Ph.D. Program at the Department of Business and Tax Law

General Information

The Department for Business and Tax Law offers the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. in the following areas:

  • Tax law
  • Accounting law
  • Corporate law in European and international contexts
  • Private law with connections to business

More information on the Institute’s main research fields is available here.

The dissertation may be supervised by Professor Wolfgang Schön, director of the Institute, or by an external supervisor. If the dissertation is supervised by Professor Wolfgang Schön the Ph.D. will be granted by the Faculty of Law of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU).

The official academic title is "Doctor Juris" (Dr. Jur.)

The opportunity to work as a doctoral student at the Institute is open to young academics regardless of nationality or whether they have completed their legal studies in Germany or abroad. Knowledge of German is not an indispensable requirement for pursuing a Ph.D. at the Institute. The dissertation may be written in German or English.

More information for young academics who have completed their degree abroad is available below under the section "Information for Applicants who Completed their Degree Abroad".

Financial Support

All of the Institute's doctoral students receive a research support contract which covers the entire planned duration of doctoral study. Compensation is set at 65% of the scheduled pay for salary group 13 as per the Collective Wage Agreement for the Civil Service (Tarifvertrag für den Öffentlichen Dienst, TVöD). The research support contract establishes an employment relationship with mandatory social security contributions. In particular, this means that doctoral students do not need private health insurance.

Financial support is calculated in such a way that doctoral students can focus on completing their dissertation during the doctoral phase. Part-time work for other employers is fundamentally incompatible with pursuing a Ph.D. at the Institute.

Professional Support

Young academics who decide to pursue a Ph.D. in the Department of Business and Tax Law become part of a large team of doctoral students and postdocs with similar areas of focus. This allows for an intensive informal exchange of academic ideas with like-minded people. In addition, doctoral students have the opportunity to present preliminary findings as part of an internal lecture series, thereby receiving valuable comments and suggestions in the early stages of their work. They also benefit from the Institute's international climate. Not only is the department itself international, the Institute also regularly hosts high-ranking academics from around the world. Furthermore, the Department of Business and Tax Law maintains a close partnership with the nearby Faculty of Law at LMU, which is evident, for example, in reciprocal invitations to lectures and conferences.

Each doctoral student receives office space at the Institute in the heart of Munich, close to Hofgarten and Englischer Garten. The Institute’s comparative law library is among the best in the world in the areas of business and tax law. The general law libraries at LMU and the Bavarian State Library are also nearby and available to doctoral students. At the Institute they have access to an extensive catalog of national and international law databases.

Financial support is also available for participation in national and international conferences or a stay at a research institute in Germany or abroad, if such activities are a necessary part the dissertation project.

As the Institute is purely a research institution, there is no obligation to teach courses. If a doctoral student wishes to teach, this is possible as part of the partnership with the Faculty of Law at LMU.

Pursuing a Ph.D. at the Institute provides an excellent foundation for an academic career as well as for success in government service, in particular in the judiciary or in the fiscal administration. Major law firms dealing with tax law have also shown a keen interest in former doctoral students of the Department of Business and Tax Law. Testimonials from former doctoral students can give you an impression of what to expect during and after your Ph.D. work in the Department of Business and Tax Law.

Application Requirements

The Department of Business and Tax Law seeks doctoral students who are especially qualified for academic work. In particular, applicants must have academic qualifications well above average as demonstrated by an appropriate degree.

For doctoral students supervised by Professor Wolfgang Schön, the minimum qualifications correspond to those required by LMU’s Ph.D. regulations. Applicants who have completed their studies in Germany must have passed their exams with a grade of “vollbefriedigend” (at least 9 points) or better. Applicants who have completed their studies abroad must have achieved equivalent grades. The same requirements apply to doctoral students who work with an external supervisor.

Alongside above-average grades, applicants are expected to have prior knowledge of or at least an interest in one of the areas of research at the Department of Business and Tax Law. A willingness to engage with international, European, comparative legal, or interdisciplinary questions is also a prerequisite for pursuing a Ph.D at the Institute.

Applicants with a German degree should send in their application to info.tax@tax.mpg.de, including the following documents: 

-        short cover letter, ideally with information on the topics you consider suitable for your dissertation

-         curriculum vitae

-          school leaving certificate

-          diploma(s)/graduation certificate(s)

For more specific questions, you may contact the director of the Department, Professor Wolfgang Schön as well as one of the senior research fellows Dr. Caroline Heber, Dr. Erik Röder or Dr. Johanna Stark.

Additional Information for Applicants who Completed their Degree Abroad

Young academics who have completed their legal studies outside of Germany are also eligible to work as doctoral students at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance. Support is available for doctoral students supervised by Professor Wolfgang Schön as well as for students with external supervisors.

Ph.D. at LMU Munich under Supervision by Professor Wolfgang Schön

In case the dissertation shall be supervised by Professor Wolfgang Schön, Ph.D. candidates must fulfil the requirements of the Ph.D. program of the Faculty of Law at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU).

Further information about admission to the Ph.D. program is available on LMU’s website. Please note that LMU requires applicants to its Ph.D. program to hold either a full law degree from a German university or an LL.M. degree in German law from a German university. Information on LMU’s LL.M. program in German Law can be found here. Knowledge of German is an indispensable requirement for LMU’s LL.M. degree in German Law.

For a very small number of extraordinarily qualified applicants to the Ph.D. program, both the LL.M. and the language requirement may in rare cases be waived. Applicants who wish to be considered for this waiver must send in their application to the Institute between 1 January and 28 February of each year, including the following documents (only complete applications will be considered):

-        short cover letter, ideally with information on the topics you consider suitable for your dissertation

-          curriculum vitae

-          diploma(s)/graduation certificate(s)

-          list of publications

-          two letters of reference

-          exposé of proposed dissertation project (length 3000-5000 words, in German or English)

An application is only possible trough the electronic application form (please enable "pop-ups").

The final decision on the admission of Ph.D. students (including the aforementioned waiver) lies with LMU’s Faculty of Law.

External Supervision

Candidates whose doctoral project is not supervised by Professor Schön but are interested in working at the Institute for a shorter period of time (up to six months) are eligible for the Scientific Guest Program.

There is also a limited number of places available for candidates under external supervision who are interested in working at the Institute on a long term basis (more than six months).

They must meet the criteria of the institution that will grant the Ph.D. and apply to the Institute as laid out above.

For specific questions about an externally supervised Ph.D. please contact info.tax@tax.mpg.de.

Contact us

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

Testimonials From Former Doctoral Students