Applying to the Maryland Max Planck Ph.D. Program

Thank you for your interest in the Maryland Max Planck Ph.D. Program! In addition to the standard application materials to the UMD Ph.D. program, we ask for additional information to help us understand what makes you and the program a great fit for one another. Specifically, we ask you to do the following:

Thank you again, and we look forward to your application.

Application Details

Statement of Purpose

In at most one page (no smaller than 10pt font, single-spaced), please tell us:

  • Why do you think a joint international program will be a better fit for you than a “normal” Ph.D. program?
  • Why are you applying to the Maryland Max Planck Ph.D. Program in particular?
  • What do you expect to get out of the program (academically, professionally and personally)?
  • Your prior experience (if any) with multiple cultures: study of foreign languages, travel/stay in other countries, experience working with international teams, etc., are all relevant.

Please do not not simply re-submit your Ph.D. application’s statement of purpose (we will already have that from your standard UMD application). Rather, use this as an opportunity to speak directly about the collaborative and international aspects of the program.

Areas of Interest

Identify one primary and one or two secondary areas of interest to you. These are by no means binding decisions; they only help us get your application in the right hands. Please consult the areas of current research on the Maryland and Max Planck websites:

Anticipated Collaborators

To further help us route your application to the right people, please identify faculty members from UMD and the MPIs with whom you think you would like to work, if admitted into the program. Select at least one faculty member from UMD and at least one from a Max Planck Institute.

Submission Instructions

When submitting your application, please ensure the following:

  • Name the supplementary file 'mpi-sop.pdf'.
  • Write in 'Max Planck Faculty' as one of your potential advisors.

Application Timeline

December 15, 2017
UMD Ph.D. program application due, requires GRE scores
December 31, 2017
Maryland Max Planck program application due
Mid-February, 2018
UMD Ph.D. program notification of acceptance
March 1, 2018
Maryland Max Planck program notification of acceptance
Mid-March, 2018
UMD visit (College Park, MD)
Late-March, 2018
MPI visit (to an MPI in Germany)
April 15, 2018
Deadline for students to accept

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to take the GRE?

Yes. Please take it early. Nearly all graduate programs in the United States require students to take the GRE, and Maryland is no exception. We cannot waive this requirement.

Information about dates and test centers (including computer-delivered tests) is available here:

Can I change advisors or area?

Yes, of course. Your initial advisors are assigned based on your initial interest, and you can certainly add or completely change one or both advisors as your interests evolve. In order to remain in the joint program, you will need to remain co-advised by at least one faculty member at Maryland and one at a MPI.

Who will cover my travel between Maryland and Germany?

All travel required as part of the program (typically at least one trip per year) will be covered by the program.

Do I need to be able to speak or understand German?

No. All instruction and work, at both institutions, is conducted in English. However, some German can be useful to expand your social circle beyond the university community. Free language courses are available should you be interested.

Will I need to get extra health or travel insurance?

No. Your health insurance will be fully covered, both in Germany and in the US, while you are part of the joint program.

Will I need to maintain two residences?

No. Often students swap appartments as they go between Maryland and Germany. Staff at MPI and Maryland can also recommend housing options to you.

Am I funded over the summer?

Yes. You are always fully funded via the joint program including summers.

Will I have to pay double taxes in Germany and the US?

Most likely not. While you will be paid by both a German and a US institution, your tax situation will depend on your citizenship, and the laws covering income from multiple countries. If you are a US or EU citizen, then existing tax laws won't tax you twice for the same income.

Will I have access to my accounts, data, and resources while I am in the US/Germany?

Yes. You will retain full access to all resources and privileges for both institutions, electronic or otherwise, regardless of where you are physically located.

Can I leave the program if I don't like it?

Certainly. If you choose to leave the program, then you default to being a graduate student at Maryland who is not part of the joint program. You will only have to fulfill Maryland's degree requirements to receive your degree.

What research areas are covered under the joint program?

The CS faculty at the Max Planck Society and at Maryland cover all major areas in Computer Science. For more information about the research interests of individual faculty, please visit:

Can I join the joint program after I have been admitted to Maryland? Or to a MPI?

Yes. If you are a Maryland or MPI student, you can simply apply to the joint program based on the instructions at:

or even email the Program Directors, regardless of how many semesters you have already completed. Like all applicants, you will need to fulfill the program requirements, and at least one faculty member at Maryland and one at a MPI will need to accept you as their research student.

How often do I need to travel to the US/Germany?

Suppose you are admitted for Fall 2018. You will spend:

  • August 2018 in Germany
  • Fall 2018 in Maryland
  • Spring 2019 in Maryland
  • Summer 2019 in Germany
  • Fall 2019 in Maryland

After you have completed your course requirements (by Fall 2019 or Spring 2020), then you and your advisors can choose where your time is spent, though at least one summer (or an academic semester) must be spent at a MPI and at Maryland.

Where in Germany will I be? Which MPI?

Look at for faculty at various MPIs working in Computer Science. You will be situated at the MPI where your co-advisor is located.

Why did you not answer MY question?

Sorry. Please email us for clarification or with new questions at