Doctoral studies in Germany
Located in the heart of Europe, Germany with its more than 80 million inhabitants has a long-standing tradition of excellence in science and research. Today, there are 427 state-accredited universities in Germany with more than 18,000 degree programs in 180 cities, including neuroscience programs. Germany’s higher educational system is state-funded and decentralized. The universities and research organizations are largely independent. Regarding the terms of study there are no standard answers to study regulation questions – these will have to be answered by the program chosen.
Berlin and the metropolitan region
Berlin and the Berlin metropolitan region are the place to be for doctoral researchers: Seven universities (4 x Berlin, Potsdam, Leipzig, Magdeburg) offer doctoral programs with excellent funding opportunities and join forces with outstanding non-university research institutions to generate a unique, vibrant academic environment.
We do not admit students into the program without funding! It is not a prerequisite for a successful application to our school that applicants have secured funding for their doctorate at the time of the application. However, those students who were selected during the application process but not at the same time awarded one of the school’s scholarships (currently: “Mind and Brain”, DAAD) will not be able to start the program in October until sufficient funding has been secured for at least two years, preferably three. The minimum amount of external funding that we accept as sufficient for your doctoral studies is 1,103 € per month.
In connection with our own deadlines 15 January 2019 and 15 January 2020, a number of “Mind & Brain” and DAAD scholarships will be available to the best applicants. Accepted students to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain who did not manage to get one of the above scholarships will receive intensive advice, support and sometimes tie-over funding in order to be able to successfully apply for and join the school with other external funding/scholarships. Students with Einstein Center for Neurosciences PhD fellowships may join the Berlin School of Mind and Brain after the first six months of lab rotations.
Application deadline: 15 January 2019, 23:59:59 hrs CET
Open to all students with or without secured funding. Please note that 15 January is the obligatory deadline for students without secured fundingTimeline
Interviews for invited applicants (the application deadline is 15 January 2019) will take place around 5–10 April 2019 in Berlin. Invited applicants will receive reimbursement for part of or all of their travel expenses, depending on circumstances.
Program starts end of September / early October 2019.How to apply
Please go to the page Requirements and read this page carefully. It explains the information and documents that will be requested during the application through our Online Application Tool. We only accept applications made through the Online Application Tool.
Please do not send any documents to us directly unless we specifically ask for them!
Funding for the doctorate
In 2019 and 2020, a number of “Mind & Brain” and DAAD scholarships will available to the best applicants. Students with an Einstein Center for Neurosciences PhD Fellowship may join the school after the first six months of lab rotations. Other accepted students will receive intensive advice, support and sometimes tie-over funding in order to be able to successfully apply for and join the school with other external funding/scholarships.
Students will be admitted by the school’s Scientific Council on the basis of a competitive, internationally open application procedure that starts with an online application. Please read the instructions below carefully before you start with the online application process.
Please note that the central requirement for admittance to the school is theproposal for a doctoral project developed by you, the applicant, yourself (see point 1).
(1) Research proposal (5 pages including bibliography and references)
(a) The central requirement for admittance to the school is your proposal for a doctoral project developed by yourself. All research proposals must have clear mind–brain relevance. Typical projects will investigate research questions that are of relevance to mind and brain research and to more than one discipline. Please look up the school’s overarching six research topics – they pay tribute to that approach.
(b) A project proposal must contain a detailed project idea, including:
Summary of previous research
Justificationforrelevance of project and research methodology
Summary of the hypotheses and research questions to be addressed
Relevant bibliography (list of publications relevant to the subject)
Clear exposition of ideas
(c) All proposals will be reviewed by several faculty members some of whom may not be specialists in your field. Therefore, your research proposal should be accessible also to non-specialist reviewers.
(d) Successful project proposals will draw on findings from both mind and brain research. Results from both fields should play an essential role in achieving the objectives described in the research proposal. This means: “Brain”-related research should also cover mental phenomena, and “Mind”-related projects should incorporate findings from brain research. This requires sufficient grounding in the complementary field, but formal training or a degree in the complementary field is not mandatory.
(e) Please read this advice from our faculty for successful proposals
(f) Formal requirements for proposals:
Max. five pages. Please note: Excess text will be blacked out!
Font: Times New Roman
Size: 12 point
Margins: on all sides at least 2 cm
File format: PDF (do not password-protect or lock your file!)
(2) Letter of motivation (1 page)
Your letter of motivation is another important part of the application. It should be clear, concise, well crafted, and written in English. 1 page, in Times New Roman font, size 12 point, single spacing. Please also describe your previous experience of inter- or transdisciplinary work at the interface of mind and brain research. Please present and discuss your academic and career objectives. Be as specific as you can about your particular academic interests as well as your previous experience of transdisciplinary work at the interface of mind and brain sciences. Beyond what is apparent from your transcripts, describe your preparation for the program of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain.
(3) Are you eligible? Academic background
To be able to apply for our doctoral program, you must have completed (or be in the process of completing) a Master’s degree (with thesis, usually two years) in a field related or relevant to mind–brain research, e.g.: philosophy, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, neurology, psychiatry, biology, law, economics, computer science.
(4) Proof of proficiency in English for non-native speakers
Our doctoral program is conducted in English. If you are a non-native English speaker, we require proof of your proficiency. During the online application process, please upload a certificate providing proof of your English knowledge. The minimum demand is B2 which is equivalent to the following test scores:
- UNIcert® II Certificate: 3,0
International English Language Testing System (IELTS): 5,0
Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE): B-C
TOEFL: o Internet-based Test: 87, o Paper-based Test: 560
DAAD Language Certificate: C in all test sections (minimum requirement)
(5) German language skills
Knowledge of German is not a prerequisite for doctoral studies at the school. However, during the online application, we would like to know your proficiency (if any) in the German language.
(6) Your education history
We will ask about your education history. Please list your college/university degrees in chronological order and provide your
Transcripts of records
Certificates/diplomas of studies completed
(7) Research experience
In your CV, please describe your prior research experience (e.g. lab work, use of computer programs) and list your disciplinary background, methodological skills, and research experience as well as research interests. If applicable: List your publications and teaching experience.
(8) Suggestions for supervisors
You will be asked to list suggestions for max. three supervisors at our school. Each doctoral research project must be supervised by two experienced advisors. Usually, one of these advisors will have a “mind” background and the other a “brain” background, but that can vary and depends on the nature of your research project. At least one of the supervisors, preferably both, should be a member of the school’s Faculty. You will find a list of all available faculty members in the application online tool. We recommend that you try to contact your potential supervisors for a personal talk or feedback before handing in the application (though we know that this may not always possible).
(9) Recommendation letters - change of procedure for 2018/2019!
During the online application process you will be asked to enter your referees' names, affiliations and e-mail addresses into the online application tool. Please only enter their data! Please do not ask your referees to send us letters of recommentation at this stage.
Only if you reach the next stage in the admission process will the M&B admission committee ask your referees directly for their letters of recommendation for you.
Curriculum overview and credits
Doctoral research project (150 credits)
Throughout the three-year program (50 credits per year) students will work on their research projects. The second and third year will be dedicated almost exclusively to research and dissertation writing.
Teaching program (30 credits)
Focus courses (partly weekly, partly blocked week-long courses of at least 30 hours of teaching) will lay the foundation for interdisciplinary research by teaching students analytical, theoretical and methodological skills.
Students take written exams at the end of each of the classes and will have to achieve 75% to pass. (To deal with the interdisciplinarity of students groups, the average of the three best test of each class is taken as 100%.)
Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology
Basic Philosophical Concepts and Philosophy of Mind
- Ethics and Neuroscience
Language and the Brain
Current issues in philosophy and neuroscience
Scientific presentation (first year)
Good Scientific Practice (first year)
Scientific writing (second year)
Grant-application writing (third year)
Participation in international lecture series
Journal and methods clubs of cohorts
Annual research reviews in poster presentations
Annual academic retreats
Conference attendance with own talks or posters
Doctoral degree and university certificate / M&B certificate
In Germany, doctoral degrees are conferred by the faculties of universities, not by individual university institutes or graduate schools. Doctoral candidates will be awarded the title typically conferred by the faculty in which they are enrolled (e.g., Charité Medical Faculty; Faculty of Life Sciences at Humboldt-Universität; Faculty of Philosophy at Humboldt-Universität; Faculty of Education and Psychology at Freie Universität; etc.). Which faculty doctoral candidates choose for enrolment will typically depend on the affiliation of their main supervisors. The exact requirements for the doctorate and final examinations (e.g., a monography or a series of peer-reviewed publications; regulations regarding reviewers and doctoral committees; thesis defense; the requirements for receiving the degree-confirming Urkunde; duty to publish, etc.) depend on the regulations of the respective faculty. Doctoral candidates should talk to their supervisors, carefully read the webpages of the faculty where they are registered, and/or make appointments with the faculty's advisors for further information.
Examples for doctoral degrees: a biologist or a psychologist matriculated at Humboldt-Universität will be awarded a Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.), a psychologist matriculated at Freie Universität will be granted a Doctor philosophiae (Dr. phil.). Psychologists or biologists enrolled in the Charité Medical Faculty will be awarded a Doctor rerum medicinalium (Dr. rer. medic.), or a PhD, and candidates with a Master's degree in medicine may be awarded a Doctor medicinae (Dr. med.). Doctoral candidates in philosophy or linguistics faculties will be awarded a Doctor philosophiae (Dr. phil.).
All doctoral degrees listed above are highly respected nationally and internationally. Doctoral candidates should discuss their degree options with their supervisors.
Generally, doctoral theses (as monograpies or published papers) may be written and defended both in German and in English. However, candidates should check whether they will have to make a special application to their faculty for an English-language thesis and defense.
In Berlin all university tuition fees are covered by the state. Therefore, doctoral candidates of the the Berlin School of Mind and Brain do not pay tuition fees for their doctorate.
There are no tuition fees payable for this program. However, at the beginning of each semester (summer semester: April–September, winter semester: October–March) the university fee will have to be paid to Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, to Freie Universität Berlin, to Charité - University Medicine Berlin, or whereever you will be matriculated for the duration of you doctorate.
The university fee for doctoral candidates currently come to 58.50 euro per semester (= six months) consisting of the university’s administrative fee (50.00 euro) and student union fee (8.50 euro). You may also buy a public transport student travel pass for Berlin and Potsdam for only 201.80 euro, valid for the entire semester (= six months).
The optional Semesterticket (public transport travel pass for students, covering the whole of Berlin and Potsdam, valid for the entire semester = six months) costs 201.80 Euro per semester.
Generally, Berlin is not a particularly expensive city. However, Berlin is still very popular, prices are rising and housing has become much more costly and hard to come by over the past few years.
Monthly living expenses (housing, food, administrative fees, insurances, public transport, etc.) should be calculated at at least 1,000 Euro per month.