FAQs about the application process

Application process


How can I apply?
Application to the program is a two-step online procedure: First you will be asked to register online.  After successful registration, you will receive a confirmation link via email that allows you to log in and to submit your online application. For further information please visit How to apply on our website.

I missed the deadline. What can I do?
IMPRS-BI recruits students once a year. If you have missed the deadline, please apply next year. In exceptional, justified cases, we will also accept applications between the recruitment cycles. Please contact the coordination office for more details.

Do I need my MSc (or BSc) when I submit my application?
You do not need to have completed your degree program at the time of application. However, you must have completed your studies and have received your qualifying degree before you start your doctoral studies at IMPRS-BI.

Can I use an outdated TOEFL/IELTS test report as proof of proficiency in English?
Yes, please upload your latest certificate, even if it is a few years old.

Can I apply without a TOEFL or any other language certificate?
An English language test is not an absolute requirement but it helps us to reliably assess candidate's language skills. Without a test, you need to convincingly explain that you are fluent in written and spoken English.

Do I need a language certificate if I studied in English?
If you studied in an English-speaking country or your course program was taught in English, you don’t need any certificate. However, if you have it already, you can still attach it to your application.

Can I apply without GRE or GATE test?
Yes, it is possible to apply without such a test. However, a very good GRE or GATE test will strengthen any application.

Is it possible to hand in missing documents after the application deadline?
Late document submissions are not possible unless there is an exceptional reason. You would have to discuss the matter with the coordination office before the application deadline.

My academic records are not in English or German. Do I need to provide a translation?
Yes, translations of your documents into English or German have to be provided. Please submit translations in addition to copies of your original documents.

Do I need to provide certified translations of my academic records?
Yes, translations of all required documents such as your academic records have to be certified. Translations of recommended documents do not have to be certified as long as the original is also provided.

Can I select a research group for my doctoral project, that is not listed as “recruiting” on the IMPRS-BI webpage?
Yes. If the faculty member has agreed to consider your application, please indicate this in your letter of motivation.

Should I get in touch with group leaders I am interested in prior to submitting my application?
No, this is not advised and does not increase your chances of admission. The group leader will not be able to give you any additional information. However, in the application form you can list up to five group leaders that you are interested in and explain briefly why you find their work interesting.

Can I use ChatGPT or other AI tools to assist in writing my motivation letter?
No. Use of ChatGPT or any other AI tools to prepare your application is strongly discouraged. Please ensure and confirm in your motivation letter that no AI tool has been used for the generation of application material.

How should I compose my Letter of Motivation?
Here the admissions committee wants to read about yourself and why you’re applying to the IMPRS-BI program. There is no required format. You can structure it in any way you deem fit, but please limit the length to less than one page. Please do not include too many details about your past research experience – we provide a separate chapter for this type of information.
A few things you may want to include in your Letter of Motivation:
- Identify a research gap in your field.
- How will you contribute to closing that gap?
- How can being admitted to IMPRS-BI help you achieve your goal?
(This could be the first paragraph of your Letter of Motivation)
- What makes you particularly suitable for the IMPRS-BI program?
- Mention the experiences, courses, internships, international skills, technical skills, projects etc. that prepared you for IMPRS-BI.
(This could be the second paragraph)
- Talk about why IMPRS-BI appeals to you.
- Which group leader(s) do you want to work with? (Note: you have explained interests in particular groups before. Do not duplicate this information.)
- What features/courses make you excited about joining IMPRS-BI?
- What values/long-term goals of the program resonate with you?
- How will IMPRS-BI help you achieve your short-term goals (immediately after PhD) and long-term career goals.
(This could be the final paragraph and the conclusion.)

Do I need to upload a separate CV during the application process?
Yes, we will ask you to upload a separate CV. This gives you the opportunity to structure the layout of your CV according your own ideas. Clear and concise communication and presentation skills are considered important assets.

Can I provide non-institutional email address of my referee, e.g. gmail.com?
We do prefer an institutional email address but will also accept non-institutional email addresses if that is the address your referee uses.

How can I be sure that the referees I have listed will be contacted by IMPRS-BI?
Your referees will be contacted automatically by us as soon as you submit the referee contact details in the application form. You will receive a notification once a referee has submitted a recommendation letter on your behalf.

My referee has not received a request to submit the reference letter for me. What should I do?
Please double check if your referee’s data, email in particular, are correct. If yes, contact your referee to check if perhaps her/his spam filter has blocked our email. If this is not the case, please contact the IMPRS-BI Coordination office.

Will I be informed once the referees have submitted their references?
Yes, you will be informed by us through email. You also will find this information in your "My Progress" page at the online application portal. Please note that you will not be able to see the actual reference letter.

Will the referees have access to my application form?
No, referees can only submit the reference letter and will not be able to read the rest of your entries.

I already have letters of recommendation. Would it be possible for me to forward the letters directly to the coordination office?
No, we will not accept letters of recommendation submitted by applicants.

I don’t have my degree certificate yet. Can I upload a provisional certificate?
Yes, you can.

I don’t have a transcript. What can I upload?
You can upload a provisional transcript or marksheets instead.

I haven’t completed my MSc degree yet. What should I write as the cGPA?
If you transcript doesn’t indicate a cGPA, you can leave this field empty.

I have submitted a paper, but it hasn’t been accepted or published yet. Can I mention it in my application?
Yes, you are welcome to list it in your CV. It is good scientific practice not to include the journal title of submitted, but not-yet-accepted papers.

Can I edit my application after I have submitted it?
No, once formally submitted, you cannot modify your application any longer. You can edit, save and revisit your application before you press the “submit application” button as many times as you wish.

Is there an age limit for applicants?
No, there is no age limit for applicants.

If I am accepted to the IMPRS-BI, when am I supposed to start with my doctoral studies?
Successful applicants can commence their doctoral studies any time after the interviews and should start no later than 1st of October. Starting dates are decided upon in agreement with your prospective advisor.

Travel and visa


How long does my Passport have to be valid?
On the planned date of departure from Germany, your passport has to be valid for at least another three months and it has to be issued within the last 10 years. In case you need a visa the passport should contain at least two empty pages where the visa can be inserted.

Do I need a Residence Permit/Visa?
To enter Germany every foreign student from a non-EU country (and Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland) needs a residence permit (for details see link (link is external) of the Federal Foreign Office). This is not a requirement for candidates of member states of the European Union and some other countries: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, United Kingdom and the United States of America (for up to 90 days). The coordination office will provide administrative support in visa formalities to students from non-EU countries.

What kind of visa do I need?
For the interview days, you need to apply for a "Schengen Visa Type C (Business)". For your doctoral studies, you will have to apply for a specific visa that entitles you to conduct your doctoral studies in Germany. Details in this regard will be provided, once a student is accepted to our IMPRS.

How to handle visa formalities?
Invited or accepted candidates will receive an official invitation letter and a cover letter for the German embassy from the coordination office. This letter must be submitted to the German embassy or a German consulate in your home country together with your visa application. You will also have to have a travel health insurance. Issuing a visa may take between a few days and several weeks for a short stay visa and up to several months for the visa for your doctoral studies, dependent on your country of origin and other circumstances. In case of problems, the coordination office will assist you. For further details, please visit the website of the Federal Foreign Office. Visas for doctoral studies are originally issued for a duration of three months after which they will be converted into a temporary residence permit.

Where can I stay and how can I find accommodation?
Incoming doctoral students can stay at the guesthouse of the Max Planck institute for the first three months. The IMPRS coordination office and the International Office of the MPI will also assist students in finding suitable accommodation. Our students typically find suitable housing on the private market within a few weeks after arrival in Munich.



How are the doctoral students supported financially?
Our doctoral students typically are on regular work contracts (equivalent to TVöD E13) provided by their supervisors. The contracts come with health insurance and full social security coverage (including retirement and disability).

I have my own funding. Does this guarantee a place in the program?
All invited candidates must successfully pass the interview procedure in order to be eligible. Although we do appreciate if a student brings his/her own funding, this will not affect the evaluation process.

Are there any tuition fees for doctoral studies at IMPRS-BI?
No, there are no tuition fees. However, you will have to pay a semester fee of approximately 150 EUR for the duration of enrollment at one of Munich’s universities.

How much money should I budget in for housing?
Rent for a shared flat starts at approx. 500 EUR per month. Single apartments are more expensive and typically start at 600 EUR. Many of our students pay between 600 and 700 EUR for rent. The coordination office will support incoming students in finding suitable housing.

Am I covered by a health insurance plan as doctoral student?
Public health insurance coverage for doctoral students is obligatory and is integral part of your work contract.

What are the estimated living costs in the Munich area?
Estimated costs of living in Munich/Martinsried are approx. 1200-1600 EUR minimum per month for a single person.

General questions


Are the lectures in English or in German?
The medium of all instruction is English. Standard language of communication in laboratories is English, too.

Which institution will award my doctoral degree?
Typically, our partner universities, the Ludwig Maximilian University or the Technical University of Munich will award the doctoral degree. This is dependent on the university affiliation of your thesis advisor. International doctoral students may also have their doctoral degree awarded by a university of their home country if a cooperation agreement can be established.

Can I apply more than once?
Yes, we accept revised applications from students who submitted their forms in previous years. This typically only makes sense if there was a fundamental improvement in your application (i.e. completing a degree with excellent grades, getting a paper published or similar achievements).

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