- I'm already working as a PhD student with an ELLIS Fellow/Scholar/Unit Faculty and want to become an ELLIS student. Can I apply to the program through the central recruiting process?
- What are ELLIS Fellows, Scholars or Members? What does Unit Faculty refer to?
- The Fellow/Scholar/Unit Faculty I want to work with is not in the list of PhD Advisors in the application portal.
- An ELLIS PhD student in the Academic Track is supervised by two ELLIS advisors from different European countries. Is the research stay at the exchange institution mandatory?
- Are professional references accepted or should they come from someone working in academia?
- Do the English translations of the transcripts need to be certified?
- Do I need to be a European citizen to apply?
- Will I get an ELLIS degree?
- Do I need to apply to the university that the main advisor is affiliated to?
- If I get an offer from an advisor within ELLIS, how exactly will my PhD be funded?
- Do I already need to select a Track when applying?
- Who will fund the exchange?
- Co-supervision: Can the co-supervisor be based outside of Europe?
- I haven’t finished my BSc/MSc degree yet. Can I apply?
- Can I apply if I don’t have a MSc degree?
- Are publications mandatory?
- Can I ask a postdoc to submit a reference letter?
- Can I ask a PhD student or classmate to submit a reference letter?
- Do I have to pay an application fee?
- I want to apply to the ELLIS PhD Program via the central application portal. Should I contact a potential advisor before applying?
- Do I need to provide proof of English language proficiency?
- What does the selection process look like? Is the program competitive?
I'm already working as a PhD student with an ELLIS Fellow/Scholar/Unit Faculty and want to become an ELLIS student. Can I apply to the program through the central recruiting process?
The central recruiting is the primary event for ELLIS faculty to recruit *new* students. Excellent students who are already doing a PhD with an advisor in the ELLIS network and would like to join the ELLIS program should first consider the light-weight application process via Nomination that is set up for students recruited locally, and is possible year-round (see ellis.eu/phd-postdoc, "How to join ELLIS as a PhD or postdoc", option "2. Nomination" for the requirements).
If requirements for nomination are not fulfilled yet, these students may apply to the ELLIS program via the central recruiting if:
a) they are still *within the first 6 months of their doctoral studies* (i.e. students who started on May 15 or later can apply in the next round with application deadline November 15)
b) and their primary advisor is participating in that year's central recruiting round.
If they are no longer within the first 6 months or if the advisor is not listed as a recruiting advisor that year, ELLIS only accepts nominations.
What are ELLIS Fellows, Scholars or Members? What does Unit Faculty refer to?
ELLIS Fellows and Scholars (ellis.eu/fellows): ELLIS Fellows advance science and act as ambassadors of ELLIS. They provide strategic advice and leadership not just scientifically, but also in terms of how to build and grow a network of excellence. ELLIS Scholars are outstanding junior scientists, often assistant professors, who do not yet have the seniority of a Fellow but are on a clear trajectory to reach this level. Fellows and Scholars can only be nominated by directors of Research Programs and Units. Every proposed Fellow/Scholar goes through an evaluation process by the ELLIS Fellow Committee. Every Fellow/Scholar is also automatically an ELLIS Member.
ELLIS Members (ellis.eu/members): Membership in the ELLIS society is open to scientists that have a PhD or equivalent degree, regularly publish at top tier venues in machine learning driven fields and work in Europe, are European (working elsewhere) or have some other relation to Europe. Membership applications are open year-round.
Unit Faculty: We use this cover term to refer to all official members of the ELLIS Units, as nominated by the Unit Directors and listed on ellis.eu/units (click on the relevant unit to see which faculty are in it). This includes Fellows, Scholars and Members of the Unit.
Within the ELLIS PhD and Postdoc Program, a student is co-supervised by two ELLIS advisors. Both advisors must be at least ELLIS Members, and at least one of the advisors must be an ELLIS Fellow, Scholar or Unit Faculty. Note that only Fellows, Scholars and Unit Faculty can sign up to the yearly call to recruit students via the central application portal of the PhD Program as a primary advisor. Co-supervision is open to all ELLIS Members.
The Fellow/Scholar/Unit Faculty I want to work with is not in the list of PhD Advisors in the application portal.
A list of available advisors with open positions will be published on the application portal. Only advisors who participate in the current call (i.e. those that are listed on the portal in the "Advisor List") are eligible to recruit ELLIS PhDs. Only Fellows/Scholars/Unit Faculty who are recruiting in this year's round are listed.
An ELLIS PhD student in the Academic Track is supervised by two ELLIS advisors from different European countries. Is the research stay at the exchange institution mandatory?
Yes, it is. The secondary advisor must be based in a different European country.
application requirements exchange
Are professional references accepted or should they come from someone working in academia?
Professional references are fine, as long as the referee can comment on your academic/research abilities (e.g. referees from industrial research labs).
Do the English translations of the transcripts need to be certified?
No, we don't require certified translations at the stage of application. You may upload your own translation, but please add your signature to certify correctness.
Do I need to be a European citizen to apply?
No, the ELLIS PhD and Postdoc Program welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of nationality.
nationality international applicants
Will I get an ELLIS degree?
ELLIS is a non-profit organisation that cannot award official degrees. The ELLIS PhD Program is a meta program on top of existing graduate programs. The student will enrol as a student or be employed at a degree-granting institution (typically the university your main supervisor is affiliated to) and must comply with all the regulations and fulfil all the requirements of the host institution.
degree host institution
Do I need to apply to the university that the main advisor is affiliated to?
It depends on what the rules of the host institution are. In brief: ELLIS offers an EU-wide central application portal and coordinates the matching process, but the official hiring process is local, governed by the institution of your main advisor.
If you want to apply for a PhD as part of the ELLIS PhD Program, you would typically first apply through the ELLIS portal (but see below for important exceptions).
Each year, ELLIS Fellows, Scholars and Unit Faculty may sign up to recruit new PhD students through the centralized recruiting of the ELLIS PhD program. Students may select preferences for various advisors from the list of recruiting ELLIS advisors. The best students will be eligible for the ELLIS program and may be invited for interviews by individual advisors. If the student gets an offer, the student and two supervisors will sign a letter of intent which specifies the plans for funding, graduation and the exchange. However, ELLIS does not provide funding (except for smaller travel grants) nor does it award degrees. The ELLIS PhD Program is a meta program on top of existing graduate programs. I.e., you will be funded through your advisors' resources and the degree will come from a university. This means that all the official paperwork goes through the institution of your main advisor and you have to comply with all their rules. Consequently, new students must be accepted to the degree granting university in addition to being accepted as an ELLIS student (i.e., the acceptance to the ELLIS PhD program is a conditional accept).
After you accept the offer to become an ELLIS PhD student, you should ask your advisor which steps you have to take to become a student/an employee at the degree-granting institution (e.g. submitting documents, applying to the local doctoral school, etc.). Rules may vary depending on the institution.
*IMPORTANT* Some universities (e.g. University of Oxford) do not accept graduate students throughout the year, but have strict deadlines for applying to their graduate programs, which may be earlier than the ELLIS deadline. In this case, you should not wait until the ELLIS selection procedure has ended, but apply in parallel if you don't want to wait for the next deadline to enroll as a PhD should you get an ELLIS offer. If unsure, visit the website of the university or contact your preferred advisor. It's safest to apply to both programs in parallel to avoid any delays in the starting date of your contract. Advisors will also be able to indicate in the portal if a parallel application is required.
If I get an offer from an advisor within ELLIS, how exactly will my PhD be funded?
ELLIS does not employ or fund PhD students (except from providing smaller travel grants). If you get an offer, you will be funded through your advisors’ resources. After accepting the offer, the student and the two advisors will sign a letter of intent which specifies the funding plan (among other things). The ELLIS Team cannot give you any details about the amount of funding beforehand because it may differ from country to country and from advisor to advisor. You can ask for more details during the interview. Only ELLIS Fellows/Scholars/Unit Faculty who have open positions are listed in the application portal.
Do I already need to select a Track when applying?
The program has two tracks (Academic Track/Industry Track) with slightly different requirements in terms of advisors as well as time-sharing and exchange (see ellis.eu/phd-postdoc for details). If you apply to ELLIS via the central recruitment, you do not need to select a track yet. During the selection process, the main focus will be on finding a match with the primary (academic) advisor.
Finding a co-advisor can be done at a later stage (until September 15, about 5 month after acceptance to the program). The primary advisor and student decide on a co-advisor together. Depending on your co-advisor, you'll be in the Academic Track or Industry Track: students who choose to go on an international exchange with an academic co-advisor in a different European country will be in the Academic Track; students who decide to partner with a co-advisor from an industrial lab will become Industry Track students.
Both tracks offer the same benefits to the students, and adhere to the same standards of excellence.
Who will fund the exchange?
The details of the funding arrangement will be specified in the letter of intent, which the student and the two advisors sign. It’s up to the advisors to decide the split and determine who will fund the student for which period of time.
Co-supervision: Can the co-supervisor be based outside of Europe?
Both the Academic Track and Industry Track require that the home and host institution or industry partner are based in Europe (or associated countries). There is one exception: if the student is in the Academic Track and the co-supervisor is an ELLIS fellow/scholar, the co-supervisor can be based outside of Europe.
co-supervision host institution
I haven’t finished my BSc/MSc degree yet. Can I apply?
Final-year students can apply.
application requirements degree
Can I apply if I don’t have a MSc degree?
Rules in Europe vary. Some participating universities require a MSc, others accept BSc students as well (sometimes under specific conditions). You will find this information in the portal if you click on the list of this year's recruiting advisors. For reference, in the current round, about 11% of the advisors can accept BSc students, and another 26% can accept BSc students under specific conditions. This amounts to more than 50 advisors who can consider applications from applicants with a BSc degree.
application requirements degree
Are publications mandatory?
Publications are not mandatory, but may strengthen your application.
application requirements publications
Can I ask a postdoc to submit a reference letter?
The referees should know you well, both academically and personally. At least two of the referees should be professionally established at the level of independent investigator, principal scientist, group leader, lecturer or above. A maximum of one reference may come from a postdoc. References from PhD students or class mates are not accepted.
application requirements references
Can I ask a PhD student or classmate to submit a reference letter?
No, references from PhD students or classmates are not accepted.
application requirements references
Do I have to pay an application fee?
The ELLIS Society does not incur a handling fee for processing your application to the central application portal.
I want to apply to the ELLIS PhD Program via the central application portal. Should I contact a potential advisor before applying?
It's not advisable to contact advisors before the application deadline as this would only create more overhead for the advisors, and advisors will not be able to access any of the ELLIS applications before the application deadline. Review is planned for late November and December.
Note: The list of recruiting advisors can be found on the portal. On the portal, you can indicate your preferences for specific advisors. You can select up to 10 advisors from the list. Advisors on the portal have access to all ELLIS applications but can also filter on students who indicated a preference to work with them.
Do I need to provide proof of English language proficiency?
Proficiency in English is crucial during your doctoral studies. Test results (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS) may strengthen your application, but they are not required as part of your ELLIS application. Note that individual institutions may require such tests before starting a PhD degree.
What does the selection process look like? Is the program competitive?
Admission to the program is competitive, and each candidate is vetted by multiple senior experts in the ELLIS network before they can become an ELLIS PhD student.
The process is as follows:
1) Review (November - December)
During a multi-stage selection process, the application is first checked against the eligibility criteria. Incomplete applications are discarded. Next, applications are pre-screened by a pool of reviewers, typically postdoc researchers affiliated with the participating advisors (all reviewers are appointed by the participating advisors). Each application is assigned to three reviewers. The best applicants are then passed on to ELLIS PIs (participating advisors) for further review (it concerns a general assessment of the candidate, not a personal fit with the advisor's lab). Again, each candidate is reviewed by three PIs. Based on these reviews, the top candidates will be shortlisted for further consideration. At the end of the review stage, students are notified whether they are shortlisted. Shortlisted candidates can be considered for interviews by participating PIs.
Note: if a candidate receives a notification that they are *not* shortlisted, this means they will not be able to join the 'ELLIS PhD program' at this point in time, i.e. it concerns consideration for the ELLIS program in the ongoing central recruiting round based on the reviewing process (individual advisors can of course also recruit outside of ELLIS).
2) Interviews (January - February 15)
Advisors can invite shortlisted candidates for interviews. This process is self-organized. The interview period runs until February 15.
3) Offers and admission (late February - May 1)
Advisors make offers (self-organized) and can interview back-up candidates if necessary. The hiring process is local. Advisors inform ELLIS about accepted offers by May 1. The student is then conditionally admitted to the program.
4) Find a co-advisor and finalize admission (May - September 15)
The primary advisor and student decide on a co-advisor. The two advisors and student sign a letter of intent which determines the funding and graduation plan. Once the letter of intent is submitted and approved, admission to the ELLIS PhD Program is finalized.
The program has so far conducted two recruiting rounds (fall 2020, fall 2021) and the third one (fall 2022) is currently ongoing. Between 1,300 - 2,000 candidates register each year. In a typical round, less than 5% of all registered applicants, and between 5-10% of eligible applicants are admitted to the program. Roughly 15-20% of all candidates are shortlisted and roughly one third of the shortlisted applicants get an offer from one of the participating advisors.
We sincerely appreciate the time that students take to prepare their application, and are excited to see such an overwhelming interest in the program. Each year, ELLIS receives a large number of applications from strongly qualified candidates and the selection to our program is therefore highly competitive. Unfortunately, the coordination office cannot provide individual feedback.