FAQ Admission Mind & Brain  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) re. Application and Admission to M&B

The Berlin School of Mind and Brain (M&B) is a graduate institution of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. On this FAQ page we post answers to your questions concerning doctorates conducted through the three-year, structured doctoral program of M&B.

(1) Detailed information on how to apply for the M&B doctoral program


(2) Answers to questions re. your application for the M&B doctoral program

Below, you will find answers to 95% of all questions we receive about applying for the M&B doctoral program. We cannot advise you on other than M&B-related doctorates at our university.
If your question belongs to the 5% which are not covered by our FAQ, please e-mail us on mb-admission-please remove this text-@hu-berlin.de, using as the subject line the code words which are mentioned below in the FAQ. Only e-mails with that subject line will be answered individually.

(3) Please note!

If a doctorate with M&B is not what you want, you will find more general information on doctoral studies in Germany as well as on specific doctoral opportunities in Berlin, i.e. outside the framework of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, in our section Doctoral studies in Germany.


Question: How do I apply?
Answer: Applications must be submitted through the online application tool. Please do not send any documents by email or post unless we specifically ask you to: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/doctoral-program/application/online-application/

Question: What do I have to do to apply?
Answer: You will find comprehensive information on our doctoral program, the application requirements, and the admission procedure on our website:

Question: I missed the deadline for this year’s call for applications. What can I do?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do. Please apply next year. The online application tool will re-open on 1 December. If you want to be sure not to miss the next call, please check our website, connect to our Facebook site, or subscribe to our mailing list (you can unsubscribe yourself at any time): mind.brain.verteiler-subscribe-please remove this text-@lists.hu-berlin.de

Question: What is the timeline for the next admission process?
Answer: The online tool will re-open on 1 December 2020. It will close on 15 January 2021, 23:59:59 hrs CET. The interviews for applicants reaching the second stage will take place in March/April 2021 (if possible: in Berlin, otherwise via Zoom). Successful applicants will receive their confirmation of acceptance within one week of interviewing. The teaching period for the doctoral program starts at the end of September 2021.

Question: Can I apply through the year?
Answer: No, the online application tool opens each year on 1 December and remains open until 15 January 23:59:59 hrs CET.

Question: Is it a full-time program?
Answer: Yes, it is a full-time program, and it requires students' presence. However, the school and supervisors may agree to part-time work on the doctorate in order to accommodate equal opportunity considerations such as family responsibilities or dealing with serious health issues.

Question: I live abroad. Is there a way that I could study from here and travel to Berlin regularly to meet professors?
Answer: No, this will not be possible. This is a full-time program based in Berlin.

Question: Can I apply to the school even if I have already secured a position with a supervisor?
Answer: Yes, you can apply with funding already secured through a research position with a supervisor or a stipend. However, for your application with us you will still have to develop and defend a research proposal. This may be more difficult to achieve if you applied for a position for which the research proposal was written and your project carved out by other people, i.e. your supervisor and her/his group. In your proposal you will at least have to show your individual contribution to the (future) development of the project. Read more here

Question: I am very interested in your institution. I have attached a CV. Can you put me in contact with potential supervisors?
Answer: Please research potential supervisors on: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/people/faculty/ and contact potential supervisors yourself, e.g. in order to discuss a research idea.

Question: How much are the fees?
Answer: There are no tuition fees, only the university's administrative fees. Read more here

Question: How many people apply and how many get accepted?
Answer: We accept around 10% of all valid applications.

Question: I am very interested in pursuing my PhD at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. I am currently doing my PhD at a different university but would like to transfer.
Answer: That may be possible, but first you will have to apply as a regular candidate, using our online tool, and get accepted into the program. If by the time of application or acceptance you are already half-way through your doctorate elsewhere, transferring into our program (taking into consideration the teaching weeks and extra courses you will have to attend) will not make much sense. It would perhaps be make more sense for you to find a faculty member as a supervisor for an individually-conducted doctorate at one of our participating universities, independent of any structured program.

Question: Will I be able to work as a psychotherapist after completing the Berlin School of Mind and Brain program?
Answer: No. In Germany, the psychotherapy training is a separate, highly regulated program. Our graduate school does not offer it.

Question: I am in town for a few days. Would it be possible to meet with faculty members / potential supervisors?
Answer: Please contact the faculty member in question directly: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/people/faculty/. We do not dispose over their agendas. Also, faculty members have their offices and labs at locations all over Berlin or in Leipzig, Magdeburg, Potsdam and do not come to the school's premises on an everyday basis.

Question: I have a question concerning visa regulations.
Answer: Please contact the visa authorities / embassies / consulates directly.

Question: I was wondering if it's possible for non degree students to take (virtual) graduate level courses.
Answer: If you are a student of another university, you must register as a guest student. Please read more about this on our detailed webpage External students.

Question: Do you offer any internships at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain?
Answer: Please refer to the information on the following internal webpage: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/overview/internships-and-lab-visits/


See also: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/doctoral-program/application/requirements/

Question: What kind of degree must I have to apply?
Answer: In order to be considered as an applicant for the school, students must apply with a project proposal for a mind-brain project and have completed (or be in the process of completing) a Master’s degree in a field relevant for mind–brain research, e.g., psychology, neuroscience, cognition studies, philosophy, linguistics, biology, medicine.

Question: I have a Master’s degree in a field which is not amongst the relevant fields listed on your webpage [e.g., my degree is in COMPUTER SCIENCE, LITERATURE, LANGUAGE TEACHING, DENTISTRY, YOGA STUDIES, SCIENCE TEACHING, ...]. Can I still apply?
Answer: The fields listed on our webpage are the most common (and perhaps relevant) fields for the Berlin School of Mind and Brain’s research topics. Most of our applicants have a background in one of these fields. You should be aware that you will have to compete with them, considering additionally that only around 10% of all valid applications will be successful. If, however, you still think that despite your more unusual academic background you do fulfill the requirements (i.e., that you have a high-quality research proposal for a doctoral project in mind–brain studies and are able show that you have what it takes to conduct the research you propose), then your application is welcomed.

Question: I only have 270 ECTS. Can I compensate the 30 ECTS missing?
Answer: To be able to apply for our doctoral program, you must have completed a Bachelor's degree (3–4 years) and a Master’s degree (or be in the process of completing a degree with a thesis, usually over 2 years) in a field related to or relevant to mind–brain research. The Berlin School of Mind and Brain will only accept students with 300 ECTS from their previous degrees, usually gained throughout 5 years of (relevant) university courses, but irrespective of the exact distribution of the ECTS between these degrees. E.g., if you have acquired 180 ECTS in your BA/BSc and 120 in your MA/MSc, you will be fine. If your transcripts list less than 300 ECTS, your will have to compensate with relevant courses before being able to apply. The most promising degrees/fields of study for a successful application are in philosophy, neurolinguistics, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, medicine, or neurobiology.

Question: I am an international student who wants to apply for your doctoral program. I have a BA/BSc degree in XX studies and will finish my MA/MSc program in September. My MA/MSc program is a one-year program in XX studies in the UK. Am I qualified to apply for the doctoral program at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, since my BA/BSc degree is not for the same field as my MA/MSc degree, and my MA/MSc degree is a one-year program?
Answer: If you have acquired a total of 300 ECTS during your BA/BSc and MA/MSc you may apply. Your suitability and acceptance will predominantly depend on (1) the quality of your own research proposal (can you show that you have a suitable [[suitable to your proposed project]] academic background and (2) what it takes methodologically to conduct the doctoral research you are interested in and (3) suitable supervisors for your topic at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain [[do they think that you can do it]], and, eventually, (4) the approval of university's faculty that will enrol you [[will they, with recommendations from your supervisors, accept you as a doctoral candidate into their faculty, even if with an additional exam]].

Question: My Master's program requires a capstone and internships, with a comprehensive examination at the end of the program, but my particular program does not have a thesis. I have more than the total required number of credit points as well as the required five years of studies (in fact, I have four years full-time for undergraduate studies and two years full-time for my Master's). Can I still apply?
Answer: Yes. However, if you are sucessful in your application to our program there will also be a particular university faculty that will have to accept you as a doctoral candidate. They will have to approve your transcripts and may ask for a compensation of some kind (oral exam, additional courses, or similar).

Question: I have a BA degree and will finish my MA program in September. My MA program is a one-year program in England. Am I qualified to apply for doctoral studies in your program?
Answer: We accept applications from applicants who have 300 ECTS in total from their BA/BSc and MSc/MA.

Question: I hold a Bachelor’s degree. Would I be eligible to apply for the doctoral program, or do I need to complete a Master’s degree before applying?
Answer: You are required to hold a Master’s degree or be in the process of obtaining one in order to apply.
The school also offers a Master’s program: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/master/

Question: What is the “doctoral proposal”? What should it say?
Answer: Your proposal for an original doctoral project is the central building block of your application to the school. From the proposals the admission committee hopes to glean the level of interest, methodological expertise, academic prowess and intellectual independence of the respective applicant. The proposal should have no more than five pages plus references and must relate to one of the six research areas of the school. All research proposals must have clear mind–brain relevance. You will have to upload your proposal with your online application. -- After having been accepted, you will have to agree with your supervisor on a definite doctoral project/topic. This may be exactly the topic as presented by you, but in all likelihood your project will have to be modified to be suitable for a three-year doctorate, or it may need major changes or revisions to be feasible and manageable at all. Please bear that in mind.


Question: I am part way through my Master’s and will be finishing in summer. Can I apply to the school already, or will I have to wait until I have completed my Master’s degree?
Answer: We accept applications from people who are still finishing their Master’s degree. However, the graduation certificate must have been issued by the time our program starts (usually 1 October).

Question: Is it necessary to get an authentication (a.k.a. certified copy) for all translated documents or just for diplomas?
Answer: For the written application you need to get a certified/authenticated translated document for the diplomas. Should you be accepted into the school, the university may require additional documents, and may also ask for the originals, but for the time being originals are not necessary.

Question: What is a certified copy and where can I get my documents certified?
Answer: If certified copies (official certifications) are requested at some point by the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, on no account may simple Xerox copies be provided. Please read the information about official certifications and who is allowed to carry out official certifications: https://www.uni-assist.de/en/how-to-apply/assemble-your-documents/certified-copies-and-translations/#c2785. Documents which are not written in German or English may be certified in the relevant consulates located in Germany (e.g. Polish documents in the Polish consulate).

Question: Who is permitted to translate documents?
Answer: Translations of documents to be provided with you application may be done exclusively by a sworn translator. The applicant’s own translations of official documents are not permitted!. In this database you can look for sworn translators in Germany working in various languages: http://www.gerichtsdolmetscherverzeichnis.de
If applying from abroad, a list of translators recognized in Germany can be obtained from German embassies and diplomatic agencies.

Question: I already have a PhD. May I apply for this doctoral program as well?
Answer: Yes, you may, though the question will have to be discussed whether an second doctorate would be useful or the best next step for your scientific career.

Question: I am older than your typical applicant – is that a problem?
Answer: No, it isn't if you started late on your academic career. It will be a problem if your last degree was taken a long time ago. In that case, your chances of getting accepted into our structured graduate program will be close to zero. However, you may be able to start on an individually conducted doctoral project outside a graduate school, if you can find a supervisor to work with you and a faculty to accept you. See also Doctoral studies in Germany

Question: Do you need to see any written work? I don't see it as a requirement.
Answer: If written work is not mentioned in the requirements, then it is not a requirement. But the research proposal (see above) is essential.


Question: Which IELTS test results are required? IELTS Academic or IELTS General?
Answer: IELTS Academic.

Question: Does the IELTS test have to be paper based? I cannot get an appointment.
Answer: We accept IELTS tests that are internet-based or paper-based.

Question: I have completed my Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree in an English speaking country, and/or my Bachelor’s and/or Master’s programs were taught in English. Do I still need to provide additional proof of English proficiency, or will my transcripts suffice?
Answer: The transcripts for your degree(s) will suffice, but they must state clearly that the entire program was conducted in English.

Question: Do I need to give proof of German-language proficiency?
Answer: Only proof of English language proficiency is needed for your application. Knowledge of German is not a requirement for your application. – However, should you wish to work with (presumably overwhelmingly German-speaking) patients or children, or wish to do fMRI experiments - which requires instructing subjects in German - knowledge of German will be required at some point. The level of fluency in German will have to be discussed by you at a later stage with the ethics committee and/or the university or department/institute in which you will conduct your research.


Question: It says in the online tool: "The tool will then send an automatic e-mail to your referees informing them that their names were put forward as referees but that they will only be asked for references once your application has proceeded to the next stage". What is meant by "proceeded to the next stage?"
Answer: Your referees will be contacted only once your application has passed the three review stages and reached the interview stage. Please refer to point 9 in the Requirements and to the timeline applicable for your application under Admissions committee and timeline.


Question: Can I apply through the year?
Answer: No, the online application tool opens each year on 1 December and remains open until 15 January 23:59:59 hrs CET.

Question: Do I have to provide my original transcripts and certificates?
Answer: Please upload your documents as scans/pdfs in the online tool. No originals are required at this stage of the application.

Question: Do any copies need to be sent to your school physically by mail services, or does a digital version (through the online application tool) suffice?
Answer: At this stage, we need digital (pdf) copies only. In the application tool you also have an option for the upload of additional files.

Question: Do I have to enter three supervisors even though I do not know them? What if I have not been able to talk to them?
Answer: In the online tool, you will be asked to list suggestions for max. three supervisors at our school. You will find a list of all full faculty members available  for the current application round in the dropdown menu of the application online tool. Your choosing a supervisor during the application process is an indication for us and it is an optional (= non mandatory) requirement in the application process. Eventually, i.e. once accepted, each doctoral research project must be supervised by one of the supervisors on the list, but supervisors can be determined and agreed upon during the later stages of the application process. And: if you are thinking of a main supervisor who is not on the drop-down menu list, please list that person's full name in the extra field provided. See also http://www.mind-and-brain.de/doctoral-program/application/faculty-available-for-supervision/

Question: I cannot find a place where to upload my letters of recommendation. Where should they send them?
Answer: 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 the data (full name, institution and e-mail address) of your referees. 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 we ask your referees directly for their letters of recommendation for you.

Question: I cannot upload my Master's certificate in the application tool because I do not have it yet. What can I do?
Answer: Please upload a transcript of records (the most up-to-date version possible) from your Master’s program. However, should your application be successful, we can accept you into the school only once we have received your certificate (by 1 October of that year, see above).

Question: I am trying to upload my documents for the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, however, I can't access the page, and the login space shows an error: “As the application phase is over, your account has been disabled for login.” What can I do now?
Answer: After closing on 15 January 23:59:59 CET, the online application tool re-opens on 1 December and remains open until the next 15 January 23:59:59 hrs CET. Before or after that period the tool will be closed and you won't be able to access it.

Question: I have accessed the link you sent me, however, when I created an account and create a profile, I received the following message: Register and complete data between 2020/12/01 and 2021/01/15
Answer: After closing on 15 January 23:59:59 CET, the online application tool re-opens on 1 December and remains open until the next 15 January 23:59:59 CET. Before or after that period the tool will be closed and you won't be able to access it.


Question: Do I have to have contacted a potential supervisor before applying?
Answer: It is not mandatory that you contact potential supervisor(s) of your project, but you may do so. Please pick potential supervisors for the current application year from the faculty list in the drop-down menu provided by the online application tool. You will also find their names listed on our website under http://www.mind-and-brain.de/doctoral-program/application/faculty-available-for-supervision/. If you wish to contact them but do not know them you should attach your CV, explain who you are, explain that you intend to apply to the school’s doctoral program, explain what you plan to do. You can ask potential supervisor(s) for advice on the application and interview procedure. As long as the main ideas presented in the application remain your own, it is definitely acceptable and recommended to send potential supervisor(s) a draft of your proposal beforehand and ask for feedback. Profiles of faculty members can be found on their personal websites as well as here: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/people/faculty/

Question: I haven’t succeeded yet in getting in touch with potential supervisors - do I still have to choose supervisors for my application?
Answer: No, it is not mandatory at this stage. In the online tool you do not need to do anything other but indicate your preference for (a) supervisor(s). And there is also a field for suggestions for potential external supervisors (external = outside the listed available faculty members of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain).

Question: I am very interested in your institution. I have attached a CV. Can you put me in contact with potential supervisors?
Answer: Please research available faculty members and contact potential supervisors yourself, e.g. in order to discuss a research idea.

Question: One of my potential supervisors has confirmed already that they will issue a supervision agreement for me. Will this positively influence my application process?
Answer: No, a supervision agreement (or willingness to engage in supervision) is no guarantee for a successful application to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. A successful application depends on your academic qualifications and on the assessment of your original research proposal by our admission committee. In addition, there will be an overall assessment of your academic suitability for our program during the interview. However, if the supervisor is inerested in you topic and has funding for your project (or you have raised funding for your project through a funding agency) they may accept you whether you have been successful at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain or not. Ask them.

Question: How does supervision work in an interdisciplinary environment?
Answer: Please read our internal webpages Supervisors - Reviewers and Interdisciplinarity.


Please read on our webpages about:

Question: Am I allowed to take on a part-time job as a scholarship holder?
Answer: Scholarship holders wishing to work part-time during their scholarship period, i.e. pursue gainful employment, always require the approval of the DAAD (if it is a DAAD scholarship), their academic supervisor, and the managing director of the Berlin School od Mind and Brain. The supervisor, DAAD (if applicable), and /or the managing director will have to verify that the part-time employment does not interfere with the purpose of the scholarship. Additional income exceeding € 450 gross per month shall be deducted from the monthly scholarship payment.

Question: I already have a scholarship from the EU, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), or another organization in Germany. Can I still receive a DAAD or a Mind & Brain scholarship?
Answer: If your doctoral studies are already funded by the DAAD or another EU or German funding organization, you cannot receive the scholarship from the DAAD we advertise or a Mind & Brain scholarship from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain on top of that.

Question: I am writing to enquire about my application for a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship from the DAAD Center in my home country for the Doctoral Programme of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. I have been in contact with the DAAD Center in my home country and I was told I need to prove a prior contact with and/or acceptance from the universities I have chosen to study at in Germany. Can I get such a letter from you?
Answer: No, you cannot get such a letter for our program. Apologies. We are unable to send out preliminary acceptance letters. To get an acceptance letter from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain you will have to have gone successfully through the entire application and admission process.

Question: Regarding the Mind & Brain scholarships or the DAAD-GSSP (German Academic Exchange Service - Graduate School Scholarship Program) scholarships offered by the Berlin School of Mind and Brain: Is there a separate procedure or guidelines to follow?
Answer: No. The Mind & Brain and the DAAD-GSSP scholarships will be offered to the best applicants of each year without a separate application procedure. The scholarship ranking will be decided by the admission committee. However, the DAAD-GSSP scholarhips come with a separate set of requirements regarding previous residency in Germany, etc. Please check the Funding website.

Question: Once I am accepted, will I get funding for my studies?
Answer: Usually yes. We have a number of scholarships for the best-ranked applicants, and usually we only accept students for whom we have funding. Exceptions are students who are able to bring their own external funding (such as scholarships or a research positions) to the program. Occasionally, we accept excellent students without being able to provide funding immediately, and in those cases we will support supervisors and students in securing funding before our program starts. Please read more about Funding in the relevant section on our website.

Question: I have questions regarding scholarship applications. Can you help me?
Answer: We cannot answer general questions regarding scholarship applications during the application process. You should be able to get help at your present institution or from the many funding organizations providing scholarships. Our website provides some guidance: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/doctoral-program/funding/

Question: On your website I have studied the (German Academic Exchange Service) DAAD GSSP scholarship requirements and understand that I am not eligible for that scholarship because I have been living in the European Union for some months. Is that true?
Answer: We have tried to give precise information about the DAAD GSSP scholarships and residency regulations in Germany regarding these scholarships on our website. We cannot give any more information beyond what’s written on our website: http://www.mind-and-brain.de/doctoral-program/funding/
If this is not sufficient information, please contact your local DAAD office.

Question: The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), in association with XX program in my country, is providing PhD scholarships for masters to do their PhD in Germany.  I would like to know if this program is related to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain.
Answer: We gladly accept students with their own DAAD funding, but only once the have gone through the entire standard application process and have been accepted into the school. There are no shortcuts for DAAD scholarship holders.

Question: Will I be automatically considered for the Einstein Center for Neurosciences (ECN) when applying to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain?
Answer: No. You need to apply separately: https://www.ecn-berlin.de/education/phd-fellowships.html

Question: Can I fund my doctoral studies privately? I have sufficient personal savings.
Answer: No, we do not admit students into the program without funding from a public funding agency or a university department. 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, but funding will have to be secured by the time that students start on the program. The minimum amount of external funding that we accept as sufficient for your doctoral studies is 1,103 € per month.

Question: My parents are willing to finance my doctoral studies. Does this count as “external funding”?
Answer: No, that is not sufficient.

Question: Can I work in the evenings or on weekends to finance my studies?
Answer: No, the admission committee will not perceive this as an acceptable way to finance the doctoral phase at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain.

Question: I read the FAQs and the webpages carefully, but I have not found the information I was looking for. What can I do?
Answer: Send us an email with “Neither in the FAQ nor on the website” in the subject line. We will be happy to help and reply individually as soon as possible.

Question: Does your institute provide scholarships for the Master’s degree?
Answer: No, we don't.

This page last updated on: 01 December 2021