The PMA is divided into a coursework stage and a research stage, each of which can be individually designed.
The purpose of the coursework stage is to deepen methodological skills and provide specialised knowledge. Depending on the chosen focus area, two theory-driven compulsory – of which at least one from the own specialization – and two methodology courses need to be completed. Methodology courses can be selected either from the course curriculum of the PMA or the Global School in Empirical Research Methods (GSERM). PhD students finalise the coursework stage by preparing and presenting their research proposal to their thesis committee.
The research stage is focused on the writing of the PhD thesis and accompanied by at least two thesis-related seminars in order to discuss the research progress and to get new insights from colleagues and faculty members. The research stage is completed with the submission of the thesis and its oral public defense.
One additional stage-independent thesis-related seminar or methodological course has to be conducted during either the coursework stage or the research stage. In addition, doctoral students may apply to the PMA Program Committee for credit for up to two external doctoral-level courses or seminars as part of their PMA curriculum.