Graduate School

Spanning all research areas of the MDC, the Graduate School offers an integrated scientific and professional skills training open to all doctoral researchers.

The MDC Graduate School has been established in cooperation with the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin medical faculty. It provides a structured training program for doctoral researchers in the areas of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, Cancer Biology and Immunology, Neuroscience, Developmental Biology, Medical Systems Biology and Bioinformatics. The Graduate School currently hosts more than 380 PhD researchers with the share of doctoral researchers coming from abroad reaching 50%.

Depending on the affiliation of the group leader and the topic of the dissertation project, students can in addition be associated with one of our specialized Research Schools or Exchange Programs. 

Training and Supervision


The scientific and professional skills training program of the MDC Graduate School is intended to provide each student with the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully complete the dissertation project and to move on to the next step in their career, inside or outside of academic research.

Close day-to-day supervision of doctoral researchers by the group leader is complemented with a PhD Project Committee, consisting of the PhD supervisor and two additional scientists. Annual meetings provide advice and formalized regular guidance regarding the progress of the dissertation project.

In addition to annual PhD progress meetings, training at the MDC Graduate School consists of scientific and research-related lectures, seminars and workshops, student presentations at meetings/conferences, and a menu of professional skills courses.

The complete curriculum of the MDC Graduate School can be found here.

Doctoral Degree


MDC doctoral candidates conducting their research project at the MDC register at a university in order to receive their doctoral degree. The MDC Graduate School has partnerships with Berlin universities, allowing researchers to obtain degrees from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, or Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Most PhD candidates opt for the above universities but it is also possible to obtain the degree from any other university as long as joint supervision with the MDC is accepted. 

The MDC Graduate School offers assistance with university procedures of Berlin partner universities



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. Net salaries amount to approx. 1100 Euros per month in the first year (health insurance coverage already deducted) and about 1600 Euros per month from the second year. In cases of third-party funding by the host group or individual funding secured by the candidate, these rates may vary.



The MDC is organizing numerous scientific events, conferences, and symposia over the year including the annual PhD Retreat, Graduation Ceremony, annual PostDoc Day, Career Day and many topic-specific events within the research programs. Many of those events are organized with the support of doctoral researchers, who are interested in event planning.

PhD Retreat

MDC doctoral researchers in collaboration with colleagues from the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) organize an annual PhD retreats that brings together young scientists from all research areas of both institutes. Highlights of the scientific sessions include plenary talks by internationally recognized scientists. The scientific program is usually complemented with social activities and panel discussions of scientific topics and their relevance for society. An overview of last year's retreat can be found here


The IPSCC - International PhD Student Cancer Conference is organised for PhD students, by PhD students; and aims to provide PhD students from cancer research institutes across Europe with the opportunity to present their research and integrate with top scientists and speakers. We encourage all participants to showcase their research through either presentation or a poster. This annual conference is co-organized with the MDC and confirmed PhDs are fully covered to participate. In 2018, the IPSCC will take place at the new Francis CRICK Institute in London from June 18-20.

The Graduate Team

Head of Graduate School

Dr. Michaela Herzig
Phone: +49 30 9406 4243

Graduate School Coordinator

Administrative Assistant

Annette Schledz
Phone: +49 30 9406 4256