This page attempts to answer the most frequently asked questions about ESO studentship applications. Should an answer be unclear or incomplete for your purposes, please feel free to send an email to Suzanne Ramsay (Chair of the ESO Student Selection Committee).
- I am currently an MSc (or similar) student but plan to begin a PhD soon. Can I apply to the ESO Studentship Programme?
To be eligible for an ESO Studentship you have to be accepted into a university PhD programme at the time of your application. This condition has to be imposed because as part of your application ESO requires a letter from your home institution that i) guarantees the financial support for the remaining PhD period after the termination of the ESO studentship, and ii) indicates whether the requirements to obtain the PhD degree at the home institute have already been fulfilled (other than the submission of a thesis). Your home institution will only be able to provide you with this letter once you are enrolled in its PhD programme.
The letter is in turn required to ensure as far as possible that you will be able to successfully complete your PhD after your stay at ESO.
- What is the best time during my PhD studies for an ESO studentship?
That depends on your PhD project and should be discussed carefully with your home supervisor and your proposed ESO supervisor. In principle, your stay at ESO can take place at any time between the start of your PhD and the submission of your thesis. However, it is recommended that students spend the first and last few months of their PhD at their home institution. Note further that studentships (selected during the Spring round) typically begin between August of the year in which they were awarded and March of the following year. In particular, it is not possible to apply for a studentship one or two years "in advance". Finally, please note that ESO students are expected to engage in full-time, active research. If the PhD programme of your home institution includes periods in which you are required to dedicate a significant fraction of your time to activities other than research, then these periods must not coincide with your stay at ESO.
- Do applicants to the ESO Studentship Programme have to choose a research project from the list of PhD topics offered by ESO faculty members?
No, when planning an application to the ESO Studentship Programme applicants and their home supervisors are free to approach a potential ESO supervisor with any research project they like, including ongoing projects. However, proposed ESO supervisors should be very closely involved in the planning of the actual work to be carried out during the ESO studentship.
- Are PhD students at ESO required to attend lecture courses?
No, they are not required to attend lecture courses. However, if they wish ESO students may attend the course programme provided by the International Max Planck Research School on Astrophysics.
- What is the amount of the ESO studentship stipend?
Please see these further information on remuneration and benefits.
- Is there travel support from ESO for conferences, observing and/or collaboration visits?
Yes, during an ESO studentship ESO provides travel support for science related trips as appropriate for PhD students. Such trips should be carefully planned in advance and agreed upon with the ESO supervisor, and are subject to the approval of the Head of the Office for Science.
- I am an international student at my home university and have to pay fees for my PhD. Does ESO cover the fees during the ESO studentship?
No, ESO does not pay any university fees.
- I already have funding for my entire PhD. Can I still apply to the ESO Studentship Programme?
If your funding source agrees to continue to pay you (salary and, e.g., science trips) during an extended visit to ESO, you should directly approach your potential ESO supervisor to explore the possibility of arranging a "visiting studentship" for you (a studentship fully covered by external funding). In this case you should thus not apply to the standard ESO Studentship Programme. If your funding source does not cover for your time at ESO, then you may apply.
- Is it possible to extend an ESO studentship beyond its maximum duration of two years?
No, it is not possible to extend a studentship beyond two years.
- Is it possible to reduce the duration of an ESO studentship to less than one year?
Yes, but this is advised against. One year is already short, as to settle at ESO, meet the people and do some work. In exceptional circumstances, shorter contracts may be granted, but they would need strong justification. We would then advise the applicants and supervisors to contact the heads of the Offices in advance of the application to check whether this makes sense.
- As part of the application I have to submit copies of my university transcript and of my certificate(s) and diploma(s). Do these copies have to be certified?
No, these copies do not need to be certified. Should your application be successful, you will be asked to present the originals when taking up your studentship.
- Is there a mandatory or preferred format for the documents to be submitted as part of the application?
Yes, please submit only PDF documents.