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.



The first stage of the application process takes place online. There are two application rounds each year. The deadlines are 5th January and 31st May of each year.

The next application deadline is:

  • 31st May 2020 for the 2020 Summer Selection
    (Interviews from 28th to 30th July 2020, by invitation only)

Online Application

Please apply using our Online Application System. Due to current work and travel restrictions the online application system will remain closed until mid-April.

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 phone interviews. We will inform applicants about the outcome of the evaluation and invite successful candidates for an interview. Selection candidates will receive a list of approximately 150 project proposals from which they can select five to discuss with the respective PhD supervisors during the on-site interviews.

The interviews take place at the DKFZ in Heidelberg about 6-8 weeks after the application deadline and last 3 days. About three times more candidates are invited than the number we eventually accept.

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

  • give a short oral presentation of their own practical work (typically their master's thesis)
  • complete a short multiple-choice test that evaluates quantitative/analytical/reasoning skills (similar to the shorter analytical questions in the general GRE exam)
  • attend a panel interview with 3-4 senior scientists, in which they present their research project as a "chalk-talk" and answer general questions.

Throughout the interviews, candidates have plenty of opportunities to visit the labs of potential PhD supervisors and talk to current DKFZ PhD students and scientists.


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. 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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