Academic Opportunities

Apply to do a PhD or Postdoc

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We welcome applications from the brightest minds to undertake PhD and postdoc research. Early career researchers benefit from close supervision and mentoring by world leaders in their respective fields. Our Institutes offer unrivalled conditions, including access to rare specialist libraries and databases; excellent work spaces; and administrative, academic, and pastoral support. Importantly, researchers receive generous funding contracts for the entire duration of their research. The working language is English, and knowledge of German is not an essential requirement for application.

Additionally, there are many opportunities for our researchers to participate in conferences, seminars, and workshops as well as to instigate projects and initiatives with researchers from other Institutes within the Max Planck Law network.

For those wishing to use our research facilities without pursuing a PhD or postdoc, we also offer opportunities for short-term research stays.

The Max Planck Society is committed to promoting diversity in the workplace and encourages applications from individuals identifying as belonging to underrepresented groups in terms of, for example, gender, disability, age, religion, internationality and ethnicity, sexual orientation and identity, social background and education.

Access to rare specialist libraries

Dedicated work spaces

Administrative, academic & pastoral support

Participate in conferences, seminars & workshops

Instigate projects and initiatives across the Max Planck Law network

Generous funding contracts


Max Planck Law is a network of ten Max Planck Institutes engaging in legal research. We are part of the Max Planck Society, a world-leading research organization based in Germany that consists of over 80 research Institutes specializing in a wide range of academic disciplines.

As a network of nine Max Planck Institutes engaging in legal research, we do not employ or host researchers directly. Instead, we provide a single gateway to short- and long-term research opportunities at our Institutes which are continuously looking for talented and passionate PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

You may apply for one of the advertised positions, send in a speculative application, or find out which Institute might be interested in welcoming you for a short-term research visit.

To send in a speculative application, select the subject area that interests you in the accordion below and click through to the relevant Institute. There you will find more information about the relevant Institute and the email address of the relevant person to whom you should send your application. If you are unsure how to proceed, please contact Max Planck Law:

Yes, you have the opportunity to visit an Institute as a guest researcher. Each Institute has its own specific procedure for admitting guest researchers, and they offer various guest positions with different levels of funding and accommodation. If you are interested in applying for a short-term research stay, we recommend that you get in touch with the Institute that aligns with your research interests. To help find such an Institute, select the subject area that interests you in the accordion below. For any assistance in understanding the Institutes and their specific requirements, feel free to contact Max Planck Law:

Yes, you can apply if your previous degrees are not in Law. At some of our Institutes, a significant number of researchers hold degrees in disciplines such as anthropology, criminology, economics, history, IT, politics, or sociology. In others, however, a law degree is the norm. Advertised positions will always clearly specify the requirements applicants are expected to meet.

We hold regular Open House events online, where you can meet staff from Max Planck Law, learn about the academic opportunities we offer, hear from current and former members of the network and ask questions. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates about our next Open House.

We value research and believe that it should be generously funded. We offer PhD students and postdocs contracts that combine the guarantee of academic freedom with the security of a salaried position.

Currently, PhD students at our Institutes receive a three-year contract and a minimum salary of € 3,000 per month before tax. For postdocs, the initial contract is a fixed-term appointment for two years which can be extended twice, up to a maximum of six years. The annual salary before tax will be on a scale from € 58,000 to € 83,000 for a full-time position, depending on prior experience. The Institutes facilitate mobile working through local agreements. The positions also include an annual bonus, access to state benefits, and 30 days annual leave.

We have a wide array of resources and opportunities available to assist you in your career. These include research seminars, workshops, a professional development programme, support for grassroots collaborations, exchanges with top international law faculties, as well as a fellowship programme that attracts renowned scholars from around the globe.

As a researcher at one of our Institutes, you will have access to excellent resources, including specialized libraries and databases, as well as support from administrative and academic staff.

In addition, you will benefit from funding for research-related expenses such as travel costs, conference fees, and publication costs. We provide career coaching and help you promote your research globally.

You can also access German and English language courses (free of charge), onboarding and offboarding services, and family services to assist with, for example, childcare.

As a PhD student, you will have the opportunity to work towards your doctorate in a supportive and diverse environment under the supervision of an Institute Director, Research Group Leader, or a Senior Researcher. In some cases, you may have an external supervisor from another institution if it aligns with your project’s requirements and is approved by your Institute supervisor. Your status as an employed researcher will allow you to entirely focus on your PhD project.

As a postdoctoral researcher, you will carry out independent research with the guidance and support of an Institute Director or Research Group Leader. This will allow you to enhance your research skills, build your expertise, and establish yourself as an internationally recognized researcher.

As the head of a research group, you will be responsible for managing your group’s research and activities, supervising the individual projects of other researchers in your group and for completing a major project.

There are no teaching obligations, but researchers are supported in gaining teaching experience.

Our Institutes collaborate closely with universities, usually located in the same city as the Institute, which will award your PhD.

However, depending on the specific requirements of the Institute and the nature of your individual research topic, there may be opportunities for you to complete your PhD at a different institution, either within or outside of Germany. In such cases, you may also have the chance to work with an external supervisor from the respective institution where you pursue your PhD.

At the Max Planck Institutes, you will be able to do your academic work in English. Knowledge of German is not a requirement. Depending on your topic, you may need to read additional languages in order to access research materials and important literature.

As an EU citizen, you already have the right to work in Germany. If you are joining us from outside the EU, with a job offer or visiting researcher contract you will qualify for a settlement permit for highly skilled workers or for an EU Blue Card.

If you move to Germany with your partner, they will be eligible for a working visa and for financial support with language courses. Additionally, any children will be eligible for financial support.

Germany is a leading destination for research and education, attracting some of the brightest and most innovative minds from around the world. Today’s Germany is a cosmopolitan and diverse society, with over 25 % of its population being migrants or descendants of migrants.

Germany is widely known for its comfortable lifestyle and affordable living costs. It offers a range of benefits such as excellent healthcare, reliable infrastructure, a clean environment, stunning scenery, and vibrant cities, all contributing to an enjoyable living experience. Germany provides a safe and stable environment for its residents.

We are committed to promoting diversity in the workplace and encourages applications from individuals identifying as belonging to underrepresented groups in terms of, for example, gender, disability, age, religion, internationality and ethnicity, sexual orientation and identity, social background and education.

We try to ensure a positive work-life balance and offer flexible work options.

Several researchers in Max Planck Law also touch upon aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion in their research and some of them discuss these aspects under the Initiatives that are run independently by the researchers.

Sustainability is important to us. The Max Planck Sustainability Network was founded in 2019 to make research greener and the Institutes more sustainable. The network also encourages communication among local initiatives and other institutional entities of the Max Planck Society. The Max Planck Sustainability Network has several hundred members—researchers as well as technical and administrative personnel—from over sixty different Max Planck Institutes.

If you would like support in dealing with issues that affect your well-being, counselling  is available for all Max Planck Society employees. Anyone in your household can also use this service free of charge.


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Apply to do a Phd or Postdoc

Take a look at the current vacancies for researchers below. A vacancy shows an Institute’s specific requirement, often for a specific project, to be applied for by a specific deadline.

Alternatively make a general application at any time in any area that interests you. Simply select the subject area that interests you below and click through to the relevant Institute. There you can find out more about the Institute and methods for application.