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.

Eligibility People with a strong academic background and a master’s degree in Engineering, Computer Science, Cognitive Science, Mathematics, Control Theory, Neuroscience, Materials Science, Physics or related fields should apply.

Application Please read this document Here in order to find out about financial support, required documents and the selection procedure. Applications are encouraged from candidates with 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
  • Neurotechnology and Emergent Intelligence in Nervous Systems

The deadline for applications will be November 12th, 2018. All applicants will be contacted by email by 4th of January, 2019, with the decision about their application. The selection symposium for selected candidates will take place from the 4th to the 6th of February, 2019 at the Max Planck Campus in Tübingen, Germany.

Apply Here
(The application portal opens on August 3rd, 2018 and closes on November 12th, 2018.)

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 3-12 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. For the short-term stays, the CLS will cover accommodation and travel costs for stays up to a duration of 4 weeks for research meetings and attendance of courses. This does not include the attendance of courses during long-term stays required by the CLS full doctoral fellows. During the short-term stay, accommodation costs will be paid by the CLS budget at the host institution, travel costs will be paid by the CLS budget at 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 contact your departmental administration and the CLS scientific coordinator at least 5 days in advance.



Acknowledging CLS support in publications

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