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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. If we are currently accepting applications, you can then proceed to the Online Application System.



The application deadline for the 2024 Summer Selection was on 15 May 2024.

All candidates who applied for the 2024 Summer Selection will receive a notification about the status of their applicationon on 7 June. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to participate in two online panel interviews, scheduled between 17 and 28 June, following which the highest scoring candidates will proceed to the final step of interviews. Personal interviews with potential supervisors will then take place and these candidates will be invited to an on-site visit from 23 to 25 July 2024. Further details about the selection process are provided below. Registered applicants can find a detailed timeline in the Online Application System.

Please note that the DKFZ PhD Program will not offer a Winter Selection in 2024/25. The deadline for applications for the next selection is thus 24 April 2025.

We expect to resume the usual application schedule from Winter Selection 2025/26 onwards, with two selections each year and application deadlines on 15 May and 15 December.

Online Application

Please apply using our Online Application System, which opens approximately 6-8 weeks before each application deadline.

In your written application, you'll have the opportunity to showcase your academic achievements, research experience, and motivation for pursuing a PhD at DKFZ. In the application form, you will provide information about your educational qualifications, internships, honors, skills and interests. A statement of motivation and letters of recommendation from two referees are also required. When filling in the online form, electronic copies (PDF files of not more than 5MB) of your academic certificates and an English language certificate are required to be uploaded. If you have questions about the online application process, please check the 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 but they need to be submitted by the application deadline for your application to be considered.

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 are reviewed and evaluated within six weeks following the application deadline. The reviewers assess aspects such as your academic track record and achievements, the depth and relevance of your previous research experience and your passion and commitment to contributing to cancer research.

Shortlisted applicants are invited to participate in two independent panel interviews, where the required scientific qualifications and suitability for our program are formally assessed. As a basis for discussion, candidates give a short presentation of a recent research project (typically their master's thesis) and a scientific paper (selected from a pool of peer-reviewed, original research articles provided by the PhD Program Office). During the interviews, the panels evaluate aspects such as intellectual brightness, scientific knowledge, creativity, motivation, perseverance, and independent thinking.

The most succesful candidates from the panel interviews are invited to the individual interviews with potential PhD supervisors and an on-site visit. They select up to five preferred PhD projects for which they wish to interview. Pre-interviews with supervisors can be arranged online, but we strongly recommend attending the on-site visit for in-person interviews. This visit allows candidates to explore potential research environments, meet PhD supervisors and their lab members in-person, and gain a firsthand impression of the DKFZ, Heidelberg, or our participating partner sites.

The on-site visit takes place at the DKFZ in Heidelberg about 10-12 weeks after the application deadline and lasts 3 days. During the on-site visit, candidates gain deeper insights into the DKFZ International PhD Program and its unique opportunities, and participate in social events organized by our current PhD students, providing an excellent chance to get to know the DKFZ and connect with our academic community.

DKFZ PhD Selection Process


If you have previously submitted an online application for the PhD Program and were NOT invited for interviews, 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 PhD Program and WERE invited for interviews, 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.

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 PhD Program funding may apply providing that they started their PhD no earlier than the application 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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