Frequently Asked Questions
Planning your scientific career with us
1. For what range of employment do the Max Planck Institutes offer vocational training?
The Max Planck institutes offer training for office, laboratory and IT staff, as well as in the metalworking and electrical trades. Some institutes also regularly employee trainees in animal care. For a detailed overview click on ‘Innovative Lehrberufe’ (Innovative training opportunities, only in German). You will also find current vacancies for trainees in our Jobs Exchange or on the Max Planck institute websites.
2. While I am studying I would like to work as a research assistant at a Max Planck institute. What do I need to do?
You will usually find current vacancies advertised on the notice board at your university, at the Max Planck institute itself, or on the Max Planck Society Jobs Exchange. The advert will also include additional details regarding the documents you must submit. Working as an assistant is generally a good opportunity to become better acquainted with the research going on at the institute in question, as well as to make some initial contacts and gain practical experience.
3. Is it possible for my degree thesis to be supervised both by a university and by a Max Planck Institute?
Max Planck institutes frequently offer PhD or post-doc positions, but Master‘s (or degree) thesis topics are agreed only in individual cases. These must be approved and scientifically supervised by your university, as well as by a supervisor at the Max Planck institute in question. You will find vacancies advertised on the Max Planck institute website or on the university notice board.
4. Can I take a doctorate at a Max Planck Institute?
In Germany the universities alone have the right to award doctorates. Therefore, it is not possible to take a doctorate at a Max Planck institute. However, the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) – in cooperation with the universities – offer a structured doctoral training program. After completing the usual three-year training period, during which you will be supported both by university supervisors and the Max Planck Institute, you will be examined by these two bodies jointly. Since 2009 the figure of Minerva – the logo of the Max Planck Society – has graced many IMPRS doctoral certificates.
In addition, the opportunity exists at most Max Planck institutes to prepare your dissertation – even outside of the central support program. You will find vacancies advertised on the websites of the institutes, on the MPS Jobs Exchange and in the daily papers and scientific journals.
An overview of all the International Max Planck Research Schools. For details of how to apply, see “What is the procedure for applying to a Max Planck institute?”
5. What opportunities and career openings are there for post-docs?
Almost all Max Planck institutes regularly invite applications for post-doc positions which are advertised on the Max Planck Society Jobs Exchange, on the institute websites and in newspapers and scientific journals.
If you have already held one or two post-doc positions and would now like to concentrate on scientific topics of your own, you may be interested in leading a Max Planck Research Group. You will find more information on this subject in the following FAQ page.
In addition, the Minerva Program for young female scientists and the Otto Hahn Groups that are likewise sponsored by the Max Planck Society also offer numerous career prospects for talented scientists.