On this page, prospective students can find information regarding admission requirements, information for applicants with international credentials, and information for international applicants.
Please refer to tabs on the left side of this page for information regarding funding, supervision, and admissions.
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Requirements for Admission
Admission to the HDS PhD program is competitive and students must meet the following requirements to be considered for acceptance:
- Proof of eligibility for a doctoral degree per the requirements outlined by the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Promotionsberechtigung).
- Evidence of prior course work with professional relevance to Health Data Sciences (biostatistics, epidemiology, public health, meta-research, population health science and/or medical informatics).
- A strong command of the English language (minimum B2 level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, please find details here).
- Secured funding for the duration of the doctorate program.
Beyond the formal requirements, students demonstrating exceptional motivation for their research topic(s) of interest will be prioritized.
Interested students are strongly encouraged to contact potential supervisors in their field well before applying to the HDS PhD Program, and to provide information about exchanges with supervisors in their application material.
Information for Applicants with Degrees Acquired Outside of Germany
Recognition of Degrees Acquired Abroad
Applicants who acquired their degree outside of Germany must obtain certification that the responsible German authority deems your previous international academic qualifications as equivalents in the German system
Applicants should complete this step to start the formal degree recognition process as soon as possible after their application passes through the first HDS PhD Program selection round and they receive an invitation to interview.
This process takes place through Anabin, which is the informational portal for the recognition of international degrees in Germany. Applicants should search for the following on Anabin:
- Prior institution(s) of study for their relevant, completed degrees (both Bachelor and Master’s, or equivalents)
- Degree(s) acquired from that institution.
We ask applicants to save screenshots of any listings they are able to locate and send them to us at this stage.
Sometimes, the institutions and/or prior degree programs of our applicants are not listed. If this is the case, then the applicant’s degrees will have to be formally evaluated by the responsible German authority, the ZAB ‘Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen’. We ask applicants to let us know this so the Charité can apply for this evaluation on your behalf to avoid incurring any additional fees. If students attempt to apply for this individually, substantial costs are involved.
For additional information, please visit the following links:
Information for International Applicants
- Applicants without German citizenship may be required to obtain a visa in order to enter Germany to study with the Health Data Sciences PhD Program, and/or work in Germany.
- The exact timeline to obtain a visa will vary for each individual and is dependent on the prospective student’s country of residence and the type of visa. Applicants should anticipate that this process will last several months. For this reason, we urge all applicants to contact the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in their respective countries as soon as possible to obtain specific information about the process and timeframe to obtain a student visa.
- Prospective students who require a visa should start the visa application process as soon as possible to be able to ensure they can be physically present in Germany at the beginning of the semester.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this the right program for me?
What academic backgrounds do the current HDS PhD students have?
Our current students come from diverse backgrounds; in the most recent cohort, we have students with previous degrees in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Public Health, Psychology, Mathematics, Philosophy, and Health Economics.
I am currently a medical (or dental) student. Is this the right program for me?
Most medical and dental degree programs do not have enough methods-focused coursework in the domains of Health Data Sciences to sufficiently meet our requirement for relevant prior coursework. If you have studied medicine/dentistry and have also completed extensive methodological coursework outside of your clinical studies, you may be a suitable applicant.
I am interested in pursuing a PhD in Public Health focused on policy and management in Berlin. Is this the right program for me?
While strongly related to the Public Health field, this PhD program focuses on Health Data Sciences and our students’ coursework and projects are rooted in the domains of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Population Health Science, Public Health, Meta-Research and Medical Informatics. There is another doctoral degree in Berlin offered by the Technical University (Dr. PH) that might be a better fit if these are your interests. See: https://www.mig.tu-berlin.de/menue/teaching/promotion/parameter/en/
Do I need to speak German?
Our students come from a variety of international backgrounds. For the HDS PhD Program, it is not mandatory that you speak, read or write German. However, these skills are very helpful in daily life as well as scientific collaborations; therefore, we strongly recommend German language lessons for successful applicants without German language skills.
I am required to provide proof of at least B2 level English proficiency. Is it mandatory that I provide a TOEFL or IELTS as a proof?
The official language of instruction of the Health Data Sciences PhD Program is English. Therefore, the absence of strong language proficiency in (scientific) reading, writing and/or speaking will make it very difficult for the student to complete HDS PhD program coursework and their final cumulative research dissertation (in English). For this reason, we require no less than a B2 level English language proficiency based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).
Please see the detailed list of accepted proof of language skills other than TOEFL or IELTS. Important for many HDS applicants: if you had multiple English language courses during your university studies (at least 20 credit points), this also fulfills the requirement. If you believe you fulfill this requirement by other means you can demonstrate, the HDS PhD Board will decide on a case-by-case basis. We encourage candidates to contact us early if this is a concern, so there is enough time to provide additional language proficiency documentation if their primary documentation is deemed insufficient.
I do not have a current TOEFL score. Is it possible to count my education as proficiency in English since the courses took place entirely in English?
Yes! If you earned 20 ECTS (or equivalent) through courses taking place in English at a state or state-recognized university you will have enough to prove English language proficiency.
Are there any funding opportunities available through the HDS PhD program?
International applicants may apply to be considered for one of two three-year scholarships provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) through the HDS PhD Program as part of the Graduate School Scholarship Program (GSSP). Please click here for more information about the DAAD GSSP scholarship. Since this scholarship opportunity is expected to be competitive, international applicants are encouraged to explore additional funding opportunities from national and international foundations. The DAAD scholarship database may be useful:
Is a full-time employment position recommended while being a full-time PhD student?
Though some students have scholarships, most of our current HDS PhD students are employed in part-time (e.g. 65%) research positions. Ideally, most/all work on your PhD projects should count as work time for your employment. Your employer should be willing to support your participation in required HDS courses and help facilitate you sticking to your three-year project timeline. Should your employment be full-time, this support and flexibility is especially important.
I’ve seen mention of funding, data access and supervisors on your website, but I’m still confused. How are these related? What do I need access to prior to applying?
It is important to separate the three issues: funding, data access, and supervision. Successful applicants need to demonstrate all three and many times all three go together. There are exceptions: e.g., If someone brings their own funding, it is possible to find data and supervisors who might fit the project. This requires a really motivated individual to make all those connections, a good research question / project idea and of course, their own funding. Most of the time, the students find a job (usually 65% paid) as a PhD student at the institute of their main supervisor.
Is it possible to spend time abroad as a HDS PhD Program student?
In general, yes, it is possible. However, our program does have specific presence requirements for the required courses in the first through third semesters. If you would like to travel during the PhD program, we recommend doing so during semester breaks or in the fourth through sixth semesters. We do not currently have formal exchange programs under the HDS PhD Program, however, the Charité does support international research exchange, and many HDS instructors and supervisors have large international networks and can help advise you.
I live permanently in another city far from Berlin. Is it possible for me to complete the HDS PhD Program remotely?
The HDS PhD program has several courses which require regular attendance, especially in the first three semesters. Unless weekly travel to Berlin is realistic for you, it will not be possible for you to participate in the HDS PhD program remotely. We strongly encourage all prospective students to relocate to the Berlin area if accepted to the program.