PhD Program Brochure

Apply for a PhD at the MDC

Call opens: November 30, 2020 - Deadline: February 1, 2021

Apply

Fully-funded PhD positions in Biomedical Sciences

Are you passionate about understanding the molecular basis of health and disease, and translating your findings into clinical applications? Are you interested in one of the following topics?

We are committed to meet today’s challenges in biology and medicine and realize that excellent science requires outstanding researchers. If you aspire to be one of them – welcome to the MDC!

We offer:

  • Excellent scientific, international and supportive environment 
  • Individual PhD supervision & mentoring
  • Support of the thesis committee
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure & core facilities
  • Regular lectures, journal clubs & seminar series 
  • Advanced scientific, research-related & methods training
  • Participation in one of our specialised research programs
  • Framework program for personal & career development
  • Participation in PhD symposia, retreats & social activities
  • Travel grants for external courses & conferences
  • Active alumni network
I have said […] that people go into science because they are misfits, and that it is a sheltered place where they can spin their own yarn and have recognition, be tolerated and happy, and have approval for it.
Interview with Max Delbrück (1978), Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives.

Who are we looking for?

To apply, a master’s degree (or equivalent) in in biology, biotechnology, medicine, molecular medicine, chemistry, computer science, data science, engineering, mathematics, physics or a related field, is required. You should hold or expect to obtain your degree not later than four months after the onsite interview week in Berlin (see below for the exact interview dates). Please check further details of your Eligibility for application here.

Details on the Recruitment process can be found here. Please make sure to check the FAQ section, as well.

How to apply? 

Applications are accepted exclusively via our online Application portal. Applications via email can unfortunately not be accepted. Detailed information about the application process, including Application manual, are available here

Please note: due to the COVID-19 epidemiological measures and the unpredictable development of the situation, the timeline of the MDC International PhD Program recruitment, as well as its format, is subject to changes.

Calls for applications are open twice a year, for Spring and Fall recruitment round. For approximate timeline of the Recruitment process, please see below. Please note that these are approximate dates, and they may vary from year to year. For the exact dates, follow the announcements on our page.

Spring round

  • Call open: from November to January
  • Online interviews: in March
  • Onsite interview week: in April 
  • Starting date: latest 4 months from the onsite interview week (August same year)

Fall round

  • Call open: from May to July
  • Online interviews: in September
  • Onsite interview week: in October
  • Starting date: latest 4 months from the onsite interview week (February next year)

Funding

PhD researchers are fully funded through an initial 3-year employment contract with the MDC. Salaries are competitive to national standards, according to 65% TVöD 13 (monthly net payment of approximately 1600 EUR). Health and social insurance are included in the contract. 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. The university tuition fees per semester are approximately 350 EUR, and include public transportation ticket.

 

Eligibility

Before starting your application, please make sure you are eligible to apply for the MDC International PhD Program. Applications from candidates who do not meet the following requirements will not be taken into consideration. 

Degree

Applicants are required to hold a MSc degree or equivalent.

  • Applicants are required to hold (or obtain within 4 months of the onsite interview week) a university degree equivalent to a Master Degree (MSc) in biology, biotechnology, medicine, molecular medicine, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, or some related field
  • Master degree equivalents include, for example, MD degree, Master of Research (MRes) and Master of Technology (MTech) degree, 4-yr BSc + 1-yr MSc programs, integrated programs such as Diploma or BSc-MSc integrated program, as well as BTech-MTech dual degrees. 
  • Applicants holding only a BSc degree are not eligible to apply. Neither a BSc degree alone, even of a 4-year-long program, nor additional experience represent an equivalent to the MSc degree.
  • Applicants still studying are welcome to apply, however, they should anticipate receiving their degree not later than 4 months after the onsite interviews in Berlin.

Research experience

Applicants are required to have some relevant research experience.

Applicants are required to have some relevant research experience, gained through e.g. through bachelor and/or master research projects, lab rotations, study exchange programs, or in other relevant research projects, either of experimental or theoretical nature.

Thesis

To be eligible, a research master thesis should have been required for obtaining the MSc degree.

To be eligible, a research master thesis should have been required for obtaining the MSc degree. There might be exceptions to this, e.g. for MD or pharmaceutical programs that do not require a final research thesis. Research experience is, however, obligatory.

Grades

Required MSc final grade is ≥75%, or German score of at least 'good' (<2,5 of 5).

Required MSc final grade is ≥75%, or German score of at least 'good' (<2,5 of 5). To translate your final grades into German grading system, please use the Modified Bavarian Formula Calculator. If your grades are lower than the required, the application will not be considered.

Early-stage researchers

Only early-stage researchers are invited to apply.

Only early-stage researchers, defined by the European Commission's definition of early-stage researchers, are invited to apply. This means that candidates should at the time of interviews be in the first four years of their research careers (i.e. master degree obtained within the last 4 years) and should not have a doctoral degree already. If you have gained your master (or equivalent) degree more than four years prior to the interviews, you are not eligible and your application will not be considered

Re-applying 

Applicants can participate in the MDC interviews only once.

Candidates who have previously participated in the online interviews are not eligible to apply again.

Language skills

A good command of written and spoken English is a must.

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

Have you already been affiliated with the MDC?

  • Short-term interns (this includes BSc and MSc students) who have been working or registered at the MDC for less than 3 months during the 2 years prior to the online interviews are eligible to apply to the International PhD program recruitment, if they apply to a different research group.
  • Short-term interns (less than 3 months) who wish to join the research group they have been affiliated before (during the 2 years prior to the online interviews) are not eligible for the International PhD Program central recruitment, and are recommended to apply for Internal PhD fellowship positions (internal access only).
  • MDC interns who have been working or registered at the MDC for longer than 3 months during the 2 years prior the online interviews, are not eligible to apply to the International PhD Program recruitment. Instead, they are considered internal students and may apply for Internal PhD fellowship positions (internal access only).
  • If more than 2 years have passed between the end of affiliation (contract or guest registration) with the MDC and the online interviews, a candidate is eligible to apply for the International PhD Program central recruitment.

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 application based on academic accomplishments and professional experience, presentations, structured interviews, and on-site visits.

Please note: due to the COVID-19 epidemiological measures and the unpredictable development of the situation, the timeline of the MDC International PhD Program recruitment, as well as its format, is subject to changes.

Our selection process reflects the following structure:

Application

Applications are submitted through the online recruitment portal.

The application requires details about your education (university, grades), research experience, interest and motivation, an optional short video, degree transcripts and CV, as well as two reference letters, submitted independently by the 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 application deadline.

Application screening 

Following the application deadline, applications 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. Short-listed applicants will be invited for the 1st step of the recruitment process, online interviews. You can expect invitation letters 5-6 weeks after the application deadline.

Online interviews

Short-listed applicants will be invited for the first step of the recruitment process, online interviews.

Online interviews, held via videoconference platform, consist of of a welcome session, group leader presentation session, panel interviews and Q&A sessions with Grad Office, PhD Reps, and other interested PhD students and faculty members. 

Applicants participate in a 30-mins panel interview, including discussion on pre-recorded applicant's presentation, discussion on pre-selected scientific publication and general discussion. Candidates receive scores based on their maturity and knowledge of the field, general knowledge, ability to express motivation for the PhD program, and clear interest in a specific research direction.

Candidates are ranked according to the panel scores, and the most successful candidates are invited to 3-days onsite interview week in Berlin. 

Onsite interview week in Berlin

Successful applicants will be invited for the 2nd step of the recruitment process, the onsite interviews at the MDC in Berlin.

The 3-day onsite interview week in Berlin is dedicated to one-on-one interviews with group leaders, lab visits, and social events. 

The one-on-one interviews and lab visits provide sufficient amount of time for interviews, discussions, introduction to the lab and facilities, demonstration of working environment and dynamics, and interaction of group leader, candidate and lab members.

Evening social events are providing additional networking opportunities of candidates, PhD Representatives, lab members and faculty. Campus and city tours give candidates an opportunity for getting a better impression of their potential living and working environment.

Travel, visa expenses, accommodation and meals during interview days are fully covered by the MDC. The MDC cannot buy your transportation tickets in advance or reimburse the travel expenses before the Interview week. Initially, you have to cover all of the travel expenses by yourself and the money will be reimbursed to you after the Interview week. 

Outcome

On the final day of the interview week, 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 4 months after the onsite interviews.

Offer

After the interview week, all candidates will receive feedback within a few days.

All candidates will receive feedback within a few days from the onsite interview week. Successful candidates will receive a position offer at this stage.

Transparency of the recruitment process

We value diversity and are committed to carrying out a transparent recruitment process for every position.

Our communication policy aims to maintain an objective and fair hiring process for all applicants. Communication between candidates and institute will be primarily conducted 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 e-mail. 

We adhere to principles of responsible research, good scientific practice, openness and transparency, and are committed to setting a good example as a scientific environment where scientists can flourish and grow, independently of their national or ethnic background, functional variation, sex/ gender identity/ alignment/ orientation, family configuration, or other such feature of their persons or contexts. 

Application manual

Once you have registered on the Application portal, you will receive an e-mail with your personal login information. If this e-mail has not arrived, please check your spam folder. If the problem persists, contact us at phdmdc@mdc-berlin.de. Please note that we do not accept applications other than those submitted through our Application portal (e.g. CVs sent directly via e-mail or through other job application portals).

After registration, you may start working on your application, editing and saving the information in each section until you submit. The application should be completed in English. All mandatory fields are marked with *. 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 you will receive a confirmation email upon submission.

Available projects. The list of group leaders participating in this call and their respective research projects can be found under the "Participating Group Leaders" tab. After registration, a detailed description of each project will be available. For more information on the participating project leaders please visit the profile pages of our research labsCarefully look into the research information and find projects that best fit your interests. Consider to check this list regularly during the call as more projects may be added. You do not need to contact any of the project leaders at this stage, but make sure to include all the labs and projects of your interest in the text of your application (see below, “Research & Motivation” section), with detailed statement of interest for each research lab.

Before starting the application process, please make sure that you are eligible to apply for our program. 

Below, you will find a detailed manual to help you fill in your application. Please read it carefully, since incomplete and/or incorrectly filled applications will not be taken into further consideration. Please make sure to include all relevant information in the application portal. Information only included in additional documents (e.g. CV or certificates) might not be considered.

More information about eligibility, application process, language certificates, selection process, salaries, etc. can be found in our FAQ section.

Please note: it's applicant's responsibility to make sure the application, as well as the reference letters, are submitted before the application deadline. Late submissions, incorrectly filled applications, and applications without references will not be taken into consideration. 

Persona​​​​l Details

 

Personal Data: If you have multiple names, please enter the name from your passport. This is especially important if you need a visa to attend the onsite interview week in Berlin, since we will use it later for your visa application. If applicable, please use hyphens. Please enter the address that is available to and used by courier delivery services. Make sure to use an address where you will be reachable in the period until the onsite interview week in Berlin (especially at the time of visa applications, ca. 4-5 weeks before the onsite interview week). Furthermore, make sure to provide at least one telephone number.

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

Academic Details

 

For detailed information on degree requirements, please check the “Eligibility” section. 

To be eligible, you need to have some research experience (bachelor and/or master research projects). Also, a research master thesis should have been required for obtaining your degree. If your study programs were structured in this way, you are eligible to apply.

Enter information about your university (both BSc and MSc). Please note that information on both BSc and MSc (or integrated program) need to be given, or you won’t be able to submit the application form.

Date of graduation: If you have not graduated yet, put an approximate date of graduation. 

Final score: To transform your grade into the German grading system, a detailed description of your university’s grading system is needed. Therefore, please provide information on i) highest possible grade in your grading system; ii) lowest passing grade in your system (please note: not possible, but passing) and iii) your achieved final grade. These will be used to translate your final grade into the German grading system, using the Modified Bavarian Formula Calculator.

Scholarships and/or Awards: Please clearly state the type of scholarships/awards you have received, the funding body, and the duration of the support.

Study abroad: Please state all long term (e.g. master program or a semester abroad), as well as short term (e.g. summer school, workshop or a course) visits. Please clearly state type of the program / event, host institution and duration of the study stay.

Research & Motivation

 

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. At this stage, this only indicates your interest, and it is not considered an application for the specific exchange program. 

Research Experience: Please provide information on your relevant theoretical or experimental research experience, and list any supervised research projects with a duration of at least several weeks (BSc, MSc, internships, study visits or other). Please indicate whether your contribution to the project work was of a theoretical or experimental nature. Describe your role in the project, as well as contributions and results obtained from your work. Describe your accomplishments, with emphasis on the techniques you used and skills you obtained. 

Publications & Conference contributions: Please give a list of your publications (only those published in international journals) and conference contributions (poster presentation and/or talk). Please give full citations of all publications / conference contributions. Publications in preparation or under review should not be given.

Research Statement - Motivation letter: Use the research interest statement (Motivation letter) to express which research field you want to pursue during your PhD and why, as well as specify your preferences for particular MDC research labs and projectsMake sure to include all labs and projects of your interest, with detailed statement of interest for each project. This might include, for example, the background of your interest (such as previous experience or personal motivation), details on scientific questions, concepts and/or techniques of interest, as well as your goals and vision of your scientific career development, etc. Here, you should also express and elaborate on any interest in an exchange program.

Research Statement - Why did you select MDC for your application? max 2000 characters including spaces.

Research Statement - Scientific discovery that has impressed you the most (max 2500 characters including spaces): Here, you should describe a scientific discovery that fascinates you, avoiding historical and technical overviews, but elaborating why you think this research matters. Did it disprove an existing paradigm, how did it affect everyday lives, or benefit the progress of society and science in general

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

References

 

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. After you fill in the contact details of your referees, an automated e-mail with a request for writing the recommendation letter will be sent to them. Please fill in all required fields - only after all fields are filled, the automated request will be sent. Please let your referees know in advance that they will receive an invitation e-mail from MDC! You cannot change your referee yourself once you have saved the contact. If you wish to change a referee, contact us in time to reset the information. Following the invitation, referees should submit their letters directly to the MDC PhD application system, using a link they received in the e-mail. Please make sure your referees have received an invitation email. If they do not receive an e-mail within 24 hours after the automated request is sent, notify us at phdmdc@mdc-berlin.de immediately. 

Also, make sure that your referees have submitted their reference letters in time. After submission, the status of your references will be indicated by the symbols on the left. The symbol will change from orange envelope to green "check mark" after your referees have submitted their letters. Please note: References arriving after the reference deadline will not be processed and applications will be considered incomplete

Video Upload

 

In this section you may upload a video where you address the following question in ca 2 minutes (min 1 minute): "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.

Documents

 

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 (In the CV, please provide only biographical data and professional development timeline. All relevant education, research experience, motivation, workshops, conferences and publications information should be given in the application form.)
  • Transcript (record of study, including courses list and scores) of your highest degree awarded
  • Certificate of your highest degree awarded

If you have not completed your Master's program yet, provide temporary transcripts, including scores. All documents should be available in German or English. If you do not have an English version issued by your university, a translation certified by a public notary or other official will be sufficient. If your university does not provide transcripts, a marksheet should be provided instead. Applications without scored transcripts cannot be further processed. 

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

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

Please note: Applicants need to have a good command of written and spoken English, since the program language is English. Language proficiency tests for non-native speakers are recommended, however, the proficiency certificates are not a requirement for the application!

Submission

 

Don’t forget to submit your application once you have completed all 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.

Partners

Scientists from various partner institutions participate in the MDC International PhD Program recruitment, acting as main supervisors or co-mentors in collaboration with the MDC faculty, enriching the variety of PhD research opportunities.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Over 200 years old, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is a home to more than 35 000 students, with ca 16% of students coming from abroad. The university is comprised of nine faculties, and offers 189 degree courses, from undergraduate to postgraduate level. 
 

Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin

Charité Universitätsmedizin is a joint medical faculty of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Freie Universität, combining basic with clinical research and patient care. It is the largest university hospital in Europe, with more than 100 clinics and institutes. The MDC has a close partnership with the Charité: there are joint clinical research groups and major institutional collaborations.
 

ECRC - Experimental and Clinical Research Center, Berlin

Established by the MDC and the Charité, within its 19 research labs and 2 facilities, the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) integrates committed clinician/scientists and translational researchers in the research-driven environment on the MDC Campus in Berlin-Buch, offering excellent opportunities for education in translational research and training of the clinician scientist.
 

Weizmann Institute of Science; Rehovot, Israel

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary basic research institutions in the natural sciences. The Institute comprises five faculties and 18 departments, with 250 research labs.

In 2020, the MDC joined forces with the Weizmann Institute of Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Charité Universitätsmedizin, starting the Helmholtz International Research School (HIRS) for Imaging from the NAno to the MESo (iNAMES).

FAQ

Frequently asked questions:

About the eligibility requirements

Degrees, language, re-application, age and more

Which degrees are recognised?

Applicants are required to hold (or obtain within 4 months of the onsite interview week) a university degree equivalent to a Master Degree (MSc), including a research thesis, in biology, biotechnology, medicine, molecular medicine, chemistry, computer science, data science, engineering, mathematics, physics, or some related field. 

Can I apply before finishing my master studies?

At the time of application, you do not have to have finished your degree. However, students are asked to start their research project within 4 months of the onsite interviews, by which time you should anticipate to hold your degree.

I have a medical degree (MD). Am I eligible?

Yes, you are welcome to apply, as long as you have some relevant research experience.

I have a degree in Public Health? Am I eligible?

If your master (or equivalent) program required a research project thesis to complete the program, AND you do have some relevant research experience in biology, biotechnology, medicine, molecular medicine, chemistry, computer science, data science, engineering, mathematics, physics, or some related field, you are eligible to apply. However, please note that the MDC is a research center, with a focus on basic biomedical research, and available projects are mostly not compatible with a Public Health background.  

My degree is from a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule). Can I apply?

Yes, the graduates from the universities of applied sciences are welcome to apply if their university program required a research project thesis to complete the program, and they have relevant research experience.  

I only have a BSc, but a lot of research experience. Can I apply?

Unfortunately, neither a BSc degree alone, even of a 4-year-long program, nor additional experience represent an equivalent to the Master degree, thus you are not eligible. 

I already have a PhD. Can I apply for another?

If you already hold a PhD degree, you are not eligible to apply.

Am I allowed to apply twice / again?

If you were not shortlisted for the online interviews, you are allowed to apply again. However, if you have already participated in the online interviews, you are not eligible to apply again. 

Does the program have language requirements and what is the program language?

The program language is English, therefore proficiency in English is a must. For your application, proof of English knowledge is recommended, but not mandatory!

Is there an age limit?

No, there is no age limit. However, please note that you should have obtained your MSc degree (or equivalent) degree not more than four years prior to the interviews.

About the application process

Application, submission, documents, available projects and more

Where and when can I apply?

Applications for the Int. PhD Program are accepted through the online Application portal onlyThe portal opens twice a year, usually around May for Fall recruitment and in November for Spring recruitment. Exact dates and application details are indicated here

Where can I find the list of available projects?

The list of group leaders participating in a call and their respective research projects can be found under the "Participating Group Leaders" tab in the Application portal. After registration, a detailed description of each project will be available. For more information on the participating project leaders, please visit the profile pages of our research labs.

Do I need to select a specific project immediately?

You are not applying for a specific project at this stage, however, make sure to include all the labs and projects of your interest in the text of your application (“Research and Motivation” section), with detailed statement of interest for each research lab.

Can I save the data of my application and resume, completing it later?

Yes, you can save your application and take up editing again later. Once you have submitted your application, no more changes can be made. 

What information has to be submitted with the application?

You will submit information on education, research skills and interests, a letter of motivation and contacts of 2 referees. In the document section, you are asked to upload a CV, university transcripts and certificates, and if available, the certificate of an English language test. English language tests, GRE, etc are not mandatory at this stage. For details, visit the application manual.

What happens if I cannot provide any English language certificates?

Proof of English language knowledge is not obligatory but rather optional. If you do not have such documents, your application will still be valid.

Do I need to have my certificates available in English?

All documents should be available in German or English. If you do not have an English version issued by your university, a translation certified by a public notary or other official will be sufficient.

My PDF files are too big. What can I do?

You will have to reduce their sizes. There are several online free tools that can easily reduce the size of your PDF files, for example:

Please make sure you understand their privacy policy before using any of these third-party services.

How many recommendation letters do I need to have and can I send the PDFs (scans) directly?

You will need recommendation from 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 and they should submit their letters directly using a link they receive in the e-mail. Thus, you should not send the PDFs of the recommendation letters directly to us.

My referee did not receive an invitation from the MDC to send a recommendation letter, what should I do?

Firstly, please make sure you entered the correct e-mail address of your referee. Secondly, your referee should check their spam mailbox to make sure the invitation letter did not end up there. If you entered the wrong address or the letter simply did not arrive, contact us immediately at phdmdc@mdc-berlin.de

Will I receive a confirmation after having registered and submitted my application?

Yes, after having registered you will receive a confirmation email to the mail address stated. After you have submitted your application you will again receive a confirmation. If you did not receive any confirmation email, most likely our email ended up in the spam or junk folder. If you cannot find your confirmation email there, you might have misspelled your email address during registration. In that case, simply fill in the registration form again. If you still do not receive your registration email, please contact the graduate school office phdmdc@mdc-berlin.de.

What happens after submission?

Applications are prescreened and the MDC faculty selects candidates for the first step of the recruitment process, online interviews. Invitations for online interviews will be sent about 5-6 weeks after the application deadline.

How can I check the status of my application?

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, using the colour code of the box. The symbol on the left will change from an orange envelope to a green "check mark" after your referees have submitted their letters. Other information about changes in the status of your application (submission, invitation / rejection decision) will be communicated via e-mail.

How and when will I hear about the outcome of my application?

Students who submitted a complete application will be informed by email. Students shortlisted for online interviews will be informed about the result 5-6 weeks after the application deadline. All other candidates will be informed shortly after.

About the online interviews

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for the first step of the recruitment process, online interviews

What happens during the online interviews?

Online interviews, held via videoconference platform, consist of of a welcome session, group leader presentation session, panel interviews and Q&A sessions with Grad Office, PhD Reps, and other interested PhD students and faculty members. 

Applicants participate in a 30-mins panel interview, including discussion on pre-recorded applicant's presentation, discussion on pre-selected scientific publication and general discussion. Candidates receive scores based on their maturity and knowledge of the field, general knowledge, ability to express motivation for the PhD program, and clear interest in a specific research direction.

How should I present my research project?

Candidates present their research project (usually master research project or other longer project they participated in during their studies) in form of a pre-recorded presentation. Presentations will be stored in the application portal and available to all group leaders for viewing before the start of online interviews.

Panel members will watch the pre-recorded candidate presentations before the start of online interviews and prepare questions for the short presentation discussion.

How should I prepare for the online interviews?

You will receive all the instructions and technical details about the videoconference platform used for online interviews well in advance. The most important thing is to get familiar with the videoconference system, and get comfortable with its functions and features, such as navigation between rooms or screen sharing. Second important point is to make sure your internet connection is fast enough to support this kind of activity. Here, it is better to use the ethernet cable connection instead of WiFi. Please check the settings and quality of both audio and video features. If your home internet connection is not fast enough, you should find a suitable alternative, such as using resources at your university or public library. If possible, you should also prepare a second screen, since this eases videoconference participation.

What if problems with the videoconference system arise during my online interviews?

We will prepare more than one videoconference platform for you to use, and backup communication channels will be available. 

When will I know if I got selected for the onsite interviews in Berlin?

You will receive invitations for the onsite interview week in Berlin within 1 week of the online interviews.

About the onsite interview week 

following the online interviews, successful applicants will be invited for the second step of the recruitment process, onsite interviews at the MDC in Berlin.

What happens during the onsite interview week?

Onsite interview week consist of introduction to the Grad School program, one-on-one interviews, lab visits, campus and city tours and social events.

The one-on-one interviews and lab visits provide sufficient amount of time for interviews, discussions, introduction to the lab and facilities, demonstration of working environment and dynamics, and interaction of group leader, candidate and lab members.

Evening social events are providing additional networking opportunities of candidates, PhD Reps, lab members and faculty. Campus and city tours give candidates an opportunity for getting a better impression of their potential living and working environment.

Will interview costs be covered?

All costs during interview week including travel expenses, visa, accommodation and food will be covered by the MDC. Please note: MDC as a public institution is not able to buy your transportation tickets in advance or reimburse the travel expenses before the Interview week. Initially, you have to cover all of the travel expenses by yourself and the money will be reimbursed to you after the Interview week. 

What happens if I cannot participate in the Interview week in Berlin due to time constraints?

Your participation is absolutely obligatory. If you are not available on that week, you would unfortunately not be considered for the selection process. Videoconference options are not possible at this stage.

About the aftermath

What happens after the onsite interview week?

When do I know whether I have been accepted to the program?

Acceptance letters are sent within 5 days after interviews.

When can I start my PhD?

Students have to start their research project within 4 months of the onsite interviews at the MDC.  In general, PhD students will agree with his or her prospective supervisor on a specific starting date.

About the PhD life

PhD studies, tuition fees, salary, living in Berlin, duration of studies

How do I enroll at the university?

Upon your start at the MDC, the MDC Grad School Office will lead you through the process of the enrolmentMost students at MDC are enrolled at the local partner universities Charité, Humboldt Universität, or Freie Universität. Usually, you will enroll at the institution your prospective group leader is affiliated with. 

Are there any tuition fees?

There are no MDC Grad School tuition fees, however, after enrolling at the university you shall pay the semester fees of ca. 350 Euro, including public transportation ticket.

How will I finance my PhD studies?

PhD students receive a work contract according to the German public system, including health and social insurance, as well as pension scheme. The initial contract is for 3 years and the net salary amounts to about 1600 Euro per month.

Is there support upon arriving in Berlin?

The Welcome and family office at the MDC supports all students upon arriving in their first steps settling in Berlin, including all issues related to VISA and residence.

How long does it take PhD students to complete their PhD?

Students are expected to complete their degree in four years.