FAQ for Internships

Answers to common internship-related questions

What can I expect from an internship at MPI-SWS?

As an intern, you will work closely with a MPI-SWS research group and be mentored by at least one faculty member. Interns conduct academic research jointly with their mentor or a team of faculty, doctoral students and post-docs.


Who is eligible for an internship?

We consider internship applications from students (Bachelors', Masters' and doctoral) and industry employees interested in pursuing graduate studies. You are welcome to apply if you satisfy the following criteria:

  1. You are interested in academic research in Computer Science in at least one of the research areas we cover. See our website for a list of research areas and researchers.

  2. You have a strong background in Computer Science and in the relevant area(s) of research. Having completed coursework equivalent to the first three years of a Computer Science undergraduate program at the start of your internship, or having prior experience doing research in the relevant area(s) is usually enough background.

  3. Your academic record is excellent, irrespective of its length.

How long are the internships? When do internships start?

Our internships are variable in length. Internship starting dates and duration are decided by mutual agreement between the applicant and the mentor. Three month internships during the summer are most common, but longer internships and internships starting at other times are possible in some cases.


When are internships available?

We welcome interns round the year. However, most of our interns come during the summer (May - August) due to their own semester constraints.


What is the deadline to apply for an internship?

For internships in the summer (starting May - August), we have an annual application deadline. This deadline is announced on the internship page in advance. Please apply by this deadline.

For internships starting at other times of the year, please apply online at least four months ahead of your intended starting date and send an email to sws-internships@mpi-sws.org indicating when you would like to start.


How do I apply for an internship?

Please apply online at https://apply.mpi-sws.org/. Do not email any application material to us. We do not accept applications by email. See the previous question for deadlines.


The application form asks for a reference. What is a reference? How do I provide it?

A reference (or a reference letter) is a letter from an individual (called a recommender or letter writer) who is familiar with your abilities. The letter explains how the recommender knows you, what relevant skills the recommender knows you to have and the recommender's assessment of your potential to excel in the position
you have applied for. In the internship application form, you only need to provide the name and contact information of a recommender. If we find the need, we will contact the recommender directly and ask for the letter.

The recommender is usually a faculty member whose class(es) you have taken, an adviser/mentor with whom you have conducted research, or your supervisor at work. Before listing the recommender in your application, you should talk to the recommender and ascertain that he/she would be willing to write a letter in case we ask for it. If we ask for a letter and the recommender does not provide us the letter, your application will likely be rejected.

Do not ask your recommender to email us your letter. We do not accept letters by email. If we need your letter, we will contact your recommender directly and provide a url where the letter can be uploaded.


My recommender has not been asked for a letter. What do I do?

Relax! We do not ask for letters for all applicants. If we need your letter, we will ask your recommender. Please do not write to us about this. We cannot respond to individual queries about whether or not your recommender has submitted a letter and whether or when we will ask for a letter. Ask your recommender instead.


The application form asks for a "major GPA". What is that?

The major GPA is the average grade in subjects in the area in which you earned your degree. So, if your degree is in computer science, the major GPA is the average score of all computer science subjects. If your degree is in mathematics, the major GPA is the average score of all mathematics subjects.


The application form asks for a class rank. However, my university/institute does not declare ranks. What should I do?

Fill N/A or 0 in the class rank field and leave a comment on your application explaining that your university/institute does not declare class ranks.


How are interns selected?

Our intern selection is merit-based and highly competitive. Merit is defined broadly and covers coursework, skills, reference letter(s), prior research experience, and industry experience (you do not necessarily need prior research or industry experience to be selected). All intern applications are carefully screened by an appointed committee. In some cases, we may ask for reference letters from individuals you list in your application. In some cases, we may interview you by phone. Final selection is based on a match of skills and research interests with project groups in MPI-SWS.


When and how will I be notified of the results of my internship application?

The notification deadline is announced with the application deadline on our website. If you are selected, we will contact you directly by email or phone by the notification deadline. If you are not selected, you are welcome to re-apply for a later deadline if your application has changed substantially in the interim.


Do you provide financial support to interns?

Based on merit, many accepted applicants receive financial support for their internship. Financial support includes return travel from your place of residence, accommodation for the duration of your internship, and a stipend to cover remaining living costs. Financial support decisions are conveyed along with acceptance decisions. Please do not write to us about the amount of financial support we offer until you have been accepted for an internship.


Do you provide support for getting a German/Schengen visa and do you cover visa costs?

If you are selected for an internship at MPI-SWS and require a visa to come to Germany for your internship, we will provide you necessary documents to obtain the visa. However, it is your responsibility to apply for the visa and get the visa in time through a local German consulate. Visas are adjudicated by German authorities and we have no control or influence over this process or its outcome. In many cases, you may be exempt from visa fees for an internship of duration up to 3 months. If you are required to pay a visa fee and have been offered financial support by us, get in touch with us to know whether or not we can cover the visa fee. Please do not write to us about visa-related questions until we have notified you that you have been accepted for an internship.