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 read this page carefully and check the admission requirements for more information. You can then proceed to the Online Application System.



There are two selection rounds each year. The next application deadline for the Summer Selection is on 15. May 2021.

Due to the current circumstances, the PhD Winter Selection will take place online. Personal interviews for shortlisted candidates will be scheduled from 5. to 26. February 2021.

The deadline for applications for the next PhD Winter Selection is on 15. December 2021.

Online Application

Please apply using our Online Application System, which opens approximately two months before each application deadline.

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 5MB) 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 FAQs. A detailed application guideline will be provided in the Online Application System after registration.

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.

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

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

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.

Evaluation Process and Selection

Applications will be evaluated within one month after the deadline. We will inform all applicants about the outcome of the evaluation and successful candidates will be invited to the next step in the selection process. At this stage, PhD project proposals will be made available to candidates to select up to five preferred projects. In addition, candidates will be asked to upload a short video of themselves where they summarize their previous research experience. PhD supervisors then review their personal shortlist of candidates who have indicated interest in their project proposals and a final selection of candidates will be invited to discuss projects with PhD supervisors in personal interviews.

The interviews usually take place at the DKFZ in Heidelberg about 8-10 weeks after the application deadline and last 3 days. Due to the current circumstances however, the Winter Selection will take place exclusively online from 5. to 26. February 2021.

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 Winter Selection are expected to participate in two online panel interviews of 3-4 senior scientists where they will be asked to:

  • give a short presentation of a recent research project (typically their master's thesis) and answer general questions
  • give a short presentation of a publication (selected from a pool of publications provided by the Graduate Office in due time before the interview phase) 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.


Selection process DKFZ PhD Winter Selection 2020/21


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.

Candidates who were invited for online interviews of the Summer Selection 2020 are exempt from this rule and may apply again.

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.

Candidates who have already secured third-party funding and wish to apply for funding through the selection may apply providing that they started their PhD no earlier than the deadline of the previous selection round. Details of their affiliation with the DKFZ must also be clearly stated in their online application.

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