The Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, together with the
University of Cologne’s Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences (CGS) and the

University of Bonn’s Department of Law,
invite outstanding candidates to apply for doctoral fellowships in Economics or Law
within the
International Max Planck Research School on Behaviorally Smart Institutions (IMPRS BeSmart)


In a joint project, the IMPRS BeSmart offers doctoral positions starting in October 2022. We particularly encourage candidates with an interest in behavioral and experimental economics, law and economics, and interdisciplinary research questions to apply.

The IMPRS BeSmart combines approaches from Economics and Law. All human behavior is embedded in and guided by formal and informal institutions. The disciplines of both law and economics are complementary for analyzing the interplay of human behavior and institutions, and to develop institutions that promise outcomes that are individually or socially more desirable. Yet (neoclassical) law and economics starts from a narrow definition of human behavior. Addressing the key limitations of human behavior and deriving implications for institutional design from these limitations is the task of the proposed school.

The IMPRS BeSmart is jointly hosted by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, the University of Cologne, and the University of Bonn. International partners are the ETH in Zurich, the University of California at San Diego, the Norwegian School of Economics NHH, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

All PhD students will participate in the coursework offered by both the PhD Program in Economics within the Cologne Graduate School of Management, Economics and Social Sciences (CGS) and IMPRS BeSmart, starting in October 2022. The PhD Program in Economics (CGS) provides students with thorough, up-to-date knowledge of the theory, empirics, and econometric methodology of economics. The IMPRS’s program combines regular lab meetings and seminars with Thesis and Topics workshops and a summer school every year. By the end of their first year, students will have finished the extensive coursework offered by the PhD Program in Economics (CGS). Upon completion, students mainly conduct research and work on their respective theses.

Applicants for these joint positions are required to hold a Diploma, a Master’s Degree, or a State Exam with honors in one of the aforementioned disciplines, or an equivalent degree in a related discipline.

  • Applicants who want to graduate in economics will normally obtain their degree from the University of Cologne. They will be fully-fledged members of University of Cologne’s CGS, must collect 60 ECTS within the course program, and will be able to attain the CGS certificate alongside the IMPRS certificate. Applicants are therefore invited to apply to both the MPI and the CGS.
  • Applicants who wish to graduate in law will normally obtain their degree from the University of Bonn and must meet the obligations that come with their regulations. They must collect 60 ECTS within the course program of the PhD Program in Economics (CGS), but may opt for courses at Masters level, according to their personal prerequisites.
  • The program structure and courses offered by the PhD Program in Economics (CGS) may be found here. More details on course contents are available here.

PhD students will receive an initiating scholarship during their first six to twelve months in the program, and will subsequently be offered either a scholarship or a doctoral position (65% TV E13, salary according to collective bargaining agreement for public servants) for the duration of three years, depending on the doctoral study program. They will be integrated into a research group right away, have office space, and will have full access to the MPI’s infrastructure, with its library, lab, and other services.

To apply for the program, please go to and upload one single pdf file containing the following documents:

  • Letter of motivation (stating your research interests)
  • CV
  • University entrance qualifications
  • Academic certificates and academic transcripts (a degree certificate with the final grade and all academic transcripts showing courses and grades must be provided)
  • GRE score report (for applicants wanting to pursue a degree in Economics)
  • TOEFL or IELTS test score if no proof of language proficiency in English is given by the CV.

Applicants are free to include further documents in their application.

In addition, applicants will have to provide two letters of recommendation which have to be submitted by the respective recommenders themselves as a pdf document to For further details, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions.

Applications and letters of recommendation must be submitted by 31 March 2022, 23:59 CET. Should applicants submit an incomplete dossier, or should their application arrive after the deadline, we reserve the right not to consider such applications.

Applicants who present a concrete offer from another doctoral program may ask for an earlier decision.

The Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, the University of Cologne, and the University of Bonn are equal opportunity employers. Applications from women with the requisite qualifications and interests are particularly welcome. We strive for gender and diversity equality and welcome applications from all backgrounds. The Max Planck Society, the University of Cologne, and the University of Bonn are also seeking to increase the number of employees with severe disabilities. Applications from such candidates will be given special consideration.



Frequently Asked Questions



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