Doctoral Opportunities at ZEW

University graduates who begin their academic career at ZEW can attain their doctoral degree by taking one of several pathways. Regardless of the path chosen, clear milestones help to insure progress along a swift and secure path. Doctoral students have ample opportunities to enrol in doctoral courses at universities or in ZEW’s in-house courses. Within the framework of the standards of ZEW’s structured qualification, doctoral students receive a ZEW certificate for meeting these qualification standards. In addition to ensuring a high level of qualification for young researchers, these ZEW standards promote a well-grounded education in applied economic research and allow candidates to obtain a degree that is consistent with international PhD standards. Apart from attending qualification courses and conducting research for their dissertation, doctoral students are involved in specific projects aimed at providing scientifically-grounded economic policy advising. On average, the doctorate at ZEW takes about four and a half years to complete, which corresponds to the duration of the PhD phase in universities.

Doctoral students can complete their degree at ZEW by taking one of two pathways:

Staff member in a ZEW research unit and obtaining the doctoral degree from the University of Mannheim

The ZEW cooperates at the University of Manneheim with the Center for Docotral Studies in Economics (CDSE) in the economics doctoral program and with the Center for Doctoral Studies in Business (CDSB) in the business doctoral program. By participating in these graduate programmes, doctoral students fulfil the requirements of the ZEW qualification standards.

The first year mainly consists of compulsory courses at CDSE or CDSB at the University of Mannheim. During this time, doctoral students are supported by a scholarship. At the same time, students are expected to attend research seminars at ZEW and be involved in the activities of the ZEW research unit in which they wish to continue their studies after the compulsory course phase. From the second year onwards, postgraduate students will be fully integrated in one of ZEW’s research units and, in addition to their doctorate, have the opportunity to gain expertise in economic policy advising. In this phase, they are required to attend elective courses offered in the form of ZEW summer courses and elective courses at the University of Mannheim.

How to apply:

Doctoral students wishing to opt for this pathway are asked to send an application both to CDSE and to ZEW. Ideally, they should apply to ZEW before or during the first year at CDSE and switch to our institute from the second year onwards. It is, however, also possible to switch at a later stage.

Further information on the PhD track and how to apply

Contact: Martin Ungerer

The ZEW cooperates with the Center for Doctoral Studies in Business at the University of Mannheim in the area of “Taxation” via the ScienceCampus MannheimTaxation and in the area of “Finance”. From the second year onwards, students choosing the CDSB program usually switch to either the ZEW research unit “Corporate Taxation and Public Finance” or to the ZEW research unit “International Finance and Financial Management”.

Doctoral students wishing to opt for this pathway are asked to send an application to the CDSB. For further information on the programme and how to apply please visit:

For taxation, Contact: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Siegloch

For finance, Contact: Dr. Tabea Bucher-Koenen

Staff member in a ZEW research unit and obtaining the doctoral degree from one of the other partner universities

Doctoral students choosing this option will hold a full-time position as a ZEW researcher from the first year on, in which they will be involved in project work. With the help of the heads of the ZEW research units and experienced senior researchers, doctoral students will be able to draw inspiration for their doctoral thesis from the research projects they get to work on. Once the topic of the doctoral thesis has been decided upon, a supervisor will be found at either a German or foreign university. The ongoing development of the dissertation is based on the regulations for doctoral studies at the university in question, supported by the qualification standards at ZEW.

ZEW has contacts to German and foreign universities at which the completion of a doctorate is generally possible, including the universities of Heidelberg or Frankfurt. The list of foreign universities cooperating closely with ZEW includes KU Leuven, Maastricht University, the University of Luxembourg, and the University of Zürich.

How to apply:

Graduates wishing to opt for this pathway are required to apply to a ZEW job posting or send a speculative application to ZEW. Some of the partner universities have graduate programmes that are demanding in terms of content and time, and in individual cases a separate application to the university is required. Doctoral students taking part in these graduate programmes usually meet the requirements of the ZEW qualification standards. During the intensive course phase, their connection with the institute remains flexible.

Standards in the structured doctoral education and training at ZEW

  • Content (Course Programme)

    • Compulsory Courses
      Compulsory Courses
      • Advanced Microeconomics
      • Advanced Econometrics

      Time Schedule: During the first two years

    • Elective Field Courses

      Elective Field Courses

      Two field courses, for instance:

      • Empirical Public Finance and Economic Policy
      • Environmental and Resource Economics
      • European Fiscal Policy
      • Public Economics: Empirical and Quantitative Methods
      • Macroeconomics of Inequality
      • The Economics of Technical Change
      • Quantile Regression
      • Etc.

      Time Schedule: During year three and four

    • Soft Skills Courses
      Soft Skills Courses
      • Scientific Talks
      • Leadership Skills
      • Communication Strategies and Conflict Management
      • Moderation  Techniques
      • Etc.

      Time Schedule: During year three and four

    • Additional Activities at ZEW
      Additional Activities at ZEW
      • ZEW Discussion Paper
      • Scientific Talk at a ZEW Seminar
      • Regular Participation at the „ZEW Lecture in Economic Policy“
      • Participation at Conferences, Seminars and Workshops
      • Contributions to the ZEW-Newsletter
      • Etc.

      Time Schedule: Ongoing until graduation

  • Training "on the job"


    Integration in Research Activities


Human Resources Officer "General Services"

Phone: +49 (0)621 1235-250


Applicants should submit via the online form. During the interview procedure, candidates will meet staff members and the head of the relevant research unit, as well as the ZEW president. The application procedure includes a lecture and the discussion of its contents.

PhD representation

The PhD representative represents the interests of ZEW’s doctoral researchers towards the institute’s management, and organises regular meetings for doctoral researchers, in which doctoral students have the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences. She represents ZEW’s interests in the Leibniz PhD Network from which, in turn, she draws new ideas for doctoral students at ZEW. Furthermore, she is the contact person for applicants with general questions about doing a PhD at ZEW.

The current PhD representatives are Paul Barbée (Labour Markets and Human Resources) and Caroline Knebel (International Finance and Financial Management). The current PhD representatives can always be contacted via e-mail at

What we offer

  • Academic doctoral training according to the highest scientific standards
  • Conducting research at an internationally leading economic research institute
  • Support during the doctoral process
  • Excellent working equipment and access to unique databases
  • Support with the publication of research results
  • Participation in national and international scientific conferences
  • Research stays at renowned institutions
  • Introduction into national and international research networks
  • Further qualification opportunities e.g. in-depth courses in econometrics and machine learning
  • Team-oriented working atmosphere