Helmholtz International Graduate School PhD Program, Germany

Publish Date: Nov 06, 2015

Deadline: Jan 05, 2016

Helmholtz International Graduate School PhD Program

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). Our PhD students conduct research at the forefront of basic and translational cancer research.

We warmly invite you 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 550 PhD students in over 90 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.

Online Application

Please apply using our Online Application System (the system will open approx. two months before the next application deadline).

In the application form, you ar asked to provide information about your background, including 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 (JPEG or PDF files of not more than 3MB) of your academic certificates, English language certificate (if applicable) and evidence of other honors and skills to upload with your application. If you have questions about the online application process, please check our 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, so if you or your referees encounter any technical problems, please contact us immediately.

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 opportunity 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 areeligible 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.

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