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About us

Member of the Dahlem Research School (DRS)

Foundation and Aims

The doctoral program in plant sciences (PS) was founded in 2009, initially with a focus on plant molecular biology, within the Dahlem Research School (DRS) at Freie Universität, and was expanded in 2011 to include the other branches of plant sciences represented within the Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS). The goal is to provide a structured program for doctoral candidates in the various subjects encompassed by the plant sciences.

The doctoral program, which is offered in German and English, is organized as cooperation of 14 research groups at the Institute of Biology. It is embedded into the structure of the DRS, with its education programs and additional course options. The program also includes the teaching of transferable skills, which includes knowledge transfer, scientific management, and foreign language skills. The DRS program in plant sciences offers its participating doctoral candidates, of which there are currently about 45, not only solid subject-specific knowledge based on current research, but also targeted support and intensive supervision. While completing the doctorate, candidates also learn the skills they need for later positions of leadership in academia and the sciences.

Research Focus

The research groups involved in the Graduate School of Plant Sciences are integrated into national and international research programs. The range of topics covered reflects the diversity of the research groups present at the DCPS and includes studies of how plants perceive biotic and abiotic stimuli, transmission of information within plants through hormones and other signal molecules, and how that information is translated in physiological reactions, genetic control of plant development, how plants interact with other organisms, plant relationships, and the evolution of traits and new plant species.


Molecular biology and genetics, developmental and cell biology, biochemistry of plants and plant physiology, ecology of plants and animals, functional biodiversity and molecular ecology, systematic botany and plant geography, bioinformatics

Program Type and Funding

Doctoral candidates can finance their studies through various collaborative research centers (CRCs), priority programs, research units, networks, and individual grants program of the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the European Union, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Volkswagen Foundation. Doctoral students also receive support from other sources, including Berlin Funding for Graduates (Elsa-Neumann-Stipendium des Landes Berlin).

Responsible Institution

Freie Universität Berlin


unlimited number

Start of Program


Application Deadline



German and English (B2)

Persons in charge (Admission committee)

  • Representative: Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmülling
  • Deputee: Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kunze
  • Further members of the admission committee: Prof. Dr. Margarete Baier, Prof. Dr. Monika Hilker, Dr. Stefan Hempel
  • Spokespersons of the students: Andras Bittner, Bernadette Eichstädt, Manuel Frank
  • Contact: dcps(at)fu-berlin.de
  • Secretary: Sabine Thiel
  • Ombudspersons PD Dr. Wolfgang Schuster (schuwowi(at)zedat.fu-berlin.de; 030 838 56797) und Prof. em. Dr. Rudolf Achazi achbiofu(at)zedat.fu-berlin.de; 030 834 5567)

Research Groups

Applied Genetics

Biochemistry of Plants

Epigenetics of Plants

Plant Physiology

Ecology of Plants

Ecology of Animals