For Applicants

/For Applicants
For Applicants 2023-11-03T15:56:04+00:00

The IMPRS for Astronomy and Astrophysics and its partners, the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the University of Bonn and the University of Cologne, offer PhD research contracts funded for three years, which include attractive benefits. Funding is available to attend workshops and conferences. Training in professional skills such as presentation techniques is part of the curriculum. IMPRS researchers have their work place at one of the three partner institutes.

The Max Planck Society seeks talented, creative, and enthusiastic individuals and encourages all to apply, regardless of their gender, nationality, religion, disabilities, age, cultural background, or sexual identity. To qualify, candidates must hold or be close to obtaining (before November 1, 2024) a degree equivalent to a German university Diploma or Master of Science, including a written thesis in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, or a related field. Applicants must have knowledge of astrophysics and be skilled in the English language. Individuals with disabilities are particularly welcome to apply and may mention any such conditions in their application.

Please note

Candidates who have not started a Master's program are not qualified to apply for IMPRS A&A. Instead, they can apply for a qualifying Master's program at the Bonn-Cologne Graduate School of Physics and Astronomy (
Applications received until November, 1, 24:00 CET  will receive full consideration. The research contract can start at any time during the following year.  You should be familiar with the research projects offered at our website. You are encouraged to contact beforehand the supervisors of your preferred research topics by email. You may also contact our IMPRS office ( or present IMPRS students, who are happy to answer any questions related to studying in Germany.

The application process is through our electronic application portal.

Our application portal will guide you through the application process and will ask in particular for descriptions of your research experience, your motivation to pursue a PhD and your skills. It will also ask you about your preferred research projects. When applying, please ensure you have at hand the following information and PDF documents (in English).

  • Your CV; this document should be named surname_CV.pdf.
  • Names and email addresses of two or three professional references, who know you well and who have agreed to write a recommendation letter (recommendation letters received by November, 15 will receive full consideration). We will instruct them where to upload their recommendations. You will receive a confirmation once your referees upload their letters.
  • Bachelor transcripts, Master transcripts (in English or German, please provide a translation to English for other languages, an official translation is not necessary at this stage).
  • Optional: Any  publications including theses that resulted from your previous research  concatenated to one pdf file. This document should be named surname_docs.pdf.

The 2023 application round has closed, but the application portal will remain active.

Application portal
  • Applications are evaluated by  our Selection Committee.
  • The top-ranked applicants are invited (physically or via Skype-conference) to an interview and an oral presentation of their thesis work (January).
  • The Selection Committee recommends a final ranking to the IMPRS board. This list still may contain more candidates than PhD thesis that can be offered.
  • Supervisors will start negotiations with the most highly ranked applicants.
  • You will be notified whether or not your application has been successful. Please be aware that the admission to our IMPRS is very international and highly competitive, so that we sometimes have to reject candidates with an excellent CV.


This video shows you how to do your research at a Max Planck Institute.

PhD Projects and Supervisors

PhD projects

PhD projects at the IMPRS for Astronomy and Astrophysics are listed here. Mention in your application, which projects attract you most, and how you could contribute. We encourage you to contact the PIs of the projects for any questions or suggestions.

List of PhD Supervisors

If a supervisor is not faculty of of the U of Cologne or Bonn, you normally need a faculty member as co-supervisor.

List of Contact Students

These students can be contacted for any questions applicants have on living conditions, studies, research conditions etc.

Partner universities

University of Bonn

The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, founded in 1818, is among the largest universities in Germany with around 37,000 students. Approximately 5,200 foreign students from more than 130 countries and a large number of visiting professors and lecturers from abroad give an international dimension to teaching and research. [more]

University of Cologne

Established in 1388, the University of Cologne (German: Universität zu Köln) is one of the oldest universities in Europe and, with about 50,000 students, one of the largest  in Germany.  [more]