PhD Programme: how to apply

Applying to our programme


Information for applicants in response to the novel coronavirus

In order to reduce the impact and spread of the novel coronavirus EMBL has taken the difficult decision to close its six sites in Barcelona, Grenoble, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Hinxton and Rome from 18 March 2020. Sites will remain closed for external visitors until further notice, and EMBL management will keep the situation under constant review. For further information please refer to the following page:

Due to the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we anticipate conducting interviews in a virtual format. Full details regarding the interview process will be sent to invited candidates.

Further information regarding the application process is indicated below.


Admission to the EMBL International PhD Programme at EMBL-EBI is very competitive. We evaluate all applications solely on the basis of qualification and scientific potential.

There are two important deadlines to keep in mind: the first is registration in our online application system, and the second is completing your application.

Application Opens August 2021
Application Deadline October 2021
Reference Deadline October 2021


Watch a webinar to learn everything you need to know about preparing and submitting your application. Link to webinar


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The application process

  1. Select an area of interest.
  2. Register for the online application system. Applicants MUST register – application is via online submission only.
  3. Apply for a PhD position starting in October of the year you are applying. Make sure you have your references in by the deadline!
  4. Interviews at EMBL Heidelberg, Germany and Hinxton (Cambridge), UK take place in January (Spring round) or July (Summer round).
  5. The first assessment is carried out by a faculty member who is familiar with the applicant's national education system.
  6. The application is then reviewed by the faculty members of the EMBL Scientific Programme at EMBL-EBI.
  7. The EMBL Graduate Committee short-lists the candidates who will be invited to interview.
  8. Short-listed applicants are invited to attend an Initial Admission Assessment (IAA) interview, conducted by a panel of EMBL faculty members at EMBL-EBI. This 20-minute pass/fail interview is the prerequisite for eligibility for the EMBL programme. During the interview, you may be questioned on any aspect of molecular biology and your previous training.
  9. The days following the IAA are filled with panel and one-to-one interviews with Group Leaders as well as group visits.
  10. Successful candidates are then awarded entry into the EMBL International PhD Programme by the Graduate Committee.

If you have questions about the programme or admission process, you may wish to email the EMBL Graduate Office: or the Research Office at EMBL-EBI: