Advert. No. 2020_0015
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..


ESO Studentship Programme Chile 2020/2021


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Deadline 31/05/2020

Conduct your research at one of the world’s leading observatories

The research studentship programme of the European Southern Observatory provides an outstanding opportunity for PhD students to conduct their research in the vibrant scientific environment of 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 40 PhD students conduct frontline research in fields ranging from exoplanets to cosmology, offering one of the most collaborative and stimulating scientific settings anywhere in the world.

ESO's studentship positions are open to students enrolled in a PhD programme in astronomy or related fields (observational, theoretical and fundamental astrophysics). Students accepted into the programme work on their studentship project under the formal supervision of their home university, but they are expected to come to ESO to work and study under the supervision of an ESO Staff astronomer or under the co-supervision of a team of an ESO Staff Astronomer and Fellow. The candidates applying for the ESO Studentships in Vitacura (Santiago, Chile) are hosted at ESO's offices in Santiago (Chile), where also 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, and then can apply for one or two years of ESO Studentship. For this purpose, the ESO supervisor should be contacted well in advance of the application deadlines (next deadline is 31 May 2020). Lists of potential ESO supervisors and their research interests can be found at the end of this announcement.

ESO students benefit from a young generation with multi-disciplinary scientific interests in a vital, collaborative environment. They stay in touch with the latest developments in science and have the opportunity to interact with many top researchers. Moreover, students are encouraged to complement their scientific profile by actively participating in ESO's regular science events like lectures, journal clubs, topical coffees and seminars. Students can be part of the SOC/LOC of conferences hosted at ESO and mentor master students in collaboration with an ESO Fellow or Staff Astronomer. In addition, ESO Chile students have the opportunity to visit the observatories and to get involved in small technical projects that equip them with hands-on skills and give them insights into the observatory operations and instrumentation. ESO students also have the possibility to participate in various outreach activities.

If you are interested in enhancing your PhD experience in an international and culturally-rich environment, growing your network of potential collaborators and consolidating your scientific profile 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);
  • a short description of the general scientific plan for the PhD, indicating the tentative title and the supervisor (maximum half a page). The planned starting date and end date should also be included;
  • an outline of the proposed project for the Studentship (maximum one page), containing a clear timeline including the tentative start and expected end dates of the studentship at ESO. The candidate should highlight how the proposed project fits in the context of the overall PhD plan and the advantages of coming to ESO;
  • 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 (can be done before the final submission of the application);
  • a letter from the home institute that: i) guarantees financial support (salary, health insurance and travel money) 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 written 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 application rounds per year (with closing dates for applications 31 May and 30 November of the current calendar year). The coming round has a deadline for the submission of applications on 31 May 2020. 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 coming May round will normally begin between September 2020 and March 2021.

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 further general information about studentship applications, please see our Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ: Questions regarding the studentship in Chile and not answered by the above FAQ page can be addressed to: Linda Schmidtobreick, email:

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom and, for Chile, to students enrolled in a South American university irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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