IMPRS PhD Fellowships 2021

IMPRS Fellowships

The International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Language Sciences is offering two fully-funded PhD Fellowship for four years (2021-2025) with a preferred start-date in September or October, 2021.


The position

The IMPRS for Language Sciences invites applications for TWO fellowships that are fully funded by the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. The goal of the scheme is to enable young researchers to pursue interdisciplinary research projects in the language sciences, supervised by leading scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and its partner institutes at the Radboud University -- the Centre for Language Studies and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. With a diverse selection of potential supervisors to choose from, the applicant is invited to explore the range of research possibilities on offer.

The fellowships are suitable for applicants from a variety of backgrounds including:

  • artificial intelligence
  • biology
  • (cognitive) neuroscience
  • cognitive science
  • computer science
  • genetics
  • linguistics
  • mathematics
  • neurobiology
  • physics
  • psychology


Conditions of employment

The PhD position is fully funded for 4 years with an annual gross salary of approx. €33,770 (inclusive of an annual holiday allowance). You will be entitled to 30 holiday days per year (on the basis of full-time employment), as well as Dutch and German institute holidays. A personal pension scheme is included, to which both employer and employee pay a monthly contribution.

You will have access to state-of-the art research and training facilities and a generous conference and travel budget. Your educational training programme will be provided by the International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, and will involve both core and individually chosen coursework to complement the PhD research, and training in soft skills such as writing and presentation. Radboud University, our partner university, will issue the doctoral degree through the faculty at which the promoting professor in the supervisory committee is appointed. 


The MPI for Psycholinguistics conducts interdisciplinary research into the psychological, social and biological foundations of language. Scientists at the Institute study a variety of topics including how children and adults acquire language, the role of genetic factors, how speaking and listening happen in real time, how the brain processes language for communication, and how language connects to cognition and culture. The Institute's approach to the science of language and communication is unique, addressing these fundamental issues at multiple levels, from molecules and cells to circuits and brains, all the way through to the behaviour of individuals and populations.

We are situated on the campus of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, and have close collaborative links with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University.  Staff and students at the MPI have access to state-of-the art research and training facilities (including audio-visual equipment, EEG, fMRI, eye tracking, virtual reality labs, molecular biology labs and a child-friendly child development lab).

The Institute is part of the Max Planck Society, an independent non-governmental association of German-funded research institutes dedicated to fundamental research in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

The MPI for Psycholinguistics recognises the positive value of diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We are committed to redressing systemic problems with diversity in science, and therefore welcome applications from individuals from minority groups and from groups that are otherwise underrepresented.



  • A high-quality (Research) Master’s degree or equivalent* in a relevant field of the intended project, such as artificial intelligence, biology, (cognitive) neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, genetics, linguistics, mathematics, neurobiology, neuroimaging, physics, and psychology.
    *see FAQ section, #11 for more information. 
  • A demonstrable interest in conducting interdisciplinary research on language.
  • Experience in carrying out empirical research (e.g., experimental design, recruitment, participant testing, quantitative data analysis, report writing).
  • Expertise using statistical packages and/or programming languages to analyse data and/or model behaviour.
  • A demonstrable ability to present research ideas clearly to people from a range of disciplinary backgrounds.
  • Excellent written and spoken English. The language of the Institute is English, so knowledge of Dutch is not required.


  • Some experience giving research talks or poster presentations and preparing manuscripts for publication would be an advantage.
  • Some experience and/or a serious interest in interdisciplinary research on language is an advantage.
  • Depending on the intended project, native (or near-native) knowledge of the language(s) of study is desirable.


Application procedure

Your application must contain:

  1. A one-page personal statement in which you clearly discuss why you chose the supervisor pair and how your research profile is an excellent fit for your chosen interdisciplinary project. (see FAQ section below for information about supervisor pairs).
  2. A one-page summary of your masters or bachelor honours thesis project.
  3. A CV (see FAQ section for information about what the CV should include).
  4. Copies of diplomas and transcripts, and other relevant supporting documents.
  5. Names and e-mail addresses of up to three referees who would be willing to provide letters of recommendation, should you be invited for an interview.


Please submit the application form no later than noon (CET) on 1 February, 2021. 
The application form will be automatically deactivated at that time.
Applications sent via e-mail and third-party portals will not be processed.

For informal enquiries, please contact kevin.lam [at] (Kevin Lam).
The IMPRS Office is closed from 18 Dec 2020. Please expect a response to your e-mail from 4 January 2021 onwards. 


Frequently Asked Questions (last update: 12 Jan 2021)

Update: New item FAQ #18 has been added. 

1. Who are the potential supervisors?
Please consult the list of potential supervisor pairs here. Each project listing includes at least one reading recommendation to help you learn more about the topic. If you select one of these pre-specified pairs, then you are not required to contact the researchers in advance of your application.

2. Can I propose a different supervisor pair than already listed?
Please note that the listed pairs indicate that the researchers have expressed mutual interest in collaborating and supervising the successful applicant. However, if you are confident that a promising research project is possible with an unlisted supervisor pair, you are welcome to explore this possibility.

Please contact, in the first instance, one of these eligible MPI researchers: 

Prof Caroline Rowland • Prof Antje S. Meyer • Prof Simon E. Fisher • Prof Peter Hagoort

Research Group Leaders
Dr Andrea Martin • Dr Andrea Ravignani

Senior Investigators
Dr Beate St Pourcain • Dr Clyde Francks • Dr Falk Huettig
Dr Evan Kidd • Dr Tineke Snijders • Dr Hans Rutger Bosker • Dr Linda Drijvers

If they are interested in supervising your project, they will then help you find a second supervisor from either the CLS or Donders Institute.

Once you have secured the commitment of a supervisor pair, please send an e-mail to the Kevin.Lam [at] (subject: New%20Supervisor%20Pair%20Proposal) (Coordinator) with the following information, with the researchers included in cc:

  • MPI researcher:
  • CLS/DI researcher:
  • Promotor: (the researchers will advise you on what to fill in here)
  • Project description: (1-2 sentences will suffice)

We will forward your request to the Programme Committee for review. Note that you must wait for our confirmation before submitting an application. This means that it is crucial that you do not carry out this step too late in the process.

3. Can I select more than 1 supervisor pair?
You may do so. Please be sure to include a personal statement for each pair within the same application.

4. I'm having trouble getting access to the recommended readings. What do I do?
Where possible, we have provided links to open-access articles to allow you to read them without any restriction. If you nevertheless encounter any difficulty, please contact the supervisor pair to ask for a copy of the article.

5. What is the timeline of the selection process? 
The following is a tentative timeline. Please check back regularly for updates.

Application deadline on 1 Feb

Notification of selection for Round 1 by 26 Feb

Round 1 online interviews in weeks of 1 - 12 Mar

Notification of selection for Round 2 by 1 Apr

Round 2 online interviews in weeks of 6 - 16 Apr

Notification of offers and rejections by 30 Apr

6. Where can I find information about the academic program of the school?
You can learn more about our curriculum here.

7. Are there opportunities to acquire teaching experience?
You are not required to teach as part of your contract, but opportunities exist that allow you to acquire some teaching experience. These opportunities include conducting workshops within and outside the IMPRS community, as well as giving guest lectures in master's courses at the Radboud University by arrangement with your supervisors.

8. Can I complete the doctoral program on a part-time basis?
Our doctoral program requires a full-time commitment from all doctoral candidates.

9. What information must be included in my curriculum vitae (CV)?
Please list all levels of your education in chronological order. The CV must contain a clear statement about your current status concerning occupation including information on current employment, unemployment, or parental leave. Include publications, prizes, scholarships, social, cultural or sportive activities. Your CV should be a maximum of two pages in length.

10. Can I apply while still completing my current academic degree?
Yes, you can apply with a transcript of records that includes the marks of all courses completed so far. However, if your application is successful, you will have to provide the original final transcript and your academic degree certificates (as well as certified translations if not in English, German, or Dutch) no later than the time of admission into the School.

11. What counts as an equivalent of a (research) masters degree?
Applicants who are completing, or have completed, a 4-year thesis-based Bachelor Honours degree may be considered for our Fellowships. Such degrees may be recognised by the issuing institution as equivalents of masters degree for the purpose of admission into a PhD programme. Therefore, your application must be accompanied by an official signed confirmation statement from your institution as part of your supporting documents. We will review all such applications on a case-by-case basis.

Please note that the degree's graduating requirements must include a year-long individual research project supervised by a faculty member which culminates in a written thesis in the final year. Moreover, evidence of substantial relevant research experience in the intended research topic(s) is desirable. 

12. Do I need to include transcripts from my bachelor and/or master studies?
Yes. Please enclose official transcripts (in English, German or Dutch) of all your degree-level studies.

13. What if I do not have official transcripts in English / German / Dutch?
Foreign transcripts should be provided in English, German or Dutch. For the application, you may submit a non-certified English / German / Dutch translation of the document(s). Transcripts must be complete and word-by-word translation of the original document. Please enclose your transcripts with their accompanying certified translations (when applicable).

Should you be invited for the interview rounds, you should expect to produce certified translations of the document(s) at short notice.

14. Am I required to submit a certificate of English proficiency
Solid knowledge of the English language (B2 level) is necessary. However, a certificate of proficiency is not required, but if you have one, you may include the certificate in your application.

15. Am I required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test?
This test is not required, but if you have taken it in the last 5 years, you may include the results in your application.

16. If successful, will I get help with finding accommodation?
Ultimately, the applicant is responsible for arranging their own accommodation for the duration of the PhD project. For applicants arriving for the first time in the Netherlands, we can assist you in finding appropriate temporary accommodation at the campus guest house. 

17. Do you have any advice for someone who will be applying for a PhD position at a later time?
Have a look at the Tips section here.
If you're looking for a suitable research master's programme in Nijmegen, learn more about the different possibilities: 

18. Can you tell me a bit about Nijmegen?
Have a look at these videos [1 2] to learn more about the city of Nijmegen.

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