Why a Doctoral Programme in Governance?

With a PhD obtained in our Doctoral Programme in Governance, students are at the cutting edge of social science knowledge in a field that has emerged as one of the most important and dynamic fields of inquiry. It brings together perspectives from economics, political science, law, and sociology, and requires excellence in qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It is problem-oriented, both in a theoretical as well as practical sense. Above all, the field of governance is inherently comparative, international, and policy-oriented.


Who are the PhD students?

The programme is designed for students with a desire to understand fundamental problems and patterns of governance at the highest level of academic research. Candidates should have a very strong foundation in one of the disciplines represented at the Hertie School – economics, law, political science, sociology as well as public administration/management and related fields. They should be open to interdisciplinary research and comparative perspectives, as governance and public policy issues typically transcend the boundaries of academic disciplines.

[Meet the PhD students]

[Dissertations submitted to the Hertie School]


Do I have to pay tuition costs?

No. There are no tuition costs for the programme.


Why should I come to the Hertie School?

The Hertie School offers a unique research environment for PhD students who seek to explore cutting-edge research on policy problems. The Hertie School offers a lively and stimulating academic community. It is a small, select institution which integrates teaching, research, and debate in the field of governance, and brings together students, researchers, and scholars with experts and representatives from the world of politics, business and civil Society – thus providing an ideal intellectual environment. [more]


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

Upon successful completion of the Doctoral Programme, graduates can choose to receive either a "PhD" (Doctor of Philosophy) or a "Dr. rer. pol.".


What career options do I have with a PhD in Governance?

The Doctoral Programme in Governance will provide the knowledge and skills required for an academic university career at leading social science departments and schools of public policy. It also equips students for posts in research institutes, 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, and offers students support and placement services to help find a suitable pathway after graduation.


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

The Hertie School is located in 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 International Office & Student Life Team provides information on housing for incoming students. 


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

Yes. Our International Office & Student Life Team (studentaffairs[at]hertie-school[dot]org) will offer support in administrative issues such as visa, residence permits, health insurance, etc.


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, the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), the Humboldt-Universität, or the Potsdam Center for Climate Change. Outside Germany, the School has dual degree study programmes with the London School of Economics, Sciences Po, Bocconi University, and Columbia University in New York; and exchanges with Georgetown, UCLA, Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing, and Cairo, among others. What is more, the School has excellent networks with governments and many national and international agencies, NGOs, and corporations.


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.


Can I come to the Hertie School as a Visiting PhD Student?

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


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

Yes. You should submit all transcripts and certificates you have acquired by the time of your application. The master's degree certificate must be submitted at the latest upon matriculation (i.e., by 1 September).


I cannot find my area of research in your list of potential supervisors. Does that mean my topic cannot be supervised, and can I still apply?

If you cannot find your area of research in our list, this means that none of our current faculty members can provide supervision in the academic year 2020/21. 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.

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

2. In exceptional cases, your referee may also send a signed letter on institutional letterhead directly to our postal address (see below). However, we highly recommend sending the letters via email.

Hertie School
PhD Applications Team
Friedrichstrasse 180
10117 Berlin    


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 of 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, 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?

The application deadlines for 2020 will be published on our website soon. Applicants will be informed about the results between February and April 2020, depending on the programme. For details on a specific doctoral programme, please check out the programme's website.


Should I contact potential supervisors prior to my application?

No, please do not contact Hertie School faculty members prior to your application. We have a centralised application process. Applications will be forwarded to potential supervisors after the complete application has been sent. We also encourage you to develop your own proposal and not adapt it strictly to research interests of a faculty member. However, it is important that a core faculty member is able to advise your topic. Please consult the list of potential supervisors.


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

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.


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. Our faculty members cannot support candidates working independently.


How do I apply for a Hertie School stipend?

Please indicate in your online application that you are applying for a Hertie School living cost stipend. You do not have to send an additional funding application. 


Can I work alongside 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 20hrs/week max.) at the Hertie School may adjust their PhD study plan in accordance with their professional obligations. The respective arrangements must be agreed with the PhD Board.