Funding of doctoral candidates
Doctoral support contract
Doctoral candidates working for the institute and performing research tasks as instructed are employed on a Max Planck doctoral support contract. They are expected to concentrate all their efforts, i.e. the full average working week, on preparing their dissertation and the associated scientific work. In return for their work, doctoral students receive remuneration. For this purpose, one half of the working hours at the institute is deemed to be eligible for remuneration. A salary is accordingly paid at the rate of 50 per cent of pay group E13 (stage 1 in year 1, stage 2 in subsequent years) as per the civil service pay scale (TVöD Bund). Additionally, a recruitment bonus may be paid.
Income tax is payable on both salary and special payments. Health insurance, nursing care, pension and unemployment insurance are all obligatory and are automatically deducted. Depending on the individual tax bracket, the net income after deductions can be expected to amount to 1350 EUR on average per month (slightly less in the first year and slightly more in subsequent years).
Unless otherwise noted, projects funded directly by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Science are usually offered under a doctoral support contract, in particular those projects advertised during the yearly call. Contracts are for three years and include 20 days of vacation per year. The first six months of employment constitute a probationary period.
TVöD employment contract
A TVöD contract constitutes employment and remuneration according to the Collective Wage Agreement for Government Service Workers. Working hours to perform research for the institute may range from 50 per cent to a higher fraction of the average working week depending on the requirements of the project. Accordingly, the remuneration varies on the same scale from 50 per cent to higher percentages of pay scale E13 (stage 1 in year 1 and stage 2 in years 2 and 3) of the civil service pay scale (TVöD Bund or TV-L West depending on the hiring institution). During other times, students can pursue further aspects of their PhD project and curricular requirements for the successful completion of their PhD degree not immediately connected with their paid research tasks.
Income tax is payable on both salary and special payments. Health insurance, nursing care, pension and unemployment insurance are all obligatory and are automatically deducted. An additional retirement plan is in place (VBL). Depending on the individual tax bracket, the net income after deductions can be expected to amount to approximately 1280 EUR per month for a 50% contract. This average will be accordingly higher for higher work hour percentages.
Work for projects funded by third parties may be compensated on the civil service pay scale in the form of a TVöD contract. Advertisement times for such positions may be different from the yearly recruitment cycle times and contracts may have differing start dates. The nominal contract duration should be three years. TVöD contracts currently include 30 days of vacation per year. The first six months of employment constitute a probationary period.
A number of foundations and institutions award scholarships to doctoral candidates to financially support them while they do research and study towards their PhD degree. Scholarships may also be called fellowships, stipends or grants. The rates fully or partially cover a student's cost of living and are usually exempt from tax in Germany and are also free of contributions to the social security insurance system. Health insurance is obligatory and must be paid by the stipend holder. As a general rule for grantees participating in the IMPRS financed by a stipend, the funding conditions of the institution awarding the scholarship apply.
Up to mid-2015, the Max Planck Society allowed to award grants to doctoral candidates who carry out scientific plans that constitute an important addition to the research work of an institute (see MPG support guidelines for details including various allowances). This funding model is now being phased out and the MPS does not offer new grants to prospective doctoral candidates.
From time to time, young scientists who have not yet obtained a PhD degree may be invited to stay at the MPS for a few months as a visiting scientist. In some cases, they would be funded through a Max Planck fellowship in the framewok of the institute's guest programme. The base fellowship in this case would amount to 1365 EUR per month.
Candidates aspiring to do research at the MPS towards a doctoral degree can continue to raise grants through various other programmes such as scholarships of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), or through institutions in their home countries such as for example the China Scholarship Council (CSC), in order fund their studies in the framework of the IMPRS. The admission of students to the IMPRS is competitive and applicants bringing their own funds still have to go through the regular selection procedure. Since the applicable deadlines may differ from those of the regular IMPRS recruitment cycle, such applications can also be submitted off-cycle and should in parallel be discussed with potential advisors or the IMPRS coordinator by e-mail.
Postdoctoral wrap-up phase
At the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Science, graduates from the IMPRS are offered short-term postdoc wrap-up positions allowing to them publish the final results from their PhD project and to prepare for their next career step.
Through the Otto Hahn Award, the very best graduates across the Max Planck Society each year get a chance to spend some time abroad then come back to lead a small research group. Beyond this, IMPRS graduates are eligible to apply for longer-term positions advertised by the institute in the framework of its open postdoc programme. Postdocs can also submit a proposal to fund their own position to the DFG, submit proposals for Humboldt Research Fellowships or Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships. If more experienced, there are various options for postdocs to submit a proposal to start their own research group.