You have a strong interest in climate research?

  • You like studying complex environmental processes and dynamics?
  • You have experience in working with numerical models of the Earth system or its components?
  • You enjoy problem solving, numerical modelling, programming, working with large data sets, applying statistical methods, among other research strategies and tools?

Do apply!

Our call for applications is open 1 July - 15 September.

This is what you bring:

  • A first class Master’s degree with written thesis (!) in physics, geophysical sciences (incl. meteorology and oceanography), ecology, mathematics, computer science, engineering, economics, or political science
  • Students currently working on their MSc thesis are also encouraged to apply
  • The study and work load for both your degrees (MSc and BSc) amount to (at least) 300 ECTS (or an equivalent to this)

This is what we offer:

  • A large, diverse and international, high quality and inspiring research environment
  • Being part of a group of doctoral candidates with similar research interests
  • Ample opportunity to advance your academic training and skills, and to present your own science and research results
  • Supervision through a personal scientific Advisory Panel
  • Dedicated support through the office team
  • A 3-year doctoral contract with social benefits; monthly net payment approximately EUR 1,800. This amount is sufficient to cover your basic living expenses


Dates (of a general annual call)

1 July – 15 September online registration
until 20 September acceptance of reference letters
1 November interview invitations have been sent out
mid / end of November interviews
December topic discussion for successful applicants & response to the applicant pool
1 March start of position (or upon individual agreement)



  • All required documents must be submitted electronically
  • Submit documents that follow the prescribed format only (see 2nd step below)
  • For reference letters use the prescribed reference form (link to be found at Step 4)

- any hardcopies / paper copies sent by ordinary post or fax
- any communication without the candidate’s ‘Registration ID’
- any reference letter without the candidate’s ‘Registration ID’



A complete application consists of the following documents:

  • Letter of Motivation (see advice ‘General notes’ at the end of these guidelines)
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Documents related to your Master’s degree (see FAQ if not available yet)
    • title page of your thesis and an abstract
    • copy of MSc certificate
    • copy of MSc transcript (a list of all courses/lectures you took including marks and explanation of grading system)
  • Documents related to your Bachelor’s degree
    • copy of BSc certificate
    • copy of BSc transcript (a list of all courses/lectures you took including marks and explanation of grading system)
  • Proof of English skills, if possible
  • 2 Reference Letters (consider 2 senior scientists) – further details are found in step 4

Optionally you may submit any additional documents, which you consider important for your application (e.g. publications, job references, certificates of workshops or awards etc.).

Note that both pdf files must be uploaded during the subsequent online registration process.

1. The first file ‘application documents.pdf’ should contain (in the following order and using these file names)

  • Letter of Motivation
  • CV
  • MSc transcript
  • BSc transcript

2. The second file ‘complementing information.pdf’ should contain (in the following order)

  • The title page and abstract of your MSc thesis
    (preliminary information in case the preparation of your thesis is on-going)
  • Your MSc certificate (in case not yet available, please include instead an informal note which announces the expected date of completion of your MSc)
  • Your BSc certificate
  • If applicable: any additional documents related to your application such as e.g. publications, job references, certificates of workshop, etc

During the online registration (find the link at the bottom of this page while Call is open) you will need to complete our registration form and upload the required application files (thus, the two pdf files you prepared before - see step 2).

We recommend to allow some time for the completion of the registration form as detailed information is requested. Be aware that once you exit the questionnaire, all entries are lost!

Therefore, we suggest that you look at the questionnaire and study all solicited entries before starting to fill it in. Most answers are straightforward and short. However, some points need further elaboration. Perhaps you wish to first prepare more detailed answers off-line and then copy/paste text blocks directly into the online form.

Upon successful registration, you will receive an automated e-mail containing your 6-digit ‘Registration ID’. Please state this ID for any correspondence with IMPRS-ESM as well as in the IMPRS-ESM reference sheet.
Attention: unreferenced correspondence will be ignored.

You require two reference letters to complete your application (always use the IMPRS-ESM template reference sheet).

  • Download the template reference sheet AND our letter to referees in which we explain our reference request
  • Add your registration ID and name to the template reference sheet
  • Forward both, template AND letter, to your chosen referees (preferably your former advisors)

A referee shall directly e-mail her/his recommendation to the IMPRS-ESM office:

Attn. Dr. Antje Weitz (Ms.) office.imprs@we dont want

- We will consider those references only that are using our standardized reference sheet
- Both reference letters have to be sent to us directly by the referees via e-mail from their official work account
- Reference letters sent from private accounts as, e.g., Gmail or Yahoo or by yourself cannot be accepted
- Your application can only be processed AFTER we have received the two reference letters

Advice for your ‘Letter of Motivation’ (to be written in English):

We recommend that you prepare this document very carefully as this is a crucial component in the selection process! Apart from a brief, general introduction of yourself and your academic interests you should elaborate on:

  • Your motivation for aiming to do PhD research
  • Your reasons for choosing IMPRS-ESM in Hamburg for your advanced studies
  • The research topic(s) in which you are interested

Language of your academic documents:

Application documents that are neither in German nor English must be accompanied by a translation into one of these two languages (please note that the 'Letter of Motivation' must be written in English). In this very first stage of application to the IMPRS-ESM, unofficial translations serve well. However, upon admission to our doctoral program and for registration as PhD candidate at the University of Hamburg officially certified translations are required.

Please allow yourself enough time to submit your application and do not wait until the last moment as technical difficulties or other problems might occur. The application period is also a busy time for us - therefore we are not always able to answer immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

By what criteria are PhD candidates chosen?

Since the IMPRS-ESM is focusing on Earth system modeling, a strong interest in mathematical modeling and a good background in mathematics and programming are very important. Besides the academic achievements, the Selection Committee will carefully consider the applicant's Letter of Motivation, reference letters, as well as his/her knowledge of the English language. Also, a candidate's academic interests are assessed with regard to research interests of potential supervisors in the collaborating institutions.

I did not receive a confirmation email

There are two likely possibilities, why you did not receive the confirmation e-mail:

1) sometimes the e-mail ends up in the spam folder, did you also look there?

2) as the e-mail confirmation is automatically generated, your e-mail provider might have declared it as spam and rejected it immediately. This sometimes happens with public e-mail providers and they also do not generate an error message to the sender. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent this from happening.

Nevertheless, you can just continue with contacting your referees. The templates for the reference sheets can be downloaded directly from our website:

Your application to the IMPRS-ESM consists of two principal steps, starting with the online application. It is best to allow some time for the completion of the online questionnaire as detailed information is requested, including the immediate upload of your application documents. In addition to this, two reference letters are required. Once you have completed our online application form and we have received the two standardised reference letters submitted to us directly from your referee, your application package is considered complete.


The deadline for an online application is September 15.

The letters of recommendation can be submitted until September 20.

What proof of my English skills can I provide?

A proof of your English skills is not mandatory for your application, nevertheless, it does help us to have some kind of reference with regard to your knowledge. Ideally you have passed an official English exam, such as the TOEFL, Cambridge Proficiency Certificate, or the British Council IELTS. Alternatively, an attestation from your University regarding your English skills or stays abroad where you had to speak English every day serve equally well.

What we will further evaluate is the letter of motivation (must be written in English) as well as, eventually, the personal interview which will be held in English. Most study at the IMPRS-ESM is in English, so you are expected to read, write, understand, and speak English very fluently.

When will I be informed about the outcome of my application?

It usually takes 6 weeks to set up a list of candidates who will be invited for an interview. If you have not heared from us within 2 months after the registration deadline, most likely, our Selection Committee was unable to add your name to the short list of interview candidates. Letters with the final outcome are sent to applicant pool only after we have filled the available PhD positions.

Funding of PhD candidates

Up until now, the IMPRS-ESM has been able to assign 5 to 10 new doctoral positions to promising applicants each year. These positions are generally financed through doctoral contracts.

A contract offers approximately EUR 1,850 monthly net payment. Additional benefits for children are possible.

I will not finish my MSc before next year, can I still apply?

An application prior to finishing your MSc degree is possible as long as your MSc study reached its final phase and thus you can provide us with a clear completion target.
We generally aim for a joint start of all our PhD candidates. This facilitates both administrative matters as well as the integration of new students. It is in some cases also possible to defer the starting date if someone is not able to complete their graduate studies in time, however, this is decided on an individual basis. Please mention your late starting date clearly in your Letter of Motivation.

My MSc certificate will not be issued before the deadline, can I still apply?

If your MSc certificates are not issued in time before the deadline it is no problem to forward them to us at a later date. Maybe you can ask your university for a brief statement which confirms that you are currently enrolled as an MSc student. Alternatively, if you have already been issued with any transcripts from previous terms, you can also send us those. Please specify in your letter of motivation when you expect to receive the official documents.

I received several e-mail confirmations with different registration numbers. Which one is correct?

Sometimes the system generates several automated e-mail responses with individual registration numbers after a successful registration. This can be caused by having hit the 'back' or 'send' buttons several times or after reloading the page while filling in the online questionnaire. Please contact us directly at if you receive multiple registration numbers.

What happens after I've applied?

All complete applications will be forwarded to the IMPRS-ESM Selection Committee that gets explicitely appointed by the IMPRS-ESM Executive Committee for individual calls (recruitment processes). The Selection Committee evaluates the applications and identifies top candidates for an interview. Usually interviews take place in person in Hamburg on prescribed dates. However, candidates living too far away and can not travel to Hamburg in time will be interviewed by telephone or video call. Within a week after the interviews, successful candidates will be contacted to further advance the recruitment process.

What qualifications do I need?

A first class MSc degree or upper second class MSc Hons. degree (or national equivalent) is required for access to the IMPRS-ESM PhD programme. Furthermore your transcripts should show proof that the study and work load for both your degrees (MSc and BSc) collectively amount to (at least) 300 ECTS (or an equivalent to this). It is important that a written thesis forms part of the requirements for the MSc degree. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, we accept students with backgrounds in a wide range of scientific disciplines.

May I change a referee after I have registered?

You are free to change any of your referees, if necessary. Please provide their respective details via via e-mail to; you don’t need to go through the registration process again. In all correspondence, please remember to state your registration number.

How many applications will be accepted each year? What are my chances to be admitted to the IMPRS-ESM?

Usually we receive more than 100 complete applications each year of which we can only admit 5-10 suitable candidates.

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