Excellence Initiative

Excellence Initiative

“The organization into three components and the management thereof are reviewed as being of exceptional design.”

“The vocational success of the graduates is highly visible and casts a very positive light on the success of the Mannheim Graduate School.”


Quotes taken from the decisions made by the panel of experts in 2006 and 2012 on funding the GESS.

The Excellence Initiative and the Excellence Strategy

The German federal and state governments launched the Excellence Initiative in 2006 to promote science and research at higher education institutions in Germany. The Initiative includes a funding program which was initiated at the same time as fundamental changes were being made to the higher education system through the Bologna reforms. As of fall 2017, the funding program will be continued under the title Excellence Strategy.

The Excellence Initiative was originated by the former Federal Minister for Education and Research, Edelgard Bulmahn. The idea was to create competition between higher education institutions in Germany.
The Excellence Initiative has three funding lines:

  • Institutional Strategies (develop universities as a whole)
  • Clusters of Excellence (fund research in a specific area)
  • Graduate Schools (fund doctoral candidates in an academic field)

The GESS at the University of Mannheim falls under the third category. 


The Decision in Favor of Mannheim

On 13 October 2006, the Excellence Initiative’s Grant Committee announced that it was awarding over six million euros to the “Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences: Empirical and Quantitative Methods” for the first time.

Due to the enormous success of the Graduate School, it was announced in June 2012 that a further €8.8 million euros would be awarded over the five years to 2017. The funding has since been renewed until 2019. The GESS is the only graduate school with a focus on Economics and Business Administration to receive funding through the Excellence Initiative.


About the GESS

The Graduate School trains its doctoral candidates in empirical and quantitative methods, and their use in Economics and the Social Sciences. The School aims to train doctoral candidates in a structured manner which complies with best international practice and places a strong focus on excellence in research.

Its objective is to establish itself as a leading center of excellence for doctoral studies in empirical and quantitative methods in Economics and Social Sciences. It is one of the first graduate schools worldwide, and indeed the first of its kind in Germany, which combines these disciplines into a doctoral program. 

You can find further information on the GESS under Academics and on its website.

Excerpts from the statement given by the international panel of experts and the review group of the German research council (DFG)

  • ... in 2006

    “The academics involved are known internationally for excellent publications in the best peer-reviewed journals.”

    “The … graduate school will pursue a highly innovative approach in both Germany and Europe as a whole...”

    “The graduate school will contribute considerably to and in a world-wide innovative manner further refine the academic profile of the University of Mannheim.” 

    “The evaluating committee agrees unanimously that the location represents a peak combination of business, economic, and social sciences.”

    “The members of the proposing team are internationally renowned and well integrated into academic networks. There is no doubt that given this world-wide novel approach the graduate school will gain an international reputation and will be a winner in Germany.”

    “Mannheim alumni and post-docs are already in high repute as successful applicants at renowned international research institutions.”

    “The concept for qualification convinces in every aspect.” 

    “The opportunities on the job markets for the school’s graduates will be systematically and institutionally promoted. ... On the whole, the evaluation committee is most impressed by this concept.”

    “The organization into three components and the management thereof are reviewed as being of exceptional design.”


  • ... in 2012

    “The University of Mannheim ... is regarded as one of the first addresses for empirical and quantitative research in the economic and social sciences.”

    “The dynamic group of principal investigators which was strengthened by a large number of newly appointed members is characterized by scientific excellence throughout and is internationally highly visible for their research output.”

    “The scientific outcome of the first funding period is exceptionally impressive; the senior researchers as well as the doctoral students and graduates were able to publish their research findings in the best field journals.”

    “The vocational success of the graduates is highly visible and casts a very positive light on the success of the Mannheim Graduate School.”

    “All in all the Mannheim Graduate School is believed to be able to establish a new standard in the education of doctoral students in the participating fields. The prospects of success are excellent ...”