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IMPRS PhD Fellowships 2019

Three IMPRS for Language Sciences PhD Fellowships

The International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Language Sciences is offering three PhD Fellowships funded by the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Each position is funded for four years (2019-2023) with a preferred start-date of September 1, 2019. 

The IMPRS is highly interested in applicants with broad theoretical and experimental knowledge, including advanced methods (e.g. EEG, fMRI, computational models, etc.) and statistics (e.g., mixed effects models, Bayesian). Applicants are invited to develop an interdisciplinary research proposal promoting new approaches in combining different lines of research. The successful applicant will be based at one of the following departments:

  • Language and Genetics led by Prof. Simon E. Fisher
  • Language Development led by Prof. Caroline Rowland
  • Neurobiology of Language led by Prof. Peter Hagoort
  • Psychology of Language led by Prof. Antje S. Meyer

The IMPRS is the leading research school in the world devoted to studying the foundations of human language. It is a joint initiative between the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and its partner institutes at Radboud University: the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and the Centre for Language Studies. The research school offers unrivalled training, top facilities ranging from genetics labs, advanced brain imaging techniques to a virtual reality lab, and an enriching interdisciplinary environment. Our doctoral candidates have full access to facilities and resources across all three institutes to carry out their research.


The application portal is now closed. We are no longer processing applications.


Note down your registration code immediately after submission.

It may take up to 60 minutes before you receive our automated confirmation e-mail (subject header IMPRS4LS application from lotus1/GWDG/
If you do not receive any such e-mail 24 hours after your submission and have checked your Spam folder, please contact with subject header “Missing confirmation e-mail” and include you registration code in the message.

Application deadline*: 14 January 2019 (noon CET)

References deadline*: 21 January 2019 (noon CET)

*The portal is set to automatically go offline at these times. Please plan accordingly.



1. What is the IMPRS for Language Sciences?

The International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences was established in 2009 to provide doctoral students interdisciplinary training in language research through the combined expertise of three internationally renowned research institutes based in Nijmegen. Besides acquiring skills and knowledge needed to successfully complete their doctoral projects, our doctoral students are trained to build up a competitive profile for careers in academia and beyond. Participation in the IMPRS-LS therefore prepares you for the next big step towards a fulfilling career.

Our three partner institutes are Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University’s Centre for Language Studies ( and Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour ( Alongside local contributions, the IMPRS-LS receives considerable central funding from the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science ( The Society ensures that we uphold the highest standards of doctoral training and research through regular evaluations. We are one of 60 IMPRSs, each uniquely tailored to specific disciplines and established by various MPIs located in Germany and abroad. Read more:

Some of the key benefits enjoyed by our students include:

  • a highly interactive and intellectual environment
  • top-notch research facilities and technical support
  • rigorous training programme focused on professional and personal development
  • expanded course offering through the IMPRS and Radboud University (
  • increased competitive standing through affiliations with outstanding partner institutes
  • extensive social network & support
  • multilingual and multicultural student body representing over 20 nationalities


Entry into the IMPRS-LS occurs via one of two routes:

  • IMPRS PhD Fellowships
  • PhD traineeships on IMPRS-related topics at one of the three partner institutes*

 *If nominated by a supervisor, an admissions application will be required in order to be considered for admission. Check regularly for vacancies at &


2. Which institute issues the doctoral degree?

Radboud University, our partner university, will issue the doctoral degree through the faculty at which the promoting professor in the supervisory committee is appointed. You may wish to consult the doctoral regulations of the RU at


3. Are there fees or funding associated with the IMPRS-LS?

No, there are no tuition fees associated with participation in the School.

The successful applicant will be employed on a 4-year contract issued by the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. The monthly gross salary starts at approx. €2,400 plus an allowance (Gewinnungszulage) of approx. €500 per month. Salaries are in accordance with the German wage agreement for public servants (Tarifvertrag für den Öffentlichen Dienst, TVöD) set under a 50% contract at salary group level E13-1. Our MPI is also an equal opportunities employer; learn more here:


4. How do I go about selecting potential supervisors and developing my research proposal?

For your application, you are requested to select 2 potential supervisors for a particular research proposal (max. 3 supervisors). At least one supervisor must be a department head (i.e., Professor). You may submit 2 proposals at most.

Importantly, you are encouraged to develop an interdisciplinary research proposal that combines two or more lines of research (i.e., between departments). Just as importantly, your selection of supervisors should match the expertise required to bring that proposal to fruition.

The list of potential supervisors below is the starting point to learn about the research conducted by participating members of the four MPI departments.

Consulting the department’s publications list will give you a general idea of a department’s interest. To get a better idea of a particular member’s interests, proceed to the respective profile page and publications list.

Once you have some initial ideas for a proposal, you should get in touch with the relevant persons to assess their interest in your ideas. This will also be a great opportunity for them to learn about you. All of them are very approachable and happy to hear new ideas, so please do not hesitate to send a friendly e-mail. If you do not receive a timely response from them, please let us know at with subject header “Contacting potential supervisors”.


Language and Genetics

Prof. Simon E. Fisher
Dr. Beate St. Pourcain
Dr. Clyde Francks

Language Development

Prof. Caroline Rowland
Dr. Evan Kidd
Dr. Tineke Snijders
Dr. Christina Bergmann
Dr. Raquel Garrido Alhama
Dr. Rebecca Frost

Neurobiology of Language

Prof. Peter Hagoort
Dr. Judith Holler
Dr. Markus Ostarek
Dr. Mante Nieuwland

Psychology of Language

Prof. Antje S. Meyer
Dr. Falk Huettig
Dr. Andrea Martin
Dr. Hans Rutger Bosker
Dr. Florian Hintz


The following instructions will help you with preparing your proposal for the online application form:

Proposal 1 (required; up to 1,000 words incl. references)

Clearly articulate how your proposal unites unrelated or under-researched domains to advance knowledge in these areas. An interdisciplinary approach (e.g., theoretical, methodological) should be evident in your ideas. Be sure to state your research question(s), hypotheses, methods, theories, potential contributions, and other relevant supporting points. If invited for an interview, you may be asked to expand on any of these points for the selection committee. Depending on feasibility and other factors, a proposal may or may not result in a PhD project, either in part or in whole. In any case, successful applicants will discuss the details with their potential supervisors to come to an agreement before beginning the project.

References may be included and count towards the word limit. Please format as follows: Schmidt, M., Smit, P. & Smith, I. (yyyy). Title. DOI link (if available; otherwise, use,, or


5. Do I need to demonstrate my English proficiency?

The IMPRS for Language Science conducts all training and activities in English. Applicants who are not native speakers of English are required* to submit proof of English proficiency through one of the recognised test providers (IELTS Academic, TOEFL, or Cambridge English – CAE or CPE). In all cases, applicants should have an average score or higher for each component tested. Invited candidates will be informally assessed during the interviews.

 *Exemptions may apply; e.g., if (1) your most recent study programme is fully administered in an officially English-speaking country; or (2) you have previously taken one of the three recognised tests within the last 5 years.

In the first case, please include a certified statement from your programme coordinator. In the second case, please include a copy of the certificate or score report.


6. How can I best go about the application process (i.e., managing deadlines)?

We suggest submitting your application well ahead of the deadline set at January 14 (noon CET). In the event of complications, we will have sufficient time to troubleshoot (keep in mind the Christmas and New Year’s break) and avoid unnecessary stress. We will not extend deadlines for circumstances we deem avoidable. Thank you for your understanding.

The referee deadline is January 21 (noon CET). You are strongly advised to inform your referees of this deadline well in advance of your submitting an application. Check very carefully that you have correctly entered their e-mail addresses. We highly recommend using a work e-mail address (i.e., university account or similar). Late submissions will not be entertained and may lead to your application being removed from consideration. An application is complete when all requested information and documentation, including references, are received before the corresponding deadline.

Once you submit an application, your referees will be automatically sent an e-mail containing a link to complete and submit their forms (e-mail subject header “IMPRS4LS application Referee” from lotus1/GWDG/ If they do not receive such an e-mail within 72 hours (be sure to check the spam folder), please advise them to contact us at with the registration code provided to you upon submission. Once a referee makes a submission, you will also receive an e-mail confirmation.


 7. Can you tell me more about the selection process and the timeline?


Please keep the following dates in mind:

Online application portal goes live: 17 December 2018 (noon CET)
Application deadline*: 14 January 2019 (noon CET)
References deadline*: 21 January 2019 (noon CET)

*The portal is set to automatically go offline at these times. Please plan accordingly. 

Notice of selection for Round 1 (Skype interviews) by 1 February
Skype interviews in February
Notice of selection for Round 2 (On-site interviews) by end of February
On-site interviews** including welcome event: 20-21 March 
Offer letters by end of March (deadline within 10 days)

The schedule is subject to change without prior notice. Please check back regularly for updates.

**Applicants are responsible for securing valid travel documents (e.g., passport, visa, etc.). Those anticipating long travel times and multiple connections should consider arriving on the weekend. Travel and accommodation costs, where applicable, will be reimbursed.

 The interviews

The Skype interviews are intended for the selection committee, potential supervisors and candidates to get to know each other. Among other things, the conversation will focus on academic background, research interests, current project(s) and initial proposal ideas (no details expected). At the same time, candidates are welcome to learn more about the institutes and the IMPRS.

The on-site interviews provide finalists the opportunity to showcase their research proposals to the selection committee and other interested audience (IMPRSers & other research staff, etc.). Our Human Resource staff will also be available to answer questions related to employment at the MPI. A small group of IMPRSers will welcome finalists and give a tour of our facilities.


 8. Can I still apply if I’m currently completing a master’s programme?

Yes, bearing in mind the following:
Successful candidates must be in possession of their master’s degree or have completed their degree requirements prior to the start-date. The preferred start-date is September 1, 2019. A later date is negotiable if all parties agree to it, but may be no later than November 1.


9. What should I take note of for supporting documents?

All supporting documents must be provided in English. Translated documents are accepted and must accompany copies of the original documents. Please compile all documents into one pdf.

Should you receive an offer letter, please be prepared to submit copies of original documents along with certified translations at short notice.


10. I still have a question. How can I get in touch?

Kindly send an e-mail to with subject header "IMPRS Fellowships 2019 Inquiry". It might be, for one reason or another, that you do not receive a (timely) reply. Please do not hesitate to re-send your e-mail.

Last checked 2019-01-28 by Kevin Lam
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.



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