Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What degree should I have to apply to the Max Planck School Matter to Life? We invite top 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? There are some different requirements for applicants to the 3-year M.S.-to-Ph.D. program vs. the 5-year B.S.-to-Ph.D. program. For both programs, students should be in the top 15% of their Bachelor’s/Master'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.  For M.S. applicants, at least 2 letters of recommendation (submitted by your referees) and the GRE general test are also required.  For B.S. applicants, 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 all M.S. applicants, as well as all B.S. applicants to Heidelberg University.  All applicants with a B.S. must also take the GRE subject test in one of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Math, or Physics (this is not required for applicants with a M.S.). The reportable history timeframe is valid per ETS regulations (see their website for more information).

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. For the school year beginning in 2019, you can enter with a Master's degree and continue on a 3-year track to a Ph.D. degree in which University coursework is not required. The start date for this program is flexible and is to be arranged with your research supervisor.

What is the application deadline and where can I apply? There are different application timelines for students with a Master’s degree vs. students with a Bachelor’s degree. Once the links become available on the Application page, please click on the appropriate link corresponding to your current degree.

  • The online application portal for applicants with a Master’s degree will open in Fall 2018.  Early Admission applications are due by December 1, 2018 (24:00 CEST), and applicants will be notified by February 2019. Regular Admission applications are due by March 31, 2019 (24:00 CEST), and applicants will be notified by June 2019. 
  • The online application portal for applicants with a Bachelor’s degree will open on February 15, 2019. Applications are due by May 1, 2019 (24:00 CEST).

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*. You will then need to ensure that all of your referees have submitted their recommendation (if applying with a M.S.).  You will receive automatic e-mails whenever a named referee has submitted a letter on your behalf. It is your responsibility to ensure your referees submit on time; our system will not send out reminders.
  • Note: Before applying, it is highly recommended that you give your referees the e-mail address where the recommendation request will come from in case of filtering: lotus2/GWDG/ All of your application e-mails will also come from this address.  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: Chemical Engineering of Life (University of Heidelberg), Bioengineering of Life (Technical University of Munich), Complex Systems and Biophysics of Life (Göttingen University), Translation to Innovation (Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials), and Fundamental Research (Max Planck Society).

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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