Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ

Who can apply?

You need a master's degree after at least four years of studies in natural sciences with excellent marks.

Are you eligible for the MPGC?

The Max Planck Society awards doctoral students of the MPGC with a PhD certificate of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz amended after their successful defense. Therefore, you need not only be admitted by the MPGC but also need to be approved by the universities foreign office. To start at the MPGC, you thus need to pass all eligibility requirements. Please check the doctoral regulations for this purpose. You can download them as pdf file.

When can you apply?

There is no deadline at all, you can apply at any time either for a job offer or if you are interested in a research group. It saves your time if you contact direct the responsible researcher and ask for his/her acceptance.

How can you apply?

You can send your complete application to the scientist of your choice or the the MPGC office and mention your preferred job position and research group.

What is the language of the MPGC?

The working language in the labs, seminars and workshops in the MPGC is English. Therefore you must prove your language skills either with your German Abitur or a TOEFL test minimum of 60 points in the iBT (total score: 0 - 120 points) if your are not an English native speaker.

Although we do not ask for German language skills when you apply, we recommend to take a German course before or immediately after your start as doctoral student. Basic German skills will significantly facilitate your daily life, even if it should not be necessary for your scientific work. Free courses are offered for MPGC students in a cooperation of the University of Mainz and the Max Planck Institutes.

What is the application procedure?

After you send your complete documents to the MPGC we check your application and the supervision of your PhD thesis. If your application is successful we invite you for an interview.

At least you get a recommendation with or without reservations or a rejection.

The acceptance in the MPGC does not mean an automatic financial support by the MPGC. You can be accepted as a member as well, paid by a third party or your further supervisor.

Can you get financial support?

PhD candidates admitted to and financially supported by the MPGC can either receive a stipend or a contract. The type of financial support has to be negotiated in each case separately depending on the expected PhD work and the origin of the doctoral student.

The stipend

A stipend is not a traditional contract income. It is a financial support for your further education and you do not need to pay contributions to the governmental insurance system from the stipend (unemployment insurances or the pension fund). Please note that a stipend holder needs to provide his or her own insurances, in particular health and liability insurance. The monthly support in a stipend can be up to 1365 EUR.

The contract

With a contract you become a regular employee of the institute. A significant part of your income goes to public health insurance, pension fund, unemployment, social insurances and tax. Therefore, the net income per month is smaller than with a stipend (1000 - 1100 EUR for a typical PhD student). Contracts follow the public service system (50% of the working time).

How high is the student fee?

You must not pay any tuition fee in Mainz, however the student fee (after your enrollment at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) must be paid by yourself per term (twice a year) and is a bit more than 260 EUR. This fee includes free public transport in Mainz, Wiesbaden and the Rhein-Main region (to Frankfurt and beyond), your student card, Mensa card and reduced entrance for several events.

What is a doctoral advisory board?

Two supervisors and possibly mentors shall care for each student admitted to the MPGC. They form the students individual doctoral advisory group. The two supervisors shall be either professor, or qualified for professorship, where at least one is a principal investigator at the MPGC, and at least one is member of the departments 04, 08, 09, or 10 at Mainz University, or authorized as supervisor in the department 08, 09 or 10 like scientists from the Max Planck Institutes.

In addition to these supervisors, the advisory team can optionally include mentors, who help the student with the everyday progression of the research work, with specific aspects of the multi-disciplinary research not covered by the supervisors, etc. The number of mentors, and their affiliation, depends on the research project. 

A scientist from a foreign University can be authorized to be supervisor in a graduation at MPGC. He or she needs to be either professor or qualified for professorship. It must be ensured that an appropriate scientific and organizational care for the doctoral student is possible. 
The foreign supervisor needs to confirm his or her agreement in a written statement to the Steering Committee and the Joint Board. 

What is mandatory during your MPGC membership?

After admission you and your supervisors agree on a supervision agreement you close with the MPGC.

The program will consist of

  • Research and preparation of the thesis
  • Participation in the interdisciplinary obligatory program of the MPGC
  • Selection of, and participation in the variable curriculum
  • Annual progress reports and meetings with the doctoral advisory board
  • Defense of your thesis

It is expected that you finish your doctoral studies within three years. An extension requires a written explanatory statement, a detailed description of the further time line and the permission of the Steering Committee in agreement with the Joint Board. 

After successfully completing your PhD research, your PhD teaching curriculum, and preparing a PhD thesis, you will defend your PhD in front of a jury. After the successful defense, the Max Planck Society, and a certificate award doctoral students of the MPGC with a PhD certificate of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz amended from the MPGC.

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