What qualifications do I need?

A first class or upper second class MSc Honours degree (or national equivalent, e.g. a German 'Diplom' with a grade of at least 'good') is required for access to the IMPRS-ESM PhD programme. It is important that a written thesis forms part of the requirements for the degree. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, we accept students with backgrounds in a wide range of science subjects.


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How do I apply?

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.


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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:

reference sheets


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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 office.imprsmoimet.mpg.de if you receive multiple registration numbers.


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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 email; you don’t need to go through the registration process again. In all correspondence, please remember to state your registration number.


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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.


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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.


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

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.


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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 trough doctoral contracts.

A contract offers approximately EUR 1,750 monthly net payment. Additional benefits for children are possible.


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What are the deadlines?

The deadline for an online application is September 15.
The letters of recommendation can be submitted until September 20.


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What happens after I've applied?

All complete applications will be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the IMPRS-ESM who evaluate them and select top candidates for an interview. The interviews take place in Hamburg, usually in the second half of November. Candidates living too far away and cannot travel to Hamburg, will be interviewed by telephone or video call. Within a week after the interviews formal offers are made to successful candidates.


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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 standard, the Executive 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 field of interest in combination with the availability of potential research supervisors and collaborating institutions are assessed.


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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 choose 5-10 suitable candidates.


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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 heard from us by mid November, the chances are that you could unfortunately not be shortlisted. Letters with the final outcome are sent to applicants after we have filled all vacant PhD positions (usually mid December).


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