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.
PhD workshops and support
Throughout the doctoral journey, we offer seminars and workshops to our PhD researchers to support their thesis writing, publishing and professional skills development, as well as their career planning. Find out more on the workshops and support infrastructure PhD researchers can rely on during their doctoral journey here.
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 and in our joint PhD programmes DYNAMICS and BGTS/ SCRIPTS. The Hertie School further 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 (CEU), European University Institute (EUI), Sciences Po, Stockholm School of Economics, and London School of Economics (LSE) and National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA).
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 does not charge tuition fees for its doctoral programmes. Each year we offer 10 competitive three-year scholarships of 1,250 euros per month. 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. More information on our PhD workshops and support is available here.
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. More information is available on our PhD workshops and support page.
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.
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.
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.
The application has to be submitted via our online application portal. The following documents and information will be required for application:
- Online application form, incl. abstract of research proposal (max. 400 words)
- Research proposal (1,500-2,500 words excl. references)
- Curriculum Vitae (max. two pages)
- Letter of Motivation (max. 250-400 words)
- Transcripts and certificates of all acquired university degrees
- English proficiency proof (may be handed in after the deadline)
- PDF Education History
In addition to your application through the portal, we require two academic letters of reference (in English) to process your application. These have to be sent by your referees to phd-applications[at]hertie-school[dot]org by the respective application deadline. We do not accept letters of reference sent by the applicant or reference letters that are sent after the deadline.
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.
Your application will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
1. Thematic fit of the dissertation proposal with the research agenda of Hertie School’s faculty or Centres of Competence
2. Applicant’s academic performance and references
3. Quality of research proposal
4. Overall motivation
On the basis of the evaluation, we conduct interviews with suitable candidates. 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.