Key facts

  • 3-year, English-language doctoral programme (180 ECTS)
  • Academic training in research design and methods 
  • Strong advisory structure and close interaction with the school’s research community
  • No tuition fees, cost-of-living stipends available
  • Funding for travel, workshops, language courses, etc. available through the PHD GLOBAL project (promoted by the German Academic Exchange Service and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research)

Why pursue a PhD at the Hertie School of Governance

  • The Doctoral Programme in Governance offers rigorous academic training in research design 
  • Students learn cutting-edge methods and concepts in the field of governance 
  • Invaluable opportunities to participate in the school’s research activities and benefit from close interaction with experienced faculty and researchers 
  • An inspiring international student body and global alumni network 
  • Regular opportunities to network with leaders from all sectors at exclusive events
  • Study in the heart of Berlin, one of Europe’s key political, cultural and thought hubs 

Find out more about what we offer.

Who is the programme for?

Candidates whose proposed research projects are in line with the fields of research represented by the Hertie School's faculty. Applicants should have an exceptionally strong master’s degree (or equivalent) in economics, law, political science, sociology, public administration, Management, or related fields. [Meet our PhD students]

The Doctoral Programme in Governance is a full-time study programme.


During the first year, students prepare for their dissertation research through colloquia and common coursework in research design and methods. Students also benefit from a unique support structure for their independent research in the last phase of the programme. Skills workshops offering special training ranging from research methods to professional development complement the curriculum. [more]

Become a part of the Hertie School’s research community

The Doctoral Programme in Governance is integrated in the Hertie School’s research structure. PhD students are linked to one of three research clusters (Political Economy, European and Global Governance, or Organisation, Management and Leadership) and work closely with faculty members on research projects and colloquia.


The Hertie School of Governance does not charge tuition fees for its doctoral programmes, but seeks to ensure that all admitted candidates have secured the financial means to support the three-year doctoral programme in Berlin:

  • The Hertie School can offer living cost stipends to two doctoral students: 1,200 euros per month (including 100 euros for research and travelling) for a period of up to three years.
  • Applicants can be admitted without a stipend offer, but they need to prove that they have the financial means to support their studies when they start the doctoral programme. These means can come from sources such as third party stipends, paid positions in research or other part-time positions. (Please note that candidates who work full-time cannot be admitted to the programme.)

We therefore ask each candidate to explain their personal circumstances and how they intend to support themselves during the three-year doctoral programme as part of the online application procedure.

Because of the limited number of stipends that we can offer, we strongly recommend that you prepare an application for a third party stipend when you apply to the Doctoral Programme in Governance. (Please note that stipend applications usually need to be submitted six months prior to the beginning of the doctoral programme. An offer of admission is often required by the funder.)

PHD GLOBAL: Promotion of international exchange and careers abroad

The PHD GLOBAL project is promoted by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the IPID4all programme. It supports the internationalization of the programme by providing funding for travel abroad, career development workshops, visiting PhD students, and cooperations with doctoral programmes abroad. [more]

How to apply for the Doctoral Programme in Governance

The Doctoral Programme in Governance is open to candidates with an exceptionally strong master’s degree (or equivalent) in economics, law, political science, sociology, public administration, management or related fields. Before applying, please check our list of potential supervisors to make sure that your intended research project is in line with the areas of research represented by the Hertie School's faculty. The doctoral programme starts at the beginning of September each year with a group of 10-15 PhD students.

A complete application encompasses:

  • Online application form
  • The transcripts and certificates of all acquired university degrees
  • A curriculum vitae
  • An English proficiency proof (TOEFL IBT 100, PBT 600, CBT 250; Cambridge ESOL qualifications CPE C, CAE B; or IELTS overall 7.0 incl. writing score 7.0)
  • A funding statement to explain personal circumstances and funding situation: integrated in the online application (see Funding Process for details)
  • A short letter of motivation (600 words maximum)
  • A research proposal (5000 words maximum) with
    • description, goals, and methods of dissertation project
    • timetable of dissertation project
    • name(s) of potential dissertation advisors from the Hertie School core faculty
  • Two letters of reference (in English language) from scholars at universities or research institutions

Please consult our FAQs as they contain further information on the required application documents. [more]

Application Deadlines

The application portal for the Doctoral Programme in Governance will be open from 1 December 2017 until 31 January 2018. Please note that 31 January is the final deadline for applications contrary to previous years. Applicants will be informed about the results in March/April 2018.

Application process

The PhD Board decides if the proposal matches the academic scope of the Doctoral Programme in Governance and if core faculty members will be able to supervise the project (pre-screening).

Applications that successfully passed the first step will be assessed by two internal reviewers. They identify possible dissertation advisors (based on the candidate's proposition) and assess the different elements of the application:

  • Quality and fit of research proposal
  • Academic performance and references
  • CV and motivation letter

The PhD Board decides on a final list of successful candidates and on a waiting list, taking into account the candidates' ranking, the availability of relevant supervisors, the availability of funding, and overall positions in the programme. After submitting the application online, each candidate will receive a login and password to check the status of his or her application online.

Apply for a research visit

The Hertie School of Governance is interested in hosting PhD students enrolled for doctoral studies at other universities for short research visits (usually for less than three months).

Visiting PhD students may participate in the colloquiums hosted by the research clusters and many other events organised by the Hertie School. They will be offered desk space including a personal computer in a room with other Hertie School PhD students. Visiting researchers are eligible to participate in methods and professional skills workshops offered during their stay, if space is available.

How to apply

Prospective visiting PhD students should provide the following material to the PhD Admissions Team via email:

  • Letter of motivation, including: proposed dates of visit, reason for visit, and indication whether funding has been secured or is sought through the IPID4all project [see below]
  • Faculty member who should be asked to sponsor the visit [list of faculty who supervise PhD theses, listing their areas of expertise]
  • CV
  • Research proposal or outline of dissertation
  • MA transcript and degrees, PhD transcript
  • Proof of current enrolment as a doctoral student
  • Letter of recommendation from main advisor (emailed separately by main advisor)

All documents must be provided in English.

When to apply

Applications for the Fall Term (September through December) should be made before 1 June.
Applications for the Spring Term (January through May) should be made before 1 November.
Research stays during the summer (June through August) are not recommended. If you are interested in a summer stay, please get in touch before an application.


The PhD Team forwards your application to the indicated faculty member to check whether the faculty member supports your research stay. The PhD Board decides applications, taking into account that the School only has limited desk space for visiting PhD students. Applicants will be notified by the PhD Team.

Financial support

The Hertie School does not charge any fees from visiting PhD students. We are able to offer funding to selected visiting PhD students through the PHD GLOBAL project, promoted by the German Academic Exchange Service and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the IPID4all programme.

Selected students will receive a travel lump sum depending on their country of origin and a per diem allowance. As an indication, the per diem allowance amounts to €1,500 for a six-week stay.

The funding can only be awarded to visiting PhD students who are currently enrolled at universities outside of Germany and who do not receive funding for the same purpose. Applicants should indicate in their letter of motivation whether they want to apply for funding through PHD GLOBAL.

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