Max Planck Research Groups

Max Planck Research Groups

The cornerstone of central support of early career researchers

Max Planck Research Groups have been a key part of support of junior scientists for over 50 years. They provide postdocs with a first-rate support to help them on their scientific career paths – the appointment of Group Leader positions is subject to a rigorous, centrally managed selection procedure.

There are two types of Max Planck Research Groups: Institute-specific and open-topic Groups. If Max Planck Institutes have the budget required, they can offer the first type. These Max Planck Research Groups are then usually thematically linked to the Institute concerned.

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According to internal statistics produced since 1970, 61 percent of all former Research Group Leaders continued their career in a W2/W3 position in Germany or abroad; 11percent were appointed as Max Planck Directors, 11 percent remained in scientific positions at a MPI while 17 percent joined other research institutions or went into business and industry.

In addition, the Max Planck Society funds and calls for applications for open-topic Max Planck Research Groups. The appointment of all Max Plank Research Group Leaders is subject to a rigorous selection procedure which is coordinated centrally. In the case of open-topic Research Groups, there is a fixed number of positions especially designated for female scientists.

Max Planck Research Group Leaders receive a five-year W2 contract which can be extended by two years twice in the event of positive evaluation, which means a maximum of nine years in total. Together with their Research Group, they use the infrastructure of the Institute concerned and also have their own budget for personnel and resources. The Group Leaders can use the approved budget at their own discretion. Even though they are granted scientific autonomy, they are expected to actively participate in Institute life.

Making an application

The procedure for applications called for centrally for open-topic Max Planck Research Groups is explained under “Frequently asked questions”. The call for applications generally takes place once a year in the autumn. It is published on the careers section of the Max Planck Society website, as well as in international specialist publications and on employment websites specialized in scientific job opportunities.

These Max Planck Research Groups are not subject to any thematic restrictions. Applicants can indicate three Max Planck Institutes at which they would like to work. Institute-specific positions are published in relevant specialist magazines and usually also on the website of the Max Planck Institute concerned.

Cooperation with the Technical University of Munich

What about leading a Max Planck Research Group while also lecturing as an assistant professor at a university of excellence? And also enjoying good career prospects? The programme run by the Max Planck Society and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) – which is unique in Germany – provides such opportunities. If an open-topic Max Planck Research Group Leader application is approved, candidates can also undertake an evaluation for admission to the TUM’s tenure track procedure. If they perform outstandingly well, they can be promoted to a permanent associate professor position after six years with further opportunity for promotion to full professorships.

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