Doctoral programme

Do I have to pay tuition costs?

No. There are no tuition costs for the programme. By applying for our doctoral programme you apply for a fellowship that covers your living costs in Berlin.


What kind of doctoral degree will I receive from the Hertie School?

Upon successful completion of your doctoral programme, you can choose to receive either the degree "PhD" or "Dr. rer. pol.".


Can I pursue a joint PhD degree at the Hertie School?

A joint degree process (or cotutelle) is generally possible. At the moment, there are no existing joint PhD agreements with universities abroad. We therefore need to check each agreement individually. In the case that the Hertie School should be the home university, you would have to successfully apply to our doctoral programme first.

Should the partner university be the home university, you would need to find a Hertie School faculty member who would be willing to co-supervise your thesis.


What career options do I have with a doctoral degree from the Hertie School?

Our doctoral programmes provide the knowledge and skills required for an academic university career at leading social science departments and schools of public policy. They also equip PhD researchers for positions in research institutes, organisations, think-tanks, or research-oriented positions in the public sector, private enterprises, or civil society. The Hertie School has an excellent academic and professional network that supports our PhD graduates in finding a job.


Which networks can I access at the Hertie School?

The Hertie School has an international network that spans academic and professional realms. In Berlin, the Hertie School has close ties with institutions such as the Freie Universität Berlin, the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, among many others. The Hertie School closely collaborates with a number of universities on doctoral education in the context of the EU-funded project CIVICA: Bocconi University (Italy), Central European University (Hungary), European University Institute (Italy), Sciences Po (France), the Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden) and London School of Economics and Political Science (UK).

The School has excellent networks with governments and many national and international agencies, NGOs and corporations. Leading experts regularly come to the Hertie School to participate in events.


Do I have to participate in one of the doctoral programmes or can I work individually with a professor?

You must participate in one of the doctoral programmes we offer in order to receive a doctoral degree from the Hertie School. Our faculty members cannot support candidates working independently.


Can I work while doing the doctoral programme during the academic semester?

If you receive a scholarship from the Hertie School, employment is limited to 10 hours a week. Furthermore, there is a salary limit. Candidates with part-time positions (limited to 20h/week max.) at the Hertie School may adjust their PhD study plan in accordance with their professional obligations. The respective arrangements must be agreed upon with the PhD Board.



Living in Germany and Berlin

Will accommodation be provided? Who can I contact should I need help in looking for a place to live?

The Hertie School is located at the center of Berlin and does not have a campus providing student housing. However, the city of Berlin offers ample opportunity for accommodation at relatively reasonable rates. Our Student Services team provides information on housing and other relevant topics for incoming students on their website


Will I be supported in dealing with the German authorities if necessary (questions concerning visas, residence permits, etc.)?

Yes. Our Student Services team will offer support in administrative issues such as visa, residence permits, health insurance, etc. Please visit their website or write an e-mail to studentaffairs[at]hertie-school[dot]org.


Do I have to move to Berlin?

Yes. The doctoral programme is a structured programme, with coursework during the first year of study and a requirement to attend research colloquia later. You are expected to take residence in Berlin for the full duration of the programme. After the first year, you may leave for shorter periods of time if made necessary by your research.


I applied for the PhD programme but can't check my status in the application portal. How and when will I find out about the result?

If you received a confirmation e-mail after submitting, your application is currently under review. Please refrain from asking us about your application status since it takes a few weeks to finish our evaluation process. Thank you for your understanding.




Can I apply if I have not completed my master's degree at the time of application?

Yes, you can apply while your master's programme is still ongoing. Please submit all transcripts and certificates you have acquired by the time of your application. The final master's degree transcript and certificate must be submitted at the latest upon matriculation (i.e., by 1 September).


I cannot find my area of research represented at the Hertie School. Can I still apply?

If you cannot find your area of research being covered by one of our supervisors or one of our Centres of Competence, this means that none of our current faculty members can provide supervision in the current academic year. Please refrain from sending an application in this case. You are welcome to apply at a later stage. We recommend checking our website on a regular basis to stay informed about the School and its growing faculty. 


How should I submit the letters of reference?

You must contact your referees to have them send your letter of reference directly to the PhD Applications team.

Your referee must email their reference letter to us directly, to phd-applications[at]hertie-school[dot]org, from the referee's institutional address. The letter must be signed and submitted as a pdf.


Can I waive the English test?

Yes, in the following cases:

  • If you are a native English speaker;
  • If you received a university degree in a full-time study programme (of at least 4 semesters) which was exclusively taught in English. In this case, please submit a statement from the respective programme administration.

We do not waive the English test in all other cases. Short-term study abroad, au-pair home-stays or language school certificates will not be accepted as test replacements.


Which English tests does the Hertie School accept?

We accept the following tests (with minimum test scores):

  • TOEFL | PBT 600 | CBT 250 | ibT 100
  • Cambridge ESOL | CPE C | CAE B
  • IELTS | Overall = 7.0 | Writing 0 7,0

Our TOEFL test school code is 8874. Test results may not be more than two years old. If your result is not available when you submit your application, please indicate the date when you will take one of the tests mentioned above on your application form.

Short-term study abroad experiences, au-pair home-stays or language school certificates will not be accepted as test replacements.


When will I find out if I have been accepted into the programme?

Applicants will be informed about the results between February and April of the respective year of application, depending on the doctoral programme. For details on a specific doctoral programme, please check out the programme's website.


Should I contact potential supervisors prior to my application?

Please refrain from asking Hertie School faculty members about acceptance prior to your online application, since they are not allowed to accept PhD candidates on their own before the involvement of the PhD Board of the Hertie School. We have a centralised application process: All applications are sent through our online application portal. As a second step, they are forwarded to potential supervisors. After the evaluation of an application, the PhD Board decides whether the applicant is invited for an interview. Please consult the list of potential supervisors to find out if your research proposal is in line with the research of one of our faculty members.


Should I send my research proposal to a faculty member or to the application team?

No. Faculty members and members of the applications team will not review or comment on your proposal. Please consult our guidelines for proposal writing as they might be of help.



Other questions

Can I come to the Hertie School as a visiting PhD researcher?

Yes, we can accommodate a limited number of visiting PhD researchers. If you are intestested in a research stay of up to three months, find out more about our application procedure here.