Frankfurt School of Finance & Management is one of Europe’s leading business schools with an internationally recognised reputation for relevant and rigorous research. We are determined to attract the most talented doctoral students in accounting, finance, and management, and we offer a stimulating academic environment.
Researchers at Frankfurt School work on fundamental problems that challenge firms and society. How should firms respond to climate change? Can markets be redesigned to support fair outcomes? Does working from home improve gender equality?
The five-year doctoral programme equips students to contribute to these debates. The first two years generally consist of classes in which students focus on analytical skills. Students also take courses in their chosen area of academic specialisation in Accounting, Finance, or Management, which provides the foundation from which to develop research topics. The program encourages students to broaden their scope and obtain training in related areas such as data sciences, operations research, or economics.
The coursework phase ends when students successfully pass their Qualifying Exam and graduate to the dissertation stage. At this time, students have the opportunity to obtain a Master’s degree in Business Research and Analytics as part of their doctoral programme. In the dissertation stage (years 3-5), students move to an active research and write their dissertation.
While our primary intention is to provide graduates with an ideal platform to enter the world of academia, their research topics are also directly relevant for business and politics. We train our students to develop solutions to complex problems and to develop the social and conceptual skills they need to advise others. Our faculty mentors and supports students in their research. This nurturing intellectual climate is combined with an exciting state-of-the-art campus environment.
Frankfurt School confers a Dr. rer. pol., the German equivalent of a PhD in Economics. The School offers fully-funded study places and a generous monthly stipend for up to five years.
In the first two years, doctoral students attend core courses, elective courses, and concentration courses in their respective academic specialisations. In this phase they obtain the knowledge and skills to engage in their own research.
The three specialisations: Accounting, Finance and Management follow a similar structure.
We asked Dr. Timo Vogelsang, Assistant Professor of Management Accounting, why it is important to invest in coursework at the beginning of your research career. Here is what he had to say:
“The courses are an important basis for excellence while doing your dissertation research. Moreover, during your academic career, you will probably never have so much time available to learn new things. My supervisor always told me this. Now I sometimes regret that I did not spend much more time during the course-phase to learn more about the most current empirical methods and theoretical approaches.“
We asked some of our current doctoral students to describe a typical day in their lives at the Frankfurt School. Here is what they said:
"On a typical day, I get up at 7:30 am. I check my emails, do in-door sports, and have breakfast. I leave home around 9:15 am and learn German on the underground. At school, I continue working where I stopped yesterday. As a third-year student I have finished my coursework, so I fully focus on my research. My favourite part of the day is the lunch break when I meet my school mates. Today in the afternoon, I attended the regular reading group lead by Professor Falko Fecht on the topic of banking and financial intermediations."
“Once a week, we usually have a research seminar day, where a scholar from another university presents their research. Sometimes these scholars are legends in your field, whose work is quoted everywhere and it is always interesting to see the rigour with which their work is still interrogated. My favourite thing about this day though, is you get a chance to spend some time speaking with them and you realize they are pretty cool people, trying to do the best research they can, just like you. ”
“On a usual day, I am arriving at my desk between 8 and 9 am after having exercised in the morning. Then, I am getting my first coffee in the Faculty Lounge, which is also an excellent place to meet fellow PhD-students or faculty. After that, I am settling down at my desk and start working. As I am mostly working on theoretical projects, a lot of my work consists of solving mathematical problems. Hence, I am either programming potential solution algorithms or I am working with pen and paper. Here, the atmosphere at the Frankfurt School allows me to work in a highly concentrated manner."
At around twelve, most doctoral students are having lunch together. So, that’s perfect timing to chat about current news, research updates, or general things. Often, we are also having a seminar at lunchtime, where a top researcher presents his or her current project. These seminars are mostly highly interactive and a good way to get to know professors from other institutions as well. Due to Corona, a lot of seminars also shifted to online, such that there is a virtual presentation at some conference or seminar series almost every day. After lunch, I am typically trying to read a paper to catch-up with the current state of research. Thereby, I am trying not to focus too much on a single field but really to get a broader understanding of the economics and finance literature. Thereafter, I am often having a meeting with my supervisor or some other faculty member in the afternoon. There, we discuss my progress and these meetings are a great opportunity to ask open questions that help me to progress faster. After having had some more coffees throughout the day, I am leaving the Frankfurt School in the evening. After dinner at home, I am mostly reading books that are not connected to my research. Sometimes, this is also the perfect time to answer emails from students that arrived throughout the day.”
Frankfurt School offers fully-funded study places for the doctoral programme in order to attract and support the brightest minds in academia.
Students are expected to devote 100% of their working time to their doctoral studies at Frankfurt School for up to five years.
Funding includes a tuition fee waiver and a cost-of-living stipend. The monthly stipend comprises of EUR 1,200.
The stipend will be granted for five years conditional on the continued satisfaction of all academic programme requirements.
From the second year onwards doctoral students may receive an additional EUR 400 for their involvement as a teaching or research assistant. Frankfurt School students thus have a total of EUR 1,600 for their living expenses.
Furthermore Frankfurt School covers costs related to research, including conferences and overseas visits.
Outstanding graduates of a Bachelor‘s or Master’s programme in business administration, finance, management, accounting or related fields who aspire to launch an academic career.
Candidates in the final year of a Master’s or Bachelor’s programme are welcome to apply with their most recent academic transcript. Please note that the degree has to be completed by the time of the beginning of the PhD. The expected grade of the applicants may not be less than a “B” grade point average or 75% of the achievable credits. Foreign degrees will be checked regarding their equivalence.
The first step of our application process is to complete the online application form. You will need to upload the following required documents. Please note that you need a certified English or German translation for all documents, that are not originally in German or English. The application platform will be open from 15 September until 15 January.
Two letters of recommendation: To request the letters from your recommenders, you have to register on a separate platform and send your request from there.
Please click on this link to access the platform: http://apply.interfolio.com/79802
Create a profile by clicking on the button “Apply now”.
If you require assistance, go to the “Home” tab and click the “Dossier Quick Start Guide”.
Once you send your request to your potential recommender, they will receive an e-mail together with a link where they can upload their recommendation letter confidentially. Please provide a deadline for your recommendation letter to ensure we receive it on time. Once the recommender has uploaded the letter, we will be notified and will be able to access it.
Successful applicants will be invited to an online interview with faculty members of their chosen concentration.
The final decision regarding admission to our doctoral programme will be made by the Committee for Doctoral Proceedings. It is based on the applicant's overall portfolio and the interview.
If you wonder what qualities the selection committee is looking for in applicants, here is some advice.
Prof. Dr. Markus Fitza, Professor of Management
states: “We are looking for outstanding conceptual and analytical skills. A genuine interest in research and a career in academia is a must.”
Prof. Dr. Francesco Sangiorgi, Professor of Finance
similarly highlights analytical skills for the Finance program: “We encourage applications from candidates with strong analytical and quantitative skills.”
Prof. Dr. Yuping Jia, Professor of Accounting
emphasizes that applicants do not need to be experts in accounting regulation, indeed she argues that “Accounting is interested in original thinkers, who are creative and have broad interests. People with diverse backgrounds, but with genuine curiosity will find that accounting research has a lot to offer.”