The Max Planck Schools are a joint graduate program of currently 24 universities and 34 institutes from non-university research organizations.

Ambitious and promising PhD candidates engage in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in the fields of Cognition, Matter to Life, and Photonics and study in the context of a unique network, closely supervised by outstanding scientists, who are leaders in their respective field. The PhD candidates benefit from early access to a versatile, first-class research infrastructure and innovative teaching methods, as well as fully financed PhD positions for Bachelor and Master graduates.

Benefit from a number of advantages


Our PhD candidates benefit from:

  • Cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in the fields of
    Cognition, Matter to Life, and Photonics;
  • Close supervision by outstanding scientists in their respective field;
  • a unique network of leading German universities and non-university research organizations;
  • An integrated MSc and PhD program (or standalone PhD program)
  • Early access to first-class research infrastructures and innovative teaching formats;
  • An internationally competitive funding scheme without tuition fees.

Our Fellows are Germany's leading scientists in their respective fields


Together with our students, the Fellows of the Max Planck Schools form the foundation of every School. Our Fellows are Germany’s leading scientists in their respective field and are to pass on their knowledge to the most ambitious and talented Bachelor and Master graduates through close personal exchange in small groups and with the aid of excellent infrastructures. The Fellows mentor our talented and ambitious young researchers and accompany them throughout their PhD studies.

Find out more about our world-class supervisors and their inspiring research!

Kick-Start your career with the Max Planck Schools

APPLY NOW - the application portals are open

The application phase for the fall 2024 intake has just started and the application portals for the respective Max Planck Schools are now open. Kick-start your scientific career with our stellar interdisciplinary PhD program and apply now to one of the three Max Planck Schools. For more information on how to apply and which School to choose, please visit our application page. The application portals are open until December 1.

Apply Now - for your future career in Cognition, Matter to Life or  Photonics!


Max Planck Schoolof Cognition
Cognition research covers topics from disciplines as diverse as psychology, physics, computer science, philosophy, biology and medicine. In this rapidly developing research field scientists with access to the methods and approaches of the various disciplines are in high demand.
Max Planck SchoolMatter to Life
What, exactly, is life? Can processes, functions and objects related to life be simulated and recreated in the laboratory? These are the overarching questions addressed in the curriculum and research training of the Max Planck School Matter to Life.
Max Planck Schoolof Photonics
Photonics is the science of light, enabling numerous modern technologies such as non-contact sensors, quantum computers and energy and information carriers. The Max Planck School of Photonics unites research in many subdisciplines to light up the world.


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