Doctoral Programme in Governance
To apply for the Hertie School's own doctoral programme, the Doctoral Programme in Governance, you will find all necessary information below. 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.
Applying for the DocGov
Please find information on the steps of the application and the required documents below.
Please check our list of potential supervisors, some of whom are affiliated with one of our Centres of Competence. You should ensure that the research proposal you submit as part of your application documents is in line with the research carried out at the Hertie School. In your application form, you will be asked to select one or two supervisors.
We have a central selection committee and individual professors cannot decide on admission to our programme. We do not advise 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:
- Completed online application forms
- 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 (or to be acquired) university degrees
- English proficiency proof (may be handed in after the deadline)
In addition, we require two academic letters of reference (in English). These have to be uploaded by your referees via the application portal by 31 January 2022 at the very latest. We do not accept letters of reference sent by the applicant or reference letters via email. Reference letters must have an official letterhead and be signed by the referee. You will be able to find detailed information on how the submission of the reference letters works on the online application portal.
The research proposal is an outline of the research project that will be the focus of your doctoral thesis. Your research proposal is a 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 prospective researchers 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 could 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 the research proposal
4. Overall motivation
Applications will be evaluated by Hertie School Faculty members and members of the PhD Board.
On the basis of the evaluation, we will conduct (online) interviews with suitable candidates in late March and early April 2022. The final decision about admission or rejection will be sent to you by the PhD Office in April 2022.
Online information sessions
We will organize two online information sessions for potential applicants, during which you can ask questions about our PhD programmes and the application process. These sessions will take place on 7 December 2021, 8 am (CET) and 14 December 2021, 5 pm (CET). Please check this page regularly for updates and the possibility to register.
Joint doctoral programmes
In cooperation with top universities and research institutes in Berlin, we offer three additional PhD programmes. If one of these specialised PhD programmes interests you, please apply through the separate portal. You may apply to all programmes in parallel. If you are admitted to one of these programmes, and your first supervisor is a Hertie School faculty member, you will usually be enrolled as a PhD researcher at the Hertie School, and receive your degree from the Hertie School.