Information for Applicants

Information for Applicants

The IMPRS-SPCE admits up to eight students a year. They must have a proven record of academic excellence and hold a master's degree or equivalent in a discipline relevant to the School's research. The ability to do scholarly work in English is a prerequisite for admission. Applications are accepted from December 1, 2023, to February 15, 2024 (23:59 p.m. CET). We welcome students from Germany and abroad.

This competitive program admits up to eight students each year through a selection process jointly undertaken by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG), the University of Cologne, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. Admission is in part contingent on the availability of thesis supervisors in the student's area of research interest.


Applicants must hold a master's degree or equivalent in a discipline relevant to the School's program (sociology, political science, economics, or related fields). Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview. Notification of acceptance is in May, and the program begins in October. Degrees must be received by the end of September in the year applicants would enroll in the program. Candidates must have a proven record of academic excellence. In their research proposal, applicants must specify their research interests, and they are asked to identify an advisor from the program faculty.

Applicants must have high English proficiency. Students may write their thesis in German or English, but they must be able to present their work at workshops and conferences in English and participate in courses taught in English and based on literature only available in English. Special training in English writing is available for our students. We also strongly urge our international students to learn German – doing so will give them greater access to German culture and enable them to participate more fully in the intellectual and social life of the Institute and the universities.

Academic advisors and degrees

During the program, doctoral students are advised by a member of the IMPRS-SPCE faculty. Applicants are asked to name one or two preferred advisors.
The IMPRS-SPCE does not grant academic degrees itself. Students usually submit their doctoral theses to the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Cologne or the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Application schedule

  • Dec 1, 2023 – Feb 15, 2024 (23:59 p.m. CET): We welcome applications to the IMPRS-SPCE program
  • February:  The application deadline is February 15, 2024.
  • March:  Candidate interviews take place in mid-March.
  • May:  Selection notifications are sent in May.
  • October 1:  The program start date is October 1.

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