Application - Max Planck School Matter to Life

The application portal for a study start in fall 2024 is closed. The next application period begins in fall of 2024 for admission in 2025.

Application Requirements

Applicants with

  • a Bachelor of Science degree (e.g. in Chemistry, Physics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Materials Science, Biotechnology) or
  • a Bachelor of Engineering (e.g. in Molecular Systems Engineering, Bioengineering) or
  • a course of study in a related natural science or engineering discipline in at least six semesters

are welcome to apply for the 5-year Master to PhD Direct Track program of the Max Planck School Matter to Life. Applicants who already have a Master's degree are eligible to apply as well.

Please note: You can only enter our program at the Master’s phase and not directly at the PhD phase. The joint degree Master's program has been developed specifically and designed for pursuing a PhD in a particular topic within the purview of Matter to Life. These two years will ensure that you have the necessary background knowledge and interdisciplinary research skills to successfully complete your PhD project (within the given time frame).

In the Master's phase, you can choose from two different study foci of the joint degree Master's program "Matter to Life":

  • Complex Systems and Biological Physics at the University of Göttingen
  • Molecular Systems Chemistry and Engineering at Heidelberg University

Please check our program page for more details!

What does the ideal applicant look like?

In addition to strong academic qualifications, an ideal candidate should have a genuine interest in this area of study, and a high level of motivation to pursue research in the the field of Matter to Life. This can be demonstrated through internships, research projects, or relevant coursework. Other avenues such as attending scientific events or engaging with specific scientific questions could also be presented as evidence of your interest. During the program, communication and knowledge sharing with peers, intercultural skills, and active participation in school activities are essential; therefore, we also evaluate applicants based on these characteristics.

The medium of instruction is English; therefore a proof of English language proficiency is required. The ideal candidate should be able to effectively communicate scientific concepts in English.

How does the application process work?

1. Register at the application portal and choose the MPS Matter to Life - Graduate Program. Within the application form, you will be able to select your preferred Master study focus and location at either University of Göttingen or Heidelberg University. Since Matter to Life is a joint degree program, you will be enrolled at both universities.

2. Carefully read the instructions within the application portal. If you have questions or doubts while filling out the application form, please check the FAQ pages of the application portal and on our website.

3. Gather the necessary application documents:

  • Certificates/ Diplomas of all higher education degrees (e.g. B.Sc., etc.) – if already obtained. If you do not have a certificate of graduation yet, please send it to our coordination office () immediately upon receipt, latest at time of enrollment at the university
  • Official transcripts of all completed and ongoing degrees
  • All submitted documents including certificates and transcripts should be in either English or German. Alternatively, only official certified translations of the originals are accepted
  • Proof of English language proficiency is required for non-native English speakers unless your previous program was taught in English. The English language test is required for admission to the program, but not for the application submission. If you cannot complete the test before applying, you will be able to indicate this within the portal under the “English Language Proficiency” section. Please submit the results of a valid English test no later than July 15th of the year in which your program begins (you will find a list of accepted English test within the FAQs)
  • Students within non-ECTS programs/degrees, please get a grading scheme of your institution as well as a description of your program/degree/major's requirements/curriculum/course modules, as outlined by your institution. Please provide a conversion of how many work hours equals one credit in your program
  • Students who received their educational certificate from China or Vietnam need to hand in a verification by the Academic Evaluation Center (APS)

4. Provide a motivation letter
Please note that we have made the following changes for technical reasons: It is no longer necessary to download a PDF template for the motivation letter, you can find the form to fill in your motivation letter directly in the application portal. Please use only this template in the application portal. Individual letters of motivation cannot be accepted. 

This letter of motivation includes questions about your scientific education, your interest in the subject and the program of Matter to Life, particularities that make you a good candidate for this program, and your plans for your future career if accepted into the program.

5. Complete the online application form by adding all required information and uploading the necessary documents. Click “save” when you add new content. You can revisit and modify your application at any time before final submission. Please make sure you have thoroughly revised the application before you submit your application. You cannot make any changes after submission.

**There is no fee to submit your application!

If you did not find an answer to your question on our FAQ page and/or application portal, please write us an email: . We will be happy to help you!

In our evaluation process, all applicants are treated equally, regardless of gender, nationality or age, thus we ensure that everyone has an equal chance of being accepted into the program. Please also check the official admission regulations of the joint study program Matter to Life (for the English version please click here).

How does the selection process work

In our evaluation process, all applicants are treated equally, regardless of gender, nationality or age, thus we ensure that everyone has an equal chance of being accepted into the program.


First round of evaluation

First, your application will be reviewed to ensure that all necessary requirements for a successful application are met (proof of an above-average Bachelor's degree must be provided with a minimum GPA of 2.3 or proof that you belong to the top 20 % of your year; proof of 96 ECTS credits in the study-relevant natural science and/or engineering subjects and/or mathematics.)

After this, all eligible applications will be reviewed and ranked based on your GPA and letter of motivation. Based on this evaluation you will be invited to an interview via video conference.

Second round of evaluation: First interview (virtually)

The first interview lasts about 15 minutes and is designed to determine your academic suitability and motivation for the program. To prepare, please use the questions in the motivation letter as a reference.

Applicants will receive an invitation by e-mail at least one week before the interview.

Whether you are invited for a second interview depends on the results of the first and second evaluation round.

Third round of evaluation: Second interview (virtually)

The second interview will also be held virtually and will be a scientific discussion based on selected publications in the areas of Matter to Life to assess your knowledge of relevant scientific topics. For this purpose, you will be provided with at least one scientific publication in the field of Matter to Life by one of our Fellows via e-mail at least three days prior to the interview. Check our faculty website to get an impression about the research topics of our Fellows.

General information: The interviews will be held via the video conference platform Zoom. If Zoom is not supported in your country, please contact us as soon as you receive our invitation to the interview at .

Final evaluation

The final top twenty candidates will be selected based on the evaluation of all three rounds.
The admissions committee makes the selection taking into account the focus preference of “Complex Systems and Biological Physics” at the Göttingen study site or “Molecular Systems Chemistry and Engineering” at the Heidelberg study site.


If you have any further questions, please check our FAQ page. If you can’t find an answer there, we are happy to help

Watch one of our recent info sessions about the MPS MtL on YouTube!

Watch one of our recent info sessions about the MPS MtL on YouTube!

Do you want to learn more about the MPS MtL? Watch the recording on YouTube for an overview about the school and our programs!

The Max Planck Schools wish to increase the participation of women wherever they are underrepresented; therefore, applications from women are particularly welcome. Following its commitment to an equal opportunities employment policy, the Max Planck Schools also especially encourage persons with a disability to submit their applications.

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