Doctoral Studies Network

ZEW DocNet

The ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim is a non-profit and independent institute with the legal form of a limited liability company (GmbH). ZEW is a member of the Leibniz Association. Founded in 1990 on the basis of a public-private initiative in the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg in co-operation with the University of Mannheim, ZEW is one of Germany’s leading economic research institutes, and enjoys a strong reputation throughout Europe. ZEW’s guiding mission is to study the “optimal performance and the design of markets and institutions in Europe”. To this end, ZEW applies a plurality of methodologies, with a clear focus on microeconomic and microeconometric research. The institute co-operates closely with other scientific disciplines to address research questions. In this context, the research institute distinguishes itself, inter alia, in the analysis of internationally comparative questions in the European context and in the creation of data bases which are eminently important as a basis for scientific research.


In 2006 the Institute launched a new pathway for PhD students: ZEW DocNet. ZEW DocNet is an international network that links ZEW with graduate programs at the Universities of Konstanz, Maastricht (NL), Mannheim, St. Gallen (CH), and Leuven (BE).


University graduates who begin their research career at ZEW can attain their doctoral degree by following one of two pathways:

  • By participating in the ZEW Doctoral Studies Network (ZEW DocNet)
  • By working as a full-time staff member in a ZEW research unit within the framework of ZEW’s in-house PhD program

Regardless of the path chosen, clear milestones help to insure that our doctoral candidates make steady and rapid progress. Successful completion of a doctoral degree does not take longer at ZEW than at most German universities. Our doctoral candidates require on average less than five years obtaining a PhD.

Those who choose the ZEW DocNet pathway have to apply first for admission to the graduate school of a participating university. Depending on the structure of the respective doctoral program, doctoral students are invited to apply as early as possible for a research position in one of ZEW’s research units. In the majority of doctoral programs the time most fitting seems to be, at the latest, the end of the first or the beginning of the second year. PhD students may then pursue their project work either in part or entirely at ZEW.

The ZEW’s in-house PhD program involves the writing of a doctoral dissertation based on collaborative projects. In tandem with experienced economists and the heads of the research units, young researchers develop a topic for their doctoral dissertation based on on-going project work. Once doctoral students are matched with a research topic, a dissertation mentor is sought out at a German or foreign university. The on-going development of the dissertation is based on the regulations for doctoral studies at the university in question. The candidate also has the opportunity to enrol in doctoral courses at the university.

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