For Applicants

/For Applicants
For Applicants 2023-02-01T13:49:57+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.

Talent, creativity and passion – those are the qualities the Max Planck Society relies on. We select and support applicants irrespective of their gender, nationality, religion, disabilities, age, cultural background or sexual identity. Applicants must have (or are about to obtain) a degree equivalent to a German university Diploma or  Master of Science including a written thesis in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering or a related field. Candidates should have a background in Astrophysics and must be proficient in English. Persons with severe handicaps are especially encouraged to apply (you may mention this in your application).


Applicants without a Master yet can apply for a qualifying 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 topics 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 via our electronic application portal.

When applying, please ensure you have at hand the following information and documents as  PDF files (in English (preferred) or German).

  • A motivation letter (2-4 pages), including a description of your skills and research experience and mentioning your preferred research topics. You can also suggest a topic not on our list. A template for a motivation letter can be downloaded here. This document should be named surname_letter.pdf.
  • Your CV; this document should be named surname_CV.pdf.
  • Provide the 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, 10 will receive full consideration). We will instruct them where to upload their recommendations. You will receive a confirmation once your referees upload their letters.
  • Documents in the following sequence: B.Sc. transcripts, M.Sc. transcripts (in English or German, please provide a translation to English for other languages, an official translation is not necessary at this stage), this document should be named surname_bsc_msc_transcripts.
  • 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 application portal is closed,

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  • 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

Some representative PhD projects at the IMPRS for Astronomy and Astrophysics. Mention in your motivation letter, 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]