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.


I have received a letter of admission for doctoral studies. What are my next steps? 🖉

Please submit the enrollment form for PhD studies and all the required documents as soon as possible, but no later than four weeks after you received the letter of admission from your faculty. If you are employed at HU and prefer to be only registered, please choose the registration-form for a doctorate.

To keep the four-week deadline for enrollment/registration it is sufficient to submit the documents during this period to the enrollment office for PhD students.

The enrollment/ registration forms as well as information about further required documents you can find on the website of the enrollment office.


What is the difference between enrollment and registration for PhD studies?


In general, you must enrol or register no matter which research group you are working in.

Enrollment as a doctoral candidate is not contingent upon employment as a staff member at the HU Berlin.

However, if you are employed at HU, you have two options: Either you enroll or you register for PhD studies. Registration is only possible as long as you are an employee/staff member at the HU Berlin. You can inform about the advantages and disadvantages of both options on the webpages of the HU's enrollment office.


Do I need health insurance to do a doctorate at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin? 🖉


Yes. In Germany, it is generally mandatory for students that are enrolled at a German university to have health insurance Proof of valid health insurance is also required when signing an employment contract. Further information on health insurance can be found on the website of the International Service Centre.


How do I apply for a visa or residence permit for the duration of my doctorate?  🖉


Please check the website of the International Service Centre first. If you require further personal advice on this topic, please contact the colleagues in the International Service Centre.


I will be employed at the HU during my doctoral studies. Where can I find my tax ID or how can I apply for it? 🖉


Every person born or registered in Germany has received their personal tax ID as a letter from the Federal Central Tax Office. The personal tax ID can be queried again via the website of the Federal Central Tax Office. If you were not born in Germany and have not yet been registered, you can apply for your personal tax ID at the Federal Central Tax Office.
You can find information at BZSt - The identification number.


During the doctorate


As a doctoral student, am I entitled to a semester ticket?


In summer semester 2024 doctoral candidates are not entitled to a semester ticket.

In winter semester 2024/2025, doctoral candidates will again be included in the Deutschlandsemesterticket contract. Purchase of the semester ticket is generally mandatory. However, the following students can apply for exemption from the semester ticket:

  • Severely disabled students who are entitled to transport in accordance with SGB IX and can prove that they are in possession of the supplementary sheet to their severely disabled pass and the corresponding token 
  • Students who can prove with a medical certificate that they are unable to use the semester ticket for health reasons
  • Students who spend at least three consecutive months of the respective semester outside the area of validity of the Deutschlandsemesterticket due to their studies, an internship semester, a semester abroad or as part of their final thesis.
  • Students who are enrolled at another university in Germany and already receive the Deutschlandsemesterticket through this university.

If one of these reasons for exemption applies to you and you would like to claim it, please send an informal application for exemption from the Deutschlandsemesterticket and proof of the reason for exemption by e-mail to the following address:


I am employed at the HU and registered for a doctorate. What do I have to do to extend my fixed-term employment contract at HU?


Please send a copy of your new employment contract as proof to the enrollment office for PhD students.


I am employed at the HU and registered for a doctorate. My employment contract will end soon. What should I do?


Since registration for doctoral studies is only possible for the maximum duration of your employment at HU, you must enrol after the end of your employment. Further information can be found on the website of the enrollment office for PhD students.


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.


I would like to take part in courses offered as part of a Master's degree program. Do I have to register via AGNES?


No, doctoral students do not have the opportunity to enrol in modules of Bachelor's or Master's degree programs via AGNES. Instead, please contact the lecturer of the module and clarify directly whether you are allowed to participate in the module.


What further training opportunities are available to me as a doctoral student?


Both the Graduate Center Life Sciences and the Humboldt Graduate School offer numerous workshops, writing weeks, retreats and other events that doctoral candidates can attend free of charge.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is also a member of the Berlin University Alliance. This means that doctoral candidates at HU are also entitled to participate in numerous workshops and events offered by Technische Universität Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin and Charité.

Please visit the website of the Graduate Center Life Sciences to find out about the continuing education providers that are available to you as a doctoral student at HU.


Is there a way to be regularly informed about important changes and interesting events and offers for doctoral candidates?


Yes, the Graduate Center Life Sciences sends out a newsletter once a month to inform doctoral candidates about important changes (e.g. regarding the doctoral regulations) as well as interesting continuing education opportunities, events and calls for applications. You are welcome to register for the newsletter - even if you are not yet enrolled! Just send an e-mail to the following address to be added to the mailing list:


I have an idea for an interesting workshop. Can the Faculty of Life Sciences support me with this?


Yes, please contact the coordinator of the Graduate Center Life Sciences at any time with a brief project outline (including a cost estimate):

In addition, once a year (usually in late fall) a call for proposals for the funding of subject-specific qualification projects for doctoral candidates is published. The call is announced in the monthly newsletter of the Graduate Center for Life Sciences. You can also find the current call for applications on the website of the Graduate Center Life Sciences.


Completing the doctorate


What documents do I need to begin the doctoral examination process?


Please refer to the website “Completing the doctoral examination process” for all necessary information.


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).