Key facts

  • 3-year, English-language doctoral programme
  • Academic training in research design and methods 
  • Strong advisory structure and close interaction with the school’s research community
  • No tuition fees, cost-of-living stipends available
  • Funding for travel, workshops, language courses, etc. available through the PHD GLOBAL project (IPID4all, funded by DAAD)

2017 Call for Applications

The Hertie School of Governance in Berlin is currently accepting applications for doctoral students starting in September 2017. The three-year Doctoral Programme in Governance offers rigorous academic training and familiarises students with cutting-edge methods and research in the social sciences related to governance. The programme addresses exceptional candidates committed to research on topics of governance as conducted within economics, law, political science, sociology, public administration, management, or in an interdisciplinary framework.

For application requirements please consult our admissions page.

The School offers a limited number of living cost stipends for up to three years to particularly qualified applicants. The deadline for applications is 1 February

3 PhD Candidates in Social Policy Research

The Hertie School of Governance in Berlin is looking for 3 PhD Candidates in Social Policy Research starting in September 2017.

Successful candidates will be funded for up to three years by the Economic and Social Research Institute (WSI). The topics of the PhD projects should fall in the research themes of the WSI and will be supervised by Professor Anke Hassel. We particularly welcome PhD projects on: 

  • Social inequality
  • Work-life balance
  • European social model

The deadline for applications is 1 March 2017. Applicants need to apply to the Doctoral Programme in Governance. Please indicate in your motivation letter that you are applying for the WSI-funded position. For further information, please contact us at

Successful candidates will participate in the Hertie School's Doctoral Programme in Governance. The three-year programme offers rigorous academic training and familiarises students with cutting-edge methods and research in the social sciences related to governance. The candidates will be expected to spend their first year of study at the Hertie School in Berlin and their second year at the WSI in Düsseldorf. For their third and last year of study, residence can be decided according to the needs of the research project.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (WSI) is an independent academic institute within the Hans-Böckler-Foundation, a non-profit organisation fostering co-determination and promoting research and academic study on behalf of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB). Since it was founded in 1946, the institute's focus has always been on the improvement of life chances, on social justice and fair working and living conditions. [more]

Why pursue a PhD at the Hertie School of Governance

  • The Doctoral Programme in Governance offers rigorous academic training in research design 
  • Students learn cutting-edge methods and concepts in the field of governance 
  • Invaluable opportunities to participate in the school’s research activities and benefit from close interaction with experienced faculty and researchers 
  • An inspiring international student body and global alumni network 
  • Regular opportunities to network with leaders from all sectors at exclusive events
  • Study in the heart of Berlin, one of Europe’s key political, cultural and thought hubs 

Find out more about what we offer.

Who is the programme for?

Candidates with an exceptionally strong master’s degree (or equivalent) in economics, law, political science, sociology, public administration, management or related fields. [more]


During the first year, students prepare for their dissertation research through colloquia and common coursework in research design and methods. Students also benefit from a unique support structure for their independent research in the last phase of the programme. Skills workshops offering special training ranging from research methods to professional development complement the curriculum. [more]

Become a part of the Hertie School’s research community

The Doctoral Programme in Governance is integrated in the Hertie School’s research structure. PhD students are linked to one of three research clusters (Political Economy, European and Global Governance, or Organisation, Management and Leadership) and work closely with faculty members on research projects and colloquia.

Funding and stipends

The Hertie School of Governance does not charge tuition for its doctoral programmes, but seeks to ensure that all admitted candidates have secured the financial means to support the three-year doctoral programme in Berlin:

  • The Hertie School can offer living cost stipends to two doctoral students: 1,200 euros per month (including 100 euros for research and travelling) for a period of up to three years.
  • Applicants can be admitted without a stipend offer, but they need to prove that they have the financial means to support their studies when they start the doctoral programme. These means can come from sources such as third party stipends, paid positions in research or other part-time positions. (Please note that candidates who work full-time cannot be admitted to the programme.)

We therefore ask each candidate to explain their personal circumstances and how they intend to support themselves during the three-year doctoral programme as part of the online application procedure.

Because of the limited number of stipends that we can offer, we strongly recommend that you prepare an application for a third party stipend when you apply to the Doctoral Programme in Governance. (Please note that stipend applications usually need to be submitted six months prior to the beginning of the doctoral programme. An offer of admission is often required by the funder.)

How to apply

The Doctoral Programme in Governance is open to candidates with an exceptionally strong master’s degree (or equivalent) in economics, law, political science, sociology, public administration, management or related fields. The doctoral programme starts at the beginning of September each year with a group of 10-15 PhD students.

A complete application encompasses:

  • Online application form
  • The transcripts and certificates of all acquired university degrees
  • A curriculum vitae
  • 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)
  • A funding statement to explain personal circumstances and funding situation: integrated in the online application (see Funding Process for details)
  • A short letter of motivation (600 words maximum)
  • A research proposal (5000 words maximum) with
    • description, goals, and methods of dissertation project
    • timetable of dissertation project
    • name(s) of potential dissertation advisors from the Hertie School core faculty
  • Two letters of reference (in English language) from scholars at universities or research institutions

Please consult our FAQs as they contain further information on the required application documents. [more]

Application Deadlines

The application portal will open in early October. The priority deadline for applications is 1 February. Late applications are possible until 1 May. Applicants are usually informed within two months after submitting their application. We recommend that you apply early as you usually need an offer of admission to secure a third party stipend. [more on funding and stipends]

Application process

The PhD Board decides if the proposal matches the academic scope of the Doctoral Programme in Governance and if core faculty members will be able to supervise the project (pre-screening).

Applications that successfully passed the first step will be assessed by two internal reviewers. They identify possible dissertation advisors (based on the candidate's proposition) and assess the different elements of the application:

  • Quality and fit of research proposal
  • Academic performance and references
  • CV and motivation letter

Each element is assessed and weighted on a 1-10 scale and results in a final score. All applications will be ranked on the basis of their final score. Interviews may take place at this stage.

The PhD Board decides on a final list of successful candidates and on a waiting list, taking into account the candidates' ranking, the availability of relevant supervisors, the availability of funding, and overall positions in the programme. After submitting the application online, each candidate will receive a login and password to check the status of his or her application online.