Advert. no. 2023_0009
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 Europe 2023/2024


Vacancy closed on 30/04/2023

Deadline 30/04/2023

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 a minimum of 6 months and 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 scientific fields (observational, theoretical and fundamental astrophysics). Students accepted into the programme work on their studentship project under the formal supervision of their home university supervisor, but they are expected to come to ESO to work and study under the co-supervision of an ESO staff astronomer or under the co-supervision of a team of an ESO staff astronomer and Fellow. The candidates applying to the ESO Studentships in Garching are hosted at ESO's Headquarters in Garching (Germany).

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 a minimum of 6 months and up to two years of ESO Studentship during which they are employed and paid by ESO. For this purpose, the ESO supervisor should be contacted well in advance of the application deadlines (next deadline is 30 April 2023). A list of potential ESO supervisors and their research interests can be found at the end of the announcement. It is expected that the writing of the thesis be carried out upon return to the home institute.

ESO students benefit from a collaborative, international, and multi-disciplinary scientific environment that values innovation and creativity. They stay in touch with the latest developments in science and have the opportunity to network with top researchers. Moreover, students have the chance to complement their scientific profile by volunteering as co-organisers of several regular science events like 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 welcomes applications to the ESO Visitor Program ( from the University PhD supervisors of the candidates, to support their scientific visit to ESO during the period covered by the ESO Studentship.

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 participate in many 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 motivational 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/or other non-PhD related 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, the home institute supervisor and the start and end date of the PhD (maximum half a page);
  • 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 what are the advantages of coming to ESO. The candidates should also state clearly whether they still must attend classes at the university. If they do, please detail (max half a page extra) the course plan and the estimated workload needed to focus on the classes;
  • two letters of reference will be required: a) from your home institute supervisor, and b) your ESO supervisor. Your reference persons, once their name and contact details are entered in the Web application form, will be automatically invited to submit a recommendation letter. 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) states whether all the prerequisites to obtain the PhD degree at the home institute have 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 application rounds per year (with closing dates for applications 30 April and 30 October of the current calendar year). The coming round has a deadline for the submission of applications on 30 April 2023. 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 April round will normally begin between August the same year and March the following year. Studentships considered in the October round will normally begin the following year, between March and August.

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 not answered by the above FAQ page can be addressed to Michael Hilker

ESO Values

An important element in any successful employment relationship is harmony in values between an organisation and its people.

The ESO Values are:

ESO strives for excellence through innovation.

ESO provides outstanding services to its communities.

ESO fosters diversity & inclusion.

ESO believes in the key role of sustainability for its future.

Achieving the above are recognized as only possible on the basis of personal values and attitudes that we expect from our employees: respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, collaboration, and clear & open communication.

Applicants to any ESO role are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. Please visit for further details.

Except for outstanding applications, 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, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

Contact us