Frequently Asked Questions

What is a structured PhD programme? 

In structured PhD programmes the intensive research activities are complemented by a curriculum of courses which aim at providing students with the necessary tools and skills for their future careers. In the IMPRS-UFAST courses offered include advanced courses on scientific topics within the scope of the School, academic skills training and soft skills workshops.

Another feature of structured programmes is an Advisory Panel system (see What is the Advisory Panel System?).

For more general information on structured programs please see

Do you charge a tuition fee?

There are no tuition fees for doctoral students. All IMPRS students will be registered at the Universität Hamburg and must pay a so called semester fee to retain their student status. This fee is about €310 per semester but includes a public transport ticket for Hamburg and area valid for the duration of the semester.

How can I apply?

Applications can be submitted through an online application system accessible from the IMPRS-UFAST website Applicants should carefully read through the detailed application guidance and the list of PhD projects posted on the website before starting the process.
Application periods start every year in October and have a deadline in January.

We cannot accept applications submitted to us by email.

How does the selection process work?

After the application deadline all applications will be reviewed and shortlisted by an Admission Committee consisting of scientists from all IMPRS partner institutions. Every year, selected candidates will be invited to participate in a workshop in Hamburg in April, where they will also have the chance to meet individual supervisors. Travel and accommodation costs for the workshop are covered by the IMPRS. As a final step, the IMPRS Executive Board will decide on the acceptance into the IMPRS for candidates who have received an offer of supervision.

Do I need to speak German?

No, the medium of instruction and research in the IMPRS is English. The PhD thesis will normally be written in English. However, German language courses will be offered to facilitate settling into life in Germany.

Do I need an English language test for my application?

An English language test (TOEFL, IELTS) is normally required for the purpose of application. This is to ensure that our students will be able to successfully conduct their PhD studies. If you can convincingly demonstrate that you are fluent in spoken and written English, this requirement may be waived. Please contact the IMPRS office to enquire for alternative options prior to applying.

If you have registered for a language test, but will only receive the test results after the deadline, you may still apply. Please provide the test name and scheduled test date in th application.

What academic background do I need to apply?

The IMPRS welcomes applications from motivated candidates worldwide. You will need to have received or are about to receive an M.Sc. degree in Physics, Chemistry or Biochemistry.
Research in the IMPRS is interdisciplinary and you should have a strong background in one of these disciplines and an interest to do research in the field of ultrafast imaging and structural dynamics.
Specific research areas covered encompass theoretical and experimental aspects of condensed matter and atomically resolved dynamics, fundamental light-matter interaction, accelerator-based light sources, coherent imaging, coherent controlled molecular and solid state dynamics, molecule imaging, extreme timescale spectroscopy, ultrafast optics and x-ray science, and their relevance and applications in chemistry, biology and medicine.
Before applying, please read carefully through the list of PhD project descriptions advertised to ensure that your background matches the area of research.

Do I need to have graduated from my Master degree course at the time of submitting my application?

You don’t need to have completed your Master degree at the time of application. But you must have received your degree by the time you start your PhD studies.

How many students does the IMPRS-UFAST accept every year?

The IMPRS can accept approx. 10–15 students per admission cycle.

What financing opportunities are there?

All positions in the IMPRS are funded in form of a work contract. The monthly salary allows students to cover all living costs including accommodation and insurance.

Students with alternative sources of funding (e.g. scholarships) are welcome to apply to the IMPRS as well.

I have been accepted, when can I start my research in Hamburg?

The official start of the IMPRS programme in each year is the 1st October. This is due to the core curriculum which is mandatory for all first year PhD students in the IMPRS.
PhD research may be started earlier but not more than 6 months before the official start of the IMPRS programme cycle to ensure that individual students are not too far ahead of the rest of the cohort.

What is the Advisory Panel system?

The Advisory Panel system is the central tool for structured, continuous supervision of doctoral studies within the IMPRS. This concept is to ensure that each student has a broader basis for support and feedback for their doctoral studies. Each IMPRS student is accompanied by an Advisory Panel consisting of at least two scientists, one of whom is the PhD supervisor. The supervisor remains the main point of contact on a daily basis. In addition, the Advisory Panel and the student usually meet once per year discuss progress made, remaining work, and time frame.

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