Doctoral Programme Organisation

Jana Tolle

Doctorate Programme

The Claussen-Simon Graduate Centre at HSBA offers excellent conditions for part-time doctorates. This is thanks in particular to the intensive supervision provided to the doctoral students by HSBA-professors as well as to a high-class programme of academic seminars.

The academic title is awarded by the involved cooperating university. Both degrees, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), as well as the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) entitle to use the German "Dr." as a title.

The topics for doctorates at the Claussen-Simon Graduate Centre at HSBA should be related to business or economics. There is a special focus on taking into account aspects related to business ethics. As the university for business in Hamburg, HSBA also attaches great importance to a good balance between the practical and academic perspectives when defining doctoral topics.

Target group

The study programme is open to graduates with degrees in business and economics who have good or very good grades in their master’s or diploma degree.

Course Organisation

The mandatory seminars at the Claussen-Simon Graduate Centre are organised on a part-time basis. Additionally, roughly up to two full-time weeks per year or three weekend modules must be completed at the cooperating university.

The part-time study model means that the doctoral students remain integrated in their companies. Extensive support from the employer– in internal company projects – or reduced working hours are necessary for successful completion of a doctorate. The expectation is that doctoral students should be granted an average of 20 hours per week to work on their doctoral topic for the duration of their time at the Graduate Centre. Consequently, students must discuss with their employer beforehand how to combine their doctorate plans with their job.

In addition to the seminar offered by the respective cooperating university, the Claussen-Simon Graduate centre at HSBA delivers four seminar types. The entire seminar programme is held in English and carried out in small groups of no more than 24 participants.

Research Group Meetings offer the candidates the opportunity to closely work together with colleagues, professors and external researchers within the chosen research field. This form of collaborative working enables greater progress to be made in their own respective research projects, and the participation of doctoral candidates in different stages of their work further intensifies the level of knowledge gain and transfer.

Methodology Meetings qualify candidates for qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods needed for their own research projects. HSBA professors and selected internationally distinguished scholars provide the methodological foundations for the doctoral candidates.

Expert lectures contain selected topics taught by internationally distinguished scholars exclusively for the doctoral programme group. These experts are also available as coaches for the publication process of the doctoral candidate’s academic papers.

At the annual member presentation every candidate presents and discusses the current state of their research project with all doctoral candidates and professors. The member presentation poses a special challenge, as it is also attended by all professorial supervisors – generally also including supervisors from the cooperating universities. This enables the doctoral candidates to better understand the relevance and rigour of their research projects, and enhance their presentation and argumentation skills.

In addition, students may attend workshops, courses and scientific conferences at other universities.

Course start and duration

The doctorate programme will generally commence on 1 January each year and is designed to take three years in total. Alternative start dates may be possible in individual cases.


The overall fee for the doctorate programme amounts to EUR 4,800 er year.

Depending on which university is in the candidates research project involved, additional charges may be applied by the cooperating university. Added to this are travel expenses for attending the seminars at the cooperating university.

Upon successful admission to the programme, a registration fee of EUR 1,500 will be charged, which will be taken into account for the first year's study fee.

HSBA ’s doctorate programme is geared to train doctoral students for challenging management tasks in companies. This is attractive to the doctoral students and companies alike, which is why many employers support their employees both in financial terms and by granting additional free time for the doctorate project.

Other financing options are grants of public funding (DFG, DAAD) as well as numerous foundations. In addition, banks offer special student loans.


State-certified and internationally recognised Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Both titles entitle recipients to use "Dr." before their name.

The title "DBA" is internationally recognised and equivalent to the German "Doctor" title.

Pursuant to a resolution by the KMK ("Kultusministerkonferenz": Germany’s Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs) dated September 21, 2001 as amended on May 15, 2008, the title entitles recipients to use "Dr." before their name and without any addition. In its database of foreign qualifications (, the KMK says the following about the DBA : "This is an applied doctorate programme tailored to the needs of business and industry and is an alternative to the 'Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)', which is considerably more research oriented. The target group includes managers in business and industry with professional experience who wish to extend and expand their knowledge and skills by means of applied research for the purpose of the management and running of companies."

In cooperation with Edinburgh Napier University, HSBA is one of Germany’s first universities to offer this qualification for particularly gifted master’s graduates. In the English-speaking world, the DBA has become established alongside the PhD as an equivalent qualification that is equally valued at an international level. Some of the world’s best business schools, for example Harvard Business School (USA), IE Business School(Spain), Manchester Business School (UK) or Fudan University School of Management (China) also offer this qualification.

A PhD (doctor of Philosophy, or 'philosophiae doctor' in latin) is the classical form of academic research doctorate in the english-speaking world. Contrary to what the title suggests, a PhD is a qualification not only in philosophy but also in almost all other subjects; the specific subject is usually added to the title using 'in' (e.g. PhD in economics).

According to the anabin country overview, a completed PhD testifies to "academic training at the highest level". For a PhD obtained in an EU country, the title "Dr." can be used without any further additions.


Each doctoral student is allocated two supervisors who oversee the doctorate project. The doctoral students and their supervisors enter into a dissertation agreement at the outset, and reflect on the quality of the collaboration on a monthly basis using an IT-based reporting system. Neither person can see the assessment entered by the other person. However, if the assessments differ considerably from each other or if a low number of points is awarded, the Graduate Centre will provide support to raise productivity again.