EMBL International PhD Programme

Unique in the world and waiting for you!


Registration for the 2023 PhD Summer Recruitment is now closed.

The next round for applications will open in August.

2023 Summer Recruitment timeline:

Application opensFebruary 2023
Application submission deadline03 April 2023, 23:59 CEST
Reference deadline05 April 2023, 23:59 CEST
Written application resultsWill be announced in May 2023
Interview dates:
Screening interviews (online)Between 10 – 24 May 2023
Virtual Panel Assessment 12 June 2023
In-person interviews10 – 14 July 2023 (at EMBL Barcelona, Grenoble, Hamburg and Rome)
17 – 20 July 2023 (at EMBL Heidelberg)
Expected start dateFlexible; by October 2023 at the latest

The 2023 Summer Recruitment will consist of online interviews as well as an on-site component. The initial phase (screening interviews and panel assessment) will take place by Zoom. Selected candidates will then be invited for in-person interviews at the respective EMBL sites in July. It is mandatory for selected candidates to attend the in-person interviews. EMBL will provide financial assistance for travel as well as visa support.

Additional information on the interview structure can be found below. Full details will be shared with invited candidates.

Information for applicants: EMBL does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interviews, processing, training or any other fees). EMBL will not ask for any bank details.


We welcome applications from highly qualified students of all nationalities. Applicants must hold, or anticipate receiving before starting at EMBL, a university degree that would formally qualify them to enter a PhD or equivalent programme in the country where the degree was obtained. All applications need to be supported by a minimum of two academic reference letters, and are evaluated solely on the basis of qualification and scientific potential.

EMBL is a signatory of DORA. Find out how we implement best practices in research assessment in our recruitment processes here.

PhD candidates with prior EMBL association

EMBL welcomes visitors, interns, trainees, master rotation/thesis students and other scientists who are associated with EMBL for training purposes.

Candidates who have previously been associated with EMBL are welcome to apply. To ensure equal treatment of all applicants to the EIPP, candidates with prior EMBL association will be specifically reviewed by the Graduate Committee.

Candidates are considered to have prior EMBL association if:

  • they have been associated with EMBL within the 12 months before the application deadline.
  • they have been associated with EMBL during any time of the predoctoral recruitment procedure (from the application deadline until the date of the Initial Admission Assessment)

Please do not hesitate to contact the EMBL Graduate Office for any further questions.  

Interview structure

SCREENING INTERVIEWSThe screening interviews are conducted by recruiting Group Leaders or other senior members of their teams. This first round of short interviews aims to pre-screen a larger pool of candidates and identify common research interests with the recruiting Group Leaders. Candidates invited at this stage can expect to have between one and three short interviews with recruiting Group Leaders. Based on these interactions, the Units will put forward a shortlist of candidates for the Virtual Panel Assessment to the Graduate Committee for approval.
VIRTUAL PANEL ASSESSMENT (VPA)The VPA is a formal 30-minute panel interview conducted by EMBL Group Leaders (both recruiting and non-recruiting). During the VPA, candidates are assessed according to a set of defined criteria. Based on the outcome of the VPA, recruiting Group Leaders will select up to two candidates (per open position) for the on-site interviews in July. Candidates that are not invited further at this stage are welcome to re-apply in the future.
Nota bene: Please note that candidates will not be asked to give a presentation during the VPAs.
IN-PERSON 1-ON-1 INTERVIEWSThe interview week will take place in-person at one (or more) of EMBL sites where Group Leaders that have invited the candidates are located. It will be filled with 1-on-1 interviews and detailed discussions with the recruiting Group Leaders, as well as interactions with group members and current EMBL students. The aim of the interview week is to find the right matches between candidates and Group Leaders. After the interviews, the candidates will be asked to submit their preference of the research group(s) they would like to conduct their PhD in.
Nota bene: We recommend having a short presentation prepared and being ready to discuss your educational background, scientific interests and (if applicable) research projects you have previously worked on. 
INTERVIEW RESULTSThe interview results will be communicated to the candidates by the EMBL Graduate Office after the in-person 1-on-1 interviews by the 21st of July. 

Reference requirements

Referees must submit their online references by 5 April 2023, 23:59 CET. We strongly suggest that you complete the ‘general info’ and ‘references’ part of the online application first to give your referees enough time to complete the reference online. Furthermore, please make sure to contact your referees before completing this part to find out if they are available and willing to provide a reference. It is your responsibility to ensure that references reach us on time.

You can submit your application irrespective of whether your referees have completed the online reference form. Your referees can access the online form after you have submitted and until the given deadline.

We only accept references provided through institutional email accounts. Only in cases where the referee does not have an institutional email address, i.e. only holds a ‘hotmail’, ‘gmail’ etc. account, we ask you to:
1. Complete the form with the available email address.
2. Inform your referee NOT to complete the online form.
3. Ask your referee to send a reference letter on institutional headed paper, signed and stamped as a PDF document to graduate-office@embl.org
4. Ask your referee to include your application ID number (8 digits) in the reference letter.

Shared Applicant Pool

The EMBL International PhD Programme receives far more applications from very good candidates than we can invite for interview. Applicants who are not short-listed, and have indicated that we can share their application, become part of our shared applicant pool. Applications will be added into the pool twice a year – in December and June.

Principle investigators based at other research institutions may request access to the pool by filling in the questionnaire below. Please provide your institutional email address, as access to private emails will not be given.

Shared Applicant Pool Questionnaire



Can I apply even if I have not received my degree yet?

Yes. However, applicants must hold, or anticipate receiving before starting at EMBL (October of any given year), a university degree that would formally qualify them to enter a PhD or equivalent programme in the country where the degree was obtained.

Is there an age limit?

EMBL does not have a strict age limit. The average age of our 1st year students is 25 years.

What is the working language of EMBL?

English is most commonly used across sites in the everyday working environment.

Can I apply if I am a non-member state applicant?

Yes, we welcome applications from all nationalities. Please note that as a general rule priority will be given to member state applicants, if equally qualified.

I have my own funding. Does this guarantee a place in the programme?

All applications are evaluated on basis of qualification and scientific potential. All invited candidates must successfully pass the interview procedure in order to be eligible.

Do I have to provide GRE, IELTS or TOEFL scores?

No. We do not require any, but would like to point out that proficiency in English, both written and verbal, is a prerequisite to enter the EMBL International PhD Programme.

How many reference letters are required for my application?

Your application should be supported by a minimum of two academic reference letters.

Where can I find more information about research at EMBL?

Click here to find out more about research at EMBL 

The Application Process

Is there an application fee?

EMBL does not charge any application fees.

What is the application process?

The online application contains the following steps:
1) You need to create an account to access the online application form.
2) Complete the application form.
3) Submit the completed application form latest by the application deadline.

Is it possible to modify the application?

After submission you will still be able to amend the information until the application deadline. Please make sure to save and resubmit after you have changed any fields.

Can I upload my CV and recommendation letters?

No. Please fill in the requested information into the fields of the application form. All applications are evaluated according to this information. Please do not upload CVs, recommendation letters, course certificates, language school certificates etc, as they will not be considered and will be removed from your application. Uploaded CVs do not replace missing information within the online application form.

I have problems uploading my documents. What should I do?

Please bear in mind the number of documents you are allowed to upload (max 5) as well as the size (max 2 MB per document in PDF format).

I would like to replace one of my referees. How can I do that?

Please contact the Graduate Office who will be able to help you.

My referee has not received a request to submit the reference letter for me. What should I do?

Please double check if your referee’s data, email in particular, is correct. If yes, contact your referee to check if perhaps her/his spam filter has blocked our email. If this is not the case, please contact the Graduate Office.

Will I be informed once the referees have completed their references?

No. However, you may view your submitted application until the application deadline and check if the references have been submitted. Please note that you will not be able to see the actual reference letter.

Do I need to have my certificates translated into English and authenticated?

It is better if your certificates are in English, however this is not required.

If I am unsuccessful in one selection, am I allowed to apply again in the next one?

Yes. However, you will need to fill in the online application form again.

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