Berlin School of Economics

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PhD in Economics, Accounting, Finance or Management at Berlin School of Economics (BSE), Germany

The Berlin School of Economics (BSE) unites Berlin‘s career development programs for economists at the PhD and Postdoc levels in a comprehensive and unique structure. Seven major institutions active in economics research in the Berlin area cooperate within the BSE: Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, University of Potsdam, ESMT Berlin, Hertie School and WZB Berlin Social Science Center. Together they are pooling their efforts in the education of young researchers in economics.

General structure of the curriculum

The Berlin School of Economics PhD Program provides outstanding doctoral students with a vibrant, intensively networked research community. The program develops the students’ talents in a unique combination of a high-level, academic research environment together with applied, policy-oriented research opportunities. Students receive state-of-the-art coursework training and can select from a wide array of specializations for their doctoral research.

The BSE PhD Program offers four different PhD tracks: PhD in Economics, PhD in Accounting, PhD in Finance, and PhD in Management. All tracks share the same structure and general curriculum, and allow for numerous specializations.

The curriculum is divided in a qualification and a dissertation phase. During the qualification phase of the program (about three semesters), students acquire methodological and research-oriented training in mandatory and elective courses in economic theory, applied economics, business studies (accounting, finance, management), econometrics, and economic policy. Students define their research area and find supervisory support from two supervisors. They write research proposals that are discussed with faculty members individually and in seminars in order to provide early feedback on the scientific potential of research ideas. This is a central part of the BSE PhD Program, in which the students have full flexibility in the choice of their research topics and of the supervisors. During this phase, students are funded through stipends that allow for this flexibility. A minimum of 90 ECTS credits have to be obtained in order to finish the qualification phase of the program. 

During the subsequent dissertation phase of the program (about three to four years), students write their doctoral thesis while having the opportunity to apply their knowledge in the professional research environment that is provided at the research institutions participating in the BSE. During this phase, students are typically employed at the research institution their supervisor is affiliated with. The PhD will be awarded by the BSE institution one of the student’s supervisors is affiliated with.

Graduates of the BSE’s PhD Program are excellently prepared for positions in academia as well as for policy-related institutions and organizations, which has been documented by a list of outstanding placements.

Application to one of the four BSE PhD tracks


Qualification Phase
(semesters 1 - 3)
  • Fundamental training in Core Courses (9 ECTS credits each, 5 obligatory courses)
  • Research field orientation
  • Find first supervisor (until the end of semester 2)
45 ECTS credits
  • Elective courses, Short courses, External courses
  • Graduate Student/ Research Seminars
  • Soft skill courses, Summer Schools
  • Own teaching
  • Internship
45 ECTS credits
Dissertation Phase
(semesters 4 - 10)
  • Research and writing
  • Find second supervisor
  • External summer schools, Conferences
  • Teaching
  • Job market preparation
Hand-in and defense of the thesis

All information on the application for the BSE PhD Program can be found on the BSE website.

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