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Ph.D. Program at the Department of Public Economics

Ph.D. Program

The Department of Public Economics at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance regularly invites applications for Graduate Study. The Institute grants these to excellent students. Successful applicants are expected to pursue their research at the Max Planck Institute and to participate in the courses of the Munich Graduate School of Economics (MGSE) of the Department of Economics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Munich.

Ph.D. students who already passed the coursework of a high-quality graduate program at another institution may apply any time by email.       

New entrants into the Ph.D. program have to apply for the graduate program of the Munich Graduate School of Economics online. Typically, the online application period for the forthcoming academic year starting on 1 October opens well in advance, around 15 December of the previous year and closes on 31 March. (Please double check the dates on the homepage of the MGSE, which is at http://www.mgse.econ.uni-muenchen.de/program/index.html).

The Max Planck Institute offers contracts for Ph.D. students providing financial support and covering the full doctorate period (up to four years), contingent on the successful completion of the exams in the first year and sufficient progress in the course of the first three years.

In the first year, the program provides formal course-based training in the field of economics and econometrics offered by the MGSE at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. At the MGSE students will acquire the solid background necessary to complete their doctoral thesis. All courses are taught in English. Concurrently and following the courses doctoral students focus on their respective research projects and write their thesis.

The Institute provides an adequate research environment, office facilities and financial resources for conducting this research. Young academics benefit from being part of a team that includes several senior researchers who are prepared to give advice to Ph.D. students in their research efforts. Doctoral students regularly present their research progress in seminars and discuss their work with other students and/or senior scholars at the Institute.

During the program, Ph.D. students benefit from being part of an international team of researchers and from international guest researchers at the Institute. For the exchange and discussion of scientific ideas, the Institute strongly supports the participation in national and international conferences, symposia, and seminars. The Department also regularly hosts a considerable number of international scholars who contribute to the intellectually inspiring atmosphere and organizes several focused research conferences each year.


Contact us

If you have specific questions regarding the doctorate at our Institute please contact us: info.econ@tax.mpg.de.

Why Do a Ph.D. at MPI?

The Max Planck Society is an independent, non-profit research organization with the main focus on basic research. The Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance brings together legal scholars and economists working on the legal and economic aspects of taxation. In crossing traditional boundaries between the two academic disciplines, economists develop a better understanding of economic relationships and detect empirical puzzles or identify new important research questions. Research in the Department of Public Economics also covers more broadly defined topics in Public Sector Economics.

The researchers, doctoral students and guests at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance constitute an international research community with a clear research focus. Young academics benefit from being part of an international team that includes senior researchers supporting young scholars in their research efforts.

The Institute is part of an active research network. This network includes close collaboration with researchers of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU). The department of economics at the LMU is one of the leading departments in economics in Germany and offers a large number of regular research seminars with international speakers.

In the 2015 update of the "Handelsblatt" Ranking of the best-performing universities in economic research, the LMU comes first in the German-speaking world. No other university is performing better in terms of high-quality publications than the economists of the LMU. Kai A. Konrad (Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance) ranks as the most active researcher among all LMU economists.

Doctoral students find a research environment with excellent facilities including a library, which is unique concerning the collection of textbooks on issues of taxation and a most comprehensive digital library of academic journals.

Financial support for participating in national and international conferences, symposia, and seminars is available and doctoral students are eligible for these funds.

Course-based Training

Course-based Training in the First Year of the Program:

All doctoral students have to be enrolled at the Munich Graduate School of Economics (MGSE) and must pass six Ph.D. courses (skills and courses acquired in other programs can be credited). The aim of the course work is to provide doctoral students with the methodological background necessary to complete their doctoral thesis and to pursue an academic career.

Doctoral students of the Department of Public Economics must complete the following three core courses:

    1. Microeconomics
    2. Macroeconomics
    3. Econometrics

In addition, they shall select three of the topics courses offered in the MGSE course program for the respective term.

Furthermore, they have to participate in eleven of the CES Lecture Series (32 lectures) and hold at least one presentation at a departmental research seminar or at an international conference.



Main Research Fields

Main Research Fields at the Department of Public Economics are: 

Political Economy of Taxation and Redistribution
Fiscal Policy
International and Federal Tax Competition
Tax Incidence 

The research interests of our applicants should be broadly related to one or several of these fields.



Application Requirements

Application Requirements:

  • Master degree or diploma, preferably in economics. Applicants with an equivalent degree in business administration, mathematics, statistics, or physics may also be eligible.
  • Degree passed with distinction
  • CV
  • Letter of motivation
  • School and university diplomas / certificates / transcripts: Foreign applicants need to supply translated and certified copies of their diplomas.
  • Every applicant is required to submit a GRE Test result. The quantitative GRE Test percentile is expected to be above 80.
  • Sufficient knowledge in English has to be proven as all teaching will be in English.
  • Two letters of recommendation (can be directly uploaded by the referee to the online application system)
  • Research proposal or a statement of research interests (1-2 pages). This information can also be included in the motivation letter.

Candidates are required to be highly motivated to conduct independent research. 

For further details please check the MGSE website and follow the application process indicated on their website.

Questions about the doctorate at the Department of Public Economics at the MPI for Tax Law and Public Finance can be addressed to info.econ@tax.mpg.de.