This page attempts to answer the most frequently asked questions about ESO fellowship applications. Should an answer be unclear or incomplete for your purposes, please feel free to contact us.

General Question on Fellowship Applications


  • When exactly is the application deadline?

    The application deadline is 15 October at 23:59 (midnight) CET.

  • The page states that fellows can only join ESO having completed their doctorate. Does this mean having submitted a thesis, passed the final examination, or having actually graduated and collected the certificate?

    This means that the fellows must have completed all requirements for their PhD before starting their ESO contract, i.e. the thesis has to be submitted and accepted and all other requirements met. Any administrative procedure pertaining to the PhD, or, in exceptional cases, the defense itself, should be completed in the first 6 months of the Fellowship contract.

  • Is there an age limit or a limit on the number of years since the PhD for fellowship applicants?

    No, there are no explicit limits. Nevertheless, the purpose of the fellowship programme is to foster early-career scientists and to support them in the further development of their independent research programmes.

  • Can I submit the application by email to vacancy@eso.org?

    No, the application should be submitted through the online web form available on the ESO jobs web page. All of the required documents should be attached to that form. The only allowed format for the attachments is pdf. Please be sure to use the ESO Fellowship application form.

  • To whom should I address my cover letter?

The application material should be addressed to "Fellowship programme". A cover letter or letter of reference is best addressed by "To whom it may concern", or "Dear sir/madam".

  • Can I exceed the 3-pages limit for my research plan (Section 3 of the ESO Fellowship application form) ?

    The 3-pages limit applies to the total of current and past research and your research plans (not to each of them).
    Please consider that we have to review more than 100 applications in only a few days. I.e. typically, a reviewer will read 20-40 applications per day and, in the first pass, only dedicate 10-15 minutes to your material. Your application should be pleasant to read and convey the reader clearly your interest/motivation and strength. As an easy check, read your application slowly and see how far you get in 10 min (and then imagine doing this after having read about 10-20 very similar applications): did your application stand out of the lot?

  • Which format should I use for my application documents?

You must use the ESO Application Form. Please fill it in all the relevant parts and create a PDF. You should submit the pdf only. The same is valid for the cover letter and the reference letters.

  • How and when are my referees notified? What is the deadline for reference letters?

    On the online application form you will asked to provide the names and email addresses of your referees. Once you have provided these you can automatically invite them to submit a reference letter on your behalf. The automated email that is sent to your referees contains your details, a link to the job ad and instructions for uploading their reference letter. The deadline for uploading the reference letters is the same as the application deadline, i.e. 1 October. You can trigger the invitations to your referees at any time before the final submission of your application but you are strongly advised to trigger them well in advance of the application deadline. Once the invitations have been sent you will be able to see which of your referees have already uploaded their reference letters. However, you do not need to wait with the submission of your application until all of your reference letters have arrived. Your referees will still be able to upload their letters even after you have submitted your application.

  • What happens to late material?

    We have, unfortunately, a very strict schedule for reviewing the 100+ applications we typically receive. Material late by more than a few days will not be available to reviewers when evaluating your application. It is considered again for all candidates on our first long list, but your application might never make it that far if material is missing in the first place...

  • Can I get feedback on an unsuccessful application?

    We realise that constructive feedback would help you to improve your application. However, again due to the large number of applications we receive, we unfortunately cannot provide any feedback.


Working Conditions of ESO Fellows


More details on the employment conditions and benefits can be found under the Conditions of Employments for Fellows at ESO.


  • What is the monthly salary of a fellow?

    The basic monthly salary of a fellow is around 3000 Euros, plus additional adjustments and allowances described in the above link (e.g., mountain allowance for staff members with duty stations at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, APEX or ALMA).

  • What is the research budget (conferences, observing, pages charges, ...) of a fellow?

    Fellows do not administrate their own research budgets. Their research budget is commonly managed by the Office for Science. Costs for observing runs are typically always covered, as well as conference costs within a reasonable limit (typically 1 oversea and a couple of continental conferences per year; in Chile 2 overseas and regional conferences per year are covered). Modern computing facilities are provided, as well as professional and efficient system administration. Other costs such as pages charges are covered on a case by case basis.

  • Do fellows have access to funds helping them to foster collaborations?

    Fellows are represented in the visitor selection committee and are encouraged to suggest possible candidates for extended research visits at ESO. Short stays at institutes of collaborators are also (at least partly) supported.
    The supervision of students is not officially foreseen, but occasionally occurs in collaboration with a faculty member.

  • What does the functional work imply? How high is the workload?

    The functional work depends on the duty station. The basics are outlined here.
    In Chile, the functional work is dominated by Science Operations activities (80 nights per year). At first exclusively during daytime (instrument calibrations, introductions to observers, etc.); later also during nighttime (observation support, execution of service mode programmes, etc.).
    In Garching, the functional work is determined by the current needs of the organisation and could involve e.g. instrument development, data management/pipelines, virtual observatory/archive activities, public relations work, etc. It is agreed upon with the Head of the Office for Science at the beginning of the fellowship, and can be re-discussed periodically if needed.