The DIW Graduate Center welcomes highly qualified post-graduate students from around the world to enroll in its structured program PhD in economics.
Please note that applications may only be sent during the application period via our application portal (the link to the portal will be made available only during application period). Applications sent outside of this application period via email will not be considered.
As part of the online application procedure, you will be asked to upload the following documents:
Note that in addition to these documents, you will need to have two academic letters of recommendation. We will provide forms for recommendation letters on our website as soon as the application portal opens. Reference providers are requested to send their recommendation letter by email to firstname.lastname@example.org before 16 February 2021. The application is to be completed in English, incomplete applications will not be considered.
Applicants should have a Master’s in Economics or Business Studies and have performed exceptionally well in their studies. Applicants from related fields (such as Industrial Engineering, Statistics, or quantitative social sciences) may also fulfill the admission requirements if they have a sufficient background in Economics or Business Studies.
All applicants must provide GRE General Test scores with their application. Most successful applicants score at or above the 90th percentile in the quantitative section of the GRE General Test.
Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency, unless they hold a degree from a university in an English-speaking country or can document at least one year of studies at an English-speaking university. Sufficient evidence for a good command of English is a high score in the "Test of English as a Foreign Language" (TOEFL) or the "International English Language Testing System" (IELTS). As a rule of thumb, successful applicants will score at or above 7.0 (IELTS) or 95 (Internet-based TOEFL).
Applicants with a Bachelor’s degree are eligible to apply for the program if they also apply for a Master’s program offering a fast track option. For detailed information, see our FAQ section.
Knowledge of German is not a necessary requirement for a successful application, but students are encouraged to learn and improve their skills.
In addition, evidence of creativity and inclination toward research will be taken into consideration. Please note that it is not necessary to find a supervisor before applying to the DIW Graduate Center.
There are no tuition fees. PhD students will receive funding for the expected length of the program - four years. For the course phase, a stipend of 1,200 Euro per month is provided; funding during the research phase is normally provided through employment at one of the DIW’s research departments. Funding for the research phase is conditional on having fulfilled the Performance Criteria.
We recommend to enroll at one of Berlin's universities, as this allows access to public transportation at no additional cost and ensures student health insurance. Note that the universities charge a semester fee of approximately 280 - 315 Euro per semester.
How can I apply to the DIW Graduate Center (GC)?
Application is done online via our application portal starting in November 2021 (the link to the portal will be made available only during application period). Please complete and submit your application as quickly as possible, as referees must also submit their letter of recommendation before the deadline! Incomplete applications as well as applications sent via email will not be considered.
Which documents do I need?
You will need to provide the following documents with your application: Motivation letter (max. 2 pages): this should state your motivation for applying to the program and should include a short outline of your major research interests; Detailed curriculum vitae (without photograph); Copies of academic transcripts and other certificates; Two letters of recommendation by academic referees; GRE scores (institution code 0096); and IELTS or TOEFL scores if applicable.
Do you accept applications from the field of engineering/mathematics/statistics?
Yes, provided you have a sufficient background in economics or business studies.
How does the selection procedure work?
After the application deadline, the selection committee will make a first selection based on the received electronic applications. If you are selected, you will then receive an invitation for a personal interview. Final decisions will be made shortly after the interviews. Please refrain from any inquiries about the status of your application until at least four weeks after the application deadline.
If I am selected for a personal interview, do I need to travel to Berlin?
If you are selected for an interview, we invite you to meet us personally and get to know the DIW GC and its partner institutions. We offer compensation for your train or airplane ticket. If visiting Berlin is too inconvenient for you, we can also set up a video-based interview using Skype.
Why do I have to hand in a motivation letter?
The motivation letter serves to indicate why you are interested in applying to the program as well as to give us an idea of your previous experiences and your future research interests. In your letter, you can describe what research topics you are interested in and name possible research questions/ideas. This helps us judge where your ideas fit within the GC areas of research. Please do not exceed the maximum length of two pages.
Do I have to hand in a research proposal?
No, we do not require a fully-fledged research proposal. The motivation letter is sufficiently informative. If you have a research proposal at hand, you may attach it to your application. It will help us to assess your research ideas, but it will not provide an advantage over applications without a research proposal.
What is the status of my application?
After submitting your application, we will send you an automatic confirmation via email. This means that your application is officially registered. The actual evaluation will take place after the submission deadline. Therefore, we kindly ask you to refrain from any inquiries about the status of your application until at least four weeks after the application deadline.
GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL Tests
What GRE score do I need in order to be admitted?
Most successful applicants score at or above the 90th percentile in the quantitative section of the GRE General Test. Note that the results from all GRE sections are considered.
Is it possible to apply without GRE scores?
Your application will be considered without GRE test results, but your chances of being admitted are much higher, if you submit them. We therefore highly recommend submitting GRE test results.
Is GMAT accepted as a substitute for GRE?
No. We only accept the GRE test.
How long are the GRE results valid?
GRE scores are reportable for five years after the test date.
When are IELTS/TOEFL test results required?
Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency unless they hold a degree from a university in an English-speaking country or can document at least one year of studies at an English-speaking university.
How long are my TOEFL/IELTS results valid?
TOEFL/IELTS results are valid for two years after the test date.
What TOEFL/IELTS score do I need in order to be admitted?
As a rule of thumb, successful applicants will score at or above 7.0 (IELTS) or 95 (Internet-based TOEFL).
I will not be able to upload my test results within the given deadline. Can I send/upload them later?
Referees & Recommendation Letters
Can I name business references?
No, your referees must come from academic institutions.
How can I change one of the referees/the contact information?
After you cleared your referees for contact, you cannot change your referee. Please inform your referee beforehand that he/she will be contacted by us.
Can my referees send their letters via email?
Yes. At the moment, this is the only way to submit a reference letter. Please ask your referees to send their letter of recommendation through email@example.com.
My referee is very busy right now/on vacation. Can he/she hand in the letter after the deadline?
No, letters sent in late cannot be considered.
Can I send the recommendation letters myself?
Can I remove already uploaded documents and replace them with others?
Once you have submitted your application, you cannot delete or modify your documents anymore. However, you can ask us to delete your application and submit a new one later.
Do you need original documents as hard copies or scans?
Scanned copies of original documents will suffice for now. We will ask you to provide the original documents after admission.
Is it possible to send the documents via mail instead of uploading them?
No, all documents have to be provided online. GRE/TOEFL/IELTS results can be sent to us via email as an exception, but in that case we cannot guarantee that they will be considered.
General Program-Related Questions
What can I expect after completing the program?
Our graduates have outstanding qualifications in scientific analysis of economic and social policy issues: they possess excellent methodological skills, in-depth experience in handling empirical data, as well as detailed institutional knowledge of the economic and societal structure of Germany and other countries. In addition, they are able to present their results effectively at international congresses, publish their scientific contributions in internationally renowned journals, and successfully manage large-scale research projects. As a result, many graduates have found attractive careers in academia, international organizations, and government institutions, etc.
Do GC students receive a scholarship?
Yes, PhD students will receive funding for the expected length of the program, i.e. for four years. For the course phase, a stipend of 1,200 Euro per month is provided; funding during the research phase is normally provided through employment at one of the DIW Berlin.
I already have a scholarship. Do I need to apply online?
If you already have an external scholarship, we ask you to apply online like all other applicants. You can mention the granted stipend in your motivation letter so that we are aware of it during the application process. However, an external stipend will be no advantage over the other applicants.
Are there tuition fees?
No, however, to enroll at one of the Berlin universities, there is a semester fee of approximately 280 - 315 Euro per semester. This provides access to public transport in Berlin at no additional cost. However, university enrollment is not required during the first year of the program.
Which institution will award the doctorate?
Our program participants enroll at the university where their supervisor holds a professorship. Typically this is one of Berlin’s participating universities; Humboldt Universität, Freie Universität, Technische Universität, or the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT). That university will award your doctoral degree.
How long does it take to finish my Ph.D. within the GC program?
It usually takes about four to five years (full-time study) to complete the program.
Are part-time studies possible?
No. The GC program is a full time program that requires your full time participation in the courses.
Are all courses taught in English?
Do I need to speak any German?
No, although it will be beneficial for living in Berlin of course.
Do I have to choose a supervisor before applying to the program?
No, acceptance in our program is of general nature and not based on an existing supervision agreement. You will have time to choose a supervisor during the first year of the program.
I already took Ph.D. level courses. Can I transfer my credits to your program?
No general assessment can be made whether previous courses can be accredited. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. In general, only credits can be transferred/approved, but not grades.