I recently finished Medical School and I'm interested in getting into a MSc program in Cognitive Neurosciences in Germany.

Regarding my CV, what should I emphasize? I only have two articles in press and another one is under review at a well positioned journal. However I am worried because I don't know if they are too few. Are publications determinant for a Msc program admission, or... are grades and research experience ( i.e. working at my Uni research lab) more important? Also, is teaching experience something important for admission?

Also, I spoke recently with a lady working at admissions in Berlin and she told me that in Germany, specifically for a MSc it is not necessary to contact your possible principal investigator before applying, because you choose your research group during the second year. Is this true? or should I contact a possible PI and ask him for admission before applying to the University?

  • 2
    What kind of degree did you get from Medical School? Grades are often most important, but since interpreting foreign grades is often difficult, they may pay less attention to this in applications from abroad. Two articles in press is very good. It's a better idea to contact the person coordinating the program rather than a possible PI.
    – Niko
    Oct 30, 2015 at 16:07
  • Oh, ok, this will be difficult because I am form a non-US non-EU university. My grades are given in percentages 100% is the highest grade you can get. I got a 92% so I guess it is like a 1-1.5 in Germany or a 3.7 GPA according to university conversion tables. My degree is Medical Doctor, M.D. I hope this answers your question and thank you so much! I hadn't thought about contacting the program coordinator, I'm quite inexperienced in this.
    – LenaMi
    Oct 30, 2015 at 16:25
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    Not sure because it's not my field of study, but for MSc admissions, you usually wouldn't need any publications at all, but of course they greatly enhance your application. And yes, you usually only choose the research group for your MSc thesis in the second year. You don't need teaching experience either, because you don't normally get a TA- or RA-ship with the admission, instead you're expected to self-fund. Oct 30, 2015 at 18:53
  • If you're looking to work with a specific advisor from the start, have minimal coursework and have a RA-ship or TA-ship to fund you, you'd need to apply for PhD positions. But that's usually only possible with an MSc. Oct 30, 2015 at 18:56

2 Answers 2


Most German students coming out of an BSc program will not have any publications at all. Most of our BSc programs are 3 year programs with a 3 to 6 months thesis at the end, which is not enough to get publishable research. And it's just plain not enough time to get something published if you are directly applying for a MSc. Getting a paper written and accepted on top of writing a thesis takes months. This is of course a generalization - but from the about 70 students that graduated with me (Biology), none had a publication at the end.

Teaching experience is also usually not necessary. MSc students only rarely have to teach anything, that's for PhD students/postdocs /professors.

MSc programs are also usually more general than you seem used to. The first year is taking courses, the second year is doing research and writing a thesis with a group you got to know in that first year. There is no need to get in contact with a specific professor before applying and they might not be able to help you have a successful application anyway. You might of course want to look around already so that you know there's a few groups you'd be interested in working with at the university you choose.

Publications and research and teaching experience are of course not a bad thing, on the contrary, they give you an advantage when applying and you emphasize them in your application . They are just not required because German students often don't have publications when graduating from their BSc programs. Grades are very important for universities here, in fact, when I applied for my MSc (which was 9 years ago, though, when Germany was just starting to switch to the Bachelor/Master model), they were really the only thing the admissions comitee looked at. The university website should tell you a bit more about what they expect, though.

  • That should be the accepted answer. Nothing to add here. Grades are important in Germany in general.
    – user42838
    Nov 1, 2015 at 4:54

In Germany, and Europe in general, MSc programs are separate from PhD ones, and if you are applying for an MSc program, a publication record is not necessary at all although it definitely would put you on edge over other applicants, especially if you are applying for a popular program!

Your GPA is important, and it sounds really good. What is really important though, is the course relevance. I would recommend you to check the courses of the program you are applying for and see what courses are required and if you have taken them as part of your BSc studies or somewhere else.

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