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The Leiden/ESA Astrophysics Program for Summer Students (LEAPS)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These are the list of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) that we have received over the past years. The same FAQ have been attached to our auto-replies. If your question(s) has not been answered in this page, please .

I'm from country X , can I apply?

Yes. Anyone with any nationality can apply to work for a project at the Leiden Observatory. The only restrictions are for project working with employees of the ESA. See the project list to find out which projects are ESA projects. Also note that some countries citizen's require a travel visa to enter the Netherlands. You should endeavour to find out what you require to enter the Netherlands quickly upon being accepted to the program.

OK but I'm from country Y , can I apply?

Yes. Anyone with any nationality can apply to work for a project at the Leiden Observatory. The only restrictions are for project working with employees of the ESA. See the project list to find out which projects are ESA projects.

Do I need to be in the Netherlands for the entire duration of the project?

Students should plan to be in the Netherlands the full time between the start of June and mid-August. However, you are welcome to apply should you have restricted availability. Exceptions may be possible for exams and interviews. Indicate any restrictions to your availability on the application form. If your availability changes after you submit your application, please let us know by .

Can I submit more than one letter of reference?

No. Be sure to select a referee who can vouch for your potential as a researcher and not just comment on your grades.

Do I need an *official* translation of my grades transcript?

If you can obtain an officially translated transcript which is also free, then yes. If not, please send a copy of the original, and a copy of your own translation into English.

I do not have an academic background in astronomy, can I still apply?

Yes, but be clear in describing how your skills and knowledge match the projects you have selected.

When will you make offers?

We expect to announce the outcome of the selection process in March.

I'm a PhD student already, can I apply?

No. LEAPS is only open to students not currently enrolled in a PhD. You are eligible to apply if you already have a PhD position lined up to begin after the programme; however, you must not have already started it.

I'm doing a 4 year undergraduate or research Masters, can I still apply?

Yes. The programme is open to all university students not currently enrolled in a PhD programme.

I am a 1st year undergraduate, can I still apply?

Yes. However, experience suggests most successful candidates have been upper-level undergraduate and masters’ students.

Can I apply by email?

No. We only accept submissions via our online applications system available here. Application are carried out through this application form, also please find the link in the navigation bar.

What are the precise start and end dates for LEAPS 2019?

The start and end dates for LEAPS will be announced in mid-December. LEAPS will run from approximately the start of June until mid-August for 10 weeks. Please indicate your availability in the appropriate section of the online application form (see FAQ 3). For 2019 these dates are June 3 to August 9.

I can't get an official transcript from my University, what should I do?

Because many universities do not issue official transcripts to students who have not yet graduated, unofficial transcripts are acceptable. Please scan and upload the transcript to the application website.

Do you accept more than one student for a given project?

No. Each project is for one student only.

Can I apply for an ESTEC/ESA position if I have already had ESA funding before, e.g., ESAC Trainee?


If I am on a 4-year undergraduate Masters course, what do I put in the BSc/MSc expected dates?

Please list the date you expect to receive your final degree, i.e., the end of the 4 years for an undergraduate Masters.

Should I convert my grades to GPA or something else?

This is not required, although it is very useful for you or your letter writer to give some indication of the scale used in grading (e.g. course average, class size).

I am not European, can I apply?

Yes, students of all nationalities are eligible to apply for LEAPS. Some countries require a visa to visit the Netherlands for up to 90 days, but to date we have not had trouble securing visas for accepted students. The projects labeled “ESA projects” on the LEAPS website are only available for students from ESA member or affiliate states (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada). All other projects are open to students from all countries.

I just got my Masters degree, can I apply?

Yes. The programme is open to all university students not currently enrolled in a PhD programme.

Should my statement describing my interests have a specific structure?

No specific structure is required. Be sure to highlight how your skills and interests apply to your chosen projects and list examples of other projects in which you have been involved.

My reference letter writer made an error or their link doesn't work. What should I do?

Ask your referee to try copying the full link into the browser. If this still does not work, send an e-mail to the address given at the end of this FAQ.

What should I do if I have uploaded the wrong document?

Please email the correct document to stating your name and what document you are replacing.

I have exams or interviews during LEAPS, can I still apply?

Yes, but see FAQ 3. Note that we cannot pay for your travel costs other than your first arrival and last departure from the Netherlands.

I am not currently enrolled at a university as I am taking a gap year, can I still apply?

Yes. The only restriction is that students are not currently be enrolled in a PhD programme.

Can I ask a PhD student to write my reference letter?

If this person knows your work and potential for research very well then this is acceptable. Ideally we would prefer a more senior person, but it is more important for us to understand your potential for doing research.

Has my referee uploaded my reference letter yet? My referee didn't get confirmation of uploading their letter.

Please ask your referee directly if they have prepared and uploaded your reference. If the upload has worked, your referee will have received a confirmation email (make sure they check their SPAM folder). If you have taken these steps and there are still problems, please send an e-mail.

Where should my referee email their letter? Can I send you my reference letter from my referee myself?

Your referee will receive instructions on how to upload your reference letter when you enter their email address into the system. Please do not send us reference letters via e-mail.

What is provided in terms of accommodation facilities e.g. cooking equipment, towels, etc?

To be updated with new info about the housing for 2018! Students will be housed in self-catering accommodation which will have a fully stocked kitchen. Details of the specific accommodation will follow at a later date. Please routinely check the web page. Leiden has plenty of grocery and hardware stores for purchasing food and additional necessary items.

Are late applications accepted?

No, late applications will not be accepted. The online submission system will close and you will not be able to upload your application. We encourage everyone to start early to avoid last minute troubles with the system.

If your question has not been answered in this FAQ, please with your question.