Application & Admission Requirements Doctoral ProgrammeEverything about applying for a part-time doctoral programme
The application process at HSBA consists of several steps: At the beginning, find out about the doctorate as such to find out whether the part-time cooperative doctorate is right for you. Check whether you meet the formal admission criteria and submit your application documents. After going through the personal selection interviews, enrolment in the Graduate Centre takes place.
Step 1: Get Information
HSBA Graduate Centre, Admission Requirements, Foreign University Degrees
Doing a doctorate at the HSBA Graduate Centre
The first step is to find out more about HSBA, our departments, the supervising professors and the part-time doctoral programme.
- Doctoral programme
- Our departments and professors
- Self-test: Are you the type for a doctorate?
- DIE ZEIT Guide to doctoral studies
You can also get to know HSBA at public events. You can find an overview of all events here.
Formal requirements for admission to the HSBA cooperative doctoral programme are:
- Completed university studies with a focus on economics, 300 ECTS credit points and an average grade of 2.5 or better.
- Diploma thesis/master's thesis as part of the master's or diploma degree programme
- Good knowledge of English (level B2/C1, verified by IELTS, TOEFL IBT, Cambridge Certificate or Pearsons Test). Proof is not necessary for native speakers or persons who have participated in an English-language study programme for longer than 6 months.
- Outline of the research project in an exposé. Instructions for writing an initial approx. 5-page exposé (ideally in English) can be found here.
Assistance with foreign university degrees
The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) decides on the equivalence of foreign educational qualifications. The guidelines are
- the state recognition of the higher education institution awarding the degree
- the comparability of the workload and the academic nature of the study programme
Particularly in the case of higher education qualifications obtained outside the European Union, it is advisable to have an individual transcript evaluation prepared by the ZAB and to enclose this with your application documents.
- To check in advance whether your higher education entrance qualification is recognised in Germany, you can use the DAAD admissions database
Application, Selection Process, Partner Universities
Apply with the following application documents:
- Cover letter (one page)
- Curriculum vitae *
- Certificates of your university degrees (incl. Diploma Supplement and Transcript of Records)
- Proof of good English skills (B2/C1)
- Description of the research project (exposé)
Supporting application documents are:
- Academic reference letter
- Letter of reference and references from current and/or previous employers
- Certificates of further education and other certificates
Send all application documents as ONE coherent pdf file to susanne.mueller-using(at)hsba.de
* General guidelines for preparing a CV vary greatly between countries. The Europass CV of the European Union offers you a good orientation for the content and graphic preparation of your CV.
The programme start is October 1 each year. We start the application process for a new intake in February which means that you can send us your application documents from February 1 onwards. It can take three to six months from receipt of the application to formal acceptance into the doctoral programme.
If your formal application documents are convincing, you will be invited to a personal interview by a supervising professor. If you are still interested in a doctorate, you will have an interview with our Vice President for Research and International Affairs. Here, your general development potential and goals will be discussed. The extent to which HSBA can support you in achieving these goals through the accompanying seminar programme will be examined.
During these discussions, you will have the opportunity to choose a preferred title-awarding partner university. It may be necessary to revise the exposé.
Placement at the suitable partner university
Once you have gone through the selection process at HSBA, the enrolment process at the title-awarding partner university can take place. Discussions are held with other supervising professors and university-specific documents and forms are submitted.
Some doctoral regulations provide for the acquisition of additional ECTS points or compulsory attendance of doctoral seminars. Decisions on the mutual recognition of seminars are made on a case-by-case basis.
Step 3: Enrolment
Enrolment at the HSBA Graduate Centre
After the admission interviews have been held at HSBA, the doctoral agreement can be concluded. This regulates our joint supervisory relationship and summarises details of the doctoral programme, the seminar programme, the degree-awarding university and the payment modalities.
As soon as you have been officially admitted to the Graduate Centre, you can use the research infrastructure of HSBA.
This concerns in particular:
- The Commerzbibliothek reading card and all associated databases.
- Collaborative workstations at the modern HSBA campus
- Use of the Graduate Centre's collaboration platform (with all doctoral students and supervising professors)
- ELFI database for your third-party funding ideas and/or award announcements
PhD Online Info Session
Join one of our online info sessions and learn more about the cooperative doctoral programme at HSBA.
Our partner universities in the doctoral programme
Frequently asked questions about doctoral studies at HSBA
How long does the admission process take?
It can take three to six months from receipt of the application to formal acceptance into the doctoral programme. Further information on the application process and the admission steps can be found here.
How do I find the right partner university?
The choice of partner university depends on the content of your doctoral topic. In order to ensure excellent first and second supervision of your doctoral project, your HSBA supervisor will support you in finding a second supervisor through the HSBA partner network.
Can I participate in the doctoral programme with a full-time job?
No. The doctorate is the highest academic degree that can be earned in Germany. It requires a high degree of commitment and resilience as well as sufficient time resources. For many, the doctorate is in itself a full-time job. Therefore, we strongly recommend a part-time workload of 20 - 30 hours per week. A regular workload of more than 20 hours per week should be well considered. Clarify with your employer whether you can use parts of your working hours for your doctorate. Ideally, your employer will also be interested in your research results, so that the synergy effects between work and doctorate are great.
My final grade is 2.6 (or worse) can I still apply?
Maybe. We know that grading systems vary greatly between countries, universities and degree programmes. Therefore, in your particular case, an average grade of 2.6 may be a very good performance (measured against your overall cohort of your degree programme at your university). In order to be able to assess this better, the ECTS grade is often listed on official transcript documents (usually Diploma Supplement). The ECTS grade is a relative and not an absolute grade. The ECTS grade is calculated by comparing the individual grade of a graduate to the grades of a reference group. The reference group is defined per degree programme. If you fall into category "B" (or better) here, you can still apply for the doctoral programme.
ECTS Grading Table
A Best 10%
B Next 25%
C Next 30%
D Next 25%
E Lowest 10%
FX Failed - improvements are required before credit is given
F Failed - significant improvements are required
I am currently unemployed and looking for work. Can I still apply?
Unfortunately, no. As a dual university, the practical relevance of our research is particularly important to us. In addition, your job search involves many imponderables (e.g. potential full-time employment, a lack of support from your future employer or a necessary thematic reorientation of your favoured doctoral topic), which also complicate your content-related and personal planning. Feel free to apply if you have found employment that can be combined with a doctorate.
I only earned 270 ECTS points in my degree programme, can I still apply?
In this case, the placement process at the appropriate title-granting university is often difficult. Most title-awarding universities require 300 ECTS points for enrolment. If you have less than this, the respective doctoral committee may decide whether you can still be admitted to the procedure as an exception. The enrolment process is delayed because you may be accepted subject to conditions (e.g. making up ECTS points). This often prolongs the overall duration of the doctorate. Since these are exceptions, in the worst case you cannot start the doctoral studies because no title-granting university can be found that approves an exception.