Course Programme for Doctoral Students in Economics of Education

The Swiss Leading House on the “Economics of Education, Firm Behaviour and Training Policies”, located at the University of Zurich, offers a training programme for beginning doctoral students in economics of education. The programme is similar to the first part of a PhD-programme of a top university in the US.

The Leading House is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). It is directed by Prof. Dr. Uschi Backes-Gellner (University of Zurich) and Prof. Dr. Stefan C. Wolter (University of Bern). The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) has created this Centre of Excellence as a new instrument to ensure the long-term development of outstanding research in the economics of vocational education and training.

The course programme for doctoral students consists of four core courses and a variety of electives. The courses are usually taught as one week intensive courses to make it possible for doctoral students from other universities to participate in the programme. The courses are taught by distinguished faculty members of leading research universities. The core programme should be completed within one year, electives within two years. Participants who pass all core courses (the full course programme) receive a document certifying participation in the basic (full) Economics of Education-Programme. Participation in only one or a selected sample of core or elective courses is possible upon request. For single courses students earn 3 ECTS per course but no Economics of Education certificate will be issued. All courses include mandatory exams or presentations.

Target Group

We aim at beginning doctoral students in economics of education who hold a university degree in economics, business economics or related fields and are enrolled in a doctoral programme of a Swiss university or – pending vacant positions – of a European research university. The programme is intended to bring together an international group of students with a joint interest in economics of education. Participants of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Programme came from more than 50 European research institutions. For more information see: Alumni

Programme Details

The programme starts in fall 2019 with two core courses: "Econometric Analyses in Economics of Education" (September 9-13, 2019, Prof. Schwerdt, University of Konstanz) and “Apprenticeship Training: Institutions and Markets“ (October 14-18, 2019, Prof. Muehlemann, LMU Munich; Prof. Paul Ryan, King’s College Cambridge; Prof. Renold, ETH Zurich). In spring 2020 two more core courses follow: “Personnel and Labor Economics for Education Economists“ (February 24-28, 2020, Prof. Westergaard-Nielsen, Copenhagen Business School; Prof. Eriksson, Aarhus University) and “Microeconomic Foundations of Economics of Education“ (May 4-8, 2020, Prof. Woessmann, University of Munich and ifo Institute). Courses include formal lectures of six hours per day. The remaining time should be reserved for reading and exercises. Classes are taught in English.

Electives are offered every semester usually at the University of Zurich (en bloc). Examples of Electives drawn from the previous programmes are: "Randomized Experiments in Economics of Education" (Prof. Bettinger, Stanford University), "Personality Traits, Non-cognitive Skills and Education" (Prof. Dohmen, University of Bonn), "Natural Experiments for Causality Analysis in Economics of Education" (Prof. Webbink, Erasmus University)", "Paper Workshop in Personnel Economics and Economics of Education" (Prof. Lazear, Stanford University). For more information see: Course Archive


No fee is charged for the courses. However, participants have to cover travel costs and living expenses by themselves. For candidates undergoing financial hardship (e.g. from transition states) a small number of modest travel grants is available (detailed explanation and documents have to be provided with an application).


Please visit this page for more information on the application procedure.


Fabienne Kiener, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration, Chair Prof. Dr. Backes-Gellner, Plattenstrasse 14, CH-8032 Zurich, Mail: