Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Life Sciences

Frequently asked questions

Before the doctorate


Is an English test compulsory?


No, if the supervisors agrees, the language level will be deemed adequate.


I have not yet received my master’s transcript, can I still submit an application for admission?


In the event that the master’s degree was obtained at a German university, please send as a provisional confirmation from the examination office. This is not possible for foreign degrees, as we are only able to verify the equivalence of the degree once we have received all the relevant documentation.


Do I need to enrol even if I am not doing my doctoral studies directly at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin?


In general, you must enrol no matter which research group you are working in. In the event that you have an employment relationship with HU Berlin, you may enrol as normal or register for free. You must enrol as soon as your employment relationship with HU Berlin ends.



During the doctorate


As a doctoral student, do I need to pay for the Semesterticket even if I do not wish to make use of it?


No, you may claim exemption from the Semesterticket as a doctoral student, so that the fee does not have to be paid. The Student Service Centre must be notified of this.

Please note that doctoral candidates will not be entitled to a semester ticket in summer semester 2024.


My standard period of study is coming to an end. Can I apply for an prolongation?


Yes, 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.


I would like to adapt or change my doctoral degree topic. What do I have to do?


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 doctoral examination office.


I would like to change my supervisor. What do I have to do?


Following the departure of the supervisor from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 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 candidate.

In any event, you should seek independent advice, either from the coordinator of the Graduate Centre and/ or Ombudspersons of the Faculty, before you pursue a change of supervisor. It may also be helpful to visit the Humboldt Graduate School's conflict consultation sessions.

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

If you have questions regarding the formalities of changing supervisor, please contact the administrator for your doctoral degree subject at the doctoral examination office or the coordinator of the Graduate Centre Life Sciences.



Completing the doctorate


Does the thesis have to be printed double-sided and bound?


Please consult your supervisor as to what the usual procedure is in your research group. The currently applicable doctoral degree regulations do not include any formal guidelines.


Do I need to submit five bound copies of my thesis?


No, if there are only two examiners/reviewers on the committee, you must only submit four bound copies in total.


There are more members on my doctoral degree committee than spaces on the corresponding form ("Doctoral Degree Committee Proposal List”). How can I add the additional members?


Please list the additional members on a separate piece of paper (no additional form required).