Notes for Applicants: Doctoral Awards

Important information
  • Applicants to the MDC Fellowship Committee must independently find an MDC group leader who would be willing to accept them for the duration of the programme. Please do not begin an application without this prior confirmation.
  • PhD applicants from outside the MDC should apply to the MDC International PhD Program.

Program objective 
  • The overriding criteria governing the selection process are the scientific excellence of the proposed project and the qualifications of the candidate.
  • Only individuals are supported.


  • The candidate must hold a MSc degree with at least the German grade of "Gut" or its direct academic equivalent.
  • MSc thesis students working on campus should apply to the MDC Fellowship Committee and receive any offer conditional to the receipt of a final MSc grade of “Gut” or its direct academic equivalent. Central financing is to commence the month after confirmation of the final award grade.
  • A statement of support from the MDC group leader intending to supervise the candidate must be supplied.
  • The provision of appropriate working conditions in the chosen research group must be demonstrated.
  • Awards are granted subject to an active participation in the MDC doctoral training programme.
  • Each research group is limited to three doctoral or two post-doctoral awards with no more than two full positions being supported at any point in time.
The application 
  • After publication of the call, applications are submitted through the Open positions area of the MDC online application system. 
  • Applications must be composed in English.
  • The application must contain:
- A project proposal
- A statement of motiviation including a c. 200 word summary of the MSc thesis or equivalent and a statement of future career goals
- A CV in table format
- Copies of degree certificates
- A brief statement of support from the proposed group leader
- Letters of recommendation and a publication list may also be included.
  • The project proposal must contain:
- A project title
- An abstract (c. 200 words)
- A statement on the current state of research in the field
- Any preparatory research undertaken by the candidate or by the research group
- The project goals
- Experimental timeline for funding period and, if necessary, alternative experimental timelines
- An indication of any particular difficulties identified
- Collaborations, relevant research group publications and a list of references may also be included.
  • The project proposal should be no more than 1000 words in length.
  • The applicant as author is solely responsible for the project proposal.
  • The start date and the desired duration of the award should appear on the project proposal cover page.
  • In case of further questions, the application must contain the current address and telephone number of the applicant.
  • Applications that do not conform to these requirements can be discounted from further consideration.

The assessment procedure  

  • Applications are assessed by the MDC Fellowship Committee. The members and Chair are appointed by the MDC Directorate on behalf of the MDC Scientific Council. The eight members of the Fellowship Committee are listed on the MDC website (MDC Intranet - Committees – Fellowship Committee).
  • The Fellowship Committee meets twice or thrice a year, normally in spring and autumn.
  • Committee members who are unable to attend cannot send a proxy to act on their behalf.  They can convey their voting intentions to the Chair either orally or in writing. 
  • Committee members receive submitted applications at least three weeks prior to the committee meeting. 
  • At any point in the assessment process additional opinions can be solicited by the Fellowship Committee or the MDC Directorate.
  • Candidates are invited by email to give a ten minute maximum presentation with five minutes of subsequent discussion.  The presentation is given in English and is to be illustrated by MS PowerPoint. An electronic copy of the presentation must be supplied to Jennifer Stewart at least one week before the meeting. Laptop and  data projector are provided.  This presentation is not a public event.  The participation of the intended group leader is not permitted.

The outcome  

  • The decision to confirm the written recommendations of the Fellowship Committee rests with the MDC Directorate.
  • The MDC Directorate can authorise a member of the MDC Management Committee to take such decisions.
  • The recommendation of the Fellowship Committee is based upon an assessment of the written project description, the oral presentation and, where applicable, any further solicited opinions.  Any recommendations are reached by majority vote. At least four members must be present to take decisions. In cases of tied votes, the Chair of the Committee holds the casting vote.   The recommendation comprises the endorsement of the candidate, the length of the award and any other conditions.
  • The recommendations of the Fellowship Committee are final.  The resubmission of applications is not possible.
  • If a member of the Committee is the current supervisor of the candidate, then the committee member is ineligible to take part in the proceedings.
  • The MDC Directorate conveys its decisions to the Chair of the Fellowship Committee. The Chair then informs the candidate and the MDC personnel department of the outcome.  All correspondence is conducted in writing.
  • If the recommendations of the Fellowship Committee are not endorsed by the MDC Directorate, then the reasons underlying this decision must be presented to the Fellowship Committee.  When the Fellowship Committee and the MDC Directorate then remain in disagreement, then the MDC Directorate takes the final decision.
  • The period of time from the submission of the application to the decision taken on the application should normally not exceed three months.
  • Successful applicants will be remunerated on the TVoeD / E13 salary scale on a fixed term contract.
Extension, interruption and premature termination of awards
  • The maximum length of a doctoral award is three years. Awards are initially granted for one year with a extension of up to two years granted on the successful completion of the next MDC PhD Committee.
  • If the proposed doctoral project has already been financed from another source for more than one year then the application cannot be supported.
  • Applications for “emergency funding” for expired third party funds are not considered. In such cases, please contact the office of the MDC Scientific Director directly.
  • Interruptions in funding are to be avoided.  If an interruption is necessary (for example pregnancy or long-term illness) then the Fellowship Committee should be informed in writing. 
  • If an award is ended prematurely, then the Fellowship Committee is to be informed of the reasons behind this decision in writing.
Alternative Rules
  • In the case of exceptional circumstance (for example a project proposal of outstanding quality) then the Fellowship Committee may depart from the normal procedure.  Here, recommendations require a two thirds majority of the Committee members.


Amended after 06.09.13 Fellowship Committee decision by Jennifer Stewart