KLU's Ph.D. program: Truly international

Prof. Dr. Maria Besiou

Outstanding internationality: That’s one aspect that sets KLU’s doctoral program apart from others. With an average of 33 percent, KLU is among the top three German universities with the highest ratios of international Ph.D. candidates. On average, only 11 percent of all students at German universities come from abroad (academic year 2019/20) (Studentenwerke 2021). In this interview, Prof. Maria Besiou, Dean of Research, explains why KLU values internationality and what steps are taken to ensure that this high standard is maintained.

Why is internationality so important for KLU? How does it show?

Internationality has been a core value at KLU since it was founded in 2010. As KLU’s Mission Statement declares: “We value internationality and diversity as an enrichment and source of inspiration.” And that’s been true from day one. Hiring staff from around the world and especially encouraging students from abroad to study here have always been a top priority. We stress all efforts that help strengthen our international reputation e.g. by members of our faculty publishing in top international journals as well as their international contacts, recruitment at international conferences, and international research collaborations. Besides, we hope that our international graduates “spread the word” when they return to their home countries. With an average of 40 percent international students, KLU’s truly different and more international than most other universities in Germany.

How is this reflected in KLU’s doctoral program?

In terms of its structure, the doctoral program at KLU is oriented towards international business schools and the DFG graduate centers. In concrete terms, our Ph.D. students have two supervisors, they are coordinated in groups, and some of them also work in international projects together with their supervisor. We encourage our students to attend international conferences and present their research findings. To help them do so, they also receive their own research budget. We want to help our Ph.D. students to become independent researchers. So, intercultural and international research is really the basis of the program.

An important aspect of day-to-day life for our international candidates is the fact that KLU is an English-speaking university, be it students, faculty or staff.

How many opportunities for exchange with other students and universities are included in the program?

KLU is a member of the Hamburg Research Academy (HRA). There, all Hamburg universities with the right to grant Ph.D. degrees offer courses, but also student exchanges. They support Ph.D. candidates and postdocs when it comes to time management or other soft skills. Furthermore, students can use their research budget for a semester at a university abroad. For the future, KLU is working to establish more exchanges with other European universities at the course level.

How do you keep improving the doctoral program?

As Dean of Research, I am responsible for the program as a whole. Since its start, we have of course continuously developed and improved the program on the basis of the feedback that we receive from our Ph.D. students. We also continue to look for input from other top international institutions, e.g. MIT, INSEAD, RSM, or LBS.

More information:

Footnote: Studentenwerke (2021). Internationalisierung in Zahlen. Retrieved on: 10.06.21 at www.studentenwerke.de/de/content/internationalisierung-zahlen.