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PhD Programme & Master

Training young scientists is one of the core missions of the IMP. In 1993, the IMP co-founded an international PhD programme in molecular life sciences with the University of Vienna. Today, the “Vienna Biocenter PhD Programme” is one of the most prestigious international PhD programmes in biology.

“Empowering curious researchers” is the motto of the VBC PhD Programme, the programme that enables students to do research for their PhD at an IMP lab. The main priorities of this programme is the effective mentoring of PhD students and ensuring that all candidates have the support and resources they need to develop their projects.

The selection for the VBC PhD Programme is very competitive and successful candidates are rewarded with ample resources. PhD students at the IMP enjoy access to outstanding facilities and scientific services, opportunities to do any experiment useful to support their work and a pleasant work atmosphere in a modern building. All this is offered in the frame of a training programme that has become one of Europe’s most distinguished PhD programmes in molecular biology since its establishment in 1993.

The IMP and its neighbouring institutions offer a vibrant scientific atmosphere. Lecture series and weekly seminars provide PhD students with immediate access to many of the world’s most outstanding biologists. The Vienna Biocenter community with 1400 scientists is a fertile ground for stimulating encounters and a good spirit – not last socially.

The best way to convey the essence of the IMP PhD student experience is perhaps to listen to past and present PhD students – for a start, please note our testimonials below.

“The VBC campus is highly international with excellent service facilities supporting the scientific research done here. This is really a great place to pursue competitive science.”

Muhammad Mamduh Bin Ahmad Zabidi, PhD Student 2012

A flexible curriculum

The programme's curriculum is flexible and was designed for and with PhD students. The VBC PhD students start with a 3-week introductory course – “Priming your PhD” – which is designed to prime and facilitate the implementation and development of their research projects, specifically on this campus. Throughout their training, students (like postdocs) present their work to the campus community at the Monday Seminars.

This weekly seminar series is a great vehicle to share knowledge and expertise between different research groups and different institutes. At the same time, the seminars are an opportunity to train PhD students in presentation skills.

Numerous seminars and journal clubs take place on a regular basis, alongside several advanced courses such as scientific writing, advanced microscopy, data analysis, and others. In addition, PhD students benefit from career development workshops.

Each student is free to choose which courses he or she wants to participate in – moreover, students are encouraged to suggest and develop new courses. In addition, the VBC PhD students organise activities such as a retreat and a symposium each year. For this, they are provided with funding, support – and a lot of freedom to develop through task planning and implementation.

Meet former and current IMP PhD Students

Alumni: What former PhD students did

Out of 140 VBC PhD Students that graduated after PhD research at the IMP between 1998-2008, no less than 50 are now in Group Leader positions.

A recent survey showed very high satisfaction among alumni: virtually all VBC PhD alumni see their time at the Vienna Biocenter as having been a great asset for their career.

Application to the VBC PhD Programme

The programme has two international calls per year and recruits approximately 15 motivated young scientists in each call (all PhD Students at IMP are recruited through the VBC PhD Programme).

What are Group Leaders looking for in a PhD applicant? The VBC PhD Programme is competitive and highly selective, so passion for science and research experience will be an important pre-condition. However, there is more to a good applicant. One IMP Group Leader stated that she was looking for “PhD candidates that have curious and creative minds, are passionate about science, are easy going and communicative, are highly motivated and have endurance.”

VBC PhD Programme Website

Opportunities for master students

We do not offer a formal programme for Master Students, but most labs host Master Students during their thesis or for placements/internships. If you are highly motivated and very interested in the work of one of our research groups, then please contact the relevant group leader and enquire about opportunities to join the lab for the time of master research.

Please also note our information on funding opportunities. Frequently, positions for master students are also advertised on this website under “open positions”.  You may also be eligible for the VBC Summer School.

VBC Scientific Training Website