Doctorate at HHL

Overview Doctoral Program


  • Dr. rer. oec.

Program Length

  • 36 months

Program Start

  • Rolling admission, no application deadline

Admission Criteria

  • Master’s degree in business or economics (or related field) with the final grade of a 2.5 or better
  • Letter of acceptance from an HHL professor, following a personal interview regarding your research project
  • Research proposal
  • Letter of motivation
  • CV

Tuition Fees (from Jan 01, 2024)

  • Study fee EUR 19,800, including:
  • Enrollment fee EUR 2,500 (waiver for HHL alumni)
  • Examination fee EUR 1,000 (waivers possible)


  • Doctoral AACSB


  • 25-35 new doctoral students/year
  • Average age: 31
  • > 350 doctoral graduates (1998-2023)

Core Modules

  • Philosophical Underpinnings of Economic and Management Research
  • Economic Analysis & Policy

Elective Modules

  • Econometrics/Methods of Multivariate Statistics
  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Scientific Writing & Publishing
  • Structural Equation Models
  • Time Series Models/Panel Data Models
    (elective courses are examples only)

Course Format

  • Online or hybrid

Program Structure

HHL’s Doctoral Program focuses on your research project

The Doctoral Program of HHL is designed on a part-time basis and is particularly of interest to research oriented candidates, seeking to combine their job with a postgraduate degree. It includes coursework in the form of lectures and seminars, independent research and participation in doctoral forums, research colloquia, summer schools and conferences.

Program structure

As a rule, HHL’s Doctoral Program takes three years. Doctoral candidates have the flexibility to arrange the coursework according to their individual schedule. All seminars take place in an online or hybrid format.

Course overview


We are offering a rolling admission, which allows you to start the Doctoral Program in your preferred term. Admission to the Doctoral Program at HHL is highly competitive and the participation in such a program in Germany differs from an American Ph.D. or a DBA program: It requires that the candidate finds a professor to supervise his or her doctoral thesis and a research proposal has to be submitted.

Application Documents

Please apply online with the following documents, which will then be assessed by HHL’s Doctoral Committee:

  • Confirmation of supervision from an HHL supervisor (letter of acceptance)
  • Final transcript and a degree certificate of all completed degree programs (at least one of them has to be a Master’s degree in Economics or Business Administration with a final grade which is equivalent of the German grade “good”)
  • Letter of motivation
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Research proposal* **

* These documents can be handed in during the admission process.
** You find an overview of the research topics of our faculty below.

The admission requirements can also be found in the Doctoral Statutes (in German).

    Application Process

    • Step 1: Check whether you fulfill the formal admission criteria: a Master’s degree in Economics or Business Administration with a final grade which is equivalent of the German grade “good”.
    • Step 2: Define your research topic (and begin to write your research proposal).
    • Step 3: Identify and contact potential supervisors from the HHL faculty according to your research topic.*
    • Step 4: Write the research proposal in accordance with your potential supervisor.
    • Step 5: If you obtain a confirmation of supervision, apply online, selecting your supervisor.
    • Step 6: The Doctoral Committee evaluates your application.
    • Step 7: You will be informed by the Admissions Officer about the final decision of the Doctoral Committee via email.
    • Step 8: You receive the official admission documents and you get enrolled in the program.

    If you have any questions or doubts regarding the doctoral program, contact us:

      Career Perspectives

      With new competencies to challenging positions

      A doctoral degree from HHL enables you to choose from quite a variety of career options.

      Depending on your own preferences you may either seize a next-level job opportunity with a company, even set up your own business, or –  if you like teaching and research – pursue an academic career. At HHL you may also habilitate and thus further indulge in research.
      In the last 22 years almost 300 students have obtained their doctoral degree from HHL. More than 30 of these postgraduates now work as professors at universities or at universities of applied sciences.

      HHL Alumni in Academia

      Dr. Nagwan Abu El-Ella
      Head of Unit excite | FUTURELAB | Technische Universität Dresden

      The magic word is “Balance“!  As an academic with consulting experience too, HHL’s doctoral program was the perfect fit for going through a well-thought plan of connecting academia with the industry, and showing the outcome of that in my thesis. As a foreigner with originally a British education, HHL provided the amazing educational environment, exposure to connections and events, as well as being taught by experienced professors.
      After graduation from HHL, I was offered multiple jobs in academia and in the industry. I am currently the Associate Dean of a reputable British University and I take over consulting projects as well. If time goes back, I definitely wouldn’t have picked anywhere else!

      Prof. Dr. Philip Meißner
      Chair of Strategic Management and Decision Making, ESCP Business School Berlin | Doctoral graduate of 2011 (Chair of Strategic Management)

      HHL provided me with the perfect framework for my doctorate. In addition to research at the chair of Professor Torsten Wulf, I was able to develop new methods for strategic planning in a practice-oriented way by working at the Center for Strategy and Scenario Planning together with Roland Berger: For me, the perfect balance of research, practice and teaching.

      Prof. Dr. Tatjana Steusloff
      Professor of Business Administration, esp. International Marketing | Wiesbaden Business School, Hochschule RheinMain

      Since my studies in one of the first classes after the re-establishment of HHL, I have been very attached to HHL and very grateful for the excellent academic education and the great network. When, 12 years after my graduation and a career in brand management at Unilever and McCain, I decided to pursue a professorship at an HAW and still needed a doctorate, HHL was my first choice and in Prof. Vilks I found a doctoral supervisor to whom I am very grateful for his supervision and support during my external doctorate. Last but not least, the Leipzig location is a real competitive advantage, as are the service-oriented employees.

      Prof. Dr. Thomas Hutzschenreuter
      University Professor of International Management, Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany

      When I joined HHL as a research associate at the Chair of Strategy and Organization in 1995 HHL’s doctoral program was about to start. What I learned at our Chair is the unsubstitu­table basis for my whole academic career. In addition, a course program oriented towards international scientific standards was established step by step. As a highlight, Arnis Vilks’ course Philosophy of Science opened up topics for me which I profit from almost on a daily basis. Thus, HHL’s doctoral program embedded in a wide and fruitful international network became and still is what I call: my academic home.
      1997: Completion of doctoral studies at HHL (Chair of Strategic Management and Organization)
      2001-2002: Assistant Professor, Boston University
      2002-2015: University Professor, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

      Prof. Dr. Andreas Wilms
      University President, TH Brandenburg, University of Applied Sciences, Brandenburg, Germany

      After my graduate studies at HHL I decided to join HHL’s doctoral program as a research associate at the Chair of Financial Management to continue working in the vibrant environment of academic excellence, innovation and business impact. I especially liked to develop and hold courses for the highly motivated and committed HHL students. These teaching experiences but also the research and project work prepared me well both for my former job as management consultant with BCG and for my current job as Professor of Finance.
      since 2019: University President of TH Brandenburg, University of Applied Sciences, Brandenburg, Germany
      since 2012: Professor of Business Administration, esp. Finance, TH Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences, Brandenburg, Germany
      2009-2012: Consultant with BCG The Boston Consulting Group
      2008: Completion of doctoral studies at HHL (Chair of Financial Management)

      Further graduates of HHL’s doctoral program work as professors at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW), Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK), KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, IMD International Institute for Management Development (Switzerland), Philipps-Universität Marburg, University Duisburg-Essen, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim and at the University of Passau.

      HHL Alumni in Companies

      Wiebke Stranz
      Principal | Roland Berger

      The Doctoral Program at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management was not only an outstanding academic experience for me, but also a time in which I built a strong (international) network. I had the opportunity to participate in various academic conferences in Germany and abroad and to present the research work of the Chair. The cross-chair collaborations with my peers and professors not only significantly influenced my professional development, but also my personal growth and have developed into lifelong friendships. The valuable network I built at HHL has been instrumental in preparing me for a successful start as a strategy consultant at Roland Berger.

      Dr. Christian Hoffmann
      Partner | McKinsey & Company, Düsseldorf, Germany

      After my graduate studies HHL’s doctoral program provided me with a unique opportunity to pursue my research interests and closely work together with outstanding supervisors as well as fellow researchers. Supervisors, faculty and fellow researchers at HHL were always available for help or advice on an idea I wanted to develop, a paper I had a hard time writing, or my dissertation that needed to be done well.

      Further doctoral alumni work with SAP, EY – Ernst and Young, The Boston Consulting Group, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Otis, Roland Berger, Vodafone, Miele, BMW Group.

      HHL Alumni Leading Their Own Business

      Dr. Christina Schreiter
      Founder and CEO form & fertig GmbH | founder and CEO Let's Ads GmbH | HHL | Doctoral graduate of 2019 (Chair of Marketing Management)

      After completing my Master of Science at HHL, I returned to my hometown in 2014 to complete my doctorate. As a research assistant at the Marketing Management Chair of Prof. Dr. Manfred Kirchgeorg, I supported practical projects as well as teaching courses. Looking back, I particularly appreciate the value of the well-founded way of working during my doctoral studies – a competence that has proven extremely helpful in my role as founder and CEO of two companies. Of course, I also benefit from HHL’s large network. I am proud of my academic journey at the “Gründerschmiede” and always look forward to an opportunity to return to my alma mater.

      Career Development

      The HHL Career Development guides you on your way to start a new employment or to develop on the job. The career support does not end once your aim is reached – you may contact the team of HHL’s career service also in later stages of your life.

      • CV and Cover letter checks
      • Personal career coaching
      • Mock interviews
      • Experienced hire job newsletter
      • Company and HHL alumni contacts
      • Salary information (and advice on negotiations)

      Also the wide network of HHL alumni can prove to be a door opener to the targeted position. The HHL alumni are an active, international community offering lots of possibilities for networking.

      Research Topics

      Make an impact with your doctoral project

      At HHL, more than 20 chairs and centers work on a comprehensive range of research topics in the fields of business and economics. The research questions are often interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral, i.e. they combine economics issues with knowledge from e.g. ethics, psychology, health or law.

      HHL researchers present their findings at international colloquia and conferences and publish the results in numerous journal articles and monographic dissertations.
      Latest topics dealt with at HHL were e.g. moral risk management, communicative leadership ethics, employee involvement in open innovation, current conceptual and empirical issues in group reporting under IFRS, service productivity, sustainability in supply chain networks or the perception of family firm brands.

      The work of our researchers is greatly acknowledged by the research community. In 2013, Nagwan Abu El-Ella received the ISPIM Award for the “Best Paper on practical implications for technology”. In 2015, HHL doctoral candidate Christian Comberg together with co-authors received the ISPIM “That’s Interesting!” Research Award for their research paper titled “The Design Logic for Business Model Innovation in Sharing Economies”. Each year, HHL honors one of the doctoral candidates for excellent research with the HHL Research Award.

      Which research area would you like to explore further? Check also the chairs’ pages for their focus and current projects.


      A worthwhile investment

      From Jan 01, 2024, the tuition fee amounts to EUR 19,800 for the entire program (including an enrollment fee of EUR 2,500 and an examination fee of EUR 1,000; the enrollment fee will be waived for HHL alumni), which is to be paid in three installments at the beginning of the first, second and third academic year.
      The tuition fees for the Doctoral Program are tax deductible as anticipated professional expenses. Get first tips by reading the brochure “Steuertipps” (in German). For detailed information please contact your legal tax advisor.


      Seize funding opportunities

      Would you like to concentrate on your research only and attend HHL’s doctoral program without working? Then you may apply for a scholarship to cover the tuition fees (and/or living expenses).
      There are plenty of scholarship options from other foundations for German and for international students. The following list gives you starting points for your scholarship search:

      Individual Support

      We are there for you

      Look forward to experiencing HHL as an institution with a truly personal atmosphere. As one of 30-40 students each year you will not only receive reliable and individual support from your supervisor and your fellow researchers but also from our administrative staff.

      The Department of Student Affairs will guide you through your doctoral studies. Starting with showing you the HHL Campus and providing information about Leipzig, Mariah Littley will support you in managing your course plan and complying with the study regulations up to the final disputation. The HHL Library is well equipped and ready to help you with your research projects, providing not only comprehensive digital resources, but also individual consultations. The IT team organizes IT introduction sessions and can be approached with all IT-related questions. HHL’s Career Development offers individual and strategic guidance on your career development not only during your doctoral studies but also after graduation from HHL.

      The intranet of HHL provides information on all HHL departments and its services, and also the HHL faculty. It serves as a communication tool and makes it easy for you to feel as a part of the HHL community and to easily reach the right persons for your questions.

      Prof. Dr. Andreas Suchanek
      Holder of the Dr. Werner Jackstädt Chair of Economic and Business Ethics

      At the Dr. Werner Jackstädt Chair of Economic and Business Ethics we attach great importance to the intensive exchange between our doctoral students. During a two-day seminar which takes place twice a year the doctoral candidates meet to discuss their current findings but also fundamental texts and topics. One of these seminars is also open to our doctoral alumni giving them the possibility to update their knowledge in the field of business ethics. On the other hand, current students may receive valuable advice and stimulation for their doctoral research from those who successfully completed the doctoral program at HHL.
      Apart from that we host a monthly telephone meeting each of which is lead by another doctoral student. The idea is to focus on a special aspect of his/her thesis and to present it to the others in an easily accessible way. Thus, we foster something that is essential to every doctoral student (and unfortunately too often neglected): the discussion of one’s own research with others.

      Katrin Exner
      Director HHL Library

      Every doctoral student gets a welcome email from us with information on all services we provide. We support the students with research information sessions, which can also be arranged as an online meeting. These sessions are often very individual, due to the low student numbers.
      Especially useful for doctoral students is our free Citavi campus license that enables the effective management of collected references.

      Sigrid Fischer
      Director Career & Alumni Relations

      The HHL Career Service team responds individually and at the same time systematically to all your questions relating to your job entry and your further career development. Each biography unfolds an own story covering a variety of interests, likings, values and skills. We are very happy about the successful careers of many of our doctoral graduates and are pleased to still receive the latest news about their current business from them even beyond graduation.


      A worldwide network as a source of inspiration and innovation

      As a doctoral student at HHL you will be a member of a multi-faceted network. HHL as an institution as well as the chairs and centers maintain relations to partners from business, research and academia in Germany and abroad. They are a source for support and exchange. The close contact to external partners offers possibilities for joint research and transfer projects.

      The HHL network comprises regional partners such as the local Leipzig University and the Leipzig Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer and stretches over renowned German research institutions like the KIT and Hasso Plattner Institute to the world’s top research institutions such as the Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
      The HHL community itself is a strong network. The SVI-Endowed Chair for Marketing, for instance, unites all current and former doctoral students in the Academic Marketing Association which offers regular meetings for mutual exchange. You will experience HHL’s close ties to its alumni in various ways.
      We are looking forward to your commitment to further develop and shape the HHL network.

      International Partners

      • Harvard Business School, Boston, Mass., U.S.
      • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Mass., U.S.
      • Stern School of Business, New York, U.S.
      • University of Exeter Business School, UK
      • European Academy of Management
      • European Health Management Association
      • European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ESCB)
      • Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland

        Partners in Germany

        • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
        • Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam
        • Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics
        • Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy, Leipzig
        • Leipzig University
        • Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK)
        • Leipzig Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer
        • SMILE Initiative
        • SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator, Leipzig
        • Translational Center for Regenerative Medicine, Leipzig

          Doctoral Theses

          The list below gives an overview about all doctoral theses published by HHL doctoral graduates. If you are interested in further publications by the HHL faculty or if you would like to search for a special topic, please start your search on the HHL Publications web page.


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