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Doctoral studies @ SBS-EM


The Université libre de Bruxelles, via SBS-EM, offers a Ph.D. degree in Economics and Management (in French: doctorat en sciences économiques et de gestion). The Ph.D. title rewards original and independent research in Economics or Management that significantly advances the state of knowledge in these disciplines.

In practice, the Ph.D. studies involve advanced training (in French: “formation doctorale”) that helps Ph.D. candidates acquire the necessary tools and knowledge to carry out independent research. At the SBS-EM, this training is organized in “tracks”, which correspond to different areas of specialization: Management, Applied Economics, Quantitative Economics, and Economics and Statistics. Each track has its own requirements. Tracks are hosted in research centers, which also provide administrative and logistical support for their doctoral students.  As of today, about 100 doctoral students are enrolled at the SBS-EM.

SBS-EM is part of the Graduate School in Economics (all universities in French-speaking Belgium + KU Leuven) and the Ecole Doctorale Thématique en Sciences de Gestion (ULB - U. Mons – HEC Liège) which pool the offer of advanced courses across the member universities. All registered Ph.D. students at the SBS-EM have access to these courses. In addition, each track has its own privileged academic partners for the organization of scientific visits of doctoral students and other events (see the information on the respective tracks for details). 



Directors of Ph.D.track      

Administrative support

Economics and Statistics       
Quantitative Economics 


Estelle [dot] Cantillon [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be (Prof. Estelle Cantillon)
Georg [dot] Kirchsteiger [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be (Prof. Georg Kirchsteiger)
(Research Master) 

christina [dot] lemaire [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be (Ms. Christina Lemaire)

Applied Economics     


koosterl [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be (Prof. Kim Oosterlinck)

aurousse [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be (Ms. Aurélie Rousseaux)

Scientific mobility during the thesis

Successful research often involves tapping expertise where it is. For this reason, many doctoral students at the SBS-EM spend anything from a week to one semester visiting another university during their doctoral studies. In addition to visits organized through the individual contacts of the advisor, several structural programs exist to facilitate such scientific visits. Specifically:

  • The CEB track in management and applied economics has a privileged relationship with Université de Paris I, which culminates with a yearly faculty-students conference and also course exchanges. Through its partnership with University of Mons and HEC Liège, students in the management track also access to (and get credit for) courses in Maastricht, Lille and Strasbourg.
  • The ECARES tracks in quantitative economics and in economics and statistics are part of the ENTER network for training in Economics, consisting of 8 European universities: Autonomà de Barcelona, UC London, Carlos III de Madrid, Mannheim, Stockholm, Tilburg, and Toulouse. ENTER organizes a yearly Jamboree where doctoral students present and an exchange program for doctoral students (automatic admissions and access to courses).
  • Through ECORE, the ECARES tracks have also an exchange program with INSEAD.

An increasing fraction of our students pursue their Ph.D. in collaboration with another university, according to a format called “cotutelle”. During a cotutelle, the student is registered as a doctoral student in both universities. S/he shares his/her time between both universities and receives supervision at both universities. Upon graduation, s/he receives a joint degree or two degrees mentioning the cotutelle. Candidates interested in cotutelle should discuss this matter with the academic coordinator of their Ph.D. track. Sabrina [dot] Dejongh [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be (Ms Sabrina Dejongh) at the research department of ULB can provide advice in writing a cotutelle agreement.  


About 15 Ph.D. students graduate every year at the SBS-EM. Upon graduation, about half of them find employment in academia and the other half in policy institutions such as the European Central Bank, the Belgian National Bank, the Belgian Planning Bureau or the OECD to name just a few of the recent placements. Recent academic placements include Boston University, Waseda University, Manchester University, KU Leuven, the London Business School and the University of Copenhagen. Finally, every year, some graduates find employment in the private sector or start their own business. 

Applications and fees

All prospective doctoral students must submit an application for admission into the doctoral program at the SBS-EM. ULB application forms can be completed All applicants must hold a master’s degree in Economics or Management, or equivalent. The exact forms differ according to whether the applicant holds a master’s degree from the French-speaking Community, and whether s/he is a EU national. For nationals of the EU, the completed forms together with the accompanying documents (picture, copy of ID card, letter of motivation, CV, copy of diplomas, transcripts, and description of research project) should sent directly sent to Claude Adan (for the Economics and Statistics and the Quantitative Economics tracks) and Aurélie Rousseaux (for the Applied Economics and Management track).Application files for non EU citizens are first processed by the registrar’s office before being sent to the admission committee. Please indicate in your letter of motivation the track you are applying for.

The deadline for application is August 31 but earlier application (before February 1) is advised if you need funding or require a visa.

Admission can be granted into the doctoral training (formation doctorale), directly to the Ph.D. (doctorat), or both. Candidates are usually first admitted into the doctoral training, and they get admitted into the Ph.D. once they successfully complete their doctoral training. Candidates without advanced training in Economics enter the “Economics and Statistics” and “Quantitative Economics” tracks by first taking an advanced research master in Quantitative Economics or Economics and Statistics.   

The fees for EU students are 835 euros for the first registration into the doctoral training and for the first registration into the Ph.D. Fees are 32 euros per year afterwards for EU students. The fee for the advanced research master is 835 euros per year for EU students. Larger fees apply to non EU-students. 


  1. All these forms are in French. If you need assistance filling these forms, please contact the administrative support person for the intended track.
  2. The Quantitative Economics and Economics and Statistics tracks organize a faster pre-admission process. The forms in English can be downloaded from the ECARES website. An academic decision is taken within a couple of weeks. Note, however, that this decision is not an official decision, but simply an indication that your application will be favorably looked at. You will still need to complete the official forms, before the deadline, on the ULB website to be formally admitted.       



Funding for incoming students is limited and interested applicants are urged to contact as soon as possible the director of the Ph.D. track they are interested in to inquire about such funding opportunities. Possibilities include seed-financing by ULB (deadline: February 1), seed-financing sponsored by faculty grants or by the Marie Christine Adam Foundation, and research assistantships. Some incoming students combine a teaching assistant position with their first year course-work although this is not advised because of the heavy workload this involves.

Starting from the second year, doctoral students who successfully complete the first year requirements are funded through a combination of teaching assistantships (maximum 6 years), doctoral fellowships (e.g. from the Belgian National Science Foundation), faculty grants or other sources. Doctoral fellowships are for four years only. Doctoral students who do not complete their Ph.D. after their fellowships have expired usually combine work outside and the completion of their Ph.D.

Please consult the links at the bottom of this page for further information regarding specific funding sources

Useful links