Doctorate / PhD

Doctoral Programme — part-time

Research at the interface between science and practice at our Graduate Centre

Doctoral Programme at HSBA Graduate Centre

Part-time doctorate through application-oriented research

Our part-time PhD program enables systematic supervision and support of doctoral students within the framework of cooperative doctoral projects in collaboration with our partner universities. Due to the application-oriented approach of HSBA, projects stemming from the real business world are the main focus. The programme is supplemented by tailor-made seminars for further academic education.


Apply now

Programme start:
1 October each year
Study duration:
4 years
Ph.D, Dr. rer. pol. or Dr. Phil.
Title Award:
Cooperating Partner University
Tuition Fees:
4,800 EUR per year*

Highlights & Benefits

Do a doctorate with the HSBA while working

  • Do a doctorate at one of the best dual universities in Germany

  • Get a structured programme in 4 years

  • Address a research gap of your choice with practical relevance

  • Intensive supervision by HSBA professors

  • Benefit from the national and international university network

  • Improve your career opportunities

  • Ph.D. (Philosophiae Doctor) or Dr. phil. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Financing & Funding

Financing options for doctoral programme

* Additional fees may apply at the cooperating partner university

Organisation und Structure

Doctoral Programme at HSBA

The part time doctoral program can be combined with employment. Ideally, your weekly working hours should be between 20 - 30 hours.

In addition to the intensive professional supervision of our professors, we offer a high-quality academic seminar programme. Here you will deepen and broaden your academic knowledge and learn good scientific practice through manifold methodological seminars. In addition, your skills of engaging in a scientific exchange will be strengthened.


We are happty to help!

Susanne Müller-Using, HSBA
Susanne Müller-Using

Senior Manager Research

+49 40 822160-911

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.

Employers of our doctoral students

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

Success stories of our doctoral students

At the start of the new doctoral programme 2020/21, we spoke to our alumnus Dr Sinan Krückeberg: about the challenges of a part-time doctorate and what motivated and drove him.

A part-time doctorate is challenging, because it involves reconciling everyday work and scientific research work with private life, family and much more. No easy undertaking, but those who manage and persevere benefit twice over. The relevant, application-oriented expertise alone offers significantly better career opportunities, plus the recognition that comes with the academic title.

With its Graduate Center, HSBA supports dissertation projects by outstanding graduates at the interface between science and practice. This year, four new doctoral students are starting again who are ready to take on the challenge. To give interested applicants an impression of how a cooperative doctoral programme can work well, we interviewed our alumnus and recent doctor Sinan Krückeberg. He recently completed his doctorate summa cum laude after only three and a half years with HSBA Professor Dr. Peter Scholz and Professor Dr. Klaus Beckmann from Helmut Schmidt University.

Dear Sinan Krückeberg, first of all, congratulations on your outstanding doctorate and this fantastic achievement! How does it feel to have a doctorate? 

Just like without it... In the course of life, you meet some people with and without a doctorate - some smarter, some less. The realisation that the title itself has no significance with regard to a person's intellectual abilities is always apparent. There are enormously clever people, even in the academic sense, who do not have a doctorate. The same is true the other way round. For me, it was never about the name affix anyway, but about sharpening my quantitative-methodological skills and translating the resulting output into internationally recognised output, ideally in a way that is of value to my practical work in investment management. And, of course, it's about interacting through teaching with the many young and bright minds that HSBA attracts through its partner companies. Even though it was hard work, both were great fun at all times, which is why it never became exhausting. If the goal is primarily the title at the end of the process, the road to get there is probably much rockier.

Why did you decide to do a doctorate at HSBA? 

The most important criterion for deciding at which institution I would do the doctorate was the potential doctoral supervisor. Here, Peter Scholz stood out clearly compared to many professors from European universities and business schools. It became clear from the beginning that we have similarly high standards for our work and at the same time work pragmatically, fairly and with a focus on success. This is exactly what proved true throughout the entire doctorate and is the reason why Peter and I had such great success with our publications and why the doctorate was graded summa cum laude. Peter proofread my master's thesis in 2013 because I was looking for a second opinion. He was direct, critical, but fair with a sense of humour. And: We were able to have tough but objective discussions. That was a great basis for picking up the thread again three years later for my doctorate.

How did you come up with your research topic and how relevant is it for your further professional development? 

The topic in the actual sense emerged in the course of the work and only really crystallised towards the third paper. In my opinion, it is important to have a concrete research interest at the beginning around which you structure the first paper. This leads to follow-up questions that can be expanded upon. That's what happened with our two papers on cryptocurrencies, for example. One paper asks whether cryptocurrencies are an asset class in their own right. Our results suggested that they are. At the same time, however, cryptos were extremely volatile, i.e. risky. This led to the follow-up question of whether it is possible to realise risk-free profits via arbitrage trades, especially when markets are volatile, as spreads between exchange prices can arise. This was the case. This in turn gives rise to some follow-up questions... 

What remains for further professional development is rigorous quantitative methodological competence and the structured condensation and presentation of analyses and their results. Above all, the eye for structuring analyses down to the last step and producing results that have clear validity in practice and, in my case, can influence practical investment decisions. As a result, the skills developed during the doctorate will certainly play an important role in the future.

Is there perhaps a key moment during your studies that you would like to share with us? 

A very interesting realisation came up during the review process with the CFA Institute Financial Analysts Journal. The Journal is known for its rigorous selection of articles and it was to be expected anyway that the process would be a proper "wrestling match". And that's how it turned out: the Executive Editor, Managing Editor, Assistant Editor, Reviewer 1 and Reviewer 2 each threw several rounds of really good, partly technical, partly practical questions at us and thoroughly scrutinised the paper from all sides. And yet, in the end, we managed to defuse every single point by absolutely concentrating on the core of the demand and further, deeper analysis and consistent argumentation. 

The moral of the story is certainly not meant to be flat "anyone can do it", the quota is too low for that after all. But the fact that two "no-names" from a German boutique university (if you want to call HSBA that) ultimately end up in a journal like this makes it clear that it is ultimately about the value of the ideas presented, no matter where they come from. This is, from my point of view, a great motivation for anyone who is entering the PhD "wrestling match" themselves and can't do it at Stanford, Harvard or Wharton.

You started in the final doctoral phase as Head of Private Capital at Etribes, you run your own family office, you are a managing partner at Henke & Paulmann GmbH, you do consulting work and you have a family. For most people, this would already be an enormous challenge without an additional doctorate. How can you manage this multiple burden well? Do you have any advice for our new doctoral students? 

Gladly - if there was one piece of advice I would share, it would be the same as all HSBA students received from me during my lecture "Scientific Working": From the beginning, think about the system you are operating in, how success is defined, what the specific success criteria and requirements are, and how you can best meet them with your skillset and according to your aspirations. Once these overarching elements are clear, the plan to follow follows and then it is purely a matter of discipline in implementation. 

If you are not aware of how the system of science works from the beginning, you easily get lost, make unnecessary mistakes and waste time. If discipline is lacking, you a) don't make adequate progress and b) open up flanks in the quality of your work, which in turn costs time and nerves. 
This is ultimately, in my view, the key to the many projects that run well in parallel. Understanding the system, clear structuring, eliminating distractions in order to work efficiently and discipline to keep up one's pace with the appropriate concentration over long stretches. That, and completely switching off in between to properly relax the brain muscle.

But of course all this only makes sense if you enjoy the projects. I choose my projects specifically according to what I enjoy and where I can work with interesting and pleasant people. Then it runs all by itself. 


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

Susanne Müller-Using

Senior Manager Research
+49 40 822160-911

Contact Box: Callback

All times are specified in CEST

Contact Box: Message