PhD Program Brochure

Apply for a PhD at the MDC

Call opens: November 01, 2019 - Deadline: January 10, 2020


Fully-funded PhD positions

Calls for PhD candidates open in Spring and Fall of each year. 

Applications are invited from candidates who have completed or are in the process of completing a Master degree in biology, biotechnology, medicine, molecular medicine, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, or some related field. For details on eligibility and application process please see tabs "Eligibility" and "Application manual". For further information please visit the pages of the application portal.


PhD researchers are fully funded through an initial 3-year working contract with the MDC. In many cases contracts are extended for an additional year. All PhD researchers are expected to complete their doctoral research and thesis in 4 years. Salaries are competitive to national standards and there are no tuition fees.


The MDC is situated at two locations in Berlin: majority of infrastructure is located on Campus Berlin-Buch, a modern science and biotechnology park with a clear focus on biomedicine. Since April 2019, the laboratories and offices of the BIMSB-MDC are located on the campus of Humboldt-Universität in Berlin Mitte. Berlin is one of the most vibrant cities located in the heart of Europe. With a population of 3.4 million people, Berlin offers an incredible load of entertainment and sports activities, making it a popular destination to visit and live in. 

Recruitment process

We have set up a multi-step recruitment process with the goal of identifying people with right mix of skills, experience, and future potential. This involves an assessment of the paper application based on academic accomplishments and professional experience, structured interviews, presentations, and on site visits.

Our communication policy aims to maintain an objective and fair hiring process for all applicants. Communication between candidates and institute will be primarily by e-mail. We acknowledge every submitted application immediately with an automatic e-mail response. During the hiring process, all successful applicants will receive notifications on the next steps via e-mail. In due course, candidates who have not been short-listed will be informed by email. 

We value diversity and are committed to carrying out a transparent recruitment process for every position. There may be minor variations, but in general our selection process has the following structure:


Applications are submitted through our online recruitment portal.

The required application documents are described in the job advertisement for each advertised position and include in general a research interest letter, CV, education, and contact details of two referees. Applications via email can unfortunately not be accepted.

After submission of your application, you will receive an automatic email confirming that your application has been received. To be eligible for review, your application must be submitted before the deadline stated in the job advertisement.

Application screening and interviews

Following the application deadline, your application will be checked for eligibility and reviewed by the hiring committee

Applicants will be chosen based on their academic qualification, aptitude, motivation, scientific interest and letters of recommendation.

Complete submissions will be forwarded to participating group leaders at the MDC and partner institutions. If your application is preselected, you may be invited to participate in a Skype, video or telephone interview. Short-listed applicants will be invited for a 4-day assessment and interview week to Berlin. You can expect invitation letters 6-7 weeks after the application deadline.

Interview week in Berlin

Short-listed applicants will be invited to visit the MDC in Berlin.

Interviews at the MDC are organised as a 4-day symposium including a Berlin city tour, Campus tour, dinners and various occasions to meet faculty and PhD researchers. The meeting schedule will be sent well in advance. During the visit, you will have the opportunity to introduce yourself and your research through a presentation, discuss your research interest in a panel interview, followed by a series of one on one interviews. An information session is organized for visitors to learn about the benefits associated with working at MDC, work-life balance policy, and other HR-related topics you may want to discuss.  

Travel, visa expenses, accommodation and meals during interview days are fully covered by the MDC.

Monday: Arrival on campus, registration, lab presentations of participating research groups. Dinner with PhD program coordinators and group leaders.

Tuesday: Short presentation of candidate's master project to MDC faculty. Panel interview with four faculty members and personal interviews with research group leaders. General program introduction and Q&A session. Dinner with PhD program coordinators and group leaders.

Wednesday: Personal interviews with research group leaders.

Thursday: Personal interviews with research group leaders and lab visits. 

Friday: Submission of preferences and departure.


On Friday morning candidates provide names of the research group(s) they would like to join for a PhD project. In a final closed plenary session for faculty, the candidates who will be accepted to the Int. PhD Program are determined. Results of the plenary session are announced within 1 week. 

Successful candidates start their research project within 6 months after the interviews.


After your visit, all candidates will receive feedback within a few days.

After your visit, all candidates will receive feedback within a few days. At this stage, if you have been successful you will be made an offer.




  • Applicants are required to hold or obtain within 6 months of the interview week a university degree equivalent to a Master Degree (≥75% or German score of at least 'good', <2,5 of 5), including a written research thesis, in biology, biotechnology, medicine, molecular medicine, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, or some related field.
  • Applicants still studying should anticipate receiving their degree not later than 6 months after the interview date.
  • Graduates having completed their degree must upload with the application package a scanned copy of the certificate as well as transcript including marked coursework from university. Students still enrolled in their undergraduate program must upload a provisional certificate stating the examination marks already obtained.
  • Applicants shall at the time of interview be in the first four years of their research careers and not yet been awarded a doctoral degree, according to the European Commission's definition of early-stage researchers.
  • Please note that candidates who have previously been invited for interviews, will not be considered for further interview.
  • Language skills: Applicants need to have a good command of written and spoken English, while German language skills are not required. English proficiency tests for non-native speakers are recommended (such as TOEFL test with a score of 95+ (internet-based), 240+ (computer-based) or 587+ (paper-based), IELTS certificate with a bandscore 7.0+, or Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)), however, the language proficiency certificates are not a requirement for the application.

MDC Master students and MDC interns

  • MDC Master students and MDC interns who have been working or registered at the MDC during the past 2 years longer than 3 months until the PhD interview week at MDC, are not eligible to apply to the international MDC Program. Instead, they are considered internal students and may apply for internal PhD fellowship positions. Short-term interns who have been working or registered at the MDC for less than 3 months until interview week are eligible to apply to the Int. PhD program if they apply to a different research group. Short-term interns who wish to join the research group they have been affiliated before are not eligible for the Int. PhD Program and are recommended to apply for an internal PhD fellowship position.

Required documents

  • Curriculum Vitae (maximum 2 pages).
  • Transcript (record of study including scores) AND degree certificate of Bachelor degree, Vordiplom or equivalent. Applications lacking marked transcripts cannot be further processed.
  • Transcripts (record of study including scores) AND degree certificate of Master degree, Diplom or equivalent in German or English. If you have not completed yet your Master's program, you have to provide temporary transcripts including scores. Applications lacking marked transcripts cannot be further processed.
  • Two letters of recommendation: Complete all contact detail fields of 2 referees in the application portal and your referees will automatically receive a request for letter of recommendation. Please make sure that references arrive on time! References arriving after the reference deadline will not be processed and applications will be considered incomplete.

Application manual


Once you have registered you will receive a personal login. Please also check your spam folder!

With the login data you may start working on your application, editing and saving the information in each section until you submit.  All mandatory fields are marked with * and should be completed in English. Once you have submitted the form you will no longer be able to edit the information, however you can check the status of your recommendation letters. 

Please note that upon submission you will receive a confirmation email.

The list of participating group leaders and their respective research projects can be found under "participating group leaders" on the left hand side menu of the portal. It is strongly recommended that you carefully look into the research information and find projects that best fit your interests. Consider to check this list during the call as projects may be added later.

You may find below a detailed manual to help you fill in your application.  

Personal Information​​​​​


If you have multiple names, please enter the name from your passport, we will use it later for your visa application. If applicable, please use hyphens. Please enter an address used by courier services and at least one telephone number.



Enter information about your university and research thesis (both BSc and MSc or MD). If you have not graduated yet put an approximate date. Please assist us in assessing your academic performance by entering the best and worst grades used by your university, i.e. 1 best, 5 worst or A best F worst.

Applicants holding (or expecting to hold within 6 months after interviews) a MSc (Master in Science) degree including a research thesis are eligible to apply. If you hold a degree that is not a MSc, please send the name of the degree in the original language and the English translation to and we will inform you whether you are eligible to apply.
If you hold a B.Sc. degree, even an extended one of four years, you are not eligible.



Please list only international publications.

Research Interest


Please select the research area you are most interested in from the drop down menu. In addition, you may also select drop down research key words that particularly match your interests. If you would like to be considered for one of the international exchange programs at the MDC, select the appropriate program field from the drop down menu.
Research experience (max 2500 characters including spaces): Please list any supervised research projects extending over at least several weeks. Please indicate whether your contribution to the project work was of a theoretical or experimental nature.

Research interest essay - Personal Statement (max 3000 characters including spaces): Use the research interest statement to express which research field you want to pursue during your PhD and why as well as specify your preferences for particular groups or projects. Your preferred labs, projects and any interest in an exchange program should be stated in the research interest essay and the motivation statement of why you intend to do a PhD.

Scientific discovery that has impressed you the most: max 2500 characters including spaces.

Undergraduate courses you found the most inspiring: max 2500 characters including spaces.

Video Upload


In this section you may upload a video where you address in ca 2 minutes the following question: "Which of the Nobel prize awards in the field of Physiology or Medicine, Chemistry or physics did you find the most inspiring and why?". You may elaborate on any award of the above categories, either recent or older. 



Please enter complete contacts for two referees. We recommend choosing referees that know you personally and are willing and able to write a description of your academic performance. As soon as you have completed the contact details, your referees will automatically receive a request for a letter of recommendation. Please let them know in advance that they will receive an invitation e-mail from MDC and make sure that references arrive until the application deadline! You cannot change your referee once you have saved the contact. If you wish to change a referee, contact us on time to reset your referees. You can check the status of your references after submission with the colour code (The colour will change from orange to green after your referees have submitted their letters).

Supplementary information


Please tell us where you have heard about the International PhD program at the MDC first.



All documents must be uploaded as pdf files (max of 3MB). A scanned version of the following documents is mandatory:

  • Short CV of max. 2 pages is mandatory for the application. Curriculum Vitae (maximum 2 pages).
  • Transcript of Bachelor degree (record of study including scores). Applications lacking marked transcripts cannot be further processed.
  • Certificate of Bachelor degree, Vordiplom or equivalent. 
  • Transcript of Master degree (record of study, including the courses list and scores) Diplom or equivalent in German or English. If you have not completed your Master's program yet, provide temporary transcripts, including scores. Applications lacking marked transcripts cannot be further processed.
  • Certificate of Master degree, Diplom or equivalent in German or English.

A scanned version of the following documents is recommended (but not obligatory):

  • GRE score
  • English proficiency test​​​​​



Don’t forget to submit your application once you have completed your sections. After submission you cannot change or add information, but you can check the status of your references. The completed application must be submitted by the application deadline. 

Please note that upon submission you will receive a confirmation e-mail.