Internships at Max Planck Institutes in Computer Science
The Max Planck Institutes for Informatics (Saarbruecken), Software Systems (Saarbruecken and Kaiserslautern), and Security and Privacy (Bochum) offer research internships in all areas of Computer Science. An internship at a Max Planck Institute is a way to pursue world-class research in computer science! Our internships are also an excellent way to explore research or new research areas for the first time.
Internships are open to exceptional Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral students worldwide, as well as exceptional individuals from industry interested in gaining academic research experience in computer science. Intern positions are limited and admissions are very competitive
We welcome interns all year round, but most interns prefer the summer months. Every intern works directly with an assigned faculty mentor at one of the participating institutes. Internship projects are based on the intern’s academic interests, maturity and prior experience.
All internships are fully funded, covering living costs, housing and roundtrip travel costs. A typical internship lasts 12 to 14 weeks, but longer internships are possible.
The application deadline for summer internships (i.e., those starting between May and August) is November 1 of the previous year. If you apply for this deadline and your application is successful, you should hear from us before 1st of March.
For an internship starting outside the summer months, please apply at least 5 months ahead of your intended starting date. Note that applications for internships outside summer months are considered based on the needs of individual projects and research groups. If such an application is successful, you should hear back within 3-4 months from the time you applied.
All applications must be submitted online at https://apply.cis.mpg.de/register/internship.
We understand that travel restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may prevent interns from traveling to host institutes right now. In such a case, the intern and the mentor may agree mutually to complete the internship remotely. The intern will still be paid the monthly stipend.
Why Intern at a Max Planck Institute in Computer Science?
- Max Planck Institutes offer an internationally renowned research community, with world-class faculty across the full spectrum of Computer Science.
- Interns get direct, hands-on experience doing cutting edge research in computer science. Successful internships often result in coauthored publications at top academic conferences. Interning at a Max Planck Institute is great way to kick-start your future research career!
- All admitted interns receive a stipend, and their housing cost and the cost of travel from their habitual residence to the hosting institute and back are covered.
- The working environment is English-speaking, multicultural, and diverse.
Who Can Apply?
- Internships are open to exceptional Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral students worldwide with a basic background in Computer Science (roughly, the first three years of a standard Computer Science Bachelors program by the start of the internship) and an interest in CS research. Internship projects are customized to suit the backgrounds of individual interns.
- Industry applicants with a similar background and an interest in academic CS research may also apply.
- Students looking for Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis projects are also welcome to apply. The internship project can be converted to a thesis if the student’s university allows.
- Internships are also an excellent opportunity for pre-doctoral students to explore computer science research prior to embarking on a research career.
- We encourage applicants with diverse academic backgrounds and interdisciplinary interests, e.g. intersecting social science, economics, law, humanities, and others.
- We particularly welcome applications from individuals belonging to underrepresented groups in CS or other STEM fields.
- Our internships are very competitive and all applicants are expected to have an excellent academic record, regardless of its length.
Please apply by the following deadlines:
- For internships starting between May and August, apply by November 1 of the previous year
- For internships starting at any other time of the year, apply at least 5 months before your intended starting date
Submit your application. Apply online at https://apply.cis.mpg.de/register/internship. You will need to provide your CV, transcripts, contact information for at least one reference, and an optional motivation letter. You can also optionally indicate faculty members at the participating institutes with whom you would like to work and the period during which you would like to intern. Note that we do not request references immediately and in all cases. Please do not write to us asking why your referee has not received a request for your letter.
Matching process. Research groups at participating institutes will review your application. During this period, you might be contacted for a phone interview.
Notification. You will be notified of the outcome of your application by email. If you are selected, you will also be put in touch with your assigned faculty mentor to finalize the exact dates of your internship and settle on an internship project.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need to know German to complete an internship?
No, knowledge of German is not required. All participating institutes use English as their working language.
What can I expect from an internship?
As an intern, you will work closely with a research group at one of the participating institutes and be mentored by at least one faculty member. Interns conduct academic research jointly with their mentor or a team of faculty, doctoral students and postdocs.
Where will I do my internship?
You will do your internship at one of the participating institutes (see the next question for the list of participating institutes). We understand that travel restriction due to COVID-19 may prevent some interns from traveling to the hosting institute right now. In these cases, the internship can be completed remotely if the intern and the mentor agree mutually.
Which institutes participate in the internship program?
The following institutes participate in the internship program:
- Max Planck Institute for Informatics (Saarbruecken)
- Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (Kaiserslautern and Saarbruecken)
- Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy (Bochum)
Can I choose a research area, a faculty member or an institute I would like to work with?
When you apply, you can specify faculty member(s) whose research groups you would like to work with. We treat this as a preference; your application will also be considered for internships with other research groups.
Where can I find a list of faculty members?
Max Planck Institute for Informatics: https://www.mpi-inf.mpg.de/home
Max Planck Institute for Software Systems: https://www.mpi-sws.org/people/#faculty-and-researchers
Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy: https://www.mpi-sp.org/4245/faculty
Can I see a list of possible projects ahead of time?
We do not provide a list of projects ahead of time. Instead, your mentor and you will decide a project of interest to you after you have been selected. This process allows us to customize projects to suit your needs better.
Who is eligible for an internship?
We consider internship applications from Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral students, and industry employees interested in academic research. You are welcome to apply if you satisfy the following criteria:
- You are interested in academic research in Computer Science.
- You have a strong background in Computer Science and in the relevant area(s) of research — for example, you have completed coursework equivalent to the first three years of a Computer Science undergraduate program at the start of your internship, or you have prior experience doing research in the relevant area(s).
- Your academic record is excellent, irrespective of its length.
My university allows me to do my Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis research at another university/institute. Can an internship help with this?
Yes! You can use your internship research as the basis of your thesis. However, your internship mentor and your university must agree to this. If you wish to do this, please say so in a comment on your internship application.
I have finished my Bachelor’s degree and plan to apply to/join a Master’s program. Can I apply?
Yes, as long as you as you satisfy the eligibility requirements listed above.
I have finished my Master’s degree and plan to apply to/join a doctoral program. Can I apply?
Yes, as long as you as you satisfy the eligibility requirements listed above.
I am already enrolled in a doctoral program. Can I apply?
Yes, as long as you as you satisfy the eligibility requirements listed above.
Do you provide financial support to interns?
Yes. All interns receive a monthly stipend that is sufficient to comfortably cover living costs. Additionally, the cost of housing during the internship and the cost of round-trip travel from their habitual place of residence to the hosting institute are covered.
How long are the internships? When do internships start?
Our internships are variable length. Internship starting dates and duration are decided by mutual agreement between the intern and the mentor. 12 to 14 week internships during the summer are most common, but longer internships and internships starting at other times are possible.
When are internships available?
We welcome interns round the year. However, most of our interns come during the summer (May – August) due to their own semester constraints.
What is the deadline to apply for an internship?
For an internship starting between May and August, apply by November 1 of the previous year. For an internship starting in any other month, apply at least 5 months in advance.
How do I apply for an internship?
Apply online at https://apply.cis.mpg.de/register/internship. Do not email any application materials to us. We do not accept applications by email. See the previous question for deadlines.
What do I need in order to apply?
You will need to provide your CV, transcripts, contact information for at least one reference, and an optional motivation letter. You can also optionally indicate faculty members at the participating institutes with whom you would like to work and when you would like to intern.
The application asks for a reference. What is a reference? How do I provide it?
A reference (or a reference letter) is a letter from an individual (called a recommender, referee or letter writer) who is familiar with your academic abilities. The letter explains how the recommender knows you, what relevant skills the recommender knows you to have and the recommender’s assessment of your potential to excel in the position you have applied for. In the internship application form, you only need to provide the name and contact information of a recommender. If we find the need, we will contact the recommender directly and ask for the letter.
The recommender is usually a faculty member whose class(es) you have taken, an adviser/mentor with whom you have conducted research, or your supervisor at work. Before listing the recommender in your application, you should talk to the recommender and ascertain that he/she would be willing to write a letter in case we ask for it. If we ask for a letter and the recommender does not provide us the letter, your application will likely be rejected.
Do not ask your recommender to email us your letter. We do not accept letters by email. If we need your letter, we will contact your recommender directly and provide a URL where the letter can be uploaded.
My recommender has not been asked for a letter. What do I do?
Relax! We do not ask for letters for all applicants. If we need your letter, we will ask your recommender. Please do not write to us about this. We cannot respond to individual queries about whether or not your recommender has submitted a letter and whether or when we will ask for a letter.
The application form asks for a “major GPA”. What is that?
The “major GPA” is the average grade in subjects in the area in which you earned your degree. So, if your degree is in Computer Science, your major GPA is the average score of all Computer Science subjects. If your degree is in Mathematics, your major GPA is the average score of all Mathematics subjects.
My university does not declare a major GPA. What should I do?
Calculate the major GPA yourself as described in the previous question and write that in the required application field.
The application form asks for a class rank. However, my university does not declare ranks. What should I do?
Fill N/A or 0 in the class rank field and leave a comment on your application explaining that your university does not declare class ranks.
How are interns selected?
Our intern selection is strictly merit-based and highly competitive. Merit is defined broadly and covers coursework, skills, reference letter(s) and prior research experience. (You do not necessarily need prior research experience to be selected. Many of our interns have no prior research experience.) All applications are carefully screened by an appointed committee. In some cases, we may interview you by phone. Final selection is based on a match with research groups.
How will I be notified of the result of my internship application?
We notify by email. Make sure you provide a valid email address that will remain accessible for a few months.
Do you provide support for getting a German/Schengen visa and do you cover visa costs?
If you are selected for an internship and need a visa to come to Germany for your internship, we will provide you necessary documents to obtain the visa. However, it is your responsibility to apply for the visa in time through a local German consulate. Visas are adjudicated by German authorities and we have no control or influence over this process or its outcome.
In many cases, you may be exempt from visa fees for an internship of duration up to 3 months. If you are required to pay a visa fee, get in touch with us to know whether or not we can cover the visa fee. Please do not write to us about visa-related questions until we have notified you that you have been accepted for an internship.
The Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS) used to have a separate internship program. What happened to that program?
From December 2020, the MPI-SWS internship program has been subsumed by this common program. If you wish to intern at MPI-SWS, please apply here.
The Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) is not among the participating institutes. How do I apply for an internship there?
Please contact individual faculty at MPI-IS to apply for an internship there. Do not apply here for an internship at MPI-IS.
One of the participating institutes is advertising internship positions in a separate call as well. What is the difference? Should I apply here instead?
Some participating institutes or, in some cases, specific research groups may advertise intern positions independently as well. The difference is that such applications will be limited to the advertising institute or the specific research group and no other groups will consider such an application. You should apply to such a call if you are certain that you want your application to be considered only by the advertising institute/group. On the other hand, an application here will make your application accessible to all research groups and faculty at the participating institutes. You can also apply here and to specific calls simultaneously.
My question wasn’t answered here. What should I do?
First, double-check that your question was really not answered above. If it really wasn’t answered, send an email to email@example.com. We will be happy to answer your question.