Advert. no. 2016_0019
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..

The research studentship programme of the European Southern Observatory provides an outstanding opportunity for PhD students to experience the exciting scientific environment at one of the world's leading observatories for a period of up to two years. ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe. Its approximately 110 staff astronomers, 40 Fellows and 50 PhD students conduct front-line research in fields ranging from exoplanets to cosmology, offering one of the most vibrant and stimulating scientific settings anywhere in the world.

ESO Studentship Programme Europe 2016/2017


Vacancy closed on 15/05/2016

Deadline 15/05/2016

ESO's studentship positions are open to students enrolled in a PhD programme in astronomy or related fields. Students accepted into the programme work on their doctoral project under the formal supervision of their home university, but they come to ESO to work and study under the co-supervision of an ESO staff astronomer, normally for a period of between one and two years. Studentships may be hosted either at ESO's Headquarters in Garching (Germany) or at ESO's offices in Santiago (Chile), where up to two positions per year are provided for students enrolled in South American universities.

Applicants and their home institute supervisors should agree upon and coordinate their research project jointly with their prospective ESO supervisor. For this purpose the ESO supervisor should be contacted well in advance of the application deadline (15 May). A list of potential ESO supervisors and their research interests can be found at A list of PhD projects currently being offered by ESO staff is available at

ESO Chile students have the opportunity to visit the observatories and to get involved in small technical projects aimed at giving insights into the observatory operations and instrumentation. Such involvement is also strongly encouraged for Garching students. In addition, students in Garching may attend and benefit from the series of lectures delivered in the framework of the International Max-Planck Research School on Astrophysics. ESO students have also the possibility to join in many outreach activities.

Students who are already enrolled in a PhD programme in the Munich area (e.g., at the International Max-Planck Research School on Astrophysics or a Munich University) and who wish to apply for an ESO studentship in Garching, should provide a compelling justification for their application.

If you are interested in enhancing your PhD experience through an extended stay at ESO, then please apply by completing the web application form available at Please include the following documents in your application:

  • a cover letter;
  • a Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications, if any;
  • copies of your university transcript and certificate(s) or diploma(s);
  • a summary of your master's thesis project (if applicable) and ongoing projects, indicating the title and the supervisor (maximum half a page);
  • an outline of the proposed PhD project highlighting the advantages of coming to ESO (recommended one page, maximum two);
  • the names and contact details of your home institute supervisor and the ESO local supervisor. They will be automatically invited to submit a recommendation letter, however, applicants are strongly advised to trigger these invitations (using the web application form) well in advance of the application deadline;
  • a letter from the home institute that: i) guarantees financial support for the remaining PhD period after the termination of the ESO studentship; ii) indicates whether the prerequisites to obtain the PhD degree at the home institute have already been met. All documents should be typed in English (but no translation is required for the certificates and diplomas).

Depending on the number of available positions, there might be up to two applications rounds per year, with closing dates for applications of 15 May 2016 and 15 November 2016. Review of the application documents, including the recommendation letters, begins immediately following the deadline. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Candidates will be notified of the results of the selection process within two months following the deadline. Studentships considered in the May round will normally begin between August 2016 and March 2017; students for the November round in March - August 2017.

Further information

For more information about the studentship programme please see: For a list of current ESO staff and fellows, and their research interests, please see: A list of PhD projects currently being offered by ESO staff can be found at: Details on the employment conditions and benefits are available at:

For any additional questions, please contact: For Garching: Eric Emsellem, Tel. +49 89 32006914, email: For Chile: Claudio De Figueiredo Melo, Tel. +56 22 463 3032, email:

Although recruitment preference will be given to nationals of ESO Member States (Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom), and, for Chile, to students enrolled in a South American university, no nationality is in principle excluded.

The post is equally open to suitably qualified female and male applicants.

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