PhD Sociology, Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences, Germany

Publish Date: Feb 09, 2016

Deadline: Mar 31, 2016


Sociology is an empirical science of society as an integrated system and the various social institutions, of social groups and communities, the relationship between the individual and society, social processes and the laws of human crowd behavior.

Studies and Research

The CDSS administers the PhD Program in Sociology in close collaboration with the Department of Sociology at the University of Mannheim, which has an outstanding reputation due to its strength in empirical and analytical research, using innovative quantitative techniques in its research designs.

The Department offers thorough theoretical and methodological training. Sociological Theory, Comparative Sociology, Stratification Research, Economic Sociology, Social Psychology, and Quantitative Research methods are the main areas of focus in research and teaching at the Department. Its faculty have made significant contributions to macro-sociology, e.g. in the comparison of welfare states, health (insurance) systems, and economic regimes. They also examine timely micro-sociological issues, such as educational decisions, mechanisms of social stratification and mobility, family arrangements, and the integration of migrants within European societies, making the department one of the most productive and respected ones in Europe. Its publications engage a wide range of social theories. Most notably, the faculty have contributed to Rational Choice Theory. The close cooperation with the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) and the Leibniz Institute for Social Research (GESIS) facilitates interdisciplinary research and offers students an opportunity to gain valuable research experience.

The PhD Program in Sociology has an emphasis on advanced training in the empirical analysis of social phenomena. Students may choose courses from the following topical areas of sociology:

  • Family, Education & Labor Markets: Courses and research projects deal with the following questions: What is the cause of social inequality, and how can it be resolved? What is the relationship between family background and social mobility? What is the relationship between education and chances in the job market? How can demographic changes in modern societies, such as the increasing divorce rates or the decreasing birth rates, be explained?
  • Migration & Integration: The main themes consider questions on integration of immigrant and ethnic stratification: To what extent does migration lead to ethnic inequality? How can individual integration be explained in the context of international migration?
  • Economy & the Welfare State: Courses focus on economic sociological and economic political questions: Which political institutions enhance economic development? How does the societal acceptance of welfare states change? How do labor unions in Europe change? What role do social partners play during reform processes of welfare states?

Topical coursework is complemented by training in methods of empirical social research. Advanced courses provide students with the tools for rigorous and thorough theoretical and empirical analysis. They learn how to deal with event history data and panel data, experimental and survey designs, network analysis, game theory and causal analysis. Furthermore, PhD students are free to pursue their particular interests by attending additional CDSS courses offered on a great variety of methods of empirical research.

Admission to the CDSS Program

General Information

We welcome applications from highly qualified students of all nationalities.

The application deadline for a PhD program at the CDSS is March 31, 2016 for the fall 2016 intake. Applications can be submitted from November 2015, and there is an early admission on January 31, 2016. Applications from candidates who are not accepted in the early round will be reviewed again with all other applications after March 31.

We solely offer online application and applicants must submit their information and documents through our online application portal. Applications sent in via mail will not be considered.

In principle, the prerequisite for admission is a Master's degree. Applications from students with excellent Bachelor degrees are considered as well. Applicants from neighboring fields can be admitted if their background is judged to be sufficient. All applications are evaluated solely on the basis of qualification and scientific potential.

Application Documents

A complete application must comprise the following information:

  • Personal data
  • Letter of motivation
    Please provide a statement explaining your current goals, career plans and reasons for your interest in a structured PhD program at the University of Mannheim. Discuss your study plans and your intended fields of interest. Your statement should be in English and not exceed two pages (not more than 700 words).
  • Writing sample
    Please attach a writing sample of up to 10 pages (not more than 3500 words, bibliography excluded) in English or German language, e.g. a paper you have written during your studies, a representative excerpt from your thesis, or an essay on a topic related to your research interests. Please do not submit a research or dissertation proposal as a writing sample.
  • Certificates and transcripts of grades
    A transcript from each academic degree program you attended is required. Degree certificates alone are not sufficient. The transcript should show courses attended and grades and degrees received, mentioning rank or distinction, if applicable. A translation is required for any transcript in a language other than English or German. At this stage of the application process it is not necessary to notarize or apostil the translations. However, if you are accepted we require notarized translations. An apostil is not necessary. If you have not yet finished your current degree program, please attach a preliminary grade report (again in English or German).
  • TOEFL scores
    Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), unless their university degree demonstrably is from an institution where the curriculum was exclusively taught in English. The TOEFL minimum score is 600 in the paper test or 100 in the internet-based test. TOEFL scores are valid for two years. Ask the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to report your test scores using the following ETS code: 0933. We are not able to take IELTS scores into account alternatively.
  • Any supplementary information you like to provide
  • Letters of recommendation
    Two letters of recommendation are required from faculty, scholars or individuals who are able to assess your ability and potential for academic research and teaching.
    Please note
    : Once you have filled in the names, affiliations and email addresses of your referees in the online application tool, a link to a website where your referees can upload their reference letters will be sent to them by email. Please make sure to contact your referees before completing this part in order to find out if they are available and willing to provide a reference.
    Sometimes, these emails end up in the spam folders of the recipients' email accounts
    . We advise applicants to check back with their referees whether this is the case before informing the GESS team that the emails may not have been properly dispatched. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that references reach us on time.

Online Application

In order to make the application process as convenient as possible for you, we offer an online application portal, which is available from November 2015 on.

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