University Degrees

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Applicants holding (or expecting to hold) a university master's degree (MSc or equivalent) including a written master's research thesis are eligible to apply. Our PhD students typically have a background in (molecular) biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computational biology, computer science or epidemiology/public health studies.

Applicants still studying for their degree should anticipate to receive it not later than 6 months after the application deadline. A provisional certificate or bona fide statement from the University, stating the examination marks already obtained, should be provided. During completion of the online application form, you will be required to upload a scanned copy of your certificates as a JPEG or PDF file of not more than 3MB.

In case you hold a degree that is NOT a MSc but that you think is equivalent to a MSc (including a written master's thesis), please contact the Graduate Program Office, listing the name of the degree in the original language and the English translation and we will inform you whether you are eligible to apply. 

Degrees from countries outside the European Union are subject to a recognition procedure if a faculty of a German university is chosen. The faculty may ask for additional qualifications or an entrance examination to be completed in the early phase of the thesis work. Payment might be lower in this period.

If you hold a bachelor degree, you are unfortunately not eligible to apply. However, you might be interested in the Master's Program Major Cancer Biology, organized by the German Cancer Research Center in collaboration with the University of Heidelberg.

Proof of English Language Skills

A language test for English is requested for all applicants except those coming from German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), as well as native English speakers from Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK and USA. If your studies were in English, then please upload a PDF document from your University (or Director of Studies) in which this is stated and select "Degree in English" in the section "Proof of English" in the online application system.

The following proof of English is accepted (new requirements since March 2016):

  • TOEFL test with a score of 95+ (internet-based), 240+ (computer-based) or 587+ (paper-based)
  • IELTS certificate with a band score 7.0+
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)

If you are planning to take a TOEFL test for your application to the Helmholtz International Graduate School for Cancer Research, you may have the results sent directly to us by quoting the DKFZ code number, 4320, when you take the test. If not, then you will be required to upload a scanned copy of the certificate as a JPEG or PDF file of not more than 3MB.

If it is not possible to take the test in time, then you should upload a document from your university stating your English language abilities. However, it is highly advantageous to have a certificate from an official English test and without this your application may not be considered.

A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is considered advantageous for your application but it is not mandatory. If you have a GRE certificate, please scan and upload this to your online application under the "Documents" section. Both English proficiency certificates and GRE score certificates can be uploaded under the tab "English Certificate".

We also require a copy of your high school certificate.

Letters of Recommendation

As part of the online application form, you are asked to provide the names and contact details of two referees. As soon as you have entered the name and contact details of your referees we will automatically send them an email with a link, requesting that they provide us with a letter of recommendation online.

Note: Please submit your application once you have completed the online form. Your letters of recommendation do not have to be submitted by your referees in order for you to submit your application.

However, please be aware that the deadline for your referees to submit their letters of recommendation is the same as the application deadline. Therefore, you need to make sure that you register with the online system and enter the contact details of your referees in good time, so that they have time to submit their letters before the deadline. It is your responsibility to ensure that they provide these letters, so if there is a problem, please contact us immediately.

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