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Application Process & Admission Requirements

doctorate – part-time

How do I apply for a part-time doctoral programme at the HSBA Graduate Centre?

Application & Admission Requirements Doctoral Programme

Everything 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.

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), a 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

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)


Selection process

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 at any time.  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 Commerzbibliothekreading 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


We are happty to help!

Susanne Müller-Using, HSBA
Susanne Müller-Using

Senior Manager Research

+49 40 822160-911


Frequently asked questions about doctoral studies at HSBA

When should I submit my application?

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

How long does the admission process take?

The process from receiving the application to being formally accepted into the doctoral program can span from three to six months. 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?

Unfortunately, you can't. 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 show interest in your research outcomes, maximizing the synergy between your work and doctoral studies.

My final grade is 2.6 (or worse). Can I still apply?

Possibly. 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 actively seeking opportunities. Can I still submit an application?

Regrettably, no. As a dual university, we place significant emphasis on the practical applicability of our research. Furthermore, your current job search introduces numerous uncertainties (such as potential full-time employment, lack of support from a future employer, or the need to adjust your preferred doctoral topic), which could complicate both your academic and personal planning. We encourage you to apply once you've secured employment that can be harmonized with doctoral studies.

I only earned 270 ECTS points in my degree programme. Can I still apply?

In such instances, navigating the placement process at the appropriate title-granting university can prove challenging. Most universities awarding titles require 300 ECTS points for enrollment. If you fall short of this requirement, the respective doctoral committee may evaluate whether you can still be admitted to the program under exceptional circumstances. This might result in delays in the enrollment process as you could be conditionally accepted (e.g., with the requirement to fulfill additional ECTS points). Such conditions often extend the overall duration of the doctoral program. As these cases are exceptions, in the worst-case scenario, you might be unable to commence doctoral studies if no title-granting university agrees to make an exception.

Questions?Susanne Müller-Using, HSBA
Susanne Müller-Using, HSBA

Susanne Müller-Using

Senior Manager Research
+49 40 822160-911

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