Funding Opportunities

CLS PhD Fellowships

The Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems (CLS) offers a unique fellowship program, where PhD students are co-supervised by one advisor from ETH Zurich and one from the MPI for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen and Stuttgart. PhD students are expected to take advantage of the opportunities offered by both organizations and to actively seek cross-group collaborations. The Center also offers a wide range of activities like retreats, workshops, and summer schools, as well as the possibility to engage in organizing such events. This is an exciting new program and admission is highly competitive. Each PhD fellow will have a primary location (chosen based on interests and match) and spends one year at the other location as well. Fellowships will be remunerated through employment contracts, subjected to the rules of the Max-Planck-Society and ETH Zurich, respectively. All PhD fellows will register as graduate students at ETH Zurich and - upon successful completion of their PhD project - be granted a doctoral degree by ETH Zurich. Details of this process are governed by ETH regulations and committees.

We encourage applications from outstanding candidates with academic backgrounds in Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, Materials Science, Neuroscience and related fields, and a keen interest in doing basic research in areas like: Machine Learning and Empirical Inference of Complex Systems, Machine Intelligence, including Machine Vision and Natural Language Understanding, Perception-Action-Cycle for Autonomous Systems, Robust Model-Based Control for Intelligent Behavior, Robust Perception in Complex Environments, Design, Fabrication, and Control of Synthetic, Bio-Inspired, and Bio-Hybrid Micro/Nanoscale Robotic Systems, Haptic Intelligence, Data-Driven Computational Biology, or Neurotechnology and Emergent Intelligence in Nervous Systems. We seek to increase the number of women in areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women to apply. Furthermore, we are committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourage applications from such qualified individuals.

For further information please contact Dr. Magdalena Seebauer at (no application documents) or visit our website

We are looking forward to receiving your online application consisting of a complete CV (incl. a list of publications, talks and awards), a short mission statement (max. 1-2 pages) outlining your research interests, and scanned transcripts of certificates (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, other degrees). Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. Please arrange for 2-3 reference letters to be sent directly per email to Dr. Magdalena Seebauer within the application deadline.
The deadline for applications is November 7, 2017. The selection interviews will take place on January 18 and January 19, 2018 at the Max Planck Campus in Tübingen, Germany.

Guidelines for CLS PhD Fellowships

CLS Exchange Fellowships for associated PhD fellows

The Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems (CLS) invites all associated PhD fellows of the center to apply for CLS Exchange Fellowships. This program will allow highly motivated PhD students with excellent track records to spend 6-12 months at the other institution, ETH Zurich and MPI Tübingen/Stuttgart, respectively. Fellowships will be remunerated through employment contracts subjected to the rules of the host institution meanwhile you are on leave from your home institution. The aim is to foster cross-institutional collaborations within the center and to create an added value for the PhD students.

Candidates have to be at least in the second year of their PhD studies and must be accepted as associated PhD Fellows of the CLS. Applications are to be submitted via e-mail to the CLS scientific coordinator at least 3 months before the planned starting date of the fellowship and need to include:

  • a CV including a list of publications, invited talks and awards (if applicable)
  • a short research plan (1-2 pages) describing the targeted research during the CLS Exchange Fellowship and outlining the added value of the stay at the host lab
  • letters of support from the doctoral supervisor at the home institution, and the envisaged host lab at the other institution, respectively. The host letter has to confirm that the host will provide the visiting student with an employment contract for the duration of the visit (the CLS will cover 50% of the cost).

Guidelines for CLS Exchange Fellowships

How to become an associated fellow: PhD students and Postdocs working with CLS members can become associated fellows. Please send your CV and a short statement of your research interests and your motivation to the CLS scientific coordinator.

Short-term stays for research meetings and courses

All CLS fellows and associated fellows are invited to arrange short-term stays with their partner labs at the other institution. The CLS will cover accommodation and travel costs for stays up to a duration of 4 weeks for research meetings and attendance of courses. Accommodation costs will be paid by the host institution, travel costs will be paid by the home institution.

Remuneration will be continued by the home institution. There will be no employment contract with the host institution.

For foreign nationals (in particular for third-country nationals coming from outside the EU/EFTA) a residence permit might be necessary for stays longer than 7 days (lead time of several weeks).

If you plan to arrange a short-term stay, please get in contact with the CLS scientific coordinator in due time.

Acknowledging CLS support in publications

All CLS fellows are committed to mentioning the CLS as funding source in the acknowledgements of their publications (journal publications, proceedings, PhD thesis, etc). If possible they should also mention the CLS in the affiliation section in addition to the home institution.

This could read as:
  • Your Name
  • Department of XY, ETH Zurich and Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems
  • or:
  • Your Name
  • Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen/Stuttgart, Germany and Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems
  • For foreign nationals (in particular for third-country nationals coming from outside the EU/EFTA) a residence permit might be necessary for stays longer than 7 days (lead time of several weeks).

    These rules do not apply to associated fellows. However, they are invited to mentioning the CLS in the affiliation section.