Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Finance Group

Writing a Master Thesis in Finance

Students who would like to write a Master thesis in the area of Finance must have completed the Financial Economics concentration, and have attend either the Hauptseminar Corporate Finance or the Hauptseminar Financial Economics. It is recommended that students take as many finance electives as possible prior to registering for a Hauptseminar. The courses "Finance Theory" and "Advanced Corporate Finance" are mandatory. The purpose of the Hauptseminars is to introduce students to academic research and scientific writing, and the requirements for writing a master thesis in Finance.


To complete the master program in four semesters, we recommend the following semester plan.

1st Semester (ws) 2nd Semester (ss) 3rd Semester (ws) 4th Semester (ss)
Corporate Finance
Asset Management
(Econometric Methods)
Advanced Corporate Finance
Case Seminar
Financial Engineering
Real Effects of Finance
Private Equity
Writing Thesis

Most thesis topics will be of an empirical nature. Therefore, good econometric skills are essential. The course Econometric Methods is highly recommended. Familiarity with statistical software, such as Stata, R or SAS, is also important. Since most relevant literature is in English, it is recommended to write the master thesis in English, but this is not a necessity.


Master Thesis in Corporate Finance (Adam / Elendner)

If you are interested in writing a master thesis in the area of Corporate Finance, contact Prof. Adam, Prof. Elendner, or one of their assistants to discuss a suitable thesis topic and expected completion time, after you have completed the Hauptseminar. Currently we offer theses topics in the following areas.

  • Corporate Risk Management
  • Mutual Funds
  • Behavioral Corporate Finance
  • Debt Financeing, e.g., Syndicated Loans, Mittelstandsanleihen
  • Credit Rating Agencies
  • Financial Regulation

You should budget at least six months for completing your thesis. It is also possible and encouraged to write a thesis jointly with another fellow student. This is not only more stimulating than writing by yourself but you can also benefit from economies of scale.


Master Thesis in Financial Economics (Stomper)

If you are interested in writing a master thesis in the area of financial economics, contact Prof. Stomper or one of his assistants to discuss a suitable thesis topic.

Before you can start working on your thesis, you have to attend the "Master Thesis Seminar - Financial Economics" in order to present/develop your ideas and to write a research proposal (i.e. the seminar paper). Students with suitable research proposals will obtain approval to write their theses according to their proposals.

To apply for admission to the seminar, please send your CV and transcript (i.e., your academic record) to

In general, master theses in financial economics will be replication exercises. If an empirical or experimental analysis is to be replicated, then the replication must be done in STATA or R. We will specify which of the two software packages ought to be used in any particular case. If the replication concerns a theoretical paper, then the thesis will analyze a particular specification of the model in the paper. Any programs written/datasets used must be submitted with the thesis in electronic form. In replicating an experimental analysis, students will not conduct experiments, but rather work with data from previous experiments.

To pick a thesis topic, consult the following webpage:
Of the papers listed on the above page, any papers with a focus on financial economics (broadly defined) are suitable picks for a replication exercise leading to a HU master thesis in financial economics. Of course, the replication must be doable. For example, a replication of an empirical or experimental paper requires data access. To assess whether a replication is doable, students need to look at the appendices, data sets, etc. linked to a given paper on the AER webpage.


General Information

After obtaining a thesis topic the next step is to write and orally present a research proposal (60 min). Proposals take place on Mondays, 14-16 pm, in DOR1-304. During the presentation you should explain why your topic is important, what new insights could potentially be gained from your thesis, and discuss your research methodology. It is important to clearly state the research question and to demonstrate the feasibility of your project. After a successful presentation you can submit the form „Anmeldung zur Masterarbeit“ to the institute's secretary, Mrs. Bulwahn, and begin writing your thesis.

Master theses must be submitted in bound format (2 copies) by the due date to the Prüfungsamt. Each master thesis must include a DVD containing the thesis, all data used, computer programs, and pdf files of all references. Further information about how to write a thesis can be found here.



Exceptional Master theses will be nominated for the David-Kopf Hochschulpreis.
See for details.

In addition, you can participate in the following master-thesis competitions: