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Young Scientists – PhD students and Postdocs

PhD students at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research 

PhD students play a vital role in research at PIK and are an integral element of the institute's scientific culture. About 90 students from 4 continents and 16 countries are currently working here on their doctoral theses. They are engaged in externally funded research projects and profit from the supervision of PIK’s senior scientists and professors, who hold joint positions with the University of Potsdam, the Humboldt Universität Berlin and the Technische Universität Berlin. Students with scholarships have full access to institutional resources and are well integrated in the research structure.


The structured PhD Programme at PIK

Since 2012, PIK runs a structured PhD Programme. The programme was set up to strengthen the professional skills of PhD students and to avoid unnecessary extension of their qualification phase in a targeted and efficient way. It defines a set of quality standards.  Inter alia, Doctoral students benefit from  written supervision agreements, a supervision team, reporting obligations, a career development plan, a mediator team and an interdisciplinary education programme.

This creates the framework for a standard duration of three years for PhD projects at PIK.

Abbildung: Timetable

The PIK PhD education programme is based on three pillars: 

Research Domain coaching

Appropriate support starts within the research domains. Due to the different size of the RDs and the varying number of students, the organization of RD coaching differs. The spectrum ranges from self-organized young scientists' seminars to status seminars with the RD science coordinator and regular obligatory seminars with PhD supervisors. All series are designed to meet the requirements of the quality standards.

Interdisciplinary education

S-u-P-Logo.pngThere are two obligatory events per year for PhD students. Next to the PIK Research Days that bring together the whole institute for a close interchange on current research once a year, an additional annual PhD Day is organized which uses different formats in line with suggestions from the students. The PhD Day is also a regular opportunity to conduct surveys on supervision quality and training requirements. The results of these surveys led to PIK setting up several in-house training courses in e.g. scientific writing, media training or R-courses. The courses are complemented by a seminar series, Science & Pretzels, a monthly lecture by leading scientists from the PIK community on current research topics, followed by a discussion in a social atmosphere. Both the training courses and the Science & Pretzels seminars are open to students of cooperating graduate schools.

Additionally, there are regular opportunities at PIK to hear international guest speakers from the worlds of science and politics.

Graduate Schools
PIK cooperates with regional graduate schools such as the Potsdam Graduate School and the Humboldt Graduate School. Soft or specific skills can be attained through attending courses offered by the cooperating graduate schools.


Within the international arena PIK cooperates with the Australian-German Climate and Energy College in Melbourne, Australia. Doctoral candidates from PIK have the opportunity to pursue parts of their research in climate change and energy transitions at the University of Melbourne, spending up to six months at the Graduate College with a short-term research grant by the DAAD.


In addition, PIK encourages students to participate in summer schools PIK is involved in. Such events provide an opportunity to establish networks supporting the students' research interests and future careers. Examples are the Climate-KIC summer school The Journey, the Potsdam Summer School, or the Global Sustainability Summer School.


Each year the PIK PhD students elect representatives. They are the central point of contact and part of the PhD mediator team. The representatives help organize the annual PhD Day as well as occasional social activities for young scientists.

See here for open PhD positions

Postdoctoral researchers

Postdoctoral researchers are of specific relevance for PIK’s research agenda. About 50 postdocs currently work at PIK on externally-funded research projects. They have the opportunity to supervise graduate students and give lectures and courses at regional universities. Research results are presented at conferences and workshops. Postdocs can profit from the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary working environment and the chance to be involved in international, national and regional research networks.

The individual career planning of PIK’s postdocs is the subject of career development reviews held regularly with working group leaders.

PIK encourages postdocs on their way to a junior or full professorship. For example, female postdocs can take part in a one-year mentoring programme for highly-qualified female postdocs offered by the Leibniz Association or in the Mentoring Plus program of the Potsdam Graduate School.

For the development of professional skills such as how to manage a group or effective scientific communication, PIK’s postdocs can profit from courses offered as part of the Programs for Postdocs by the Potsdam Graduate School or might participate in further education at the Humboldt University. The interdisciplinary initiative High Potentials - Academy for Postdoctoral Career Development conducted by the Potsdam Graduate School supports the career development of postdocs by exploring a variety of career paths. Furthermore, within its PhD programme PIK offers training courses relevant also for postdocs (e.g. media training by our PR office).

See here for open postdoc positions.

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