For PhD Researchers

/For PhD Researchers
For PhD Researchers 2018-04-11T11:44:17+00:00

This is a very brief to do list for your first days in Germany. Here you find much more information.

Your contract

When arriving at you new workplace, you should first contact your group secretary or the international office at the MPIfR in order to sign your research contract or stipend contract if you have not done so. IMPRS researchers receive 3 years of guaranteed funding, with a probation period of 6 months. If you have a research contract, it comes with a series of benefits: annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave, contribution of the employer to health and accident insurance and a pension scheme.

Health insurance

In Germany, health insurance is mandatory. For researchers with a research contract, this needs to be an insurance from the public health service (“Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung”) and your employer will pay part of the costs. When you receive your contract, you will be helped in contracting an insurance. It is strongly recommended to buy an additional international health insurance covering expenses worldwide (less than 20 Euros per year) and to have a liability insurance (about 60 Euros/ year).

Address Registration

Everyone who stays in Germany for longer than 3 months must register at the Resident Registration Office (“Einwohnermeldeamt” in German). This should be done within 7 days after arrival. You have to inform the Resident Registration Office each time you change your address and when you leave Germany. For researchers at the MPI this will be taken care of by the MPIfR Welcome Office; others: ask at your institute secretary.

Residence Permit

All non-EU citizens should have entered the country with an official student/working visa. This is valid for three months and must be converted after arrival into a residence permit. The respective immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde” in German) is responsible for the conversion. For researchers at the MPIfR this will be taken care of by the institute’s international office; others: ask at your institute secretary.

Open a Bank Account

To open a bank account you can choose any bank. Most PhD researchers have an account with the local Sparkasse Köln Bonn (e.g. branch Magdalenenplatz in Bonn).


Unfurnished rooms/flats here are just that: completely unfurnished (i.e. they don’t even have lighting fixtures!). Sometimes unfurnished apartments have built-in kitchen facilities (sink, refrigerator, cooking stove). The rent for a furnished apartment or a flat for a single person is approx. 450 € per month.

All-inclusive rents are not the rule. Normally the rent consists of two parts: the basic rent + a monthly prepayment for incidental expenditures (= “Nebenkosten”), such as waste disposal, street cleaning etc. You need to find out whether or not Nebenkosten include heating and water. Once a year you will be given a detailed accounting of all the Nebenkosten. After deduction of the monthly prepayment, this either results in a refund or an additional payment. Rent always has to be paid in advance each month. It is advisable to arrange with your bank for an automatically transfer the rent every month (= Dauerauftrag).

Electricity/ Internet:  Usually each tenant makes his/her own contract with the provider. For electricity, a  certain amount will be estimated, which has to be paid every month. Once a year a  settlement is made.

Along with the first payment of the monthly rent usually a deposit (“Kaution”) amounting to 2x (sometimes 3x) the basic rent has to be paid.  On termination of the lease, the deposit will be repaid after deduction of any amount needed for any necessary repairs or renovations (sometimes several months after you have moved out).

You may start checking at the MPIfR international office what housing offers are presently available (there are quite a number of landlords who notify us when they have vacancies). You can search online portals such as,  or  (→ Wohnungsmarkt → first choose between „WG-Angebote (= living community) or „Wohnungsangebote“ (leading to one-room offers), then choose „Bonn“) and side “Angebote lesen” choose Bonn. This leads to WG offers; under 1. “Rubrik wählen” you can change to what you are looking for (1-Zimmer-/ Mehrzimmer-Wohnung)

German Classes

Even though speaking German is not required at our IMPRS, we strongly recommend to take German lessons. The partner Universities are offering free lessons at a beginner or at higher level. For details, contact the IMPRS office.

Registration at the respective University Bonn or Cologne

We expect all PhD candidates to be enrolled as a PhD student at his or her respective university during the time spent for their thesis work.


You might be expected to teach during your PhD. This is part of your general training as a PhD candidate.

Thesis Advisory Committee

The Thesis Advisory Committee, TAC, (consisting as a minimum of your day to day advisor, you 1st referee, a member external to your group)  is meant to advise on academic and other matters, and is expected to meet once every semester.  The TAC also gives recommendation to proceed with the work after the probationary period, and to extend the research contract beyond 3 years if necessary.

Setting up the TAC: Adviser and student have the joined responsibility on both (a) setting up the TAC and (b) its regular meetings. While the executive responsibility to form the  TAC goes to Adviser, (b) the student is responsible to schedule the regular TAC meetings.

PhD Proposal

Each IMPRS student is required to write and submit a PhD proposal (approximately 2-3 pages) within the first 6 months after they have started their PhD. The PhD proposal  is written together with the supervisor. It describes the research objectives to be reached as well as the milestones of the research. The PhD proposal shall  ensure  that the thesis can be successfully finished within the foreseen time frame of three years. In its first meeting, the TAC decides on the viability of the project and recommends, or not, a continuation of the thesis work. In subsequent TAC meetings, updated versions of the PhD proposal may serve as a basis for deciding on the best strategy for a successful completion of the work.


A weekly seminar from students to students gives an overview of all research projects carried out by the members of the school and provides opportunities for discussion between students and researchers. The seminar takes place on Mondays from 13:00 until 14:00.

Every student should give at least one seminar talk per year (length: 20-30 min). Contact the IMPRS office to schedule those talks (approximately in months 6, 18 and 30 from starting your work. In this talk the research project, its progress and aims should be presented.

Annual Report

IMPRS students are asked to deliver an Annual Report to the IMPRS Secretariat by 31 January of the following year. The report should list
  • Summer/winter schools attended (name, place, dates)
  • Conferences/workshops attended (name, place, dates). Please also give titles of talks/posters presented.
  • Publications (published, in press, submitted.
  • Dates of TAC meetings.

Things to do When Leaving

  • Give written notice of leaving to your landlord (usually 3 months in advance, best by registered mail).  Arrange a time with the landlord to come  checkoff damaged and then pay your deposit back to you.
  • End health insurance.
  • Close electricity and internet account (for which you will normally have given direct debit authorization).
  • Unregister at the Einwohnermeldeamt
  • Terminate any standing orders with your bank (e.g. for rent) in time and finally close bank account.
  • Leave your future address in the IMPRS Office
  • Give a copy of your PhD thesis in digital form (PostScript or PDF) to the IMPRS Office (not necessary if you submitted an electronic version to the eLibrary of the University of Bonn (ULB) or Cologne (KUPS)).
  • MPIfR: “work off” the Laufzettel/Circular letter (i.e. return keys, transponder, return books to the library, pay outstanding bills etc.

1. Registration

As an IMPRS researcher you have to be enrolled at one of our partner universities during your entire PhD work.

For the registration of foreign IMPRS students there exists an agreement with the Clearing Office on a simplified procedure. Admission to studies at the University of Bonn will be granted based on details provided by the IMPRS Office ahead of the official registration period. If you want to you can be enrolled as a doctoral student for as long as it takes you to finish. In case the PhD confirmation (“Promotionsbestätigung”) has not yet been obtained, registration is made for one term (“Orientierungssemester”) first and will be extended as soon as the PhD confirmation is presented.

For the registration the following documents are needed:

  • Registration form
  • Originals of certificates
  • Proof of health insurance. If you are privately health insured, you need to go to a public health insurance company with a certificate from your private one and obtain a form, which is called “Befreiungsbescheinigung von der gesetzlichen Krankenversicherung”. You need to bring this form for the enrolment
  • Passport

You will get a transfer form for payment of the registration fee (so-called social contribution, “Sozialbeitrag”). There are no tuition fees; the only fee is a registration fee (“Sozialbeitrag”) to the University of Bonn which is currently about 284 Euro per semester. It entitles you to free public transportation in the region of NRW and reduced event tickets.

Upon registration, you will receive a preliminary certificate proving that you are regularly enrolled at the University of Bonn. You can use this as a ticket for public transport from the first day of the semester (1st October or 1st April, respectively) until you receive the Student ID. The ID number (“Matrikelnummer”) you will be given upon registration is valid throughout your studies at the University of Bonn. It should always be quoted in official letters to the University.

Student ID: Two to four weeks after registration and after payment of the social contribution has been received, the registration certificates and the student ID card will be sent to your home address.

Re-Registration: Once enrolled at the University of Bonn, you will have to re-register (“Rückmeldung”) for each of the following semesters. There is a registration deadline by which you need to transfer the registration fee (“Sozialbeitrag”) — 31 August for the winter term and 28 February for the summer term. You will then receive your semester documents. Please take into account that the transfer could take up several days. If the deadline is missed a fine of 25 € has to be paid.

Change of Address: The Studentensekretariat has to be informed of every change of your personal data (i.e. change of name, address, nationality) immediately, quoting your registration number (Matrikelnummer). Address: Studentensekretariat der Universität Bonn, Poppelsdorfer Allee 49, 53115 Bonn, Fax: 0228-73-7421  or  0228-73-1740

2. Admission to PhD studies

To be admitted to start a Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Bonn, a German Diploma in Physics, a Master of Science degree (including a written Master’s thesis) or an equivalent foreign degree is required.

The application for admission to doctoral studies (“Antrag auf Zulassung zum Promotionsstudium”) is submitted to the Ph.D. board of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences – via the Section Physics/Astronomy, which will decide individually whether you fulfil the formal requirements to start doctoral research. You need to have two official supervisors, who evaluate your thesis. One of them is usually the head of your research group. Please note that the second referee can be a professor appointed for lifetime from another university if the first referee is a professor for lifetime at the University of Bonn. This does not apply to professors of honour.

In addition to the application form the following documents are required:

  • a letter to the Dean of the Faculty applying for academic recognition of your previous achievements as well as to obtain the permission to write your Ph.D. thesis in English and take the exam in English
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Original and copy of your certificates
  • Certified copies of academic records
  • Copy of the Master’s Thesis (if written in English; otherwise an abstract in English)
  • Copy of your residence permit
  • TOEFL (or equivalent)

These documents are presented to the Secretariat of the Physics/Astronomy Section of the Faculty (Endenicher Allee, Rm 1.033, with working hours of Mo-Fr 11:00-13:00). After the Section’s Head has checked your documents and signed approval, the application is forwarded to the Dean’s office.

If approval is given you will receive a certificate that the degree you obtained at your home University is considered equivalent to that of the University of Bonn. It also states that there are no objections to registration for doctoral studies in Astronomy and that you intend to write your thesis and take the exam in English, so that German language knowledge and certificate is not necessary. In addition, you will receive a “Promotionsbestätigung”, a confirmation that you meet all admission requirements for carrying out a dissertation at the University of Bonn. This form needs to be presented to the Studentensekretariat mentioned under 1. The Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences signs both papers.

3. Submission of your thesis at the U. of Bonn

Generally, all four members of the examination board need to be qualified as professors (“habilitiert”) one of them can be from outside the U of Bonn. Exceptional cases such as members of the commission are professors from outside Germany are subject to the dean’s approval. Moreover, the dean’s office evaluates each case individually and specific questions should be addressed to  Each PhD candidate has to write to this email address to get a form that he/she needs to fill out before submitting the thesis.

The PhD Examination Board (“Promotionskommission”) consists of 4 members, the 1st referee (the official supervisor), the 2nd referee (second examiner) (who in general is the chairperson of the examination board), a university teacher  of the same or similar field (i.e. a physicist) (in general suggested by the PhD candidate and who must be qualified as a professor (“habilitiert”), and a university teacher external to your subject (meteorology, chemistry or geodesy might be considered too near by the dean, but e.g. pharmacists, biologists or even philosophers are accepted).

Period of Display (“Auslegefrist”): Upon submission of the thesis and all relevant documents (see next page), a complicated procedure follows to collect the reports in the dean’s office and to derive the grade. Then follows a 2 weeks’ term of display plus another week to announce the colloquium.

Note: the grade “excellent” (ausgezeichnet, summa cum laude)  requires a third, external report. The supervisor suggests three referees of which the dean then chooses one. Choosing the external referee and waiting for her/his report may delay the process another 2 months.

The procedure in details

Submit the following to the Promotionsbüro (PhD Office): Mr. Jorg Wenniges, Wegelerstr. 10, Telephone:  0228-73 2232, Opening hours of the office:  10:00-12:00 Monday – Thursday

  • An application to be admitted to the PhD examination procedure. This form can be requested by email at as mentioned before. The form that is published on pages 44 ff. is just a SAMPLE. The application has to be signed and a photo should be pasted in. You have to add a declaration instead of an oath that you have indicated all means of help. This is called “eidesstattliche Erklärung” in German. We have attached a sample.
  • 5 copies of the thesis – indelibly printed and bound – containing a summary and a curriculum vitae. The layout of the title page and of the 2nd page should follow the example on the reverse page of the details of the examination procedure (“Hinweise zum Promotionsverfahren – attachment 2)
  • If applicable, 5 copies each of advance publications of major parts of the thesis.
  • One single copy of the summary of the thesis (including your name and the title of the thesis – see example attachment 3)
  • One single copy of the curriculum vitae
  • Completed undergraduate and postgraduate certificates (diploma or bsc and msc copies and originals)
  • A “Führungszeugnis für Behörden” (clearance certificate/certificate of no criminal record) – see separate page for details how and where to apply for it (will be sent to the Promotionsbüro directly)
  • A legalized copy of a valid passport and presentation of the original
  • Proof of at least 2 terms doctoral studies at the University of Bonn or an existing employment at the University of Bonn (proof of MPI employment is not accepted)

One copy of the thesis (the examination copy) is stamped and forwarded to the supervisor (1st or 2nd referee) who signs and returns it to the Promotionsbüro. The first and second referees receive the thesis for assessment. The first and second referees submit their assessment to the Promotionsbüro. According to the PhD Regulations they have to do this within one month after request by the Promotionsbüro, i.e. not necessarily one month after submitting. Copies of the assessments are sent to the 3rd  and 4th member of the examination board who have 2 weeks to forward their vote to the chairperson of the examination board (usually the 2nd referee). The chairperson of the examination board informs the Promotionsbüro of the acceptance of the thesis and the cumulative grade. The Promotionsbüro distributes the announcements. And only now the 21 days’ term of display plus 7 days for the announcement of the colloquium (Promotionskolloquium) starts.

Even under ideal conditions (i.e. the referees submit their assessments right away and not take the full time at their disposal), the period of time between submitting and defending the thesis will be at least 2 months! To ensure a smooth and swift process, it is advisable to talk to the 1st and 2nd referee of your thesis as early as possible and also let them have a version of the thesis prior to the official one they are going to get from the Promotionsbüro.  Please note that in general no exams will be possible during the semester holidays!

Conferral of a doctorate consists of two parts:

1. The PhD Thesis: The thesis has to be scientifically substantial and has to document the ability of independent research and adequate presentation of the results. The thesis is normally written in English. It has to be submitted indelibly printed and bound. It must include a complete list of the literature and other sources used and quotations of help received and facilities employed.

2. Oral Exams, consisting of: A public scientific talk with discussion (Promotionskolloquium) and a non-public oral exam (Disputation) following the talk. In the Promotionskolloquium the doctoral candidate presents the scientific results of his/ her PhD work. The length of the talk should not exceed 30 minutes. Afterwards 15 minutes should be allowed for scientific discussion. Be aware that part of the audience (including part of the examination board) are not experts in your field. The Disputation will take between 30 minutes and 90 minutes. A sealed envelope (containing the reports and grades) that you will be given after the defence. needs to be submitted to the Promotionsbüro.

Based on this you will receive a certificate that you passed the PhD exam. The official certificate (“Promotionsurkunde”), however, will only be delivered after submitting the following documents:

  • Confirmation by the institute’s (= Astronomical Institutes’) librarian (Mrs. E. Danne, room 3.09 Uni) that one copy of the thesis has been handed over (attachment 4)
  • “Entlastungsbescheinigung” (relief) by the institute (attachment 5)
  • Proof that the thesis has been made available to the scientific public.

Either a confirmation of the supervisor that essential parts of the thesis have been or will be published in a journal or that the thesis will be distributed by a commercial publisher with a minimum circulation of 150 copies (attachment 6).

Or, if the thesis will be published for the first time, approval by the supervisor to one of three forms of publication (see attachment 7). We encourage you to submit an electronic version to the eLibrary of the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn (UBL). For the procedure, see

What is required for online publication:

1. Electronic version of the thesis in PDF format. In case the full version of the thesis exceeds 5 MB, the thesis has to be split into smaller parts (if 3-5 MB) in addition (for example splitting into chapters or giving figures separately). Both versions will be offered on the server. The second page (resp. the back of the first page) has to include the names of the 1st and 2nd referee, the date of the exam as well as a note about the online publication (see attached example – attachment 8)
2. Registration via the online form
3. Signed statement (2 copies) (= contract with the UBL). This statement is automatically generated as a PDF file after completion of the online registration.
4. Five printed and bound copies of the thesis (Pflichtexemplare/depositary copies). The copies have to be identical to the electronic version. A confirmation of receipt will be sent automatically to the Promotionsbüro. Note: The reproduction of academic theses at the MPIfR printers is not allowed for personal use or for delivery to non-institute affiliated persons. The rules of the Max Planck Society do not allow the IMPRS to cover the print of the compulsory copies for the exam committee members.
5. Agreement by the supervisor
6. Approval by the Faculty (will be requested by the UBL automatically after points 1.-3. have been done).

As soon as the Faculty/Promotionsbüro has given its approval, the thesis will be placed on the server. You will be notified of this by email, and an official confirmation of the electronic publication will be sent to the Promotionsbüro. This confirmation, along with the one that 5 copies have been submitted (point 4. above), accomplish the requirements for the delivery of the official PhD certificate. This is normally handed over during a ceremony (“feierliche Promotion”) that takes place at the end of each semester. If you cannot attend this ceremony, you can pick up your certificate personally or have it sent to you.

Führungszeugnis für Behörden (certificate of criminal history): Application has to be made at the Bürgeramt of your place of residence (e.g. Bürgeramt Bonn: Stadthaus, Berliner Platz 2; Bürgeramt Bad Godesberg:  Kurfürstenallee 2-3; Bürgeramt Beuel:  Rathaus Beuel, Friedrich-Breuer-Str. 65; Bürgeramt Hardtberg:   Villemombler Str. 1 (Opening hours:    Monday and Thursday:   8:00 – 18:00, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday:  8:00 – 13:00)

Apply for the Führungszeugnis in person bringing your passport. In principle it is possible to just go there and ask for it, but if you don’t speak (enough) German it is recommended to take a filled-in but unsigned application form (“Antrag auf Ausstellung eines Führungszeugnisses”) with you. You should sign it in the presence of the clerk and pay a fee. The document, which is valid for 3 months, will be sent  directly to the Promotionsbüro.

Enrolling at the University of Cologne

Documents required for admission: 

1. Filled application form for admission to studies
2. Confirmation of IMPRS/MPG scholarship (will be provided by MPI administration)
3.  Letter to the Akademisches Auslandsamt requesting recognition of your previous academic achievements as well as asking permission to write your Ph.D. thesis in English
4. Curriculum Vitae (up to date), signed
5. Copy of passport (incl. copy of residence permit)
6. Passport photo
7. Certified copies of the following  original certificates and certified translations (only English and German will be accepted): high school certificate, University graduation certificate (BSc, MSc, Diploma etc.); University transcript(s); Language certificate or score reports (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS etc.)
8. Form „Mitteilung der Promotionsabsicht“ (notification of intended PhD). This form needs to be signed by the official thesis advisor (e.g. Prof. Eckart) and  Prof. Zensus.
9. Copy of Master Thesis, if written in English. Otherwise a summary of the thesis in English.
10. For publicly insured students: proof of health insurance, for privately insured students: proof of exemption from the public health insurance (“Befreiungsbescheinigung von der gesetzlichen Krankenversicherung”)

The address for submission is: Universität zu Köln, Akademisches Auslandsamt, SSC Studierenden Service Center, Universitätsstr. 22 a, 50923 Köln, Mrs. Lisa Brüning, Phone: 0221 – 470-1661; Office hours:  10:00 – 12:30 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday

As soon as the PhD examination board of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has given their approval, you will receive admission to study Physics (“Zulassung zum Studium”) at the University of Cologne. This will be initially limited to 2 semesters (so-called preparation for a PhD – “Promotionsvorbereitung”). At the same time you will also receive the registration form and details.

The International Office forwards your request for recognition of your foreign degree(s) to the PhD examination board of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Due to the high number of doctoral candidates, this process may take between several months and one year to complete (hence the initial enrolment for 2 preparation semesters).

You will finally receive a letter of admission to the PhD examination procedure at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Along with this letter a stamped and signed copy of the form „Mitteilung der Promotionsabsicht“ is returned. Please keep this safe! You will need it again when you submit your thesis.

Please note that the second referee can be a professor appointed for lifetime from another university if the first referee is a professor for lifetime at the University of.


IMPRS PhD researchers are required to be enrolled during their studies at one of the partner universities.

The above-mentioned admission notification will mention the date by which you have to mail (Akademisches Auslandsamt der Universität zu Köln, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Köln) or submit personally (address and opening hours as in previous chapter) the following documents: Completed registration form („Antrag auf Einschreibung“) and a Certificate by your medical insurance company

There are no tuition fee, but you have to pay a registration fee of about 284 Euro per semester, which entitles you to free public transportation in the region of NRW and reduced event tickets. Upon receipt of the above mentioned documents the International Office will send you a preliminary Semester Ticket and a pre-filled money transfer form for the payment of the semester fee (“Sozialbeitrag” ) which currently amounts to about 284 € for each semester. The Semester Ticket and the money transfer form will also state your student ID number (Matrikel-Nummer).

Student ID

Approximately 4 weeks after you have paid the social contribution, your matriculation documents and the final student ID card will be sent to you along with the transfer form for the next semester’s fee (see “Re-Registration” below).

Together with a photo ID the student ID can be used as a ticket for busses, trams and local trains within NRW free of charge. This ticket is valid for 6 months (starting 1st October or 1st April, respectively), i.e. not only during lecture periods. With the student ID card you also can get a students’ reduction  on tickets for theatres, concerts, museums, etc.


Once enrolled at the University of Cologne, you will have to re-register (“Rückmeldung”) for each of the following semesters. There is a registration deadline by which you need to transfer the registration fee (“Sozialbeitrag”) — 15 July for the winter term and 15 February for the summer term. You will then receive your semester documents automatically. Please take into account that the transfer could take several days! If the deadline is missed a fine has to be paid.

Change of Address

Please inform the academic exchange office (“Akademisches Auslandsamt”) about all changes of your personal data (i.e. change of name, address, nationality) immediately, quoting your registration number (Matrikelnummer).

Submission of thesis at the U of Cologne

Guidelines for submission of a PhD thesis at the University of Cologne

For the thesis “design”, there are a few things that should be followed.  Title page: The text should be as shown, but the font and the arrangement on the page is not prescribed. The university logo is optional. You must state your date and place of birth. The first page of your thesis must be identical to the title page, and directly follow it, i.e. do not insert an empty page or something like that. On the backside of the first page should be the names of the two referees for your thesis. The thesis must contain two abstracts: one in English and one in German. At the end there must be an “eidesstattliche Erklärung”, that means that you give a statement in place of an oath that you did all the work yourself. Sign below this text and add the list of publications. The last page of the thesis must contain your CV (Lebenslauf) in German. It can be a very simplified CV, containing private data and education. Format: For the official submission it must be A4. The library examples can be in any format you prefer.

Submission Procedure: Check out Check the fixed deadlines for submission (see: At least one week before the submission deadline you should go to Dekanat (in the main building of the University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz) to pick up the forms that have to be filled and submitted together with the thesis. Make sure to check the opening hours, it’s open only a few times a week! The person in charge of PhD student is Ms. Karin Gotzmann. At the moment the schedule is: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 13:30-15:30. One of the required forms can be found here:, the form is called Mitteilung der Promotionsabsicht. However, it is not the only form to be filled. Actually the Mitteilung form must be filled and signed while the student is enrolled at Cologne University in the beginning of the thesis. One copy remains in Ms. Karin Gotzmann´s office and the student keeps the other one. Another template that can be found in the section “Formulare” is “Einladung zur universitätsöffentlichen Disputation (Prom.ordnung von 2006, § 9, Abs. 3)”. This is the official announcement for your defence – it should be made public about one week before the date and it has to be signed by the chairman of the commission “Vorsitzender”. Then you just hang the form on of the blackboards of the institute.

You need for the final submission: 4 copies of your thesis in A4 format; all the forms that you have filled (look at examples); your MSc certificate and maybe a transcript (they need original and certified copies and they keep the copies); proof that you have been enrolled at the Uni Köln for at least two semesters; the Mitteilung der Promotionsabsicht form; the same German CV (Lebenslauf) that you put in the thesis but also signed and with your photo. The defence in principle takes place two months after the submission and within the two-week-interval given in Promotionstermine.

The committee: three examiners consisting of two referees and a chairperson. One of the two referees can be a “Privatdozent” if the second one is a professor appointed for life time at the faculty. The third examiner has to represent another field, i.e. not experimental physics. There is a fourth person who writes the minutes (so called Beisitzer) – this can be any person from the institute in possession of a PhD title. Please note that one of the referees can be from another university if the 1st referee is a professor for lifetime at the University of Cologne and the 2nd referee is a professor for lifetime at another university.

Tip: You have to find a suitable date for the four (usually busy) examiners. In addition to that you need a room for this occasion. If your defense will take place at the Ph1, try to organize a room immediately, e.g. the KOSMA room, because there rooms are often booked out.

After the defense: Your thesis has to be published by the university library. The best way to do this is by electronic publishing. Follow the instructions at this web page: . Upload you thesis, and the system will generate a confirmation. With a printout of this confirmation, and another 9 hard copies of the thesis you have to go to the main library of the University (Universitätsstrasse 33), to the office called Hochschulschriften- und Tauschstelle, 4th floor, Room 402. Make sure you check the opening hours, currently it’s only 10-12. Note that the reproduction of academic theses at the MPIfR printers is not allowed for personal use or for delivery to non-institute affiliated persons. The rules of the Max Planck Society do not allow the IMPRS to cover the print of the compulsory copies for the exam committee members.

IMPRS travel funding

IMPRS can financially  contribute to conferences, workshops or of you want to visit or invite scientific collaborators. In general, IMPRS does not finance the “core business” of your research group, e.g.  consortium meetings or regular observing trips. For intercontinental or extended travel, this funding will be partial, and you are invited to seek for additional funding, e.g. from the organiser of a conference (e.g. a waiver for the conference fee or a contribution to the lodging costs) or from the Bonn Cologne Graduate School (BCGS).

Before requesting IMPRS or MPIfR funding for the fist time, you need to see Ms. Mertens  of the MPIfR administration (room 1.05, phone 0228 525235, smertens at to fill out a form with your bank data, frequent flyer numbers etc. to ensure a fast reimbursement of your costs.

You can ask for IMPRS funding for travel costs (including lodging, per diem and conference fees) using the  IMPRS form “Travel Request”;  a short statement by your supervisor is required. The application should be made 6 weeks ahead of the travel date, respectively any deadlines there may be for registration or pre-payment. Attach the MPI form “Dienstreiseantrag”. Any flight and train tickets  funded by IMPRS or the MPIfR have to be booked by the directors’ secretaries or the administrative officer in charge (Mrs. S. Mertens) after approval of the travel request by an MPIfR director. If you need to rent a car or use your own car, this needs approval by an MPIfR director and should be mentioned in the “Reise- und Dienstreiseantrag”.

Hotels can be booked and in certain case prepaid by the MPIfR group secretaries or by Ms. Mertens to make sure that the hotel costs comply with MPG rules. Before making your own reservation,  discuss this with your group secretary or Ms. Mertens. Any hotel bills should be issued to the MPI für Radioastronomie and mention your name. In general you need to prepay any conference fees, in particular for events outside the EU. If you do that with your credit card, you can immediately ask for a refund from the MPIfR administration presenting the proof of payment. If that is not an option for you, please discuss with Ms. Mertens whether a wireless transfer can be made.  The cost for a conference dinner will only be refunded if approved by an MPIfR director. The use of a taxi is refundable only under certain conditions (e.g. no public transportation).

You can request an advance payment of 80% of your travel costs if these are more than 200 Euros (in the MPI “Reise und Dienstreiseantrag” tick the box “Ich bitte um einen Vorschuss”  and discuss it with Ms. Mertens). If you are granted financial support by a conference organizer or e.g. from BCGS, this has to be entered on the application form (“Zuschüsse von 3. Seite” / grants by 3. party).

Costs for necessary visa, including travel to the consulate, can also be reimbursed as well as costs for necessary vaccinations. However, the costs for additional travel health insurance (recommended for travel outside the EU, cost: about 20 Euro/ year) and luggage insurance cannot be claimed.

Important: If you want to extend your travel for private reasons by more than 5 business days, you have to pay the entire costs for the flight/ train yourself. If you extend a travel for private reasons and this makes the travel more expensive, you have to pay the difference. This makes it worthwhile to discuss any private extension with your group secretary or Ms. Mertens.

Fill out and hand in the form Reisekostenabrechung to Ms Mertens, carefully reading the instructions, within 4 weeks after your travel. Attach all receipts. Note: you do not have to collect receipts for meals as you will be paid a lump sum.

Affiliation and Publications

In publications the IMPRS, membership should be indicated as a footnote to the name (“\thanks{…} for most journals). The following text should be used: Member of the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne.

PhD researchers who received IMPRS funding (e.g. a research contract or travel funding) should indicate this in the “Acknowledgements”: NN received financial support for this research from the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne

For IMPRS researchers with MPIfR or IMPRS funded research contract: In order to ensure the quality of the MPIfR publications, all publications (including theses and conference proceedings) require an internal referee process and the approval by a director. Before publishing your research, make sure whether  any publication costs will be covered by your group. The internal referee system can be accessed via the intranet page

Student Speakers

The Student Speakers are the representative of all IMPRS students. There is one representative from each affiliated institute, i.e. one from the MPI, one from the AIfA and one from the University of Cologne. One, external, representative also participates in the annual MPG PhD Network meeting.

In case of conflicts

If you feel you have a conflict with your supervisor or another coworker that you cannot solve by yourself, the MPIfR has a trained mediatorMs. Ute Teuber, who is glad to give you advice. If you wish so, this advice is anonymous. Ms. Teuber is also the institute’s equal opportunity officer and can be addressed in case of harassment, or if you have special needs due to your family situation.

Your Thesis Advisory Committee is also an excellent forum to address any sources of conflict.

If you have a conflict or question regarding research ethics, you can address this to the ombudsperson at the MPIfR, Dr. Norbert Wex.

The Betriebsrat (works council) is an elected body that defends the interests of the employers at the MPIfR and the partner universities.

If you are feeling down…

To live in a foreign country can be an enriching experience but it can also lead to frustration and anger. To adapt to a new (research environment) is a challenge that requires a high level of frustration tolerance. You might miss your home land and your friends and family. This might be one of the reasons why you might be feeling down. If you experience a severe change in your mood that does not improve over the course of several weeks you might consider seeing a health expert. A basic point of contact in Germany is a medical doctor or in German “Allgemeinmediziner”. She or he might then give you advice on whether you need the help of a specialist.

At the institute we have an agreement with a company that provides short-term counselling with professional social workers and/or psychologists. If you wish to use this service, please get in touch with Frau Ute Teuber.

If you have a severe crisis you can also directly contact the nearest psychiatric clinic is the LVR Klinik (Kaiser-Karl-Ring 20, 53111 Bonn, phone 0228 551-1).

Medical emergencies

In case of a medical emergency you should, if possible, first see your medical doctor (Allgemeinmediziner) mentioning the urgency. He or she can refer you to a specialist if required. If it is a work related accident, you should mention it at the doctor’s reception desk. Outside doctors’ consultation hours, call 116117 and you will be told where you find the nearest emergency center. In case of a life threatening  emergency, do not hesitate to call 112 for an ambulance.

Support for Families

Researchers with young families are supported by the MPI in a number of different ways. They can apply for a babysitter subsidy and when their child is sick they can use the “parent child study” and work while taking care of their sick child. Moreover, help is provided when applying for the state granted child subsidy the so-called “Kindergeld”.

Title Link
IMPRS Docs   
IMPRS Announcement here
IMPRS logo: version for light (ideally white) background here
IMPRS logo: version for dark (ideally black) background here
Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting report (to be filled out by your supervisor) here
PhD Proposal Model Form (to be prepared by the student and his/ her advisor) here
IMPRS Travel Request here 
IMPRS Annual Report here
MPIfR: Relevant Forms  
MPI Travel Request (Dienstreiseantrag) here
Form to claim travel expenses here 
University of Bonn: Relevant Forms  
Application for admission to doctoral studies (“Antrag auf Zulassung zum Promotionsstudium”) here 
Application for admission to the PhD examination procedure (“Antrag auf Zulassung zum Promotionsverfahren”) here
Details on procedure and layout of PhD title and 2nd page (PhD submission) here
Details on application for certificate of criminal history/clearance certificate (Polizeiliches Führungszeugnis) here
Example for application for certificate of criminal history/clearance certificate (Polizeiliches Führungszeugnis) here
PhD Rules and Guidelines (Promotionsordnung) here
PhD Rules and Guidelines (English translation) here
PhD Submission Process Bonn & Cologne here
University of Cologne: Relevant  Forms   
Application form for admission to studies for foreign applicants here
Information on the PhD process here