Applying to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (M&B): Information on funding opportunities 2018

(1) In 2018, two scholarships to the best candidates will be funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as part of their Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP). They are reserved for international students coming from abroad (or residing in Germany only for a short while).

See also: Additional deadline: 15 July

Preconditions for eligibility are:

  • Precondition for any scholarship distribution is the selection as a doctoral candidate by the Berlin School of Mind and Brain.
    (Nota bene: For the DAAD scholarships, after acceptance into our school students will have to submit an application through the DAAD portal. The required documents are nearly identical to what was submitted to M&B, and students will be instructed carefully by M&B management on how to proceed.)
  • At the time when the DAAD receives the nomination letter from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (September 2018), the last final exam (Master Degree or equivalent) must have taken place no longer than six years ago.
  • At the time when DAAD receives the nomination letter from us (September 2018), applicants must not have resided in Germany for more than 15 months (i.e., 1 July 2018 or after).
  • Please note that each DAAD scholarship in this programme comprises funding for up to three years.
  • The scholarship amount is 1,200 € per month plus funding for travel expenses, insurances, research support, family support, German-language courses, etc. You will receive detailed information about this from the school's management.

(2) In 2019, the Berlin School of Mind and Brain will once again offer a number of Mind & Brain scholarships (approx. 3-5 each year). They amount to 1,350 € per month. Deadline for applications: 15 January 2019.

(3) With the deadline 15 January 2019, there will available also PhD Fellowships from the Einstein Center for Neurosciences (ECN) for a competitive 4-year neuroscience program. The Berlin School of Mind and Brain is an ECN program member and cooperation partner. After being accepted by ECN and after 6 months of lab roations, students can apply to join the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and take their scholarship with them.

(4) All of the above scholarships are awarded in a highly competetive precedure among all the applicants for the 15 January deadlines. Since we will not be able to provide all successful and interested students with scholarship/stipends, all students are asked to apply for funding elsewehere.

(5) Once applicants have secured (or are in the process of securing) external funding - e.g. a scholarship/stipend, a salaried research employment with one of their supervisors, etc. - they immediately should inform the management of the School.

(6) Successful applicants who did not receive a DAAD or Mind & Brain scholarship will be given time until the program start in October of thes same year to secure funding. Under certain circumstances, tie-over funding may be available.

(7) Please note that we do not admit students into the program without funding. It is not a prerequisite for a successful application that applicants already have secured their own funding for the doctorate. However, students will not be able to start the program until sufficient funding (at least 1,100 euro per month) has been secured, and for at least two years, preferably for three.

What you should know about scholarships/stipends in general

This is what you should know about scholarships and 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),

- (usually) not entitled to paid maternal protection leaves (Mutterschutz) of 6 weeks before birth and 8 weeks after birth, though at M&B we had always made funding available for these additional 3.5 months, and some funding agencies now have begun to grant this period as a paid break,

- not entitled to state-financed child support (Kindergeld) payments, though at M&B our scholarship payments to parents had always included child subsidies of 400 Euro for the first child and 100 Euro for each further child (Kinderzuschlag).

The reason for this 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.

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, they usually grant maximum freedom and time for research (without any teaching, supervision, and administrative obligations to the institution, which often take up 50% of doctoral candidates' time), and they 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, whether more people with doctorates is a good or a bad thing is part of an ongoing public debate about doctoral education and the number of doctoral candidates accepted into doctoral studies. You, your supervisors, our graduate school, the universities, the research-funding agencies, politicians, the taxpayer, future employers, are all part of the quest for the best way forward for doctoral research, education, and training in Germany.

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

The Mind & Brain scholarship
Each year, the Berlin School of Mind and Brain can offer five to seven scholarships. Currently, scholarships are set at 1,350 euro/month plus funding for travel 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 addition funding opportunity through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as part of their Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP). Please see above at the top of this page for terms and conditions.
Further information: mb-admission-please remove this

PhD Fellowships from the Einstein Center for Neurosciences (ECN)
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 Berlin School of Mind and Brain.

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

Central advice office for young researchers at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin central office
Career advice, advising for third-party funded research and scholarships, announcements and information for science awards, young laureates and networks
Website with further information on services and scholarships/awards, postdoc portal, blog, newsletter
Scientific Officer Young Researchers: Dr. Uta Hoffmann, uta.hoffmann-please remove this

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.

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.

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 (

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)

This page last updated on: 19 June 2018