Frequently Asked Questions
The International Helmholtz Research School of Biophysics and Soft Matter offers positions for graduate students aiming to complete their PhD within three years. IHRS BioSoft PhD students will be employed at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universität zu Köln, or caesar Bonn. Fellow PhD students receive a salary or a fellowship commensurate with those offered for other PhD positions in Germany.
Applications for the regular admission procedure should be submitted via our online application form. These are reviewed by our faculty members and our coordination office on the first Wednesday of every month. The review process for the online forms and the pre-selection of the applicants usually takes one week to complete.
To apply for specific positions offered in our institutes, please contact the corresponding scientist directly.
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Who should I contact if I wish to apply?
For all questions regarding your application using the regular admission procedure and our online application form, please address your inquiries to the coordinator's office. For scientific questions regarding specific projects that are offered on the IHRS BioSoft website, please contact the scientist offering the project directly.
Is it sufficient if I send an email with my CV as an attachment?
No! Every month, we receive dozens of "mass" application e-mails with an attached CV. This type of application - indicating no obvious or specific interest - is generally ignored and left unanswered.
I have not received an acknowledgment after sending my application documents. What can I do?
If you have applied via the online application form, you will immediately receive an automatic email acknowledgement once you submit the form. Applications are processed on the first Wednesday every month. If you have not received notice of the pre-selection by the second Wednesday of the month, or notification of the status of your application by the end of the month, please contact the coordination office.
If you contacted a scientist who is offering a specific position on the IHRS BioSoft website and you did not receive an answer within two weeks, please email the coordination office and include your previous correspondence.
When will I be informed about the status of my job application?
If you applied using our online form, you should receive an email about the result of the pre-selection at the latest on the second Wednesday of the month in which your application is processed. Candidates who are not rejected at this stage will be invited to submit the complete set of application documents, including your CV and scans of your university certificates and transcripts. It will take us two to three weeks to process the complete application documents. Successful candidates will be invited for an interview with faculty members; the date for the interview and the tentative starting date for the PhD project will be coordinated with the applicant.
Will I be paid on the basis of a tax-free scholarship or an employment contract?
How you are employed depends on the source of your funding; this can be discussed directly with our staff if you are invited for interview.
Do you have a Foreigners' Advisory Office?
Yes, we do. If you are accepted as a PhD student at the International Helmholtz Research School of Biophysics and Soft Matter, you can contact our office to clarify your questions regarding your stay in Germany.
Do I need a visa, and if so, what type of visa do I need?
Our Foreigners’ Advisory Office has a website with basic information on visa regulations. You can find further information on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.
How do I apply for a visa?
Please submit your visa application at your nearest German embassy or consulate. The detailed procedure of how to apply may vary depending on the embassy/consulate you are in contact with. If you need a visa to enter Germany, we will send you a formal letter of invitation as soon as you have been accepted as a new PhD student.
When does the programme begin?
New courses start at the beginning of each semester in April and October. You can start your PhD project at any time suitable for you and the group where you will carry out your PhD project.
Will I be assisted after my arrival in Germany at an airport or train station?
We will assist you after your arrival in Germany. Please inform us of your arrival date and time, airport and flight number/train station. We will either send you travel directions and provide you with a telephone number in case you get lost, or send a car to the airport/train station to bring you to your accommodation.
Where will I live?
Staff at our institutes and the coordination office will be happy to help you to find an apartment or book you a room in our guest house.
How do I register with the local authorities and how do I extend my visa?
If you decide to live in Jülich, our Foreigners’ Advisory Office will assist you in registering with the local authorities and to extend your visa.
What about health insurance?
Health insurance ("Krankenversicherung") in Germany is mandatory for all PhD students, researchers, and family members that accompany them.
If you receive a scholarship to finance your PhD contract, you are obliged to apply for a private health insurance. You may ask the coordination office or the organization that provides the scholarship for further advice. If your spouse is employed in Germany on a regular employment contract, you might be included in your spouse’s insurance without incurring further costs.
If you are employed on a contract for your PhD project, the costs for your health insurance will be automatically deducted from your salary. You are free to choose from the many companies in Germany that offer statutory health insurance when you start work here and you can ask our Foreigners’ Advisory Office or the coordinator’s office for further advice once you have arrived in Germany.
What do I need in order to be employed at Forschungszentrum Juelich?
You must provide further documents besides those that you need to apply for the IHRS BioSoft position in order to be employed at one of our partner institutions, such as official translations of your certificates. Our staff will assist you with this once you have been accepted for a PhD position.
Do I have to enroll at a university?
If you work on a PhD thesis at Forschungszentrum Jülich or at caesar Bonn, you will also have to enroll at a university that will award the PhD degree. The university where you will defend your thesis, the documents that are required to enroll, and the rules for the defence depend on your choice of PhD project. Usually you can enroll shortly before your defence, but most PhD students prefer to enroll early in order to take advantage of student benefits such as very cheap local transportation.
When will I receive my first salary?
You will be paid on the first of every month for the previous month. In financial emergencies, it may be possible to arrange an advance on your salary in the first month (as long as you have submitted all the necessary documents to enable your employment to commence).
How much money should I bring with me?
If you have provided all the necessary documents we need to employ you and if you have already opened a bank account, you will receive your first salary after one month. In financial emergencies, you can receive an advance on your salary. We therefore recommend that you bring only the money that you need for the first month in Germany.
Which credit cards are accepted?
Credit cards (usually MasterCard and Visa) are widely accepted at hotels, stores, travel agencies, petrol stations in larger German cities; in Jülich, cash or debit cards (provided when you open your bank account) are most often used. Travellers’ cheques are a safe alternative to cash during the first few days in Germany until your bank account is open.
Are German lessons available? Do I have to learn German?
Forschungszentrum Jülich offers free German lessons for employees from foreign countries. Although in most of our groups you can survive by speaking only English and in several groups English is even more commonly used than German, a basic knowledge of German is highly recommended and will prove helpful for everyday life.
Can I bring my spouse with me and can my spouse work in Germany?
You can bring your spouse with you to Germany. Please note that if your spouse enters Germany as an "accompanying spouse", he or she is not entitled to apply for a work permit. If you need further information on the current legal situation, please visit the website of the German Federal Foreign Office or inquire at your local German embassy or consulate.
Will my travel expenses to Jülich be reimbursed?
IHRS BioSoft will reimburse your travel costs if we invite you for interview and your group will reimburse your travel costs when you start work (provided that you choose the cheapest travel option, i.e. flight and/or train ticket in economy/second class only). Excess baggage fees cannot be refunded.
What is the climate like in Jülich?
The climate in Jülich is moderate. In summer, day-time temperatures can vary enormously between 15°C and 35°C. Stable highs can lead to weeks of hot and dry weather, but you may also experience summers with a lot of rain mixed with shorter periods of cool days. The winter is comparatively mild; temperatures drop below 0°C only occasionally (or, in cold years, for two to three weeks at a time).
What if I have further questions?
If you have further questions, please contact the coordinator’s office.
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