Universiteit LeidenZegel Universiteit Leiden

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 .


  1. I'm from country X , can I apply?

    This will be updated in January 2024.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 enrolled in a PhD programme.

  8. I was unsuccessful in LEAPS in a previous year. Can I re-apply?

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

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

    Yes. Please refer to FAQ "What are the precise start and end dates for LEAPS?" Note that we cannot pay for your travel costs other than your first arrival and last departure from the Netherlands.

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


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

    We expect to run LEAPS 2023 in-person in the Netherlands, so applicants 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 .

  12. Grades & Transcripts

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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).

  16. The grades for my ongoing coursework will not be available until after the deadline, what should I do?

    Please provide the most recent transcript that you have.

  17. Letters of Reference

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. Timeline

  24. What are the precise start and end dates for LEAPS 2023?

    The current plan is that LEAPS will run from June 5 - August 11 for 10 weeks.

  25. When will you make offers?

    We expect to announce the outcome of the selection process and issue first offers by mid-March, 2023.

  26. Applying & Application Materials

  27. 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.

  28. Can I apply by email?

    No. We only accept submissions via our online applications system available here. Application are carried out through the application form.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

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

    You can re-open your application and replace the documents up until the deadline.

  32. Projects

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

    No. Each project is for one student only.

  34. English Proficiency

  35. Do I need an exam like TOEFL, GRE, or IELTS to prove my English proficiency?

    No. If you have one, feel free to upload it with your transcript, but we do not require a paid test to judge your English skills. Your English will be assessed from your cover letter and during interviews (for shortlisted candidates).

  36. Accomodation & Travel

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

    Students will be housed in self-catered accommodation which will have a fully stocked kitchen. Details of the specific accommodation will be sent to the selected applicants. Leiden has plenty of grocery and hardware stores for purchasing food and additional necessary items.

  38. How can I travel within Leiden and across the Netherlands?

    You can travel all around Leiden and the rest of the country (on buses, trams, trains) using an OV-chipkaart that you can buy at any train station. Click here to know more

  39. Computer info

  40. How to use the Sterrewacht computing system

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