Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Life Sciences

Extending the doctoral examination process

Topic of the doctoral thesis needs to be changed?

Change of supervisor necessary?

Ombudspersons of the Faculty

Conflict Consultation of Humboldt Graduate School

Support and funding


Extending the standard period of study


Please submit your application to prolong the standard period of study in good time before the deadline expires. Before the deadline expires, you will be asked by the Student Services Office as part of the re-registration request to extend the standard period of study so that the re-registration is complete. Your supervisor must approve and sign the application.

In addition to the form mentioned above, we also ask you to submit to us a short, informal justification for the intended prolongation (as a scan or e-mail attachment is sufficient). We will then forward the application to prolong the period of study together with the justification to the Faculty's Doctoral Degree Board. As soon as we receive a response from the latter, you will be informed by e-mail. Finally, the application will be forward directly to the Student Services Office.



Change of topic needed?


Under certain circumstances, it may become necessary to adapt or even change the chosen doctoral degree topic.

If the new topic is covered by the research project as described in the summary, an adaptation of the doctoral degree topic or title is possible without being re-admitted to the doctoral examination process. If the new doctoral degree topic differs significantly from the research project described in the summary, re-admission to the doctoral examination process with the new topic may be necessary. In both cases, you are required to obtain the consent of your supervisor.

If you have any questions on this issue please contact the administrator for your doctoral degree subject in the Graduate Centre.


Change of supervisor needed?


Following the departure of the supervisor, a change of supervisor may be necessary. However, it may also be the case that a change of supervisor is advised in light of a significantly dysfunctional supervision relationship, for instance because of conflict between the supervisor and the doctoral student.

In any event, you should seek independent advice, either from the Ombudspersons of the Faculty or through the Humboldt Graduate School conflict consultation sessions, before you pursue a change of supervisor.

In order to change supervisor you must obtain consent from both the former and the new supervisor.

For initial questions on possible solutions to an existing conflict in the supervision relationship, please contact the Graduate Centre coordinator. If you have questions regarding the formalities of changing supervisor, please contact the administrator for your doctoral degree subject in the Graduate Centre.



Ombudspersons' office at the Faculty


An ombudsman has been put in place within the framework of the Graduate Centre, who may be engaged in all cases of severe conflict in the supervision relationship both by the doctoral students and the supervisors.

The tasks of the Office of the Ombudsman are carried out by ombudspersons from the three departments of the Faculty, in order to avoid conflicts of interest or prejudice. Since the ombudspersons themselves are not office-holders and are not involved in any supervision relationships, while at the same time occupying senior positions within the Faculty and having the necessary experience, they are able to act as doctoral student attorneys and represent the latter’s interests.

Please send any enquiries to the Graduate Centre coordinator or else directly to the ombudspersons.

In addition, you may make use of the Humboldt Graduate School conflict consultation sessions.

How to deal with reproaches regarding academic misconduct at Humboldt-Universität is regulated in the following documents (in German):

The Humboldt-Universität appointed ombuds persons and a committee which examines all reproaches regarding academic misconduct. In case of need please contact them via e-mail or visit their website.



Humboldt Graduate School conflict consultation sessions


The conflict consultation sessions are offered free of charge by the Humboldt Graduate School to all doctoral students as well as supervisors at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Professionally trained mediators offer advice (anonymously, if desired) in conflict situations in the context of doctoral studies.


Support and funding


Information by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / financial assistance

You can find a great deal of useful information regarding doctoral studies at HU Berlin, funding the doctoral degree programme, family and women’s support as well as information for international doctoral candidates on the webpages of the central doctoral study portal. In addition, HU-Docs, the doctoral student network at HU Berlin, offers a range of events for exchanging ideas with other doctoral students at HU Berlin.

The International Department provides international students with support and a wide range of joint events for German and international students. Doctoral students are also welcome.

Financial assistance can be provided by HU Berlin and by stipends.


Family support

Humboldt-Universität helps parents to find the proper work-family balance:

University Family Support Centre

Humboldt Graduate School – Doctorate and Family Life


Women’s support

Humboldt-Universität offers a special range of support services for female doctoral candidates during the doctoral examination process:

HU Equal Opportunities Office

FiNCA - Women in science on Campus Adlershof


You can also contact the faculty and department Women’s Representatives.


The Department of Biology has its own women’s support programme.
The department’s Commission for Equal Opportunities for Women (KFF) makes decisions regarding applications for financing. For information please visit the relevant department’s website.


Postdoctorate support

Humboldt-Universität can also provide you with support after you have completed the doctoral examination process. For more information please visit the central Postdoc portal.