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 and includes further steps. 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 the proposal for a doctoral project that was developed by students themselves (see point 12).

Before submitting your application

(1) Academic background

To be able to apply for the doctoral program, students must have completed (or be in the process of completing) a:

  •     Master’s degree (with thesis, usually two years)
  •     Diplom
  •     Staatsexamen
  •     Magister

in a field related/relevant to mind/brain research:

  •     philosophy
  •     linguistics
  •     psychology
  •     neuroscience
  •     cognitive science
  •     neurology
  •     psychiatry
  •     biology
  •     law
  •     economics
  •     computer science

(2) Contact Faculty

Our recommendation: By the end of November, contact a M&B faculty member who works in your area of research and who could (potentially) become your supervisor. Discuss your research proposal with him or her and get feedback on your proposal. (You will be able to name up to three potential supervisors in your application, but you will not necessarily have to have contacted them.)

(3) By 15 January

Have all your documents ready by the beginning of January and submit your application via our ONLINE APPLICATION TOOL.

(4) File upload

Please upload only:

  • PDF files
  • Do not password-protect or lock your files!
  • Please do not insert spaces or special characters in the files names.
  • The max. individual size of files: 5 MB

When submitting your online application

(5) What you will need when applying: Read first!

The documents and information listed below will be required once you have registered for the ONLINE APPLICATION TOOL.

(6) Personal data

You will be asked to provide your name, date of birth, address, contact details, etc., as well as information on previous contacts with labs in Berlin (e.g., have you been working in a lab in Berlin during a lab rotation?).

(7) 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, 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)

(8) German language skills

Knowledge of German is not a prerequisite for doctoral studies at the School. We would, however, like to know your proficiency (if any) in the language.

(9) Your education history

Your education history includes listing your college/university degrees in chronological order and your:

  • Transcripts of records
  • Certificates/diplomas of studies completed
  • Research experience

(10) Research experience (part of your CV)

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.

(11) Letter of motivation (1 page)

You will have to state your motivation for participation in the Mind and Brain program. 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 about 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.

Please note: Your statement is an 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.

(12) Research proposal (5 pages incl. bibliography)

(a) The central requirement for admittance to the School is your proposal for a doctoral project that was developed by yourself. All research proposals must have clear mind/brain relevance. The focus should be on the interface between the humanities and/or behavioral sciences with the neurosciences. Typical projects will investigate research questions that are of relevance to more than one discipline. The six research topics of the school pay tribute to that approach:

See also our pages about:

(b) A proposal must contain a detailed project idea, including:

  •     Summary of previous research
  •     Justification for the relevance of the current project and the proposed 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.

Please note: All proposals will be reviewed by several faculty members some of whom may not be specialists in your field. Therefore, it will be of advantage to you if your research proposal is comprehensible also to non-specialist reviewers.

(c) Successful project proposals will draw on findings from the complementary side of mind or brain research. Results from the complementary field should play an essential role in achieving the objectives described in the research proposal such that “brain”-related research will also cover mental phenomena, and, conversely, “mind”-related projects incorporate findings from brain research. This requires sufficient grounding in the complementary field. Formal training or a degree in the complementary field would be most welcome but is not mandatory.

Advice from our faculty for successful proposals: Read pdf (download pdf 50 kb) or read this webpage (internal link)

(d) Formal requirements for proposals:

  •     Max. five pages. Please note: Excess text will be blacked out!
  •     Single spaced
  •     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!)

If in doubt, please turn to the admissions officer of the School, (Ms) Dr Inken Dose, for additional advice (

(13) Mind and Brain research topic(s)

You will be asked to state with which research topic(s) listed on our website your research proposal relates to. For the Berlin School of Mind and Brain's research topics see Research

(14) Suggestions for supervisors

You will be asked to list suggestions for max. three supervisors. 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 online tool. We recommend that you try to contact your potential supervisors for a personal talk or feedback before handing in the application.

(15) Recommendation letters

(a) You will need two recommendation letters from former supervisors or lecturers. Please send our guidelines for recommendation letters to your two referees. See the download links below:

Guidelines referees - download doc (doc 30 kb)
Guidelines referees - download pdf (pdf 23 kb)

(b) During the online application process, you will have to enter your referees' names, affiliations and e-mail addresses into our database.

(c) Please let your referees know that they, the referees, will get an e-mail message through the system providing them with instructions and a link for uploading their letter of recommendations.

(d) Should you yourself have received a recommendation letter(s) ready to submit, you can upload the signed recommendation letter(s) (pdf only!) during the online application process yourself.

(16) Finances: funding for your doctorate

Depending on the student’s individual profile and interest, funding for your doctorate will usually consist of a scholarship or (more rarely) a salaried research/teaching post with one of your supervisors.

The Berlin School of Mind and Brain can only offer a limited number of scholarships to successful applicants. The amount is 1,350 Euro/month plus travel grants for conferences and workshops (by application).

It is not a prerequisite for a successful application that applicants bring their own funding to the program at the time of application. However, since the school is unable to supply scholarships for all successful candidates, applicants will have to secure funding by the start of the program in October.

If at the time of application candidates are in the process of applying for funding (e.g., an external scholarship, or a research position with a faculty member), or have secured funding, they should name their source of funding in the application.

Please find lists with funding agencies that offer scholarships and search engines for scholarships for international and German students under Funding.

(17) Survey

We will ask you how you first learned about the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. Please select one of the options supplied. If none of the options apply, please tell us in the field “other” how you learned about our doctoral program.


This page last updated on: 19 June 2018

Admission Officer
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+49 30 2093-8105