VBC PhD Programme in Molecular Life Sciences @ Vienna Biocenter


VBC PhD Programme in Molecular Life Sciences @ Vienna Biocenter: The VBC PhD Programme in Molecular Life Sciences was formed in 1993 as a joint venture of the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) and the University of Vienna. Through this program, PhD students are selected among highly qualified applicants from all over the world and are given the opportunity for training and work in different areas at the forefront of modern biology. Today the Vienna Biocenter PhD Programme is organized jointly by the IMP, the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL), the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) and the Gregor Mendel Institute (GMI).  Each of the institutes appoints a representative to the coordination body that ensures the quality and smooth running of the programme.


The VBC PhD Programme is a research-oriented educational programme that aims to support the scientific training of young graduates. Students learn through original (supervised) research projects; at the end of their studies they will be able to carry out independent research projects. The VBC PhD Programme ensures that its students have protected time, mentorship, core facilities and a vibrant intellectual atmosphere.

VBC PhD Programme in Molecular Life Sciences @ Vienna Biocenter

The VBC PhD Programme has two main components:

  1. Supervised research project
  2. Flexible curriculum: Lectures and seminar series, workshops, practical courses and journal clubs

Furthermore the VBC PhD students:

  • Present a short, formal talk on their PhD research to the VBC scientific community, once a year.
  • Have a thesis committee, which meets once a year to discuss the research plan and its progress or any other issues that may arise.
  • Contribute to the management of the institutes, through representatives, and organize events that promote networking and career development, such as an annual retreat and a symposium.
  • Are encouraged to present their scientific discoveries at international meetings. Most students attend several conferences during their time at the VBC.
  • May participate in short-term projects in other labs, allowing them to meet scientists at other research institutions.

Twice a year the programme organizes an international call to recruit outstanding candidates from all over the world. The recruitment is based on finding the best match between applicants and group leaders on campus.



To apply to our programme you must have the following:

  • Fully completed application form submitted before the relevant deadline
  • A Master degree or equivalent or anticipate receiving before enrolment, a university degree that would formally qualify you to enter a PhD or equivalent programme in the country where you obtain your degree
  • Give the full details of two referees
  • Have a high level of both spoken and written English
  • Be preferably under 30 years of age at the time of application

Applicants with Non-European Master Degree

Applicants that do not hold a Master degree or equivalent from a European University may be asked to provide GRE scores.

UK/US Applicants

We welcome applicants from the United States and other countries with an Anglican education system. Applicants from Australia, Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom (UK), and New Zealand are able to enter our programme with a BA (Hons)/BSc (Hons) in a Life Sciences related subject but MUST have a significant amount of research experience. United States students should contact the programme administrator to enquire if their BA degree fulfils the requirements for admission to the VBC programme and that they have a significant amount of research experience.

Application Process

A panel of VBC faculty first reviews all complete applications. Candidates with strong academic achievements, clear scientific thinking, and dedication and interest in research are invited to Vienna for interviews. All prospective students come to the VBC campus for five days, during which, they have the opportunity to find out more about the programme, life in Vienna, and research at the VBC.

The VBC PhD programme covers travel costs and accommodation during the visit. A formal interview on the second day requires the prospective students to present a short “journal club” and their own research experience to a panel of VBC faculty. More details about the formal interview are provided to students when they are invited.

Candidates who perform well in the interview then have two days to discuss potential research projects with individual group leaders and get to know the different labs. During this discussion period, students prioritize the groups they would like to join. Finally, group leaders offer positions to the students who best fit the project and the lab. Candidates have 3 weeks to accept or decline the offer.

Application Deadlines

Winter SelectionSummer Selection
Applications Commence15 September1 March
Closing Date15 November (2359 CET)30 April (2359 CET)
Results Issued20 December10 June
Interview Week (5 days from)22 January 20172 July 2017
Start DateMarch to JuneSeptember to December

Note: These dates are subject to change at anytime


Full-time Employment Contract

Students will be hired by the research institute where there supervisor is based with a full-employment contract.

The salaries offered to VBC students are among the highest for PhD Programmes in Europe, around €30,758 (gross), per year (i.e. €23,148 net) – per month €2,197 (net €1,653) – paid 14 times per year.

Vienna is not an expensive city to live in. Students can live comfortably – many even save money – during their time at the VBC.

Other Benefits

  • Health/Pension/Accident/Unemployment Insurance
  • University of Vienna tuition fees are reimbursed
  • Visa Expenses.  The HR depts. of the respective institutes will assist you in getting your visa on time before starting your employment. The costs for residence permits for newcomers are normally refunded.
  • Language courses are run by the institutes (on an institute specific basis) for you to learn some German while you are in Vienna.  English is the working language of the programme but a little German helps you to settle into the city and find your way around!
  • Sports and social Activities, the programme and institutes organise numerous sports and social activities throughout the year.

Tuition Fees

EU Citizens

Students from Austria, other EU/EEA member states are exempt from the tuition fee as long as they study within the minimum duration of their degree program plus two additional semesters (six semesters). In this case students pay only the students’ union fee of € 18 until the end of the extended admission period. After the six semesters you will have to pay the tuition fee of € 381.36.

Non-EU Citizens

Depending on your citizenship you will need to pay either €381.36 or €744.72 per semester or you will be granted remission from the tuition fee.

Refund of Tuition Fees

All students that are recruited through the VBC PhD programme will have their tuition fees refunded by the respective institute in the event of them having to pay any fees.

PhD Application FAQs

Admission Requirements

Can I apply before I receive my degree?

Yes. Applications can be submitted before obtaining the degree, you should, however, obtain your degree within six months of the application deadline. If your Master degree is not available at the time of your application, we kindly ask you to upload a copy of your Bachelor degree and your latest academic transcript instead

Does the VBC programme have specific language requirements?

The program language is English throughout. Proficiency in English is therefore required. A formal proof of competence in English (IELTS, CPE or TOEFL) is recommended but not mandatory.

Is there an age limit?

Although we do not have a strict age limit, we think that PhD students should not be older than 30 years when they start their studies.

Application Process

How much is the application fee?

The VBC PhD Programme does not charge an application fee.

Can I upload my academic transcripts instead of filling in the section “coursework”?

You are welcome to upload your academic transcripts, if you wish to do so. However, we kindly ask you to list at least the most important courses in the section “coursework” or those which inform about your specialization or your personal interests. Do not leave the section “coursework” completely empty and do not forget to indicate the best and worst grades used by your university. If not in English supply a translation.

My university uses a percentage system instead of grades or scores. What do I indicate?

In this case, please indicate the percentage you obtained and which percentage is required to pass.

Can I exchange one referee for another one?

You may replace one referee with another. Please send all the required information (title, family name, first name, university, institute, street, postal code, city, phone at work, email) regarding the referee you would like to add to the administrator of the programme. Indicate clearly which referee we should replace.

Note: In the last week of the application procedure it is no longer possible to exchange or add referees!

Can I add an additional (third) referee?

It is possible to add a third referee after having submitted STEP 1 of your application. Please send all the required information (title, family name, first name, university, institute, street, postal code, city, phone at work, email) to the administrator of the programme and we will add the third referee to your application.

Note: In the last week of the application procedure it is no longer possible to exchange or add referees!

Can I upload scanned copies of recommendation letters instead of having them submitted online?

No, it is not possible to upload letters of recommendation. Your referees must fill in our online form.

Do I need to choose and contact a specific group leader with whom I wish to work before applying to the VBC Programme?

No. It is neither necessary nor recommended to contact group leaders directly. Students who are invited for an interview will receive a list of open positions and project descriptions before coming to Vienna.

Where do I find a list of open positions?

The list of open positions is available online and the final list is published after the application deadline. Shortlisted students will receive a copy in due time before the interviews.

Can I save the data of my STEP 2 part and resume completing the application after a while?

Yes, you may save your text as often as you wish and return any time back to the form as long as the deadline has not expired or you have already submitted your application.

Will I receive a confirmation after having submitted STEP 2 of my application?

No. You may work on your application until you submit your application. In order to check what your application looks like, you can download a pdf version. For this, see the heading “pdf summary”. The pdf of your application is identical to the document our admission committee will evaluate.

Why am I not able to download a pdf of my application?

Most likely one of the documents you uploaded is not a pdf or bigger than 1 MB. The difficulty may also lie with the security settings of the pdf, which is often the case with certificates. Please make sure the pdf you upload can be opened.

How can I check the status of my application (letters of recommendation, correct upload of certificates)?

You may check yourself whether the letters of recommendation have arrived or not. Open the STEP 2 part of the application. There, you will see a heading “Your Referees”, here you can check the status and send a reminder if necessary.

Do I need to have my certificates translated into English and authenticated?

There is no need to have your certificates authenticated prior to the online application and you may provide the translation yourself for this purpose. The official translation and authentication of the certificates and degrees is required, however, for the registration at the University of Vienna.

Should I send a hardcopy of my application and curriculum vitae by post as well?

No, there is no need to send a hardcopy as the whole application process is online and no post mail is exchanged. However, you will need to bring along the hardcopy originals of your certificates when you start your PhD, as you will need them for registration at the University of Vienna.

Am I allowed to apply a second time?

Normally not. In exceptional cases an applicant may apply a second time (at least one year after previous application) if significant additional research experience can be shown.

View Original Notification Apply Online

Leave a Reply