Answers to Frequently asked questions
In September 2016, the IMPRS will issue the next call for applications. Applications in response to the 2016 call will be accepted through an online portal (see link in the left-hand side navigation bar). Applicants can already register at the online portal but are advised to delay submission of their application to the time period from October 1 2016 to November 15 2016.
The applicant will need to fill an online application form and upload documents such a CV, academic degree certificates and transcripts with translations into English or German, and supporting documents such as English language tests or GRE tests.
Upon submission of the application material, the two referees that the applicant has named in their application will be contacted and asked for letters of recommendation on behalf of the applicant. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the information in the online application form is concise and complete, that all documents have been uploaded and submitted according to the instructions in time before the deadline, and to ensure the referees they name have been informed and have agreed to answer a request for a letter of recommendation no later than by November 20 2016.
The applications will be reviewed starting November 20 2016. Invitations for interview will be sent out in early 2017, but not all decisions are made on the same schedule. The majority of the interviews will take place during one week in the first quarter of 2017. All applicants will have received a notification about the status of their application by May 2017. Candidates will be able to check on the status of their application by logging in to the online portal.
Candidates will be pre-selected based on their academic qualifications and recommendations. An admission committee that includes faculty members of the participating institutes reviews the applications, selects them based on the students excellence as proven by their university records and by letters of recommendation, and advises the potential supervisors about the candidates and their qualifications.
An important part of the selection procedure is a personal interview by faculty members for which the applicants under consideration will be invited. This will give the opportunity to meet the training faculty and to visit the participating scientific institutions. The interview may be held at the MPS in Göttingen or at one of the partner institutes. In rare cases, it may be conducted by phone. Applicants who are invited for an interview will receive financial assistance for travel and accommodation expenses.
The final decision about the acceptance of a student rests with her/his potential supervisors. Admission to the program may be dependent on the fulfillment of certain requirements that need to be met before the begin of the new academic year (e.g. completion of a degree, completion of credit courses, participation in an English language course).
While it is not mandatory to contact the members of our faculty before sending your application, your chances of getting accepted into the program may increase if you have gotten a particular potential advisor interested in working with you. Please do not send generic requests to all of them, but contact those whose fields you would like to discuss in more detail with specific questions. You can then refer to these previous discussions in the appropriate spot in your application.
About 45 students are enrolled at any given time. Their funding comes from several sources. The yearly call for applications primarily addresses candidates applying for an IMPRS-funded position, but anyone hired on a project position and desiring to pursue work towards a PhD under the roof of the IMPRS also needs to submit an application to IMPRS. In some cases, applicants for IMPRS positions will also be redirected to open project positions suitable to pursue PhD work. We admit about 10-15 PhD students in total per year.
I have a Bachelor's degree and would like to enrol in IMPRS as a Master student before moving on to do a PhD. Is that possible?
Short answer: No (most IMPRS are PhD programmes only, see also here).
Long answer: Maybe. While it is true that the IMPRS currently can only accept candidates with a Masters's degree or equivalent for enrolment and funding in the Solar System School PhD program, there are at least two options to collaborate with MPS scientists on your Master thesis topic. As a Master student doing research at the MPS, you could still benefit from the local IMPRS infrastructure (international office, lectures, retreats, social events), the main difference is that Master students are not eligible to be funded by the IMPRS.
The University of Göttingen does offer a local M.Sc. Physics program which is open to international students. General information for international students may be found starting from here, while information on how to enrol specifically into the M.Sc. Physics program may be obtained from here. While you have to take care of your housing and living expenses yourself, you might still be able to support yourself through student research assistentships or teaching assistentships. Ask the MPS supervisor you would be interested to study with about possible options, or look for job offers for a "Studentische Hilfskraft" posted by the university here.
The University of Göttingen also participates in the European program Astromundus, which, in contrast to the local university program, does provide funding for successful applicants. If accepted into this program, you would ask to do your final year in Göttingen and would choose to collaborate with an MPS supervisor on your Master's thesis topic.
In both cases, delivering an impressive Master's thesis made at the MPS and as a consequence having a local supervisor support you will result in a high priority for your application to proceed into the IMPRS PhD program.
ETS has assigned the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research an institutional code to receive your TOEFL or GRE scores from them directly. The TOEFL code for institution "Max Planck Inst Fellowship" is 5480. The GRE code for institution "Max Planck Inst Fellowship" is 0070.
I will be taking the TOEFL and/or GRE physics test, but results will only be available after the application deadline, what do I do?
Please still submit your application by November 15. Take care to note on your application the date at which you have taken the test(s), as well as the date at which you expect the result(s) to become available. Then please send us your TOEFL and/or GRE physics test results scores by e-mail to email@example.com as soon as they are available.
This is up to you, but test results indeed may not be very representative of your current skills if they are older than five years. If you are submitting old test results, please take care to put them into context in your application and explain how you think you have been able to maintain, or improve upon, the level documented by these results.
Should I re-take the TOEFL and/or GRE physics test to improve my chances of getting accepted into the school?
This is entirely up to you, as reflected in ETS's "ScoreSelect Option" policy. When considering the investment in time and money required to re-take a test, you might want to factor in the information by ETS that test-takers often achieve similar results when a test is repeated a short time interval after the previous one.
I do not have TOEFL and/or GRE physics and/or GRE General test results, how will this affect my application?
Candidates whose native language is not English or German are required to provide a certificate documenting proficiency in English, for example Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English, IELTS Academic, TOEFL-iBT, TOEFL-PBT, GER, CEF, UNIcert language tests or equivalent. Proficiency in English can also be demonstrated through a degree obtained in a course of study taught in English. Applicants who have worked or studied in an English-speaking country for at least two years within the last three years are exempt from having to provide a certificate. If no language test is available at the time of enrolment and none of the above exceptions apply, admission is not possible.
Applicants with university degrees obtained outside Europe who provide GRE physics test scores will be given preference over those who do not provide test scores. We do not require GRE General test results, but you will have the possibility to indicate and upload your test results if you have them during the application process.
The MPS precursor institutes have been located in Katlenburg-Lindau for well over 60 years (see also here). In early 2014, the institute has moved to a new building located on the Göttingen Research Campus. The street address is
International Max Planck Research School
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research