FAQ - Application for a PhD project

What is the difference between IMPRS and the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour?

The Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour is a DFG “cluster of excellence” that is funded for 7 years at the University of Konstanz. The International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Organismal Biology is a graduate school that brings together the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the Department of Biology at the University of Konstanz.

PhD candidates in the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour can elect to be part of the IMPRS graduate school, and benefit from the many support structures in this highly-recognised graduate school. However, as not all PhD candidates in the Centre will become members of the IMPRS, and not all faculty members of the IMPRS belong to the Centre, there are different positions announced on the different websites.

Is there a difference between applying for a PhD via the IMPRS website and the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour website?

For PhD candidates, there is NO difference between the application portals of IMPRS and the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour. PhD candidates can apply through either website.


My documents are not in German or English. Do I need certified translations of my documents or can I translate them myself?

For the application we accept informal translations, however, in case of a successful employment we would need certified translations of your documents. Please always send copies of your original documents, too.


Is proof of English proficiency essential for all applicants?

English is the working language in the Centre, so it’s critical that your language skills are at a level where you can begin research and collaboration immediately. For PhD applicants, additional proof is required (see below).


I am not a native speaker, and I don't have an international certification as TOEFL

As stated in the application instructions you need to convince us that your English proficiency is sufficient for immediately starting with your research work. The best and most reliable way is an acceptable result in an internationally recognized test (e.g. TOEFL). Nevertheless, a verifiable higher education in English, or a reasonably long stay in an English speaking country or institute are also convincing. However you wish to prove your English skills, we need it documented by a third party. There are no rules or guidelines on the kind of documents, this can be your academic transcripts proving your studies being taught in English, an official confirmation of a reasonably long stay in an English speaking country, or any other confirmation from a 3rd party such a supervisor, a responsible person from your university or the institution you have been working.


Which language score is enough to demonstrate my English proficiency?

We require at least a vantage or upper intermediate language level corresponding to the CEFR B2 (equalling to IELTS > 5.5 or TOEFL > 87). However, these scores are a first guideline but not an absolute criteria.


I wish to apply for a PhD position but I am still finishing my studies and haven't received the official certificate and academic transcripts of my Masters degree.

It is not necessary to hold the degree at the time of application. However, you must have been awarded your degree prior to the start of the program. Please submit meanwhile all available documents (non-/official transcript, certificate + transcripts from any further studies).


I only have Bachelors degree, can I still apply for the announced PhD positions?

In case of applying with a Bachelor degree, the doctoral regulations of U KN (§3) require “(1)... A study programme at a university, a Pädagogische Hochschule (teacher training college) or art academy, with a standard period of study of at least four years” and state that “(3) Degrees earned at a state, or state-accredited, institution of higher education in another country shall be recognised provided that the skills thus acquired do not differ significantly from those of the study programmes or degrees for which they serve as a substitute. The Doctoral Committee decides whether the degree can be recognised.”

Thus, it is possible to start a PhD with a Bachelor degree with a standard study period of at least 4 years but each case will be individually evaluated by the Doctoral Committee. If you do not meet the admission requirements, you may be admitted to doctoral studies by the Doctoral Committee by means of an aptitude test, thus proofing that you are capable of working in accordance with scientific methods in the intended thesis field to the same extent as degree holder of a master's program at a German university. The aptitude test generally includes the successful completion of several courses defined by the Doctoral Committee.


Can I submit my application via email?

Please only apply via our three-tier electronical application process. Please do not send any other type of application by regular mail or email as they will be rejected.


I filled out the registration form but didn't receive any further information on how to continue the application process. What should I do?

With a successful registration you will receive an automatic email with your personal registration Code (LASTNAME_4DIGITS). Please check your spam / junk folder.

The automatic email response contains the following information:

****** I m p o r t a n t ******  !

Your personal registration code is:

Be sure to type your registration code exactly as given (LASTNAME_4DIGITS), otherwise it won't be recognized by the system!

****** I m p o r t a n t ******  !

Your next steps for your application for one of the PhD positions at the IMPRS for Organismal Biology:

1. Carefully read our application instructions (http://www.orn.mpg.de/3638993/Application-Instructions.pdf).

2. Ask your two referees to upload their reference letters at www.orn.mpg.de/referee. To upload their letters and to evaluate your academic skills you need to provide them with your personal registration code. Please be aware that your application will only be considered if the two recommendation letters reach us prior the application deadline January 15, 2019! You will receive a confirmation email as soon as we got your two recommendation letters.

3. Fill out your application at www.orn.mpg.de/application and upload the accompanying documents as one single pdf-file. You again need your personal registration code for both steps. Make sure to complete your application prior the application deadline January 15, 2019! We will acknowledge the receipt of your application by email.

This email was automatically generated. Please do NOT use the reply function to respond to the sender! If you have any further questions regarding your application, please get in contact with us at IMPRS@uni-konstanz.de


I am interested in applying for multiple positions. How should I proceed?

Please only submit one application! In the application form you are asked to name between one to three PhD projects you are interested in. These priorities define your interviewing team, nevertheless, the centralised Selection Symposium still offers the opportunity to get to know the whole faculty and find the best match (same for the potential supervisors).


What is the difference between the letter of motivation and the research statement?

The letter of motivation is required with each application and should briefly state your motivation and your reasons for applying to the IMPRS and the specific projects you have chosen, as well as what you are interested in research-wise. Please do not exceed 300 words.

The research statement can go into more detail on everything, describing your main research interests and relevant skill-sets, how they developed, and how they relate to the proposed research. You are also encouraged to describe your scientific ideas related to the specific position(s) you have applied for. Please check the position/s you are interested for whether a research statement is required.

Applicants who are applying for multiple positions should submit only one research statement document, but should make sure to address each of the projects they have applied for (exact structure of the research statement is up to the applicant). If applying for multiple projects, applicants may optionally extend the length of their research statements up to 3 pages.


Research proposal: what entails "internal state of research"?

The ‘internal state of research’ should contain information on the prior research that has been done on the topic as well as known results.


Trying to submit the application and/or recommendation form gives an error message. What happened?

Be sure to type your registration code exactly as given (LASTNAME_4DIGITS), otherwise it won't be recognized by the system! Make sure that there is no extra space and all characters are typed correctly. If it is still not working, please get in contact with us at IMPRS@uni-konstanz.de


In the PhD application form it requires 'no photographs' with regard to uploading a CV. What do I do if any further document such as the TOEFL score report or a university certificate has a photograph on it?

We try to keep the applications as objective as possible to really only judge the scientific experience and fit for the positions. But it’s not a problem if there still is one picture – don’t modify the respective file.


I’m planning on applying for a DAAD funded PhD as well as an announced PhD position and wondering how I go about this.

Please only submit one application even if you are interested in applying for the DAAD funded open position and an announced position and include both, the research proposal for the open PhD positions for own proposal elaboration and the research statement for the announced position in your documents (1 pdf). In the application form you are asked to name between one to three PhD projects you are interested in. Please indicate the title of the advertised project/s of interest as well as the open project in order of preference.


What are the dates for the interviews and what is the latest possible date to start the PhD project?

Personal interviews and meetings with potential supervisors will take place March 17-22 at our Selection symposium in Konstanz (see https://www.orn.mpg.de/events/15150/3578959), all expenses will be covered by the IMPRS. Shortlisted candidates will receive an invitation around Mid-February.

We expect all new candidates to participate in our annual Grand Challenges Symposium and the following teaching week for the new PhD candidates, which usually takes place in October. Thus, the latest possible starting date would be beginning of October.


Can one of my potential supervisors be one of my referees?

No, your referee has to be a different person than your prospective supervisor.


What are the funding and benefits that a PhD candidate can expect?

PhD candidates receive a contract based on the Collective Wage Agreement for the Civil Service (TVöD, see http://oeffentlicher-dienst.info/tvoed/bund/). The final compensation depends on the position and respective research group and varies between 50-65 percent of Pay Group 13 (maximum level 2). If you remain in Germany for more than six months you are liable for tax and social security. Your employer pays part of the contribution for health, nursing care, pension and unemployment insurance; the employee’s contribution, for which you are liable, is automatically deducted from your salary along with tax. You are also insured by your employer against accidents at work and occupational health issues.


What are the average living costs and registration fees at the University?

As PhD candidate at the University of Konstanz you don’t have to pay any tuition fee, just 160 € every semester for re-registration (see https://www.uni-konstanz.de/en/study/study-essentials/finances/other-fees/general-overview/). The cost of living for students in Konstanz is approximately 760 Euro per month (see https://www.uni-konstanz.de/en/study/study-essentials/finances/cost-of-living/).


Further information

You can find more information in the Max Planck booklet “Living and working in Germany” and on https://www.study-in.de/en/. The University of Konstanz offers comprehensive information on planning, preparing for and participating in a stay in Konstanz (https://www.uni-konstanz.de/en/welcome-center/) as well as study essentials pages to find out everything you need to know for a carefree and relaxed student experience (https://www.uni-konstanz.de/en/study/study-essentials/).

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