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Solar System School: PhD Positions in Planetary Science

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany
Göttingen in Lower Saxony, Germany, Europe
Doctoral support funding see
Closing date
Oct 15, 2021

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The International Max Planck Research School for Solar System Science at the University of Göttingen in Germany (Solar System School) offers a research-oriented doctoral program covering the physics of Solar system science. It is jointly run by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and the University of Göttingen.

The science covered by the department Planets and Comets (one of three departments at the MPS) includes a wide spectrum of planetary research. We study the structure and composition of planets in our solar system as well as dynamic processes. The research includes the deep interior, surfaces, atmospheres and the plasma environment (thin hot charged particles in the environment) of the planets. The main focus lies in the research of the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) and the gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn) as well as small bodies including comets and asteroids. We study similarities and differences among the various objects and compare them with each other to better understand the evolution of our solar system.

A list of open PhD projects in planetary science is available at

Solar System School students collaborate with leading scientists in these fields and graduates are awarded a doctoral degree from the renowned University of Göttingen.

The Solar System School is open to students from all countries and offers an international three-year PhD program in an exceptional research environment with state-of-the-art facilities on the Göttingen Campus. Successful applicants will be offered a three-year doctoral support contract as well as postdoc wrap-up funding.

The language of the structured graduate program is English, with complimentary German language courses offered (optional). The program includes an inspiring curriculum of scientific lectures and seminars as well as advanced training workshops and provides relocation costs and travel funds to attend international conferences.

Applicants to the Solar System School should have a keen interest in Solar system science and a record of academic excellence. They must have, or must be about to obtain, an M.Sc. degree or equivalent in physics, earth sciences or a related field, including a written Masters thesis, and must document a good command of the English language.

Review of applications for a starting date of September 2022 will begin on 1 November 2021, but other starting times are also negotiable. The positions are awarded on a competitive basis. Applicants must submit the following documents through the on-line application portal between 1 September and 1 November 2021:

  • an application form to be filled on-line, including two short texts describing the applicant's scientific interests and their motivation to apply for PhD projects in the Solar System School, along with the applicant's choice of up to three PhD projects;
  • a curriculum vitae in pdf format;
  • degree certificates and full transcripts of all academic records: i.e. scanned copies of B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree certificates (or equivalent), and lists of all courses with credits and grades issued by the respective school or university, with English or German translations;
  • certificate to prove proficiency in the English language, for candidates whose native language is not English or German (e.g. transcript of TOEFL / IELTS scores or equivalent);
  • contact details for two or more referees who have agreed to write a letter of recommendation on behalf of the applicant. The referees will be contacted by the School upon submission of the application by the candidate and will be asked to submit their letters through the on-line portal no later than 10 November 2021.

It is highly recommended to also submit

  • GRE Physics test scores or equivalent for candidates who have obtained their Master's degree at a university outside of Europe.

The Max Planck Society strives for gender equality and diversity. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of individuals of underrepresented genders and therefore explicitly encourages individuals of underrepresented genders to apply. The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more individuals with severe disabilities. Applications from individuals with severe disabilities are explicitely encouraged.



The research focus of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research is the solar system with its planets and moons, its comets and asteroids, and of course the Sun. Our scientists theoretically model the workings of the solar system and simulate them with computers. In close cooperation with their engineer colleagues, they also develop and build scientific instruments that explore these celestial bodies both by remote sensing as well as through in-situ measurements. For its space exploration projects, the institute collaborates with international space agencies such as NASA and ESA on numerous missions.
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