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. Please read the instructions below and the FAQ section (internal link) carefully before you start with the online application process.

Please note:
The central requirement for admittance to the school is the proposal for a doctoral project developed by you, the applicant, yourself (see point 2).

Documents and certificates to be supplied with the online application

(0) Basics: Application fee

There is no application fee!

(1) Check first: Am I eligible? Academic background and credits

To be able to register as a doctoral candidate with one of the participating universities (after a successful application with the Berlin School of Mind and Brain), 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. Therefore, the Berlin School of Mind and Brain can only accept students with 300 ECTS from their previous degrees, usually gained through 5 years of (relevant) university courses. If you will not have completed your Master's degree at the time of applying, with your application to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain you must upload an up-to-date transcript of records and let us know about your expected final credits/grade. If via your degree courses you will have gained less than 300 ECTS by the start of our program in October, you may be asked by one of the participating universities and faculties to compensate with relevant extra 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. Please also read the relevant information on our FAQ spage.

Please note:
For reasons of fairness and comparability with other applicants, for your application with the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, the total duration of your B.A./B.Sc. and M.A./M.Sc. studies will be taken into account by reviewers. Please be aware that we may want to know more about this issue when evaluating your application.

(2) Most important: Research proposal (5 pages text plus bibliography/references)

(a) The central requirement for admittance to the school is your proposal for a possible doctoral project developed by yourself. All research proposals must have clear mind–brain relevance. Typical projects will investigate research questions that are of relevance to mind and brain research and to more than one discipline. Please look up the school’s overarching six overall research topics – they pay tribute to that approach. From the proposal, the admission committee hopes to glean the level of interest, methodological expertise, academic prowess, and intellectual independence of the respective applicant.

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

  •     Summary of previous research
  •     Justification for relevance of project and 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

(c) All proposals will be reviewed by several faculty members some of whom may not be specialists in your field. Therefore, your research proposal should be accessible also to non-specialist reviewers.

(d) Successful project proposals will draw on findings from both mind and brain research. Results from both fields should play an essential role in achieving the objectives described in the research proposal. This means: “Brain”-related research should also cover mental phenomena, and “Mind”-related projects should incorporate findings from brain research. This requires sufficient grounding in the complementary field, but formal training or a degree in the complementary field is not mandatory.

(e) Please read this advice from our faculty for successful proposals: internal link

(f) 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!)

Important! Please note:
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.

(3) A good read: Letter of motivation (1 page)

Your letter of motivation is another 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. 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 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.

(4) Essential: 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 process, please upload a certificate providing proof of your very good knowledge of English.

The minimum requirement is one of the following certificates:

  • UNIcert III
  • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) 180–199
  • Cambridge English First (FCE) 180–190
  • C1 Business Higher
  • IELTS 6.5–7.5
  • TOEFL iBT 95–120
  • TOEIC Listening & Reading 945
  • TOEIC Speaking & Writing 360
  • PTE General Level 4
  • PTE Academic 76–85

Read more:
Read more:

Please note: If you completed your Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree in an English-speaking country, or if your Bachelor’s and/or Master’s program were taught in English, the transcripts for your degree(s) will suffice. However, the transcripts must state clearly that the entire program was conducted in English!

(5) Necessary for our general assessment: Your CV

Please upload a current CV.

(6) Instructive for our general assessment: Your education history

We will ask for information about your education history: Please provide your

  • Certificates/diplomas of studies completed (BA/BSc and MA/MSc)
  • If still incomplete Master's degree: Please provide transcripts.
    Note: The Master's degree must be completed at the start of the scholarship (October)

as scans/pdfs (as uploads in the online tool). No originals are required at this stage.

(7) Indispensible for reviewers of your proposal: Your research experience

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.

(8) Nice to have: Suggestions for supervisors

You will find a list of all available supervisors here. Suggesting a supervisor during the application process is simply an indication for us where your interests lie and it is an optional information (= not mandatory). Eventually, i.e. once your have been invited to an interview, or as an accepted student, each doctoral research project must be supervised by two experienced advisors, but these advisors can be determined and agreed upon during the later stages of the application process, e.g. before or after the interview.

(9) Not required: German language skills

Knowledge of German is not a prerequisite for doctoral studies at the school. 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.

(10) Not at this stage: Recommendation letters

During the online application process you will be asked to enter your referees' names, affiliations and e-mail addresses into the online application 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,

Please only enter the required information (full name, institution and e-mail address) for your referees. Please do not ask your referees to send us letters of recommentation at this stage.

Only if you reach the interview stage in the admission process will the M&B admission committee ask your referees directly for their letters of recommendation for you.

These are the questions your referees will be asked by our committee: Letters of recommendation (internal link)


This page last updated on: 15 February 2024

M&B Admission Team