Who can apply?
Candidates may apply if they hold (or will hold by the end of September) a master's degree or equivalent in Sociology, especially Economic Sociology; Political Science, especially Comparative Political Economy; Organization Studies (Business Administration); or related disciplines. Applicants should hold a master's degree with 120 ECTS (i.e., a 2-year full-time master's). A bachelor’s degree alone does not fulfill the requirements. Students will be expected to live and work in Cologne and/or Duisburg. Applicants' interests must fit in with the general topics of the IMPRS-SPCE program (see How to Apply
Depending on your first advisor in the program, you will either be enrolled at the University of Cologne (UoC) or the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE). Please check carefully whether you fulfill the requirements to be admitted to one of our two partner universities (find the doctoral regulations of the UDE here
and of the UoC here
). Please check whether your degree level and grade are sufficient for admission.
When can I apply?
Openings for doctoral students at the International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy (IMPRS-SPCE) in October are usually announced in December of the preceding year. Please note the February 28 deadline! Applications arriving outside the application period cannot be considered.
What should I do before I apply?
Before submitting any documents, please familiarize yourself with the application procedure (How to Apply
). Please also take a close look at the IMPRS-SPCE faculty
website and the faculty members’ individual websites and publications to find out more about the focus of their research, their specific theoretical and methodological orientations, and their availability as supervisors. Think about how your research project might fit in with their research interests. In your letter of application, you will be asked to describe your research and career interests. On the online application form, identify one or two IMPRS-SPCE professors who you think might serve as your dissertation advisor.
What should my application include?
Your application should be in English or German. Please use the online application forms. Your complete application for admission to the International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy (IMPRS-SPCE) should include:
• A completed application form including your contact information, educational background, the names of two referees, and your choice of faculty member(s) you consider as potential dissertation advisor(s).
• A cover letter including your motivation for applying to the IMPRS-SPCE program.
• Your curriculum vitae (including academic training and professional experience).
• One example of your scholarly work of up to 20 pages (seminar paper, chapter of your master's thesis, etc.).
• A short research proposal describing one (or two if you prefer) possible dissertation topics (up to 5 pages in total). Please note that this proposal will require further specification and elaboration within the first 12 months after starting the program (with advice from your supervisor).
• Scans of official transcripts/records of studies from all colleges/universities you have attended as well as the document proving your eligibility to study at a college or university (high-school diploma, A-levels, “Abiturzeugnis,” or equivalent).
Your application must be submitted by February 28. The application procedure is online. For detailed information, please see How to Apply.
How many students are accepted into the IMPRS-SPCE every year?
Up to eight students per year are admitted, based on a joint selection process by the MPIfG, the University of Cologne, and the University of Duisburg-Essen.
What language(s) does the program use?
Courses are held in English or German. Knowledge of German is not mandatory for completing the program. However, IMPRS-SPCE students are strongly encouraged to learn some basic German before coming to Germany to enable them to participate more fully in life at the Institute and university.
In which languages can I submit my documents?
Your cover letter, CV, research proposal, and reference letters
should be submitted in English (or German).
Your sample of scholarly work can be submitted either in English or in German. It is not possible to submit documents in any other language. If your example is written in neither English nor German, you can submit a translation of your work, such as a summary of your thesis or paper you have written during your studies. You may send the original version of your document in addition to the translation, but this is not mandatory.
Your transcripts and diplomas can be submitted either in English or in German. If the original language of your documents is neither English nor German you will need to provide a copy of the original document as well as certified translations.
Do I need to provide any language certificates?
We do not require proof of English language proficiency in the shape of language certificates; the application documents provided in the application process will be sufficient. There is no advantage to be gained from providing certificates such as IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, or GMAT.
What kind of doctoral project is suitable for the program?
The IMPRS-SPCE's objective is to develop an empirically based theory of the social and political foundations of modern economies. Using an institutional approach, work at the school examines how markets and business organizations relate to the historical-institutional, political, and cultural framework in which they are embedded, and how institutional contexts change over time (see also academic program
). Please take a look at the IMPRS-SPCE faculty website
for more information on their work and projects. In your research proposal please specify your research interest and how your project proposal links with the research program of your chosen advisor.
How much financial support will I receive?
Due to different remuneration policies at the MPIfG and the University of Cologne and of Duisburg-Essen, doctoral students’ salaries/stipends benefits vary depending on their place of work. Students working at the MPIfG receive an employment contract with full social benefits, and students working at the University of Cologne or the University of Duisburg-Essen receive a scholarship. Students with employment contracts receive a monthly gross payment of about 2,670 euros in the first year (which yields a net payment of about 1,750 euros, depending on the tax bracket). Students with scholarships receive a monthly tax-free payment of 1,568 euros, but scholarship holders must purchase their own health insurance, which is not included in the scholarship. Further funds are available for fieldwork trips, stays abroad, and conference travel. Such funds are allocated according to project-specific agreements with your advisor and the respective regulations of the institution financing your contract/scholarship – either the Max Planck Institute, the University of Cologne, or the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Which university will award my doctoral degree?
The IMPRS-SPCE does not grant academic degrees. Students usually submit their doctoral thesis to the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Cologne or the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Please find information on the doctoral regulations here
What is the Franco-German Doctoral Program?
The Franco-German Doctoral Program is a joint doctoral program which allows students from Sciences Po Paris and the IMPRS-SPCE in Cologne to simultaneously pursue a German and a French doctoral program (cotutelle). Students participating in this special program conduct their research and write their dissertation under the joint supervision of advisors from both institutions and spend at least two semesters at the partner institution. Students are held to the requirements of both participating institutions, but the work done at the partner university is mutually recognized. The single defense of the dissertation takes place at the home institution (Cologne or Paris) and upon successful completion of the program requirements doctoral students receive a certificate from both universities (cotutelle)
How can I apply for the Franco-German Doctoral Program?
There are two ways to become a cotutelle student. You can either apply for the IMPRS-SPCE program in Cologne or for a PhD position at MaxPo (Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies) in Paris.
Applicants enrolling through the International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy (IMPRS-SPCE) follow the online application procedures for the IMPRS-SPCE and indicate their interest in the joint Franco-German Doctoral Program by checking the box in the application form. Interest in the joint program has no impact on an applicant’s chances of being accepted into the IMPRS-SPCE.
Candidates interested in the joint Franco-German Doctoral Program who wish to work with the directors at the MaxPo in Paris apply directly for doctoral positions at MaxPo. Open PhD positions at MaxPo will be announced here.
What are the prerequisites for participating in the Franco-German Doctoral Program?
Students entering the program must hold an MA degree or equivalent. PhD theses can be written in English, French, or German. An excellent command of at least two of these languages is mandatory, as well as at least good knowledge of the third. Please indicate your interest in the Franco-German Doctoral Program by checking the box on the application form.
Where can I get my visa?
Upon acceptance into the program, you will receive an official letter of invitation (in English) and a letter for the German embassy of your country, to be submitted to the German embassy or a German consulate. Provided your visa application is complete, you will obtain your visa within a few days. If problems arise, please inform the international office.
What about health insurance?
Every student must have health insurance coverage. This is also a prerequisite for enrolling at a German university. Students with an employment contract at the MPIfG automatically receive public health insurance coverage by law and can choose their insurer at the beginning of their contract. Students receiving a scholarship from the University of Cologne or the University of Duisburg-Essen must purchase their own health insurance. We recommend that you look for health insurance with good coverage as early as possible. You may also consider staying insured in your home country if the health insurance company covers you during your studies in Germany. More details on health insurance coverage will be provided for applicants accepted into the program.
How much are tuition and fees at the IMPRS-SPCE?
Most German universities do not charge for tuition. However, they may require payment of a small enrollment fee entitling students to certain services. Presently, the University of Cologne and the University of Duisburg-Essen charge roughly 300 euros per semester (6 months). Enrollment at the university is recommended and may also be required during your doctoral studies. Enrollment entitles students to both a public transportation pass (Semesterticket) that is valid on all local trains and buses throughout North Rhine-Westphalia (including Cologne, Duisburg-Essen, and Bonn) and many student discounts for the university "Mensa" restaurants, sporting activities, and cultural events.
Who can be my referee?
We request letters of recommendation from at least two scholars familiar with your academic work (one letter should be from your MA thesis research advisor) who can judge your potential as a PhD student. If your first language is not English, your referees should comment on your ability to read, write, and speak English. It is your responsibility to contact your referees and make sure they submit the relevant information before the application deadline. Your referees should not belong to the faculty of the IMPRS-SPCE. For more information, see How to Apply
Who will help me find housing?
The Visitors' Liaison at the MPIfG will help you find suitable housing in Cologne.
I have already started a dissertation which might be suitable for the program. Can I still apply?
Typically, this is not possible since dissertations are developed under the supervision of a team of IMPRS-SPCE faculty members and should reflect the conceptual framework of the IMPRS-SPCE. It is, however, possible to stay and work at the MPIfG as a visitor for up to twelve months. For more information, please refer to the MPIFG's program for visiting researchers
Can I do a master's or postdoc in this program?
No, this program is only for students with a master's degree or equivalent who want to pursue a doctoral degree in the specified fields. For postdoctoral positions at the MPIfG, please refer to Job Openings
I would like to apply for a summer internship only.
This is not possible at the International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy (IMPRS-SPCE).
I've missed the deadline. What can I do?
Sorry. Applications for the IMPRS-SPCE program are only accepted from mid-December to the end of February. Applications outside this application period will not be accepted. Please do not send applications or CVs via email.