Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What degree should I have to apply to the Max Planck School Matter to Life? We invite top undergraduate students with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, biology, materials science or engineering (or a related sub-field) that are interested in applying physical science principles to the study of life.

What are the admission requirements? Students should be in the top 15% of their Bachelor’s class, have copies of official transcripts, an up to 8500 character motivation letter, and meet the minimum score requirements on an approved English language exam if their native language is not English. The GRE general test is required for Heidelberg University and the GRE subject test (in one of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Math, or Physics) is required for applicants to both Heidelberg University and Göttingen University. 

English is not my native language. Am I required to take an English language exam and provide proof of proficiency? Yes, solid knowledge of the English language is necessary for success in the program, which will be conducted entirely in English.  An internationally-accepted language test will be required for non-native/mother tongue English speakers. Test scores are valid for two years from the application deadline (e.g. the test score is valid if taken after December 01, 2016 for a December 01, 2018 application deadline). Please note: The English languague test is required for admission to the program, but not for the application submission. If you cannot complete the test before applying, please indicate that it will be taken at a later date (but before August 31, 2019). The accepted tests are listed below:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • C1 Advanced/Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)
  • If you have taken a different test, please contact us about validity.

Is the GRE required? Yes, but the specific type of GRE required depends on the program to which you are applying. The GRE general test is required for applicants to Heidelberg University.  All applicants must also take the GRE subject test in one of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Math, or Physics. The reportable history timeframe is valid per ETS regulations (see their website for more information). **Note: For the May 1, 2019 (Göttingen) or May 31, 2019 (Heidelberg) deadlines, NO GRE Test is required for Heidelberg University or Göttingen University. This exception was made due to worldwide unavailability and only applies to this round.**

What is the GRE Designated Institution (DI) code?  Our GRE DI code is 4398.

What is the TOEFL DI code?  Our TOEFL DI code is C308. 

Can I apply even though I have not yet completed my current academic degree? Yes, you can apply with a current transcript and proof that you will complete your academic degree by the start of the program (e.g. September 2019 for applicants with a Bachelor’s degree). You must provide the final transcript and graduation certificate by the time of the start of the program. 

I have a Master’s degree, am I eligible to apply? Yes, but only if you wish to carry out another Master's degree program. You will be required to participate in the full 5-year program in which the first 2 years will consist of University coursework, i.e. you will be entered into the program as if you only held a Bachelor's degree.

I am interested in doing a Master's degree, but am unsure if I want to commit to the full 5-year Ph.D. program. Can I exit the program after completing the M.Sc. degree? Yes, while we encourage promising scientists to advance into the research phase (years 3-5) after obtaining their Master's degree (years 1-2) in order to obtain their Ph.D., we understand that 5 years is a big commitment to early career scientists; thus, candidates have the option to exit the program after completion of the Master's degree. The program automatically enrolls you in the full 5-year program, so if you choose to continue to the Ph.D. research phase after completion of the M.Sc., you will not have to re-apply. 

What is the application deadline and where can I apply? The online application portal will open on February 15, 2019 and applications are due by May 1, 2019 (24:00 CEST) for Göttingen University or May 31, 2019 (24:00 CEST) for Heidelberg University. Links to the application portals are available on the Application page. Please click on the appropriate link corresponding to the University to which you would like to apply. See the Program page for more details about the specific programs offered at each University.

How does the application process work? Applying to the Max Planck School Matter to Life is a two-step process.

  • The first step is to register via the application portal. On the registration page, you will be asked to input all relevant data into the fields provided (e.g. contact info, academic degrees, test results, referee contact info, etc.).
  • After registration, you will receive an e-mail confirmation that also contains your unique Applicant ID and a link to the document upload site where you will complete step two of the process.  In this step, you will be asked to upload two documents in PDF format: 1) Letter of Motivation and 2) Curriculum Vitae (CV) with supporting documents (all educational diplomas, all academic transcripts, English language test qualification, GRE test results).
  • After you have completed these two steps, your application is complete on your end*.
  • Please take note of the email address where your confirmation e-mails will come from in case of filtering: lotus2/GWDG/de@lotus1.gwdg.de. Please do NOT send any e-mails to this address. It is an automatic platform so your e-mails will not be answered. 
  • *Heidelberg University also requires a mail-in application. Please see their specific portal for further instructions. 

What financial support does the Max Planck School Matter to Life provide? The Max Planck School Matter to Life offers competitive, full financial support that covers costs of living (including tuition and fees) and health insurance.

What are the research areas of the Max Planck School Matter to Life? There are five main focuses of the MPS Matter to Life: Molecular Systems Chemistry and Engineering (Heidelberg University), Complex Systems and Biological Physics (Göttingen University), Bioengineering (Technical University of Munich), Translation to Innovation (Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials), and Fundamental Research (Max Planck Society). The first two years of the five year program (Master's phase) will be carried out at one of the three Universities according to degree interest (Heidelberg University, Göttingen University, or Technical University of Munich). Please see the Program page for more information.

Do I need to learn German for the program? No! The program will be conducted entirely in English.

Who can I contact if I have any questions? Please feel free to contact our coordination team at any time ()!

How can I stay up-to-date with the program? Follow us on Instagram @mattertolife!

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