"Our mission is to train young academics according to best international practice with a strong focus on excellence in research." Prof. Thomas Bräuninger, CDSS Faculty



Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences

Program Structure

The teaching and training concept of the GESS reflects the evolution of doctoral students from active learners to independent researchers.

Course Phase

During the course phase of the programs, students are exposed to two years of teaching complemented by small group exercises, tutorials and research training, which are followed by strict examinations.

Core Course Program: The teaching program consists of courses in empirical and quantitative methods as well as technical exposure to the approaches and their application to the most relevant research areas of the field.

Field Course Program: Field courses expose students to sub­stantive applications and bring them to the research frontier in specific subfields of their chosen research area. The multidisciplinary aspect of the Graduate School features prominently in both sub­components of the teaching phase.

Based on the performance of the course examinations and the quality of the dissertation proposal, the Admissions and Assessments Committee decides whether the student is promoted into the writing phase of the program.


Writing Phase

At the beginning of the thesis writing phase of the program, students and professors mutually agree on a supervision relationship. With this, the Academic Directors ensure that all students are formally assigned to a main supervisor who supervises the student’s first research project. Other supervisors can be added at this stage, or at a later stage for subsequent research pro­jects.

During the thesis writing phase, students start to work towards their own research agenda un­der close supervision of dedicated faculty members. Students hence learn to take the step from executing research under guidance towards developing their own independent research ideas, conducting their own research, writing independent research papers, presenting them in seminars and colloquia, and submitting them to international conferences and journals.

Students are required to regularly present their progress to supervisors as well as to fellow students in area-specific doctoral seminars. Additional presentations at research platforms involving all three doctoral centers ensure the interdisciplinary exchange between students. A wide range of additional op­portunities encourage and stimulate students to work across the boundaries of their field, to participate in international conferences and summer schools and to integrate themselves into the international research network of their respective fields.


Placement Phase

In the placement phase of the program (starting as early as in the second half of the fourth year), students start to receive information and training for the academic (and non-academic) job market. For this, each doctoral center has one or more faculty members appointed as ‘placement officers’. The placement officer ensures that students are aware of the timeline for applications and helps them in preparing their job market packages well in advance of the relevant deadlines in their field. Mock interviews with faculty members and practice job talks in the presence of faculty members will provide useful feedback and prepare students for a positive academic job market outcome. Recent placements of our doctoral students include positions as assistant professors and post-doctoral fellows in top departments, as well as placements in international organizations, public institutions, and the private sector.