When applying to M&B: General information on funding

(1) 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.

(2) The Berlin School of Mind and Brain can offer a number of scholarships/stipends (between five and seven each year, depending on availability). Please see also our text about scholarships (below).

(3) These Mind & Brain scholarships/stipends are awarded in a highly competetive precedure among all the applicants for the 15 January deadline. Since we will not be able to provide all successful and interested students with a Mind & Brain scholarship/stipends are, all students are asked to continue applying for funding elsewehere.

(4) 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.

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

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 no further financial obligations (apart from reduced health insurance payments) or statutory duties to their university/research institution or the state.

Scholarship holders are not employed, 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 have always made funding available for these 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 have 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, politics, the taxpayer, future employers, are all part of the quest for the best way forward for doctoral research, education, and training in Germany.

Individual counseling

Lives of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, whether on salaries or on scholarship contracts, can be(come) fairly complicated, and there are many different individual circumstances and individual problems, and thus, accordingly, only individual solutions to these problems.

It is paramount that people who have serious disabilities or illnesses, who are parents or about to become parents or planning to become parents, make sure that they know what accepting a scholarship/stipend may mean for them.

The school offers advice and support for M&B doctoral candidates and M&B postdocs with children or with health problems. When doctoral or postdoctoral researchers meet with us, we explore what their options are, where and how they can find support, what they can expect from the school and what they cannot expect, and what the school, the employing institution, or the third-party research funding agency will expect of them.

For an appointment, please contact Dr. Anne Löchte on anne.loechte-please remove this or Annette Winkelmann on annette.winkelmann-please remove this

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

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.

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.

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

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: 24 January 2018