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Questions & Answers about applying for admission to the IMPRS-gBGC

1.  How to write a good application?

Some useful advice

2.  Can I apply if I have previously worked/studied in a different field?

The funding period at the IMPRS is three years. It is not easy to complete a PhD project in such a short time. It will be even more difficult for the doctoral researcher, if his/her previous education has been in a very different field and none of the background knowledge or technical skills necessary for the project are available.

Therefore, applicants with an educational background similar to the PhD project are at an advantage. However, it is possible to change the scientific field. For example, we do have some doctoral researcher with a background in physics or information science who are now successfully working in Earth System Science.

The important bit: you must have made up your mind about why you want to pursue your PhD in a certain field of research. It is not sufficient to state that you like research in general. You need to show that you understand the context of the PhD project you are applying for.

The IMPRS aims to find good doctoral researcher that can fruitfully collaborate with colleagues, but also happy researchers (who are not overstrained because their projects do not fit them). Here you can discover other International Max Planck Research Schools.

3.  Which documents are needed for a complete application?

After you have completed the online registration form, you will receive the link to a website on which you can upload your application documents.

3.1  Minimum requirements

  • Your CV as a single PDF file,
    • optionally you can include additional certificates in this file
  • certificates and transcripts of your Master course(s), title and abstract of your Master thesis
    • Please combine all these certificates into one PDF file
  • A letter of motivation and research interests in English that also explains why you are interested
    • in PhD research in general and
    • in this particular PhD program in particular.
    • Please outline your personal research interests.
    • Submit your letter of motivation also as one PDF.
  • Two letters of reference
    • The IMPRS office will send requests to the email addresses you provide in the registration form automatically after you have submitted the online registration form.
    • Your chosen referees should each send a letter to the IMPRS office (imprs-gbgc at from their official email accounts before the deadline.
    • However, it is your responsibility to make sure the reference letters arrive in time.
    • On the upload page (link in confirmation email) you can see whether we have already received the recommendation letters and have attached them to your other application data. This step might take some days after we have received the letters.

3.2  Additional documents

Optionally, you can upload

  • Your Bachelor certificates (as a single PDF)
  • Publications to which you have contributed (as a single PDF)
  • Certificates regarding your proficiency in English (as a single PDF)

4.  Technical requirements

4.1  Which browser works best?

From experience we know, that the form works best with Google Chrome or Firefox. Please use one of these browsers to submit your application.

4.2  How to combine multiple documents into one PDF?

If you have several documents relating to your Master degree (for example), please combine them in one PDF (>> list of PDF software).

5.  Do I stand a chance if I have no papers published so far?

For being accepted as a doctoral researcher, it is not a prerequisite to have papers published in peer reviewed journals. After all, learning how to write good papers is part of being a doctoral researcher.

6.  What information should the essay on my motivation in my application contain?

In your letter of motivation/ statement of purpose you should explain why you are interested in this particular PhD program. It is also interesting for us to know what you intend to do after the completion of the program.

7.  How do I demonstrate my command of English?

The IMPRS for Global Biogeochemical Cycles has not made 3rd party language tests compulsory. Whether an applicant has sufficient command of the English language for a fruitful stay in the IMPRS will become apparent during the application procedure (which includes an interview either by telephone/web conference or in person).

Though good communicative skills are important, a solid scientific education and the desire to pursue a research career in global biogeochemistry are more important to us than a 100% flawless knowledge of grammar.

If you are invited to continue with the application process after the registration deadline, you may send us any language certificates you have along with your other application documents.

8.  The error message continuously reoccurs after submitting the application form.

Please double-check for the following potential reasons for the error message

  • symbols like
    • colons (:)
    • semi colons (;)
    • quotation marks (“)
    • ampersand (&)
    • and similar
    • diacritics (ä, ö, ü) and ß
    • dollar sign ($)
    • special brackets []
  • copy-pasting of content into the form.
  • Form sends too fast -> If you experience this error message while using the sign up form, please get in touch with the IMPRS office

9.  I don't see a link to upload my application documents after hitting the 'submit data' button.

After pressing the submit button on the application form, what should happen is that you

  • either see the confirmation page. In this case you will also receive a confirmation email at about the same time. Both the confirmation message and the confirmation email contain a link for uploading your application data.
  • or see an error message. This happens if
    • one or several mandatory fields have not been filled or
    • if you have used characters that are not accepted (please only use the numbers 0 to 9, letters A to Z (upper or lower case), periods, commas, colons, slashes, spaces and hyphens) or
    • if your input into one field is longer than what we expect.

You might need to scroll up the application form page in order to see the confirmation or the error message.

10.  I don't see the letter of reference of my contact person, although I know that they send it.

Your referee sends us the Letter of Recommendation by email and we then need to manually upload the file into our system, which might take up to 24hrs (or longer, if they mailed it on the weekend).

If you cannot find an answer to your question on our website, please write an email to the >> IMPRS office.

This page was last modified on November 07, 2022, at 02:49 PM

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