Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research


Which previous study courses are eligible?

You have to hold a degree in fields such as biology, biochemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, bioengineering, pharmacology, neuroscience, medical biology or a related field. Furthermore, you must have gained sufficient research experience during your studies. Every application will be examined for eligibility on a case-to-case basis. 

How do I apply?

Applications have to be submitted via our online application portal. Please carefully read the "General information" section and further instructions mentioned below.

Start compiling your documents early. You will need a fair amount of time to gather all required information, and allow your 2 referees sufficient time to compose their letters of recommendation. Enable Java and JavaScript for submitting your data. Make sure your email address is correct.

After submitting the application form, the referees will automatically receive an e-mail linking them to the letter of recommendation form. It is your responsibility to contact your referees and make sure that they submit the form until January 25, 2018 at the latest. Later submission of reference letters cannot be accepted. It is not possible to change your data once it has been submitted.

Please note that the completed form will not be send back to you, therefore copy it to Word and save it for your records before submitting it.

Look out for the confirmation email with your registration code. If you should not have received the confirmation within an hour after submitting the application, please check your spam filter.

My degree didn't include a thesis. What should I indicate in the abstract field?

Please mention "not applicable".

My degree is a combined Bachelor's/Master's Degree. What should I indicate in the Bachelor's section?

Please indicate "not applicable".

In which languages can I submit my certificates?

For the initial application, we accept documents in all Germanic and Romanic languages. We can unfortunately not accept applications with foreign language characters such as Cyrillic or Chinese.

Which research groups are available for conducting the PhD?

All host lab proposals will be made available to candidates invited to the CGA selection week. In principal, all research groups of the CGA faculty with projects related to ageing research can be involved. Usually, we receive around 25 proposals each year.

Is it necessary to hold a Master’s or equivalent degree at the time of application?

Your application will also be accepted if the Master's degree has not yet been awarded by the time of application. However, it must be awarded before your individual programme start between June and October 2018. Students holding a 4-year Bachelor's degree with outstanding grades and exceptional scientific qualification are also eligible to apply. If you should receive the degree after having submitted the application form, please send it to cologne-grad-school-age[at]

What English proficiency is required for admission?

Excellent English skills are a prerequisite for our programme, however is not mandatory to provide a certificate. If you have taken an English test such as the TOEFL, you can upload the result if you wish.

How does the selection procedure work?

Applicants are shortlisted by a selection panel based on their academic qualifications and research accomplishments. There will be an on-site selection week (5 days) in Cologne. Invited candidates will receive the host lab proposals already beforehand to give them an overview about possible projects. The travel costs for the invited candidates will be refunded several weeks after the selection week.

What happens during the Selection Week in Cologne?

We provide free hotel accomodation in Cologne for invited applicants. The candidates briefly present their recent research projects and are interviewed by two different PI panels. Possible projects can be discussed during the faculty poster session and social events. According to their interests, all candidates can visit up to 5 different labs of their choice. There will also be a CGA campus tour, a BBQ and student lunch, where you can interact current CGA students and PIs. Candidates will be informed if they received a position approximately 2 weeks after the Selection Workshop.

When does the programme start?

The programme will start between June 15 and October 1, 2017 on an individual basis. During the Welcome Days in October 2017, all class members will meet.

Do I achieve financial support during the PhD?

All PhD students receive a working contract including social benefits for a period of 3 years. Payment is based on the German TVL-13 scale, 65% (monthly gross salary approx. €2,330 in the first year) if terms and conditions under collective bargaining law are fulfilled or on the equivalently remunerated PhD support contract of the Max Planck Society (Promotionsfördervertrag, sui generis). If the PhD project should not be finished within 3 years, the respective PI will finance the student for at least one additional year under the same conditions.

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What is my responsibility as referee?

You have been asked to write a letter of recommendation? Please refer to the applicant's registration code as stated in the e-mail you received from us. Please submit the letter of recommendation in English until January 25, 2018 at the latest.

Is the programme completely conducted in English?

Yes! Have a look at our international CGA student body and alumni.

Does the University of Cologne charge tuition fees?

No, there is only a minor semester fee of approx. €261/semester for the public transport pass, student sports, student usage of the cafeteria and the General Students' Committee, the acting executive board and the external representing agency of the student body of the University of Cologne. Find more information here.

How much does living cost in Cologne?

A single apartment at the student housing costs approx. €300/month, on the private market approx. €500/month.

Student Services

What kind of support is offered for international students?

The CGA Coordination offers support in all personal and administrative matters including visa, residence permits, housing, opening of bank accounts, insurances, contracts and all issues related to your PhD. Every student will furthermore have one main supervisor as well as two co-supervisors with whom regulary project progress meetings take place and are documented to ensure the smooth conduction of your PhD. In order to facilitate integration to Germany, free-of-charge German classes are offered. We also have a PhD regular's table as well as other social CGA events where you can meet your fellows. You will never be left alone in case you should encounter any difficulties!

What is the advantage of a structured graduate programme?

You will take part a structured curriculum, including lecture series, journal clubs, retreats and intensive training in scientific and soft skills as well as a personalized career mentoring programme. Furthermore, you will have access to a yearly travel grant of €1,000 for conference/summer school visits. Moreover, you will develop skills outside of offical moduls such as event organization including practise in fundraising and inviting as well as interacting with internationally reknown guest speakers. Being part of the CGA, you can not only rely on the highly effective Coordination Office but also on the supportive CGA network consisting of your classmates, senior students and alumni! Besides being able to interact with highly talented students from numerous countries, classes and social events such as a regulars' table bring together students working on different research topics which tremendously facilitates networking and starting collaborations.

Why choose Germany and Cologne?

The German doctorate enjoys an outstanding reputation worldwide due to its long scientific tradition and excellent infrastructure for research work. Not only does Germany offer state-of-the-art technology and well-equipped research institutions but is also known as "Land of ideas" with a high standard of living. Find more information here.

Cologne offers an outstanding international research environment at the most prestigious ageing research cluster in Germany, including the "Cologne Excellence Cluster on Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases" (CECAD), the University Hospital Cologne, the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research and the "Center of Advanced European Studies and Research" (caesar). Cologne has emerged as leading global research centre with a stellar constellation of insitutes and scientists dedicated to ageing research.

Find out more about the vibrant city life in Cologne here.

What job prospectives do I have after graduating from the CGA?

Check our alumni profiles to get some ideas!

What support is offered for families?

We support our employees in gaining (and maintaining) a good work-life-balance. We foster family-friendly work conditions and a family-conscious organizational culture.

Find more information at our Dual Career and Family Support service.