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HDS PhD Admissions

Here, prospective students can find all the pertinent information regarding the application process.

Please note that the application period for entrance into the October 2023 cohort has concluded, but we encourage you to stay tuned for next year's application materials to join our academic community in Berlin.

Our next application period will start January 15th, 2024 and will end February 29th, 2024.

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Applications for admission into the October 2024 HDS PhD Cohort will be accepted between January 15, 2024 - February 29, 2024.

Please note that we are unable to consider any applications submitted before or after our application window.

Required Application Documents

This list reflects the application requirements of the 2023 application cycle. Application documents for the 2024 application cycle are subject to change.

Official application documents for the 2024 application cycle will be posted after our informational session. 

  1. The official HDS application form.
  2. Curriculum vitae (CV), preferably in English.
  3. Copies of Bachelor's and Master's degree certificates (in English or German). Alternatively, comparable university degree certification or copies of other documents proving the entitlement to a doctorate may be submitted:
    • Generally, for the majority of HDS applicants, this means a completed Bachelor's degree AND Master's degree (or equivalent) in a subject area relevant to Health Data Sciences.
    • For full information on accepted degrees, see
    • If you are in the process of completing your Master’s degree at the time of application, please include information in your application stating your expected graduation date. This date should be before the official start of the structured HDS PhD program (October 1st of the application year).

  4. Documentation showing relevant coursework in the HDS domains (in English or German). Please include transcripts from your past study programs or other relevant coursework certificates as evidence of your educational background and scope.
  5. Certificates of annual examinations taken at the home university (transcript of records) including grades and explanation of the university’s grading system (description of grading scale) (in English or German).
  6. Motivational letter in English. This letter should convey the applicant's scientific interests, academic achievements, professional background, and plan for financing.
  7. letter of recommendation from a university professor or lecturer (preferably in English).
  8. Proof of knowledge of the English language at least at level B2 or equivalent of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Admissions Procedure

  1. Application window: January 15th through February 29th. (Please note: the application window for admission to the 2024 cohort is earlier than in previous years)
  2. After reviewing all applications, the PhD Committee will invite selected applicants who are eligible for admission to participate in online selection interviews and presentations.
  3. The online selection interviews will be scheduled to take place approximately one to two months later in the spring of each year. Applicants will be notified via email regarding the timing of their interview/presentation.These interviews will be conducted by a selection committee appointed by the PhD Committee and last approximately 25 minutes each, of which applicants will give a 15-minute presentation about their previous scientific education, accomplishments, and planned research project.
  4. Afterwards, successful applicants will be granted acceptance to the program and be formally invited to enroll in the program the following semester.

Click here to see the timeline of the HDS PhD Program admissions procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

HDS-Related Coursework

In the application, I should provide evidence of HDS-related coursework. What does this mean?

In order to be accepted as a student in the HDS PhD Program, you have to provide proof that you’ve had previous methodological knowledge related to any of the main domains of health data sciences (Biostatistics, Public Health, Epidemiology, Meta-research, Population Health Sciences or Medical Informatics) in your previous studies. Proof can be in the form of transcripts or certificates of such coursework. Many of our current students have Master’s degrees in these or closely related fields.

Language Requirements

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.

Studying Remotely

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.