Application & Admission Requirements Doctoral Programme

Everything about applying for a part-time doctoral programme

Application process & admission requirements for a part-time doctorate at the HSBA Graduate Centre

How do I apply 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

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.

You can also get to know HSBA at public events. You can find an overview of all events here.

Admission requirements

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

Step2: Application & Selection Process

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

* 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.


Selection process

There are no application deadlines. We accept applications all year round. 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.

Enrolment at the title-awarding partner university

Parallel to your first months at the HSBA Graduate Centre, enrolment at the partner university awarding the title takes place. Further revisions of your exposé may be necessary.

Research infrastructure

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

Our partner universities in the doctoral programme

New Cooperations: In addition to the existing partnerships and established bilateral agreements, the Graduate Centre has a broad academic network for further collaborations with research facilities worldwidea. HSBA is open to new cooperation partners and is happy to assist with the initiation.

Our Doctoral Students

As part of the HSBA Graduate Center, HSBA supervises dissertation projects by outstanding graduates. Please do not hesitate to contact our doctoral students for any research-related enquiries.

Current Doctoral Students

Former Doctoral Students

Alle Bewertungen lesen


Frequently asked questions about doctoral studies at HSBA

When should I apply?

Those interested in doing a doctorate can apply at any time. Since the doctoral programme starts annually on 1 October, you should apply as early as possible.


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 

ECTS grade                                                      

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.

Questions?Friederike Littmann, HSBA
Friederike Littmann, HSBA

Friederike Littmann

Head of Research
+49 40 822160 958

Contact Box: Callback

All times are specified in CEST

Contact Box: Message