Here’s how to avail Germany’s prestigious research funding

Here’s how to avail Germany’s prestigious research funding

For over 100 years, they have defined their research subjects and are given the best working conditions and free reign in selecting their staff.

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Last Updated : 08 April 2024, 23:08 IST
Last Updated : 08 April 2024, 23:08 IST

The Max Planck Society, with 31 Nobel Laureates among the ranks of its scientists, is among the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. Its unique selling point is its understanding of research. Max Planck Institutes are built solely around the world's leading researchers. For over 100 years, they have defined their research subjects and are given the best working conditions and free reign in selecting their staff.

Currently numbering 84, Max Planck Institutes and facilities conduct basic research in natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Young scientists worldwide come here for PhDs or postdoctoral research. With almost 1,400 visiting scientists, India represents a significant and growing pool of excellent young scientists for the MPG.

Most return to their home country after a successful career at the MPG. This lays the foundation for close relationships between excellent Indian research institutes and the MPG.

So far, 85 partner groups have been established to promote early career researchers worldwide—not only with scientifically established but also scientifically emerging countries. The aim is to strengthen their research landscapes and advance international scientific networking with them.

Partner groups can be set up with an institute abroad with the proviso that, following a research residency at a Max Planck Institute, outstanding early career researchers (postdocs) return to high capacity, well-equipped laboratories in their home country and carry out further research on a subject that is also of interest to their previous host Max Planck institute. The partner groups are set up for a maximum duration of five years.

The partner group programme is particularly successful in India. Since the program was introduced in India, 85 Indian scientists have received this award - more than in any other country. MPG is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its partner-group programme in India, which promotes brain circulation rather than brain drain.

Almost 4,000 young researchers are constantly working on their dissertations at Max Planck Institutes; a third of them as part of an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) and more as PhD candidates within the Max Planck Schools and the Max Planck Graduate Centers.

While the IMPRS, with its regional focus usually at local universities and other research institutions, offers the possibility of structured graduate training, the Max Planck schools are a national programme with over 50 partners throughout Germany helping exceptional PhD candidates. The faculties of each school unite the best scholars in their field to teach and work with doctoral candidates, all embedded in a unique network spanning universities and non-university research organisations in Germany and abroad.

There are three Max Planck Schools in Cognition, Matter to Life, and Photonics. The Graduate Centers were founded in 2018 on three specific topics - Computer and Information Sciences, Law and Quantum Materials. There is no central application procedure. Doctoral positions for individual doctorates are advertised throughout the year.

The application process

At the Max Planck Schools and Graduate Centres, the application phase starts in autumn, usually on September 1, and is conducted via a central applicant portal.

Doctoral students receive a grant agreement combining the scientific freedom of a scholarship with the security of an employment contract.

The Max Planck Society awards the Otto Hahn Medal to approximately 35 doctoral candidates yearly for outstanding scientific achievements.

Doctoral funding contracts

At MPG, doctoral students are funded by a doctoral funding contract. The doctoral funding contracts combine research in scientific freedom with social security. The working time is 39 hours per week. The payment is based on the Collective Wage Agreement for the Civil Service and currently amounts to a minimum of just under €2,700 gross. Depending on the subject or based on an individually granted bonus, payment for doctoral researchers may be higher. An annual bonus complements the offer.

Funding contracts last for three years, with the possibility of an extension for a year. Research visits abroad within the doctorate framework are also supported with funding.

Mobility grants for Indian students

The Max-Planck India Mobility Grant supports initiating a scientific career with leading Max-Planck Institutions. Nominees should be in their final year of doctorate or have obtained it no longer than ten years ago.

The host Max Planck Institute is awarded €5,000 a year to cover flights, accommodation, and regional travel costs for the selected Indian scientists. The selected Indian scientists must spend at least one month a year for three consecutive years. Candidates for the Max Planck-India Mobility Grant must be affiliated with an Indian research institution.


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