Supervisors - Reviewers 

Supervision Agreement - Supervisors - Thesis Reviewers

All doctoral candidates need at least two supervisors. These supervisors must be full active members of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain’s faculty ( They should represent the Mind and the Brain side of the project.

Occasionally, and only if outside expertise not readily available among the M&B faculty is required, one of the supervisors may be an external professor. However, approval for including an external supervisor will have to be obtained beforehand from the M&B directors through the M&B management.

Supervision agreements

All doctoral candidates and their two supervisors will sign a supervison agreement with the Berlin School of Mind and Brain before they start on their doctoral project. The Supervision agreement will be issued by the M&B management office.

Supervisors (Betreuer:innen)

Since doctoral research projects carried out under the auspices of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain are expected to be inherently interdisciplinary, all faculty members are committed to providing feedback and advice to any doctoral candidate in the program.

Acceptance into the graduate school presupposes that each interdisciplinary doctoral project is supported by at least two supervisors capable to view and support the project from different angles. Usually, the matching between doctoral candidates and their research projects and suitable supervisors will have been completed by the end of the admission process. (At least one of the supervisors must be a full member of the M&B faculty; see above).

Read more about Interdisciplinarity at our school.

Thus, for each doctoral candidate, a supervision and training agreement between the doctoral candidate, the two (or more) thesis supervisors, and the graduate school, represented by one of the academic directors, will be drawn up (Betreuungsvereinbarung).

Usually, doctoral candidates will be integrated into the research group of their primary supervisor and will be supervised primarily by him/her. In the empirical/experimental research fields, the primary supervisor will be supported by an additional postdoctoral researcher. Candidates will usually matriculate at the primary supervisor’s university/faculty (though other options may be discussed with the supervising faculty members). See also Doctoral degree (internal webpage)

As members of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, doctoral candidates will also be part of a large peer group of doctoral candidates from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Reseach Training Group 2386 “Extrospection”, Einstein Center for Neurosciences, and Max Planck School of Cognition. This forum will allow them to discuss their ideas, present their findings, explore further lines of investigation as well as stimulate interdisciplinary discussion.

Thesis Reviewers/Assessors (Gutachter:innen)

In Germany, unlike many other countries, at least one of the supervisors may also be one of the thesis reviewers/assessors.

Please note: Regulations for doctorates at the many participating universities/faculties may differ considerably. Make sure that you know as quickly as possible which rules apply to your thesis at your university and your faculty for the duration of your doctoral project. Each faculty has advisory personnel for doctoral candidates, and they may be asked to supply candidates with the current set of rules and regulations. The set of rules and regulations will also be available online on the faculty’s website.

Below, we will give you two examples (excerpts only) from Humboldt-Universität (HU).

Regulations of HU Faculty of Life Sciences (excerpt), last amended 2015

§ 7 Supervision of the dissertation (Supervisors = Betreuer)

(1) The dissertation shall be supervised by at least one university lecturer in accordance with § 5 (1).

(2) The Faculty Council (Fakultätsrat) may, upon proposal by the institutes, grant the right to supervise individual projects to junior research group leaders, limited in time for the duration of the doctoral project. The prerequisites are that the junior research group leaders must demonstrate experience in supervising junior researchers, their own scientific quality and the ability to teach independently. The requirements are defined by the institutes.

(3) Within the framework of structured doctoral programmes [this applies to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain], the dissertation may also be supervised and evaluated by university lecturers or teaching staff from other faculties or research institutions and by junior research group leaders who meet the requirements set out in § 7 (2). The corresponding authorization will be granted by the Faculty Council in individual cases at the request of the Institute and will be limited in time for the duration of the program.

(4) The supervisor and the doctoral candidate agree on the most important cornerstones of the doctoral project in the form of a Supervision Agreement in accordance with Appendix 2.

(5) In addition to the supervision by a university teacher, subject-specific supervision can be ensured by a mentor who has at least a doctorate.

§ 8 Doctoral Commission (Reviewers/Assessors = Gutachter)

(1) Upon the opening of the doctoral examination procedure in accordance with § 9, the Doctoral Committee (Promotionsausschuss) shall appoint the Doctoral Commission (Promotionskommission) responsible for conducting the procedure on the recommendation of the relevant institute. The Doctoral Commission shall consist of the Chair and two or three experts, one of whom may be the supervisor of the doctoral candidate. The commission is completed by additional members (university lecturers or postdoctoral research assistants) up to a minimum size of 5 persons. To be awarded the grade summa cum laude, three expert opinions with this grade are required. The reviewers must have habilitated or have demonstrated habilitation-equivalent achievements or meet the requirements defined in § 7 (2) and (3). The reviewers must not be dependent on each other. At least one reviewer should not belong to the working group or institute at which the doctoral candidate has carried out the doctoral thesis. At least one reviewer must be from an institute belonging to the faculty. University lecturers and doctoral candidates from the institute representing the doctoral subject should form the majority on the doctoral committee. In structured doctoral programmes, the majority rule may be deviated from. When the doctoral procedure is opened, the Doctoral Commission should not include more than one university lecturer who has been discharged or retired. (...)

Full regulations (external website):

Regulations of HU Faculty of Philosophy (excerpt), last amended 2018

§ 5 Supervision of doctoral projects (Betreuer)

(1) Doctoral projects are supervised by at least two university teachers. The first supervisor must be in active employment at the Faculty of Philosophy for the expected duration of the doctoral project, unless a “successor” from among the active university teachers has been named in the supervision agreement for the case of need.

(2) The Faculty Council (Fakultätsrat) may, at the proposal of the institutes, transfer the right to supervise doctorates to junior research group leaders. The prerequisites for this are that the junior research group leaders must demonstrate experience in supervising junior researchers, their own scientific quality and the ability to teach independently. They can only be appointed as initial supervisors if they are in active service at the HU for the expected duration of a doctoral procedure or if a successor is determined. (...)

§ 8 Assessments/reviews of the dissertation (Gutachter)

(1) The Dean, in consultation with the chairperson of the respective examination board (Prüfungsausschuss), appoints a first assessor/reviewer and a second assessor/reviewer (Gutachter) for the assessment of the dissertation. In exceptional cases, a further assessor/reviewer may be appointed at the request of the doctoral candidate or on the basis of a decision by the responsible examination board.

(2) The assessors/reviewers must belong to the group of university teachers, including non-scheduled professors, honorary professors and Privatdozenten. In addition, the first reviewer must be a member of the Faculty of Philosophy of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin or must have been a member in the last two years or less. The second assessor/reviewer may belong to another faculty or university. (...)

Full regulations (external website):


This page last updated on: 19 April 2023