International Programmes 2019/2020

Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research

University of Cologne • Köln

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Doctoral degree or degree awarded by
University of Cologne
In cooperation with
University Hospital Cologne
Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing
Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research
CECAD Cluster of Excellence
Teaching language
  • English

The programme is completely conducted in English.

Programme duration
6 semesters
Winter semester
Application deadline

The CGA offers a PhD training programme (the application deadline in autumn) and a Master's fellowship programme (the application deadline is 15 July).

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

Our aim is to train a new generation of biomedical scientists who can take on the diverse challenges of making fundamental scientific discoveries in the basic biology of ageing and translating them into improvements in health and life for people as they grow older. In order to do this, we need to improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms that promote healthy ageing and identify interventions and potential drug targets.

Our research areas include:

  • DNA Damage & Repair
  • Genetics & Epigenetics
  • Immunology & Inflammation
  • Membrane & Lipid Biology
  • Metabolism & Nutrient Sensing
  • Mitochondrial Biology
  • Neuroscience & Neurodegeneration
  • Protein Homeostasis
  • RNA Metabolism
  • Stem Cells & Tissue Regeneration
  • Systems Biology & Bioinformatics
  • Tumour Biology

The Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research (CGA) offers a comprehensive PhD training in the highly interdisciplinary field of ageing. The three-year programme provides excellent research conditions with intensive supervision and state-of-the-art facilities in an international environment. The curriculum is complemented by individual career-development mentoring, scientific and professional skills courses, lecture series, journal clubs, and scientific retreats.

During an on-site selection week, candidates can visit up to five laboratories of their choice. Up to 12 candidates will be selected for the three-year programme that starts on an individual basis between July 1 and October 1. In October, welcome days for all new CGA PhD candidates take place.

Testimonials can be found at here:

Additionally, the CGA offers a Master's fellowship programme as well.

Course organisation

A general lecture series provides students with an overview of all topics covering our research areas, the latest state-of-the-art techniques, and novel research results. In addition, students will have the opportunity to attend various training modules varying from lab methodologies and techniques to soft skills. These courses provide profound knowledge in presentation, scientific writing, and time management skills required for a successful scientific career.
A thesis committee consisting of experienced researchers offers systematic guidance to each student. Annual reports guarantee an optimal supervision of the progress of the projects.
Scientific retreats, international meetings, exchange programmes, and journal clubs will complete the programme by giving students the opportunity to interact intensively with various researchers and the international research community.

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International elements
  • International guest lecturers
  • Language training provided
  • Training in intercultural skills
  • Study trips
  • Courses are led with foreign partners
Integrated internships

Additional internships are not required.

Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution
The semester contribution amounts to approx. 280 EUR per semester. The fee includes a semester ticket that covers public transport in the entire federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Costs of living
Approx. 800 EUR per month
Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university
All PhD students receive a work contract including social benefits for a period of three years. Payment is based either on the German public salary scheme, level TVL-E13, at 65% (monthly gross salary approx. 2,490 EUR in the first year) if terms and conditions under collective bargaining law are fulfilled, or on the equivalently remunerated PhD support contract of the Max Planck Society ("Promotionsfördervertrag", sui generis). If the PhD project is not completed within three years, the respective PI will finance the student for at least one additional year under the same conditions.
Academic Admission Requirements

Applicants for the PhD programme must have completed an advanced academic degree (MSc or equivalent) in fields such as biology, biochemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, bioengineering, pharmacology, neuroscience, translational medicine, or a related area. Furthermore, they must have gained sufficient research experience during their studies.

Your application will also be accepted if your Master's degree has not yet been awarded by the time of application. However, it must be awarded before the start of your individual PhD projects between July and October of the respective year.

Students holding a Bachelor's degree with outstanding grades and exceptional scientific qualification are encouraged to apply to our Master fellowship programme (!

Language requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants are expected to have excellent English skills.

Application deadline

The CGA offers a PhD training programme (the application deadline in autumn) and a Master's fellowship programme (the application deadline is 15 July).

Submit application to


Possibility of finding part-time employment

Due to the intense nature of the programme, students cannot be employed elsewhere.


Accommodation is available through the student union ("Kölner Studierendenwerk") or on the private housing market. Rent for a single room in a students' hall of residence is approx. 200-300 EUR. Rent for a single room on the private housing market is approx. 400 EUR.

Structured research and supervision
Research training / discussion
Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Buddy programme
  • Accompanying programme
  • Specialist counselling
  • Cultural and linguistic preparation
  • Visa matters

University of Cologne

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The University of Cologne is a modern university in the heart of Europe. Academic excellence, internationality, and widely varied curricula create a vibrant and inspiring environment for students, scientists, and scholars. Since its distinction within the scope of the German Excellence Initiative 2012, the University of Cologne has belonged to a small group of elite universities in Germany.

University Location

With a population of over one million people, Cologne is the fourth-largest city in Germany and the largest city in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Located in the heart of Europe on an ancient trade route – the river Rhine – Cologne has been an important trade location since the Middle Ages. Cologne has a booming economic sector that includes commerce, trades, banks, and international corporations. It is one of Europe's most important media hubs and is home to a variety of television and radio broadcasters. Furthermore, Cologne offers many museums, art exhibitions, cinemas, theatres, cultural events, international-level concerts, and, of course, the Cologne Carnival, which is the city's "fifth season".