By the time you have reached this page, you might be thinking that the DKFZ is the right place for you to do your PhD.

If so, then why not send us your application?

Before you do, please check the admission requirements for more information.

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the DKFZ PhD Summer Selection

Due to national and international restrictions that limit travel and contact between individuals, we've had to change the format of the PhD Summer Selection this year: instead of personal interviews in Heidelberg, shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend interviews via video conferencing.

There will also be no centrally funded Graduate School positions available this selection, and therefore only supervisors who wish to recruit a student through their individual funding will be participating and will offer projects – this will reduce the total number of positions available. A list with potential PhD projects will be made available to shortlisted candidates approximately four weeks after the application deadline as well as further details about the interview process.

Any candidates who are offered a PhD position at the DKFZ should keep in mind that continued travel restrictions and delayed issuing of visas might affect their PhD start dates.



Due to the current circumstances, the PhD Summer Selection will take place online. Personal interviews for shortlisted candidates will be scheduled from 20. July to 7. August 2020.


There are two selection rounds for the DKFZ International PhD Program each year. The next application deadlines are:

Winter Selection 2021: 15. December 2020

Summer Selection 2021: 15. May 2021

Online Application

Please apply using our Online Application System.

In the application form, you are asked to provide information about your educational qualifications, honors, skills and interests. A statement of motivation is also required and letters of recommendation from two referees. When filling in the online form, remember to have electronic copies (PDF files of not more than 3MB) of your academic certificates and English language certificate to upload with your application. If you have questions about the online application process, please check the Application Guidelines and FAQs.

Please don't forget to click the submit button once you have completed the online application form. Your letters of recommendation do NOT already have to be submitted by your referees in order for you to submit your application (see below).

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 names and contact details of your referees, we will automatically send them an e-mail with a link, requesting that they provide us with their letter of recommendation through our online system.

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 these letters are provided.

Evaluation Process and Selection

Applications will be evaluated within 4 weeks of the deadline. As part of the pre-selection process, some candidates will be asked to take part in short virtual interviews. We will inform applicants about the outcome of the evaluation and invite successful candidates for personal interviews. Shortlisted candidates will receive a list of PhD project proposals from which they can select five to discuss with the respective PhD supervisors during the interviews.

The interviews usually take place at the DKFZ in Heidelberg about 6-8 weeks after the application deadline and last 3 days. Due to the current circumstances however, the Summer Selection 2020 will take place exclusively online from 20.07. to 07.08.2020.

During the interviews, aspects such as intellectual brightness, creativity, perseverance, independent thinking and the ability to work in a team will be evaluated. Candidates of the Summer Selection 2020 are expected to:

  • give a short presentation of their own practical work (typically their master's thesis) to PhD supervisors
  • attend a panel interview with 3-4 senior scientists, in which they present their research project and answer general questions

During the interview phase, candidates will receive further information on PhD studies at the DKFZ by the PhD Program Manager, and will have opportunities to talk to lab members of potential PhD supervisors and current DKFZ PhD students.


If you have previously submitted an online application for the Graduate School and were NOT invited for an on-site interview, then you are eligible to re-apply. You will need to create a new account in the online system and re-submit all your documents, including the letters of recommendation. It is not possible for you to "re-use" a previous application.

If you have previously submitted an online application for the Graduate School and WERE invited for an on-site interview, but were unable to obtain a position, then you are NOT eligible to re-apply through the online application system. Instead, we encourage you to contact PhD supervisors directly. Potential supervisors can receive further information about your previous application by contacting the Graduate Office.

Application from candidates already affiliated with the DKFZ

Candidates who are currently working at or have previously worked at the DKFZ are eligible to apply through the online system. However, they must indicate in the supplementary information that they are working (or have worked) at the DKFZ and provide details.

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