Max Planck School Matter to Life, M.Sc. | Max Planck School Matter to Life | Heidelberg, Germany
M.Sc. Blended

Max Planck School Matter to Life

24 months
Tuition fee
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The Max Planck School Matter to Life (MPS MtL) offers a 5-year MSc to PhD Direct Track Program. It explores the following fundamental questions: "What, exactly, is life?" and "Can life-like processes, functions and objects be quantitatively stimulated, predicted and created in the laboratory?"


The Max Planck Matter to Life offers an MSc to PhD direct track program. Students receive their Master's degree in Matter to Life by regularly studying at the two teaching universities (University of Göttingen or Heidelberg University). Subsequently, the students pursue their own research in the PhD phase of the program under the supervision of a Fellow within the Matter to Life Faculty with a matching research interest.

The first phase (Master's study phase) of the program will be spent at one of the following two teaching universities, depending on your choice of focus:

  • Complex Systems and Biological Physics (University of Göttingen)
  • Molecular Systems Chemistry and Engineering (Heidelberg University)

The universities share a core curriculum with classes taught in connected classrooms. Laboratory rotations at associated institutions during the Master's phase of the program are encouraged and the students are supported in building their own research networks in this highly interdisciplinary area. All students are given a buddy and a mentor to guide them through the program. Small cohort sizes enable strong scientific and cultural exchange. Voluntary preparatory courses in mathematics, chemistry and physical chemistry are offered prior to the start of the Master's program.

After you have successfully completed your Master's, you can continue with a three-year PhD program under the supervision of one of the school's Fellows. On top of this, there is the option to participate in different trainings on core and lab skills, mentoring as well as encouraged networking and collaboration opportunities.

There are annual scientific gatherings for all members of the MPS MtL, including scientific lectures and student research presentations.

Programme Structure

Shared Core Courses:

  • Introduction to Physics of Complex Systems
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Synthetic Chemistry
  • Ethics in Synthetic Biology
  • Advanced Complex Systems and Biological Physics

Degree focus at University of Göttingen

Specialized Courses:

  • Advanced Statistical Physics
  • Soft Matter Physics
  • Biophysics of the Cell
  • Statistical Biophysics
  • Biomolecular Physics and Simulations
  • Micro- and Nanofluidics
  • Computational Neuroscience

Degree focus at Heidelberg University

Selection of Specialized Courses:

  • Macromolecular Structures and Functions
  • Chemical Biology
  • Bioconjugation & Imaging Chemistry
  • Genome Engineering
  • Synthetic Cells & Virology


More than 50 renowned scientists in the field of Matter to Lifeare involved in the Max Planck School Matter to Life, some of them in teaching. Please check the MPS MtL website for a complete list of the Faculty.

Key information


  • Full-time
    • 24 months

Start dates & application deadlines


120 ECTS


  • Fully structured
  • Regular optional meetings, Regular mandatory meetings
  • Continuous support with feedback on request
  • Individual work/assignments (with online group discussions)

Academic requirements

GPA admission requirements GPA

Please check the MtL website for more information

Other requirements

General requirements

  • Applicants with a Bachelor of Science (e.g. in Chemistry, Physics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Materials Science, Biotechnology), a Bachelor of Engineering (e.g. Molecular Systems Engineering, Bioengineering), or a completed course of study in a related natural science or engineering discipline are welcome to apply

  • Whether your previous study is relevant will be decided on a case-to-case basis and depends on your transcript and specific modules you have completed

  • Your previous study needs to have had at least 6 terms
  • The school language is English, therefore, proof of English language skills is required; exceptions are your native language being English or your previous program being taught in English (can be submitted after the selection process)

  • For detailed admission criteria, please check our website

Tuition Fee

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  • International

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 0 EUR per year during 24 months.
  • EU/EEA

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 0 EUR per year during 24 months.

The Max Planck School Matter to Life offers competitive, full financial support that covers costs of living (including tuition and fees) and health insurance. 

Living costs for Heidelberg

922 - 1397 EUR /month
Living costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


During the Master's phase of the program, students receive generous stipends (a minimum of 1,365 EUR gross per month) from the Max Planck Society.

As a PhD student, you will have a full-time position as a scientist resulting in a monthly salary according to German salary regulations TV-L / TVöD E13. This will allow you to fully concentrate on the research and develop your scientific and personal skills.

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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