It is not a prerequisite for a successful application to our school that applicants have secured funding for their doctorate at the time of their application in January.

  • The Mind and Brain and the DAAD scholarships (see below: “Mind and Brain” and DAAD) will be offered to the best applicants of each year without a separate application procedure.
  • Those students who were selected during the application process to join the school but were not at the same time awarded one of the school’s scholarships (see below: “Mind and Brain” and DAAD) will not be able to start the program 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 deadline 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.

Below, read more about funding opportunities.


(A) Applying to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain: Information on our own funding opportunities 2020
(B) General information (in English) on other funding opportunities for doctoral studies
(C) Information (in German) on other funding opportunities for doctoral studies
(D) What you should know about scholarships (= stipends)  and salaried positions
(E) Scholarship guidelines of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain

(A) Applying to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain: Information on our own funding opportunities 2021

(1) DAAD GSSP Scholarships for International Students only - FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT TO FOLLOW

Hopefully, in 2021, again two three-year scholarships will be funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as part of their Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP). They are reserved for the best international students coming to Germany from abroad especially for their doctoral studies, or residing in Germany only for a short while at the time of the application (see below for details).

In case that we will be able to offer the scholarships, the deadline for applications will be:

  • 15 January 2021 (two scholarships starting October 2021)

How it works:

  • You will have to apply to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain through our Online Application Tool first.
  • Once selected by the Berlin School of Mind and Brain for membership in the school (i.e., after your successful application and successful interview), the school's admission committee will select from the group of successful international applicants those international students most suitable for the DAAD scholarships.
  • After receiving positive notification from us, the successful student will have to send her/his application also to DAAD, for additional confirmation by the DAAD board. The required documents are nearly identical to what has to be submitted to M&B. (Don’t worry: Students will be thoroughly briefed by the Berlin School of Mind and Brain about all this.)

Preconditions for eligibility / suitability for these scholarships in 2021 are:

  • At the time when the DAAD receives the nomination letter from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (April/May 2021), the last final exam (Master's degree or equivalent) of the student must have taken place no longer than six years ago.
  • At the time when DAAD receives the nomination letter from us (April/May 2021), applicants must not have resided in Germany for more than 15 months (i.e., not before February/March 2020).
  • Please note that the DAAD scholarship comprises funding for three years. An extension of 12 months will be possible. You will receive detailed information about the terms and conditions from the school’s management.
  • The scholarship amount is 1,200 € per month plus extra funding for travel expenses, insurances, research support, family support, German-language courses:

The total value comes to:

  • a scholarship instalment of currently € 1,200 per month;
  • travel allowance;
  • payments towards health, accident and personal liability insurance cover;
  • a research allowance once of currently € 460 per year;
  • under certain circumstances, grant holders may receive the following additional benefits such as monthly rent subsidy, monthly allowance for accompanying family members (about € 200 child allowance per child and about € 275 marriage allowance);
  • preliminary language course (if desired and possible with respect to the starting date of the scholarship);
  • a material resource and supervision allowance of currently € 1,000 per year, which is paid upon application to the host institution.

(2) “Mind & Brain” Scholarships, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

In 2021, the Berlin School of Mind and Brain at HU Berlin will offer a number of three-year “Mind & Brain” scholarships. The amount is € 1,468 per month. Scholarships will be awarded after interviews in Berlin in accordance with the ranking for this purpose by the admissions committee.

Deadline for applications:

  • 15 January 2021

(Statutory disclaimer: HU reserves the right to withdraw or revoke the granting of a scholarship in accordance with §§ 48, 49 VwVfG)
(Please see also E: Scholarship guidelines)

(3) Indirect application via the Einstein Center for Neuroscience (ECN)

For start in 2021: The Einstein Center for Neuroscience (ECN) will be advertising PhD Fellowships for a competitive 4-year neuroscience program. The Berlin School of Mind and Brain is an ECN founding member and cooperation partner. After being accepted by ECN, and after 6 months of obligatory lab rotations and courses, doctoral candidates may apply to join the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, taking their scholarship of € 1,468 per month with them. However, this is contingent upon the contents of their doctoral projects and the faculty membership in the Berlin School of Mind and Brain of at least one of their supervisors.

Application deadline for start in October 2021: January 2021 (application-please remove this Please check their website:

(4) Funding from other sources

The above scholarships are awarded in a highly competitive procedure. Since we will not be able to provide all successful and interested students with scholarship / stipends, in addition to applyin to our school, all students are encouraged to start applying for funding with scholarship funding institutions and, if their applications to the school are successful, bring their project and this funding to the program.
Once applicants have secured external funding - e.g. a scholarship/stipend, a salaried research employment with one of their supervisors, etc. - they should inform the management of the school.

(5) Deadline for securing funding

Successful applicants who were admitted to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain but did not receive a DAAD or Mind & Brain scholarship or ECN PhD fellowship, will be given time until the program start in October of the same year to secure funding. Under certain circumstances, tie-over funding may be available.

(B) General information (in English) on funding opportunities for doctoral studies

The Mind & Brain scholarships
Each year, the Berlin School of Mind and Brain can offer a number of scholarships. Currently, scholarships are set at 1,350 €/month plus funding for conference travel, education, and training courses.
Further information: mb-admission-please remove this

Special DAAD-M&B scholarships (DAAD/German Academic Exchange Service-funded)
The best international candidates have an additional opportunity to apply with their application at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain also for funding opportunity through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Scholarships are set at 1,200 €/month plus extra payments plus funding for travel and training courses. Please see above under (A) for terms and conditions.
Further information: mb-admission-please remove this

PhD Fellowships from the Einstein Center for Neurosciences (ECN)
ECN provides scholarships for a competitive 4-year neuroscience program (the Berlin School of Mind and Brain is an ECN partner program). After being accepted by ECN, students can apply to join the structured program of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, taking their ECN scholarship with them.

DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) funding database
Information about different funding opportunities, grants for research and a scholarship database:

It is possible to access the ELFI database – the central service point for the ELectronic Research Funding Information System in German-speaking regions – free of charge via university servers and networks. The ELFI database collects comprehensive information from the internet with the help of software-robots that explore websites for relevant information on research funding, e.g. grants, scholarships and awards, all other kinds of funding that contribute to support scientists to finance their projects. Registration is free of charge from university networks:

The ELFI database currently contains information on:

  • more than 10,000 funding programmes
  • some 4,500 national and international sources of funding

ELFI provides comprehensive information on the whole spectrum of research funding opportunities – from funding programmes for material and travel costs to prizes and awards to grants and scholarships. Users are given extensive information about the funding institutions and their programmes. They can also download calls for applications, factsheets and forms directly from the site. In addition to a short summary, the information on each funding opportunity includes the addresses, names of the contact persons, application deadlines and amount of funding available. This provides users with a quick and convenient overview of relevant funding opportunities, thus enabling them to prepare their application in a short period of time and to tailor it to the relevant programme. Users can also set up a customised search profile so that their search requests target their individual interests and find results quicker.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: Caroline von Humboldt Grant Programme
The Caroline von Humboldt Grant Programme provides female doctoral students and graduates with flexible grants. Applications may be submitted twice a year, in January and June.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: General information on funding for doctoral studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: Research tracks
Graduates from other universities may also be funded if they pursue a doctorate at Humboldt-Universität. The program offers funding for the transition phase between the end of a Master’s program and the beginning of doctoral studies. Requirements for funding are excellent academic results and an original, high-quality research proposal. Applications may be submitted during the Master’s studies but funding can only start after graduation. The scholarship helps recipients to focus on the preparation of their research proposal for their doctorate.

Euraxess Germany
The portal contains information on job and funding opportunities.

Elsa Neumann scholarship
The state of Berlin’s Elsa Neumann scholarship issues scholarships or special grants to particularly qualified young researchers and artists for up to three years.

Research in Germany: Funding programs for doctoral students
A selection of funding programs for international doctoral candidates (various funding agencies)

Scholarship opportunities for students from Israel
Minerva Foundation (
Besser-Stiftung (

(C) Information (in German) on funding opportunities for doctoral studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: Promotionsförderung
(general information on scholarship opportunities)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: Stellenausschreibungen
(jobs for young researchers at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Stipendiendatenbank des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Wissenschaft
(scholarship database offered by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
Suchdienst für Stipendien in deutschsprachigen und skandinavischen Ländern (meta search engine with a search screen for scholarships in German-speaking and Skandinavian countries)

Informationen zu diversen Stipendienanbietern und Bewerbungsvoraussetzungen (Information on various scholarships and application requirements)

Labyrinth der Links
(some evaluative commentaries on different foundations, in English and German)
Gemeinnützige Initiative zweier Doktoranden für transparente Studienförderung (very detailed scholarship database)


(D) What you should know about scholarships (= stipends)  and salaried positions

This is what you should know about scholarships, and about the difference between scholarships (= stipends - these two terms are used synonymously in Germany) and salaried (university) positions:

By law and owing to the rules of third-party funding agencies, the entitlements, terms and conditions regarding prolonged illness, pregnancy, Mutterschutz (maternity protection), Kindergeld (child support), and Elternzeit (parental leave) differ significantly for people who are on ...

- salaried (university) positions that include both employers' and employees' statutory monthly contributions to the national income tax, social security, unemployment insurance, pension schemes, and health insurance,

- taxfree third-party-funded research scholarships that demand from scholarship holders neither further financial contributions (apart from obligatory [reduced] health insurance payments) nor statutory duties to their university/research institution or the state.

Scholarship holders are not employees, and the only real obligation they have is to devote their time fully to their research project. However, this freedom also means that they are ...

- not entitled to four to six weeks of statutory paid holidays (as most employees in Germany are), and holiday breaks thus need to be negotiated with heads of labs and/or supervisors and/or the school,

- not entitled to continue to receive their research-related scholarship during long periods of sickness – past six weeks, the school and the DFG or other resp. funding agencies need to be informed,

- not entitled to take parental leave (Elternzeit) while continuing to receive their monthly research-related scholarships. When they pause their scholarship to apply for state-funded parental leave payments, they will only receive the minimum of 300 Euro per child (Elterngeld). Owing to a change in funding, from 2017, M&B will not be able to guarantee extensions of scholarships for parents anymore,

- (usually) not entitled to paid maternal protection leave (Mutterschutz) of 6 weeks before birth and 8 weeks after birth; some funding agencies now have begun to grant this period as a paid break,

- not entitled to state-financed child support (Kindergeld) payments. Owing to a change in funding, from 2017, M&B will not be able to guarantee these child subsidy payments anymore.

The reason for this general non-entitlement is that paid holidays and the right to government-funded sickness payments, parental leave, more comprehensive payments during parental leave, and child support are state-subsidized benefits that are linked to the employment and tax payments of the person in question. These benefits, therefore, do not apply to people who neither pay taxes nor make any other contribution into the public purse.

This is your job: Find out from your scholarship granting agency/institution whether and to what extend they will be able to support you in case of parenthood (e.g., extensions, part-time options, extra funding ...).

So why scholarships?

So why are scholarships/stipends used to fund doctoral candidates, and not exclusively salaried positions? There are many reason for this:

Scholarships are much more flexible regarding duration and distribution: work permits are not required for scholarship holders; scholarships can be allocated flexibly for shorter or longer periods; scholarships can be allocated for any project developed by doctoral candidates themselves, because scholarship funds are usually not part of supervisors' detailed and thus restrictive project proposals for which third-party funding was granted; scholarships usually grant maximum freedom and time for research (no teaching, little supervision of bachelor or master students, little administrative obligations to the institution, which with salaried positions take up to 50% of doctoral candidates' time); scholarships cost a quarter of a full-time doctoral position. - For graduate schools this means that with the sum required to employ one full-time doctoral candidate they can admit four candidates on scholarships to their education and training programs. To be able to give four people the chance for research and education instead of one is a strong argument. However, the questions whether giving more people a chance is a good enough reason for scholarships, and whether more people with doctorates is a good or a bad thing, are part of an ongoing public debate about doctoral education and the ideal number of doctoral candidates accepted into doctoral studies world-wide. You, your supervisors, research group leaders, our graduate school, the universities, the research-funding agencies, politicians, the taxpayer, future employers, are all part of this ongoing discussion and the quest for the best way forward for doctoral research, education, and training in Germany.

(E) Scholarship guideline of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain

Scholarship guideline of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, published in the Official Journal of Humboldt-Universität on 8 October 2019
(Stipendienrichtlinie der Berlin School of Mind and Brain, veröffentlicht im Amtsblatt der Humboldt-Universität am 8.10.2019)

Stipendienrichtlinie (German original version, pdf 200 kb)

Scholarship guideline (English translation, pdf 200 kb)


This page last updated on: 24 February 2020