Do you have a question? Check out our frequently asked questions on different topics. If you can't find the answer here, please contact our Coordination Office (imprs-cbp@biophys.mpg.de).


In which subject should I have completed my Master's degree?
Our program is focused on research in experimental and theoretical cellular biophysics. To be eligible for the program, you should have completed your Master's degree in the natural or life sciences, including various branches of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, medicine, pharmacy, neurosciences, mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering. Ideally, you have already worked on biological, biochemical, or biophysical problems in experimental or theoretical settings during your undergraduate studies. If you are unsure whether your field of study is suitable for our program, please contact our Coordination Office before applying.

When do I have to have completed my degree?
Our program starts on September 15. To offer you a Ph.D. student contract, we need an official proof of your Master's degree. Therefore, you should have received your official Master's certificate by September 15. In case you have completed all your course work including your thesis by September 15, but will receive your official certificate later, please contact our Coordination Office before applying.

Can I also apply with a Bachelor’s degree?
In Germany, it is not common to start a Ph.D. with a Bachelor’s degree. Students holding a B.Sc. may be considered in exceptional cases if they provide excellent academic records and transcripts. Evaluation of the completed course work is done on a case-to-case basis and candidates may have to complete additional M.Sc. courses to be admitted to the IMPRS. Please contact our Coordination Office before applying with a Bachelor’s degree.

Is there an age limit?
There is no age limit. We welcome applications from excellent scientists of all ages.

What are the language requirements?
Our program is in English language. You should be proficient in speaking, reading and writing English. We do not ask you for an English language certificate but will evaluate your English language skills during the application interviews.

Is there a minimum grade point average (GPA) for admission?
There is no minimum grade point average to be admitted to the program. However, candidates are selected based on criteria of academic excellence. Therefore, the better your GPA, the better your chances.


How can I apply?
We only accept applications submitted online via our application portal. Please register in the portal with your name and email address. We will then send you an email with a log-in link which you can use to set a password and to access, complete, and submit the online application form. You can also save your progress and continue to complete the application form at a later time. Please understand that we cannot accept any applications submitted by mail or email.

What documents do I have to upload?
The documents that are mandatory to upload are the certificates and transcripts of ALL your degrees. If you have not yet completed your Master’s degree, please upload the preliminary transcripts. All required documents must be submitted in German or English language (translated by a certified translator). Please upload them in one single pdf file. In addition, you can attach optional documents such as your CV, publication lists, English language certificates, or certificates of scholarships, awards, or prizes.

When is the application deadline?
The deadlines for our two calls per year are January 15 and May 15, at 23:59 CET, rescpectively. You may nominate your referees until the deadline but we recommend you to do so earlier to give them more time to complete their letters. Your referees will have about 10 days time after the application deadline to upload their recommendation. They will be informed by email about the exact deadline.

What can I do if I have not received my final certificate by the application deadline?
If you have not graduated or received your certificates and final transcripts by the deadline, please upload your preliminary transcripts. You can hand in your final certificate and transcripts later. Please note that you should have completed your studies and received your certificate by September 15.

Do I need to include both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree grades?
Yes, please add a new item to the “Education” section in our online portal for each degree. Please also upload the certificates and transcripts of all your degrees.

Do I need to provide a proof of English language proficiency?
No, such proof is not required. However, if you would like to include your English language certificate, you can upload it as an optional additional document.

Do I need to find a potential supervisor before applying?
No, neither do you need to find a supervisor nor are you expected to contact faculty members before applying. You should check our website for an overview of the faculty members who are recruiting Ph.D. students in the current application round (Recruiting Faculty, please select the tab "Recruiting Faculty" in the top). In our online application form, you can select four faculty members for your lab rotations. In the section “Scientific interests” you can elaborate on your choice.

May I contact the faculty members directly?
We kindly ask you to refrain from contacting the faculty members directly. If you have any research-related questions, please address them to our Coordination Office. Our Program Coordinator will answer or forward your questions.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation do I need?
You do not necessarily need letters of recommendation to apply but you can invite up to three referees to upload their letters of recommendation. We recommend you to name at least one referee to increase the quality of your application.

Will my application be considered even without a letter of recommendation?
Yes. However, your chances will be increased if you nominate at least one referee.

When is the deadline for letters of recommendation?
The deadline for submitting letters of recommendation is about 10 days after the application deadline and will be communicated to your referees by email as soon as you submit their contact details. So, please make sure to inform and name your referees in the application portal well in advance.

How should my referees submit their letters of recommendation?
After you have entered your referees’ contact details in our online application portal and submitted the information via the “submit”-button, your referees will receive an email inviting them to log-in to the online portal. They will need to provide some general information on their own position and their assessment of your skills, and can either type in their letter of recommendation manually, or upload it as a pdf file.

My referee has not received an email with instructions how to submit the letter of recommendation. What can I do?
Please check whether you have entered your referee’s contact details correctly in the application portal first. Then send an email to the Coordination Office, including the name of the referee in question and his or her correct contact details if these were stored incorrectly in the online portal. The Coordination Office will update the contact information if necessary and re-send the invitation email to the respective referee.

Admission Process

What is the admission process to the program?
After the application deadline, our faculty will carefully evaluate all applications submitted through our online application portal. In mid-Febraury or mid-June, respectively, selected applicants will be invited for the interviews which will take place in early March / late June. During these interviews, applicants will have to give a short presentation outlining their research experience (e.g. during their Master thesis, Bachelor thesis or an internship) and stating an objective for their future research within the IMPRS on Cellular Biophysics. In addition, each applicant will have at least three interviews with one or two of our PIs each. Based on the online application and on the performance during the talk and the interviews, a decision is made whether or not an applicant is admitted to our program.

When and where will the interviews take place?
Please check our timeline for the interview dates. We ask all applicants to be available on these days. The interviews will be conducted virtually via video conferencing software.

When will applicants be invited to the interviews?
Applicants who are selected for the application interviews will be notified by email in mid-February or mid-June, respectively. All applicants who are not considered for the interviews and therefore will not be admitted to our program will be notified after the interviews.

When will applicants be notified about acceptance to the program?
Applicants will be notified shortly after the interviews whether or not they are admitted to the program.

Financial Matters

What costs will I have to bear?
The program itself does not cost anything. However, you will have to pay for your travel to Frankfurt or Mainz, your housing and all other cost of living. If you enroll as a student at the university, you will have to pay the semester fee of approx. 400 €. This fee also includes free usage of public transport and discounts for the university canteen as well as for many cultural, sports and leisure facilities. International students should also consider the costs for the Visa. Our program includes fully funded Ph.D. positions for all students admitted. The salary usually covers the regular monthly living expenses.

Is admission to the program associated with a scholarship?
Instead of a scholarship, all Ph.D. students admitted to our program will receive working contracts to pay their cost of living. In addition, International Max Planck Research Schools are internationally renowned and stand for first-class doctoral training of outstanding students. Like a scholarship, admission to an IMPRS is a criterion of scientific excellence.

What is the salary?
All IMPRS-CBP Ph.D. students receive a working contract according to EG 13 TvÖD (65%). This contract results in a monthly net income of approx. 1600-1700 €. Taxes, social insurance (e.g. pension and unemployment insurance), and health insurance that are obligatory in Germany are automatically deducted from your salary before it is transferred to your bank account.

Lab Rotations

What are Lab Rotations?
The concept of lab rotations is unique to the IMPRS on Cellular Biophysics. These lab rotations are short (three-week) internships that students complete in the beginning of their affiliation with our graduate school to get to know different research groups. The rotations provide a great opportunity to learn about various methods, techniques, and research topics, to network, and to establish interdisciplinary collaborations. Only after the lab rotations, students and group leaders decide in which group the students will start their Ph.D. work.

How do I know which research groups I should pick for my lab rotations in the application form?
You should choose the groups for your lab rotations based on your research interests. On our website (Recruiting Faculty, please select the tab "Recruiting Faculty" in the top), you find some brief information on our recruiting faculty members that already gives you an idea of their field of research. For more detailed information, please visit our PIs’ homepages by clicking on their names in their profiles on our website. You should select four preferences for your lab rotations in our online application form. Of course, we will try to meet your preferences, but we cannot guarantee this.

When and how will students be assigned to their final PhD labs after the lab rotations?
The final assignment of students to labs will occur after the end of the third lab rotation. Both students and PIs can indicate their preferences, and all decisions are made by mutual agreement between student and PI.

Program Start

When does the program start and when should I be on site at the latest?
The program starts on September 15. We recommend, especially our international students, to arrive at least one or two weeks in advance in order to complete the necessary bureaucratic tasks, such as registering at the citizen’s office, opening a bank account, and registering as a doctoral student at the university.

What can I expect during the first months after program start?
You will start with a three-months introductory training beginning with a week of lectures held by our faculty members to give you an overview of the research topics in the IMPRS on Cellular Biophysics. Additionally, there will be some welcome and get-to-know events, also with our current PhD students. During the following nine weeks, you will complete three three-week lab rotations in different labs until the end of November. In December, you will participate in different workshops to learn about important methods and techniques of biophysics. After the workshops, you will then start your doctoral research in your final working group.

Can I select which workshops I want to attend during the introductory training?
We offer different workshops in parallel and you can state your preferences. We encourage you to attend workshops on methods and techniques that you are not yet familiar with. The aim of the workshops is to learn about the capabilities and limitations of several techniques, to understand the theory behind them, and to gain some hands-on-experience, but not to become an expert. Since the number of participants is limited in most of the workshops, we will assign the slots on a first come-first served basis.

Is accommodation available on Campus?
The Max Planck Institutes at Frankfurt and Mainz have guest houses for short-term accommodation on campus. Candidates selected in our spring call can rent a room for a maximum of three months if any rooms are available. Please inform the Coordination Office as early as possible before your arrival if you would like to make use of this offer. The Coordination Office will check if a room is available, and coordinate the booking. If a limited number of rooms is available, international students will be preferred as it is usually more difficult for them to find a flat from abroad. If there is no room in the guest house available or if you applied during our fall call, the Coordination Office will inform you on different accommodation options. As the guest houses are not considered a long-term solution, all students are expected to make their own arrangements for an apartment or a room in a shared flat. The Coordination Office will provide you with useful information on suitable web portals and other addresses for finding accommodation.

Whom can I contact for questions regarding my visa?
Please contact our International Office for assistance with your questions regarding your Visa. Our International Officer will guide your through the process and support to prepare the documents needed.

PhD Training

Do I have to enroll at the university?
You have to register as a doctoral student at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main or at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz so that you are allowed to hand in your thesis and take your doctoral exam at the end of your doctoral training. Enrollment as a student is not mandatory but you may enroll either at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main or Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Both universities, as most universities in Germany, do not charge tuition fees but students do have to pay administrative fees (Semesterbeitrag) of currently around 330 euros (Mainz) / 390 euros (Frankfurt) per semester. This money goes towards subsidising student accommodation and canteens. It also entitles you to membership at the students’ union, a travel card for public transportation and access to university sports facilities.

In which courses do I have to participate?
To receive an IMPRS-CBP certificate with your PhD, students must complete the introductory training during the first weeks of their PhD, including lectures and practical training on technical and transferable skills, a training on good scientific practice and ethical research conduct, a training on how to keep a lab book, at least three soft/transferable skill courses (preferably one per year) and must participate in the regular IMPRS-CBP student seminars and annual retreats. Apart from these requirements, the relevant “Promotionsordnungen” (dotoral regulations) of the respective participating universities and their “Fachbereiche” (departments) specify the formal frame of the doctoral studies.

Do I need to collect credit points?
Our students do not need to collect credit points but must complete the above mentioned courses and trainings. If the relevant “Promotionsordnungen” (dotoral regulations) of the respective participating universities and their “Fachbereiche” (departments) specify the completion of course work specified by a certain number of credit points, these regulations have to be followed.

What is a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC)?
Each PhD student has an individual Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) that consists of four mentors. By providing regular feedback, the TAC ensures the progress of projects and supports our PhD students in their professional growth and personal development. Through its interdisciplinarity and diversity, the TAC opens up different perspectives, fosters scientific discussion, offers great networking opportunities, and supports students in achieving ambitious career goals.

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