"The CDSE program equips me with solid knowledge in empirical and quantitative methods and offers me the freedom and flexibility to explore my own research interests." Sihong Zhang, CDSE

CDSE PhD program

Program Structure

The PhD program in economics consists of a two-year course phase and a three-year research phase during which students work on their dissertation. The program lasts 5 years and the CDSE commits to funding its students for this duration (contingent on successful completion of the course phase and overall academic standing).

In the first year students must take the compulsory courses in Mathematics, Microeconomics (I-III), Macroeconomics (I-III) and Econometrics (I-III). In the second year students attend a number of elective field courses (40-46 ECTS credit points) and hand in their dissertation proposal at the end of the second year. For an overview over fields courses taught at the CDSE in the past, please refer to the course catalogues of recent semesters.

From the second year onwards students are required to participate in the weekly CDSE Seminar, where they are supposed to present and act as discussant at least once in the third and subsequent years, and the faculty seminar. The department’s faculty seminar is among the best in Europe and every CDSE student should be eager to learn from the distinguished visitors, even if it is not his/her field of specialization.

In the third year students take the program’s English Academic Writing course (3 ECTS credit points), a bridge course (5 ECTS credit points) in the Center for Doctoral Studies in Business (CDSB) or the Center for Doctoral Studies in Behavioral and Social Sciences (CDSS) as well as two electives that support thesis writing (10 ECTS credit points). Usually students attend the research seminar of their respective field and earn a pass grade and ECTS credit points by presenting their research. However, any elective from the CDSE course catalogue is fine in principle.

Apart from these minimum course requirements after the second year, the third, fourth and fifth year of the program are mainly devoted to the writing of the doctoral thesis.

Students decide about their thesis supervisor and topic in the 4th semester. The other members of the doctoral committee may be selected later.


Program Overview

Program Requirements

The requirements for the successful completion of the CDSE program are as follows:

Year 1: Exams in all 10 core courses

  • Semester 1: pass grade in all courses and GPA of 2.5
  • Semester 2: pass grade in all courses and adjusted GPA of 2.5. from 5 out of 6 core courses

Year 2: 40-46 ECTS credit points from elective courses from the GESS course catalogue. At least 4 of the elective courses have to be from the CDSE course catalogue.

End of year 2: hand in research paper with dissertation proposal

Year 3 (onwards): one bridge course from the CDSB or CDSS course catalogues (5 ECTS), English Academic Writing Course (3 ECTS) and two further electives that support thesis writing (10 ECTS)

The following grading scheme is used at the CDSE: 1.0 (excellent) to 4.0 (pass) and 5.0 (fail). A differentiation in 0.3 steps is possible (1.3, 1.7 etc.)


Degree Requirements

The requirements for earning a doctoral degree are as follows:

  1. Completion of the CDSE course program
  2. Completion, submission and acceptance of the thesis
  3. Thesis defense
  4. Degree awarded: Dr. rer. pol.

PhD theses at the CDSE usually consist of three original essays in one area which all will be published in good scholarly journals. However, the classical form of a thesis (a longer text analyzing one topic in depth) is also possible with the clear perspective that the contents of the thesis will be used towards articles published in scholarly journals. The decision about the form of the thesis is made by the student and his/her supervisor.


For further details please refer to the CDSE Regulations Section.