The Hertie PolAd certificate cycle 2023/24 is designed for 20 professionals at an early-middle stage of their careers currently working as policy or political advisers and assistants in state administrations, line ministries, parliament or other state/public institutions, or within inter-national organisations. The intensive training will not only deepen their understanding of the role of advisers but enhance the skills they need to undertake core tasks of policymaking, management and mobilisation in times of risk and uncertainty. While the core curriculum was developed over the past years by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR), the Hertie School has built upon that foundation with several additional modules focusing on, inter alia, data analysis and digital statecraft as well as on relevant skills for political candidates and campaign staff preparing for an election.

The innovative structure of this advanced certificate course builds around thematic modules, each lasting one day, designed to develop concrete skills needed to address sensitive policy and political issues with curricular content specifically tailored to participants’ needs. The modular structure of the course allows participants to attend hands-on skills-building sessions - such as drafting talking points for a busy state secretary - as well as forward-looking discussions - such as the digital transformation of the public sector and the related impact on civil service culture.

In addition to fostering dialogue between these officials and staff members from various geographic locations, the course fulfils functions at the nexus of capacity building and dialogue facilitation. The programme in its most extensive form lasts 18 days, with several modules (days 15-18 on political campaigning, start-up incubators, countering misinformation and media propaganda) available only for political candidates and their advisers.

What’s the Advanced Certificate about?

This new programme considers a variety of sectoral perspectives reflected in the modular structure of the advanced certificate. Renowned Hertie School faculty and experts from the school’s academic and policymaking network provide timely expertise on public sector challenges and build skills to overcome them. The certificate course has two overall objectives:  

  • Building and enhancing the capacity of government officials. Modules of this scalable course include: Policymaking, policy impact analysis, scenario-building and forecasting, gender-sensitive policymaking, digital statecraft, risk and crisis management, policy writing and advocating for policy change, strategic and crisis communication, speech writing and delivery, media training as well as negotiation skills. These modules can be offered either in one block or within a period of time. See below the detailed description of modules. 

  • Fostering dialogue between government officials and political staff across entities and geographies through joint learning. Dialogue is established in a safe environment that does not focus on issues of contention, but on joint skills equally valued by all participants in their respective professional environments. Experience has shown that initial tensions can be diffused by a collaborative focus on skills. In this way, solid, long-lasting transnational professional and private networks between government officials are formed.

“The course has helped me master the spectrum of skills required for optimal job performance as a policy advisor.”

Artur Sirbu, Diplomat, Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland

How is the curriculum structured?

Each course module or day is individually bookable, but also can be combined with other modules, based on training needs. For organisations combining a total of five days of trainings, an advanced certificate would be awarded.   

Five days of PolAd modules = One Advanced Certificate for Policy and Political Advisers  

To earn the Advanced Certificate, participants must complete five days of modules. To fulfil this requirement, clients are free to choose a combination of the eighteen available themed modules, each listed below as a “day”. Institutions can choose specific topics and design their own training plan to fit their specific institutional needs. Our team is available to help build an optimised structure for how the selected modules are combined in order to best conform to your organisational parameters. This helps to reconcile this investment in the professional careers of their staff with other requirements that come with working and learning from home.


How will the course be organised?

Three types of course formats can be organised:   

  • For governments: The training can be offered to civil servants and cabinet advisers within one national government, to support a whole-of-government approach. Following calls throughout relevant government networks, participants can be selected by the government client. Equally, international organisations may book the course as part of their life-long learning policies supporting the development of their staff.  

  • For international organisations: The course can be funded by an international organisation pursuing institution-building and networking objectives throughout one or more regions of its mandate. Participant selection in this case is merit-based and requires of applicants to submit a video for introduction purposes as well as an essay and an employer’s recommendation. Great care is placed on balancing geographies and on achieving a 50:50 gender quota.  

  • For donors and higher education: The Hertie School will collaborate with philanthropic organisation, universities and corporate donors and offer the course for political start-ups as well as to policy fellows within higher education institutions eager to enter government following their sabbatical.


How is the PolAd course delivered?

The course is delivered by a team of mentors, each member an expert with a specific professional background in the respective field, over a  period of maximum 18 days, depending on the content (selected from modules below) of the course. The course is scalable and can be delivered in one or several segments, depending on the availability and needs of participants. It is a core element of the programme that “mentors” will not only teach their respective segment but will coordinate their interventions and work with participants to create an environment of maximum intellectual challenge and learning during the entire course. 

The course can be delivered on-site as well as online, or as a mixture of the two formats. For on-site delivery, participants and mentors will spend time together for the entire duration in a place removed from capitals, in a location conducive for collaborative learning (conference centers, universities, etc.); the programme will also include joint evening activities.  

Given the current situation, the course will be delivered as a mixture of the online and on-site formats involving collaborative tasks required between course modules. As online format, the course will be delivered in the course of 2023/24 on Hertie’s web-based platform.


How much does it cost?

A variety of factors will determine costs: The number of modules booked, the specific mix of online or on-site delivery, and (in the case of an on-site segment) the location of the training facility. Please get in touch with the Executive Education team to find out more.


What’s the track record of the course?

The course has been delivered by the OSCE-ODIHR over 15 times in various modular combinations for diverse audiences over the past five years, in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Tunis, Florence, Sandö, Chisinau, Tashkent and Bishkek. The Hertie School was an instrumental partner in the delivery of thecourses in Tashkent and Florence. The most frequent groups of participants were government officials from the EU’s Eastern Partnership: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. Courses have also been held for participants from the Western Balkans and from the EU’s Southern Neighborhood (MENA and Israel), as well as for participants from EUMS (Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary) and from Russia and Uzbekistan. More recently, the course has likewise been delivered online for Myanmar's interim government institutions, as part of International IDEA's MyConstitution programme aimed towards building inclusive democracy and functioning constitutionalism in Myanmar.

Each course has triggered a new cascade of applications from colleagues of past participants. Other institutional partners of the Hertie School and OSCE-ODIHR have been the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the Open Society Foundations and the European University Institute. Additional modules designed for political and campaign staff (Days 14, 15 and 16) have previously been delivered to participants of the Hertie School’s Executive MPA degree.

To incentivise government officials and political staff and enable them to take time off from their professional obligations, participation in this course will yield an Advanced Executive Education Certificate from the Hertie School. Linking this course to a top graduate university distinguishes it from skill-building programmes offered in other contexts. As an intervention also designed to diffuse tensions, the course has in the past provided rare opportunities for cooperation and collaboration among Armenian and Azerbaijani as well as among Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian officials.


Do PolAd Certificate alumni stay in touch?

Adding an important element of sustainability and thanks to Hertie School's collaboration with the OSCE-ODIHR, all participants can become members of an alumni group (currently numbering 200 professionals) that is also linked on a web-based platform. ODIHR started this alumni group over five years ago and it has  proved to be a discrete forum for dialogue during armed conflict.


How do I sign up?

Interested particpants and organisations should contact our Executive Education team at executive[at]hertie-school[dot]org. Individual courses are being set up on a rolling basis, based on participant interest.

Most courses can be delivered in English and German. Exceptions are highlighted in the respective course descriptions (see below) – please be in touch with us regarding your language preference.


Modules available in 2023/24

Additional modules

Course mentors