet received the official MSc transcript from my university. Will it still make sense to apply at this point?

A: Indeed, it will be best to attach the MSc transcript to your application. However, in case it is not available, it will be important to provide us with your listing of your MSc grades achieved so far. Later on, when receiving an offer and before starting the PhD research work, this will then have to be confirmed by the official MSc transcript.


Q: At my university, a MSc thesis is not part of the MSc degree but a MSc report with an extend between 20 and 40 pages. Will I still qualify to be considered for an IMPRS PhD position?

A: For pursuing a PhD degree at our research school, our PhD candidates will have to get accepted to one of the PhD programs of the Munich universities. Without a MSc thesis including original research and of a minimum extend of 50 pages, acceptance to the PhD program may become difficult. Please note however that we have a limited number of fellowships allowing us to offer funding to particularly promising candidates without an eligible MSc thesis/degree for pursuing an additional MSc thesis and/or course work fulfilling the requirements of the Munich universities.


Q: Should I get in touch with prospective supervisors before applying for an IMPRS fellowship?

A: The IMPRS application procedure is intentionally kept very open also to help both candidates and supervisors to find a good match within their field of interest. Even if you are already decided on the field/supervisor you would like to work in/with, please do not contact the potential supervisor beforehand. Instead, you will have the chance to indicate your research interests on the application form. There your wishes should be expressed as concise and cleary as possible. If you receive an invitation to present yourself via ZOOM or on our recruitment workshop, then it will be recommended to get in contact with the supervisor(s) you are interested to work with maybe even before your talk.


Q: The submission deadline is over, now what? When do I learn whether my application was successful?

A: The recruitment team typically meets shortly after the deadline but may need extra time to decide in case of late arrival of recommendation letters or questions about the submission. Please refrain from enquiring about the result prior to the date of the recruitment workshop announced above.


Q: Why was my application declined?

A: In each application round we receive very many applications. Thus it is usually a difficult task for the selection committee to come to its final decisions. Reasons for decisions cannot be given. Also individual recommendations on how to improve the application for a reapplication in future rounds cannot be given.


Q: When receiving an offer for an IMPRS PhD position, when will I have to start/join the IMPRS?

A: With respect to the starting date of new IMPRS PhD researchers, we are usually quite flexible. In certain cases however it may be beneficial for the envisaged research project to start shortly after receiving your MSc degree. This will have to be coordinated with the respective PhD supervisor individually.