Structured doctoral education
Doctoral education at the Hertie School is organised as a structured programme. During the first year, PhD researchers prepare for their research and thesis writing with dedicated methods, research design and skills seminars. During the following years an increasing amount of time is allocated to independent work on the thesis. Researchers regularly present their research findings at colloquia or international conferences. To connect with leading scholars in their field of studies they may undertake research stays abroad.
Throughout the doctoral journey, we offer workshops to our PhD researchers to support their thesis writing, publishing of journal articles and career planning. We also offer trainings on writing grant applications, teaching in higher education, and public speaking, among many others.
Our PhDs also regularly meet to discuss their research in their "Work in Progress Seminar" where they give feedback and advice on each other's work.
Cooperation and networks
The Hertie School is part of a vibrant research hub and cooperates with Berlin's world-class universities and research institutes. Our doctoral researchers benefit from a broad offer of seminars and trainings offered by our partners. The Hertie School attracts international scholars and practitioners to its activities providing our researchers with opportunities to meet experts in their field of research.
The Hertie School closely cooperates with top PhD programmes in the social sciences in Europe in the context of the EU-funded CIVICA project (Bocconi University, Central European University, European University Institute, Sciences Po, Stockholm School of Economics, and London School of Economics).
Our PhDs present their research at international conferences and may undertake research stays at top universities abroad.
Start of doctoral programme
The doctoral programme starts at the beginning of September each year. The next doctoral cohort will start on 1 September 2020.
The Hertie School does not charge tuition fees for its doctoral programmes. We offer 12 three-year scholarships of 1,250 euros per month (including 100 euros for research and travelling). There is the possibility to receive a completion grant to finalise the thesis during a fourth year.
As of year one a substantial amount of time is allocated to independent work on the dissertation project. By the end of the first year doctoral researchers will submit a dissertation prospectus to two PhD supervisors.
PhD researchers will find a well-functioning support structure at the Hertie School. Further, each candidate works with a doctoral committee which eventually comprises three dissertation advisors who provide intellectual guidance and monitor the candidate’s research progress.
In their first year, PhD researchers attend research design and methods training that support their dissertation research. In addition to the trainings offered at the Hertie School, doctoral researchers benefit from a broad range of specific methods trainings offered by our partner universities in Berlin. Further, doctoral researchers attend Summer and Winter Schools abroad.
PhD researchers may choose from a wide range of skills workshops to support the planning of the doctoral journey and develop their academic and professional skills. Workshop offered to doctoral researchers in their first year, among others are
- Planning of your PhD
- English academic writing
- Public speaking
- How to prepare for an academic career
Year 2 + 3
A large, an increasing amount of time is allocated to independent work on the dissertation project. PhD candidates will find a unique support structure for their research.
In the second and third year of their studies, PhD researchers present their research in one of the Hertie School's research colloquia and at international conferences. They may undertake research stays at one of our partner universities:
Bocconi University (Italy), Central European University (Hungary), the European University Institute (Italy, European Intergovernmental Organization), Sciences Po (France), the Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden), and London School of Economics (UK)
or at other universities abroad.
Each candidate works with a doctoral committee which eventually comprises three dissertation advisors who provide intellectual guidance and monitor the candidate’s research progress.
PhD researchers may choose from a wide range of skills workshops to support the planning of the doctoral journey and develop their academic and professional skills. We offer the following workshops targeted at PhD researchers in their second and third year, among others:
- Methods trainings to enhance your academic skills set
- How to Publish
- Teaching in Higher Education
- How to write grant applications
- Public speaking
- Effective policy writing
To support PhDs to complete their thesis writing, the Hertie School offers completion grants for which PhD researchers may apply.
PhD researchers may choose from a wide range of workshops to support the planning of their next career step. Trainings offered to PhD researchers in the final stage of their thesis have the opportunity to attend workshops on:
- Preparing your Viva
- How to write grant applications
- Mock interviews
- Panel discussions on academic and non-academic careers
- How to write academic and non-academic applications
How to apply?
We are interested in applicants with an exceptionally strong master’s degree (or equivalent) in economics, law, political science, sociology, public administration, management, or related fields. The master's degree should be completed before you enter the programme.
We especially encourage women and international candidates to apply.
Please check our list of potential supervisors and research at the Centres of Competence to make sure that your intended research proposal is in line with research carried out at the Hertie School. In your application form, you will be asked to select either one or two supervisors or a Centre of Competence.
We have a central selection committee and individual professors cannot decide on admission to our programme. Our policy is not to advice on individual research proposals. We therefore kindly ask you to refrain from contacting potential supervisors for your application.
Application deadline: 31 January
The application has to be submitted via our online application portal. The following documents will be required for application:
- The completed online application form
- The transcripts and certificates of all acquired university degrees (as uploads)
- A curriculum vitae (max. two pages)
- 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) if available; proof of English proficiency may be handed in after the deadline
- A short letter of motivation (max. 250-400 words)
- An abstract of your research proposal (250- 400 words)
- A research proposal (1,500-2,500 words) with
- description, goals, and methods of dissertation project
- timetable of dissertation project
- name(s) of potential dissertation advisors from the Hertie School faculty
- Two letters of reference (in English language) from scholars at universities or research institutions (sent directly to the PhD Applications Team)
Please note that your two referees have to send the reference letters directly to us (confidentially) by 31 January at the latest. Any application without two reference letters will not be considered for evaluation.
Please consult our FAQs as they contain further information on the required application documents.
The research proposal is an outline of the research project that will be the focus of your doctoral thesis. Your research proposal is the key part of your application. It allows you to present your academic perspective and your creativity in developing an innovative research project.
The programme is targeted at PhD candidates with a strong foundation in economics, law, political science, sociology, public administration, management, or related fields.
Successful projects address research questions in the field of governance that are covered by our faculty. Please consult the list of potential supervisors to identify faculty members who would be interested in your research project.
The proposal should contain between 1,500 and 2,500 words (excluding references).
The following guidelines may be of assistance when writing your proposal. However, keep in mind that a research proposal should always reflect your personal academic perspective and research interest.
In a first step, present a concrete problem in which you are interested.
- What is the research problem?
- Why have you chosen this issue?
- Why is the chosen issue relevant for investigation?
In relation to this issue, specify your central research question. This question is the focus of your project and should be presented clearly.
- What is the aim/interest of your project?
- Why is your research question relevant for academic debate?
- Where is the gap in the literature that you intend to address?
- Which sub-questions or hypotheses are relevant for answering your research question?
Next, specify the theoretical perspective that you will use in analysing your research question.
- Why did you choose this specific theoretical perspective?
- How does the theory help to answer your question?
- What are the theory’s main assumptions in this regard?
Based on your theoretical perspective, detail your methodological approach.
- What kind of methodology will you use and why?
- What are relevant data or other sources of information?
Furthermore, please reflect on the content of your planned PhD thesis.
- What will be the main arguments of the thesis?
- What might be the outcome of, or answers to, these arguments?
- How will you structure your thesis and why?
Finally, enclose a timetable indicating the timing of the main steps of your project including periods for research, analysis and writing.
Please note that your proposal should be properly referenced and include a bibliography.
Applications are evaluated by two faculty members. Based on the applicant’s propositions, they assess the different elements of the application:
- Quality and fit of research proposal
- Academic performance and references
- CV and motivation letter
On the basis of the evaluation, we conduct interviews with suitable candidates. These interviews will take place at the latest in March/April of 2020. Decisions on admissions are made on the basis of academic merit and the availability of potential supervisors. The final decision will be sent to you by the PhD Office.