Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Finance Group

Writing a Doctoral Dissertation in Finance


Students interested in the practical relevance of academic research in finance and who have a strong academic track record should consider writing a doctoral dissertation. The finance track of the Berlin School of Economics PhD Program ( introduces students to research questions and methodologies that shape current research in financial economics, and prepares graduates for research careers in universities, central banks, and other research-oriented institutions.

Our PhD program consists of intensive course work in microeconomics, econometrics, and financial economics during the first year, and advanced specialization courses in finance in the second year. The core course in finance covers the main fields of financial economics, i.e., corporate finance, financial intermediation, and asset pricing. Elective courses from other fields in economics can also be chosen. Students must complete a minimum of 90 ECTS in order to finish the program. The typical study sequence in finance is as follows.


Qualification Phase

1st Year

Qualification Phase

2nd Year

Dissertation Phase

3rd - 5th Year

Microeconomics I

Research Topics in Finance I

Independent Research

Microeconomics II

Research Topics in Finance II

Finance Brownbag Seminar

Econometrics I

Other Elective Courses (33 ECTS)

Finance Research Seminar

Econometrics II

Accounting-Finance Research Seminar

Finance Reading Group

Advanced Financial Economics

Finance Reading Group

External Summer Schools


Conference Presentations



45 ECTS 45 ECTS  


The finance faculty currently include Tim Adam, Max Bruche, Beatriz Mariano, Lukas Menkhoff, and Alex Stomper. We nurture a stimulating environment for research in finance. Our core strengths lie in the areas of corporate finance and financial intermediation, but we are also interested in research at the intersection of finance with other fields in economics (e.g. labor economics, international economics, or development) as well as outside economics (e.g. history, climate change.

We are conducting both empirical and theoretical research, and have access to many of the major databases in finance, such as EIKON, Compustat, Capital IQ, Bloomberg, and Morningstar. In addition, Prof. emeritus Richard Stehle has calculated the Fama-French factors for Germany since 1958. This data is available here. Funding for other financial data is available upon request.



If you would like to write a doctoral dissertation in finance you must first apply to the Berlin School of Economics (BSE) PhD Program ( The application deadline is each year in February.

We do not supervise external dissertation projects. Every student wishing to write a dissertation in finance must first enroll and complete the BSE PhD Program.

Frequently Asked Questions concerning studies at the PhD level:



2-year scholarships (€ 1.200/month) are available for applicants with outstanding academic credentials. Upon successful completion of the first- and second-year courses, students are eligible to apply for a research assistant (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) position in the Finance Group. This position provides funding for another three years of doctoral study. In addition, there are external funding opportunities, such as the Kauffmann Dissertation Fellowship Program etc. Information on further funding opportunities are available from the Scholarship Portal.

Starting April 1st 2013, the Humboldt-University will offer "Humboldt Research Track" scholarships at € 800 for the first time, in order to pave the way to a doctoral degree for exceptional Master students. The scholarship supports students during the transition phase between the completion of the master degree and the begin of doctoral studies. Additional information is available at:

Scholarships for post-doctoral studies are available from the DAAD:

For more information on scholarships, please visit the website of the Humboldt-Graduate School:



Students mentored by members of the finance faculty have been placed in universities such as Cass Business School, Copenhagen Business School, Ghent Univ., and Univ. of Georgia, in central banks and public sector institutions such as BaFin, Bundesbank, ECB, KfW, and OECD, as well as in the private sector, e.g. Deutsche Asset Management, HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt, or Munich Re.


Ph.D. Finance Curriculum

Advanced Financial Economics (4 SWS, 9 ECTS, SS)

This course covers the main areas in finance: corporate finance, financial intermediation, asset pricing, and investments.

Prerequisite: Microeconomics I (PhD); knowledge of: choice under uncertainty, moral hazard, adverse selection, signalling, basic matrix algebra, panel data econometrics
Evaluation: Final exam and presentation (PhD students only)
Textbook: Jean Tirole, “The Theory of Corporate Finance”, (2006), Princeton University Press
John Cochrane, "Asset Pricing", Princeton University Press, 2nd Edition


Research Topics in Finance I (2 SWS, 6 ECTS, WS)

This course explores classic and current academic research on Financial Intermediation. It targets PhD and Master students who are currently looking for a topic for their own thesis. The course starts with a lecture-style presentation of the overarching research themes in the literature. Seminar participants will then present and discuss classic papers, as well as current unpublished papers that are still being presented at conferences.

Prerequisite: "Advanced Financial Economics" (PhD level) or equivalent knowledge
Registration: in the first session
Evaluation: Seminar paper (100 %)


Research Topics in Finance II (2 SWS, 6 ECTS, SS)

Discussion of current research topics in financial economics.

Evaluation: Seminar paper (100 %)


Finance Research Seminar (2 SWS)

This seminar is a series of research seminars given by external guests in the areas of finance and accounting. For the current seminar schedule click here.


Finance Reading Group (2 SWS)

Discussion of the research presented in the Finance-Accounting Research Seminar and other current events.


Finance Brown Bag Seminar (2 SWS)

In this seminar PhD students present their own work in an informal athmosphere.


Other recommended Elective Courses

· Microeconometric Evaluation Methods (Caliendo (Uni Potsdam), 6 ECTS)

· Applied Econometrics (Gassen/Wagner (ESMT), 9 ECTS)

· Time Series Analysis (Droge, 9 ECTS)

· Analysis of Panel Data (Droge, 9 ECTS)

· Applied Microeconomics (Steiner, 6 ECTS)

· Structural Econometrics: Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation (DIW, 6 ECTS)

· Structural Econometrics in Labor and IO (DIW, 6 ECTS)

· Introduction to Policy Analysis and Policy Advice (DIW, 9 ECTS)

· Empirical Accounting Research (Gassen/Olsson (ESMT), 6 ECTS)