Doctorate at HHL



Dr. rer. oec.

Program Length

36 months

Program Start

Rolling admission, no application deadline

Application Requirements

  • Above-average master-level degree in business or economics
  • Letter of acceptance from an HHL supervisor, following a personal interview with an HHL professor
  • Research proposal (accepted by an HHL supervisor)
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Very good skills in English (e.g. TOEFL of 96+ ibt)

Tuition Fees

  • Study Fee EUR 15,000
  • Enrollment Fee EUR 2,500 (waivers possible)
  • Examination Fee EUR 1,000 (waivers possible)


Doctoral AACSB


  • 25 new doctoral students/year
  • Average age: 31
  • 240 doctoral graduates (1998-2017)

Core Modules

  • Philosophical Underpinnings of Economic and Management Research
  • Economic Analysis & Policy OR Corporate Governance

Elective Modules (4 out of 6)

  • Econometrics/Methods of Multivariate Statistics
  • Management Research
  • Principles and Practices of University Teaching
  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Scientific Writing & Publishing
  • Structural Equation Models
  • Time Series Models/Panel Data Models
    (elective courses are examples only)


  • Year 1: Two mandatory courses (approx. 2 weeks), four elective courses (3-4 days each), Summer Meeting I (2 days), Research Colloquium (1 day)
  • Year 2: Summer Meeting II (2 days), Doctoral Colloquium (1 day)
  • Year 3: Acceptance and defense of dissertation (1 day)

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 require students’ attendance in Leipzig.

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.

Admission criteria

  • Above-average master-level degree in business or economics (at least a final grade which is equivalent of the German grade “good”)
  • Letter of acceptance from an HHL supervisor, following a personal interview with an HHL professor
  • Research proposal (accepted by an HHL supervisor)*
  • Very good skills in English (e.g. TOEFL of 96+ ibt)

*Please take a look at our faculty to find out about their research topics.

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

Application Documents

The confirmation of supervision of an HHL professor is the basis for the acceptance of your application.

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

  • 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
  • Letter of recommendation from employer or previous academic advisor*
  • Proof of proficiency in English (e. g. TOEFL)*

* These documents can be handed in during the admission process.

Application Procedure in 10 Steps

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.
Step 3: Identify potential supervisors from the HHL faculty according to your research topic.*
Step 4: Contact HHL if you have any questions or doubts.
Step 5: Write a research proposal (5 to 10 pages).
Step 6: Apply online via, selecting three potential supervisors.
Step 7: If one of the selected professors has interest in your topic, you will be contacted by the respective chair for an interview (via Skype or at HHL). **
Step 8: If you obtain a confirmation of supervision, the Doctoral Committee will evaluate your application.
Step 9: You will be informed by the Admissions Officer about the final decision of the Doctoral Committee via email.
Step 10: You receive the official admission documents and you get enrolled in the program.

* You can also contact the chairs directly if you wish to get a feedback on your exposé before applying; please bear in mind that due to the high number of interested candidates, the chairs are not responsible for giving you a feedback without a first draft of your research proposal.

** If none of the selected professors agrees to supervise your thesis, your application will no longer be considered for the program; the Admissions Officer will send you an email to inform you about the result. Please note that this part of the evaluation process might take up to 8 weeks. You are allowed to apply one more time with a different topic.

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 20 years about 200 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

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

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. Christiane Springer
Dean of Hochschule für Telekommunikation (HfTL), University of Applied Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

Looking back at my doctoral studies at HHL I especially remember the valuable talks and discussions with other doctoral students that were very helpful for the efficient completion of my doctoral thesis. Interesting lectures and fireside chats with executives as well as the participation in doctoral colloquia and conferences made the doctoral program perfect and offered plenty of opportunities for networking. So, my time at HHL was not only a time of doing research but also of establishing long-lasting enriching relationships.
2008: Completion of doctoral studies at HHL (Chair of Marketing Management)
2009-2010: CEO, Leipzig School of Media
since 2010: Professor of Business Administration, esp. Marketing, Hochschule für Telekommunikation (HfTL), University of Applied Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

Prof. Dr. Andreas Wilms
Vice President for Academic and International Affairs, 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.
2008: Completion of doctoral studies at HHL (Chair of Financial Management)
2009-2012: Consultant with BCG The Boston Consulting Group
since 2012: Professor of Business Administration, esp. Finance, Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences, Brandenburg, Germany

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

Dr. Beatrice Ermer
Senior Manager Strategic Marketing (B2B), innogy SE, Essen, Germany

The doctoral program at HHL is very well structured and tightly planned – for me, these were ideal conditions for completing the doctorate. I also liked the work at the interface of theory and practice and the internationality of the students. The doctoral degree as well as the HHL network were very valuable for my further career. I gladly recommend HHL’s doctoral program.’
2013 Completion of doctoral studies at HHL (Prof. Dr. Manfred Kirchgeorg, Chair of Marketing Management)
2013-2014 Executive Assistant to the CEO of envia Mitteldeutsche Energie AG, Chemnitz, Germany
2014-2016 Project Lead “New Way of Working” (Change Management), RWE International SE Dortmund, Germany

Dr. Christian Hoffmann
Engagement Manager, 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.
2014 Completion of doctoral studies at HHL (Prof. Dr. Torsten Wulf, Chair of Strategic Management and Family Business)

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. Kai Thürbach
Cologne Publishing Group, CEO, Cologne, Germany T&L Publishing Group, CEO, Düsseldorf, Germany

HHL has an environment that is truly inspiring academically with excellent ideas, excellent people and an excellent reputation. It is the ideal preparation for both, business as a rigorous academic discipline as well as for the challenges of everyday practice of entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership.
2011: Completion of doctoral studies at HHL (Prof. Dr. Manfred Kirchgeorg, Chair of Marketing Management)

Further businesses founded by HHL doctoral alumni are Leverton (contract management software) and Coromandel (eco fashion).

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? Below you find an overview of the research areas of HHL. Check also the chairs’ pages for their focus and current projects.

Strategic and International Management, Business Psychology and Leadership

Boards and Governance in Entrepreneurial  Organizations (Prof. Dr. Stephan Stubner) 

  • Boards and CEO interaction in new venture teams
  • External managers in family firms
  • Board roles over family firm generations

Corporate Entrepreneurship (Prof. Dr. Stephan Stubner)

  • Corporate accelerators in Germany
  • Entrepreneurial biases in decision making
  • Entrepreneurial approaches to strategy making

Public Value, Business Psychology, and Leadership (Prof. Dr. Timo Meynhardt)

  • Public value and firm/organizational performance
  • Public value and the theory of the firm
  • Public value and non-financial reporting
  • Competency models – theory and practice
  • Values and self-organization
  • Public value and entrepreneurship in the public sector
  • Purpose, public value and leadership
  • Public value and personal growth

Top Management Internationalization and Diversity (Jun.-Prof. Dr. Tobias Dauth)

  • Top Management Diversity: Implications for firms’ strategy and structure
  • Internationalization of top management and (international) careers
  • Investigating the link between diversity in top management teams and decision making processes

Finance and Accounting

Reporting, Investor Relations, Capital Markets, and Financial Integrity (Prof. Dr. Henning Zülch)

  • Reporting: materiality of reported information, earnings management, IFRS standard setting and enforcement
  • Investor relations: consistency of information from investor relations and reporting
  • Capital markets: relationship between financial communication and equity trading and prices
  • Financial integrity

Corporate Finance, Private Equity, Corporate Valuation, M&A (Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schwetzler)

  • Corporate finance: optimal capital structure, risk of default
  • Private equity: PE business model, M&A activity under PE ownership, fund characteristics, cross border PE, performance of buyouts, PE and bankruptcy
  • Corporate valuation: tax shield, valuation of asymmetric claims, valuation of hypergrowth companies, growth and inflation
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: fairness opinions, success factors of takeover offers in Germany, “endgame”: domination agreements, squeeze out and cost of total ownerships

Corporate Finance, Asset Pricing, and M&A (Prof. Dr. Alexander Lahmann)

  • Corporate finance: Optimal capital structure choice – Which factors drive financial decisions of corporations and how can an optimal capital structure be implemented?
    Tax benefits of debt financing (tax shield) – Which dynamic tax rules alter the tax shield and how can those be integrated in corporate valuation?
  • Asset pricing: Real options – How can the usage of real options alter existing valuation approaches to become more realistic?
  • M&A: Entrepreneurial succession – Which factors are important for a successful succession?

Microeconomics, Regulation and Health Care Management

  • Health care services and health technology assessment (Center for Health Care Management)
  • Supply management in hospitals (Center for Health Care Management and Regulation)
  • Clinical risk and emergency management (Center for Health Care Management and Regulation)
  • Ethics and economy in medicine (Center for Health Care Management and Regulation)
  • Regulatory issues concerning healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceutical industry (Center for Health Care Management and Regulation)
  • Leadership and organization models for healthcare-related institutions (Center for Health Care Management and Regulation)
  • Cost-Benefit analyses for medical treatment alternatives (Center for Health Care Management and Regulation)

Economics, Ethics, Logistics, Marketing, and Multi-Channel Management

Competitiveness, Sustainability, Regulation and Cluster Research (Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Althammer)

  • Determinants of competitiveness
  • Sustainable competitiveness
  • Regulation and trade patterns
  • Cluster management and cluster performance

Trust Research, Corporate Responsibility and Leadership Ethics (Prof. Dr. Andreas Suchanek)

  • Sustainable Development Goals – Status, implementation, and responsibilities of corporations
  • Is satisficing a possible strategy for a firm?
  • What are ethical risks and how to manage them?
  • Leadership ethics – basic fields of tension

Logistics, Value Creation and Supply Chain Management in the Digital Age (Prof. Dr. Iris Hausladen)

  • Issues relating to industry 4.0, logistics 4.0/SCM 4.0
  • IT-based logistics, Big Data & business analytics
  • Business models & digital transformation
  • Business process management
  • Trust & sustainability

Digitalization, Trust, Sustainability and Competitiveness (Prof. Dr. Manfred Kirchgeorg)

  • Optimizing crossmedia communication based on big data analysis
  • Impact of corporate trust on employer attractiveness
  • Sustainable solutions through smart digitalization
  • Improvement of corporate resilience against climate change through cluster strategies

Multi-Channel Management (Jun.-Prof. Dr. Erik Maier)

  • Moderators of image perception in e-commerce
  • Endowment effect vs. burden of ownership: explaining willingness to accept on re-sale platforms
  • The effect of mobile channel additions in an omni-channel retail world

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Venture Financing, Digital Innovation Management, Statistics in Business Research (Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart)

  • Venture capital and private equity financing
  • Digital Innovation Management
  • Innovation in the healthcare sector
  • Statistics in business research

Open Innovation, Value Creation (Prof. Dr. Kathrin Möslein)

  • Open innovation & Interactive value creation
  • Service innovation & Hybrid value creation

Business Models, Service Innovation (Prof. Dr. Vivek Velamuri)

  • Business models
  • Cognition and managerial reasoning
  • Corporate entrepreneurship
  • Sustainability
  • Sharing economy


A worthwhile investment

The tuition fee amounts to EUR 15,000 for the entire program, which is to be paid in three installments at the beginning of the first, second and third academic year. The enrollment fee is EUR 2,500, the examination fee EUR 1,000, waivers are possible)

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.

In order to promote further education, Sparkasse Leipzig offers attractive student loans with favorable terms to HHL students. Besides tuitions fees for the M.Sc. and MBA program also the financing options also cover the fees for the Doctoral Program. Details can be found in the Broschure of the Sparkasse Leipzig.


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).
If you are interested in a research project on ethics, supervised by Prof. Dr. Andreas Suchanek, you might be interested in the scholarships of the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics (WCGE) which are offered annually.
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:

WCGE Scholarships “Ethics and Responsible Leadership in Business"

As a result of the generous support on behalf of the Karl Schlecht Foundation, a doctoral program was established in cooperation between the Wittenberg Centre for Global Ethics (WCGE) and the Leadership Excellence Institute Zeppelin (LEIZ) in Spring 2014. The program also includes a societal dialogue platform whereby the expertise of leading business ethicists, the experience of multi-national corporations and the individual perspectives of various different societal actors and organisations are brought together in the form of various different events and publications. The HHL is one of the associated academic institutions and is represented by Prof. Dr. Andreas Suchanek as one of the supervising professors. The program is open to outstanding doctoral students whose research interests address the field of responsible leadership in business in a global context. The goal is that students not only gain a qualification in their specific area of research but also, that they understand the broader theoretical and sociopolitical framework of their research activities.

Six Doctoral scholarships are offered annually to gifted students. The scholarship finances the students’ cost of living for the duration of the three year program. The associated study program includes 6 mandatory courses, 2 electives and 2 field projects via which the students test their theoretical knowledge and ideas in a practical context. Current students’ research topics span several aspects of economic and business ethics such as Behavioural Business Ethics, whereby insights from behavioural research and psychology are applied to business ethics issues, and Human Rights Due Diligence, which involves investigating how companies can guarantee that no human rights violations occur throughout their entire supply chain.

Individual Support

We are there for you

Look forward to experience HHL as an institution with a truly personal atmosphere. As one of 25 students each year you will receive reliable and individual support from your supervisor and your fellow researchers but also from our administrative staff.

The Department of Student Administration will guide you through your doctoral study. Starting with showing you the HHL Campus and providing information about Leipzig Lukas Kriebel will support you in managing your course program and the study regulations up to the final disputation. The HHL Library is well equipped and ready to help you with your research projects providing comprehensive digital resources and also individual tuition. 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.

Andrea Lieb
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.

Martina Beermann
Director Employer Relations/Career Development

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

Open Courses

Guests Welcome

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management offers several of its doctoral courses to interested guests (liable to fees). After the successful completion of the course, you will receive a certificate indicating the exam result (grade) and the respective ECTS credits.

The language of instruction for all doctoral courses at HHL is English. Thus it is recommended to have sufficient previous knowledge in the field of management and business (e.g. Diploma or Master’s degree). Furthermore the command in English should be on a C-level (CEFR) or TOEFL 96+ or IELTS 6.5+.

Please send a current CV and the title of course you would like to attend to Mr Lukas Kriebel – lukas.kriebel(at) 

The course fee is EUR 750.00 (including lunch).