The Senate is a central decision-making body of the Max Planck Society. It elects the President and members of the Executive Committee and decides on the appointment of the Secretary General. It decides on setting up or closing down Institutes and departments, the appointment of Scientific Members and Directors as well as on the Institutes’ by-laws.
The Senate decides on the Max Planck Society’s participation in companies and approves the overall budget; it also approves the annual report and presents it to the General Meeting; it adopts the financial statements and decides on the acceptance of Supporting Members. In addition, the Senate can adopt resolutions on all matters concerning the Max Planck Society not reserved for the General Meeting in accordance with the by-laws.

Elected Senators and Ex Officio Senators are members of the Senate and entitled to vote. The composition of the Senate corresponds to the endeavor to involve the expertise and experience of representatives of important areas of public life in debates and decisions. The Elected Senators, therefore, come both from the scientific environment and from the worlds of business, politics, the media, and wider circles of society. According to the by-laws, the Senate has a minimum of twelve and a maximum of 32 elected Senators. Ex Officio Senators are the President, the Chairperson of the Scientific Council, the Chairpersons of the three Sections, the Secretary General, three research assistants nominated by the Sections, the Chairperson of the General Works Council as well as five Ministers or Permanent Secretaries acting as representatives of the Federal and State governments.