International PhD Program at the Helmholtz International Graduate School for Cancer Research 2018, Germany


May 31, 2018

Opportunity Cover Image - International PhD Program at the Helmholtz International Graduate School for Cancer Research 2018, Germany

International PhD Program at the Helmholtz International Graduate School for Cancer Research 

The Helmholtz International Graduate School for Cancer Research in Heidelberg is the interdisciplinary and international PhD program for all students working at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). The PhD students conduct research at the forefront of basic, computational, epidemiological and translational cancer research. You are warmly invited to apply to the DKFZ and join our many distinguished scientists in cancer research.

The DKFZ is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute and has an international and dynamic work environment, providing students with access to state-of-the-art research facilities and exceptional resources. More than 500 PhD students in over 100 divisions and research groups carry out research to unravel the causes and mechanisms of cancer development and to identify novel tools for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Admission Requirements

University Degrees

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. The 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 NO an MS but that you think is equivalent t an 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 you will be informed 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 during this period. If you hold a bachelor degree, you are unfortunately not eligible to apply.

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:

  • 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".A copy of your high school certificate is required.

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 they will be sent 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.

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. Your letters of recommendation do NOT already have to be submitted by your referees in order for you to submit your application (see below).

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. Applicants will be informed 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 they 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, you are encouraged 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.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Study Levels
Publish Date
April 20, 2018
Link To Original