Applied and Experimental track

The Applied and Experimental Track aims to dramatically bridge the gap between academic and business activities, increase the relevance of research in real world settings as well as provide students with a practical „beyond research“ tool-box for implementing their ideas in practice. The academic and business journeys of candidates under this track are highly individualised and tailored to the research subjects and professional backgrounds of individual applicants. The focus of the applied/ experimental track is twofold:

  • Established enterprises and organisations: the development and “live” implementation of organisational changes and new business models in the context of specific organisations and the individual challenges they face.
  • Entrepreneurs and start-ups: the exploration, building, incubation and implementation of new/early-stage business or start-up ideas.

Target Audience

Depending on whether candidates wish to research and implement changes and innovations in the context of established organisations or through setting up new ventures, the programme is aimed at two types of audiences:

  • Senior and middle managers as well as specialists in established organisations (both private and public). Typically, candidates would continue their daily work in their employing/ sponsoring organisations (to be agreed in each individual case) and their PhD would specifically target a particular challenge area(s) of the organisation.
  • Individual (would-be) entrepreneurs and teams looking to conceive, develop and launch innovative business or societal ideas, which their PhD studies will support throughout by providing the necessary knowledge, networks, human resources, capital etc. to make it a reality. 

For both programmes, prospective candidates are Estonian, regional and international. Online and blended learning options are made available based on the individual circumstances, geographical location and mobility options of each student. 


Programme Organisation 

The programme focuses on  applied and experimental research, seeking to create a two-way interaction between business and academia within a comprehensive support ecosystem. A signifcant proportion of work conducted by candidates in the academic setting is directly linked and practically relevant to “real life” business settings, different economic sectors and specific organisations. The programme focuses on establishing a clear real-life goal/ problem definition, which is then followed by actual implementation. Being a business and management-focused programme, it aims to go beyond technical-engineering solutions and enable the development and execution of innovative solutions and fundamental changes in organisations and society as a whole.


The total volume of the programme is 240 ECTS, of which core studies provide 45 ECTS, the preparation, testing and validation of the practical application concept gives 15 ECTS and the implementation and related research activity gives 180 ECTS. Studies consist of compulsory and elective courses, doctoral seminars and a pedagogical internship. Students have a choice from a broad range of special subjects offered by both EBS as well as some of the world’s best universities, the objective of which is to directly tailor their studies to the real-life questions they are addressing.


Compulsory courses Management Theories - Research Design and Writing - Philosophy and Methodology of Science -  Qualitative Research Methods OR Quantitative Research Methods 
Elective courses

Candidates are provided with access to a full range of specialisations from the world’s leading universities through online learning platforms (e.g. Coursera) together with facilitation and analysis. 

Internally EBS provides the following electives: Institutional Economics -Qualitative Research Methods OR Quantitative Research Methods - Organization Theories: Meta-theoretical Perspectives of Traditional Theories and Alternative Views to Organizational Reality - Contemporary Paradigms of Social Science - Foundations of Teaching - Developing Teaching Skills - Fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis - Research in Strategy and Innovation - Logic - Knowledge Management and Intellectual Capital - Theories of Management of Organisational Changes - Ethics and Responsibility in Management - Cultural Psychology - Cost-Benefit Analysis - Systems Science - Multicriteria Decision Making Methods - Structural Equation Modeling - Values in Theory and Practice  

Teaching internship Passing the teaching internship under the supervision of a professor is compulsory for all doctoral students and it takes place at EBS. Aim of this internship is to give the doctoral students the experience of teaching and communicating complex ideas clearly. The volume and period of internship are set in the individual study plan.
Applied concept preparation/ testing/ validation On the basis of the in-depth analysis and theoretical preparation in the early stages of the PhD, candidates are expected to undergo an intensive real life validation process either within the organisations involved, with a panel of academic and practitioner mentors or through an acceleration/ incubation programme.
Exchange studies Every doctoral student at EBS has the opportunity to visit a foreign university or research institution with a goal to take courses and carry out research. Hosting institution is chosen by the doctoral student himself or with the guidance of the supervisor, and then coordinated with the home university. The goal of the exchange is to increase the circulation of knowledge and establish academic contacts. Length of the exchange can vary from one to five months.
Doctoral thesis

There are a number of options for building up your doctoral thesis: 

  • Series of publications (minimum 3) with a conclusive article that is published by EBS as a dissertation.  
  • Monograph published by EBS as a dissertation. Monograph must be peer-reviewed by at least two internationally recognised and independent scholars. 
  • High-level peer-reviewed monograph published by a well-known international publisher
  • The development of an original prototype, design, regulation etc.

The curriculum serves as a guideline for doctoral students, but each student has the right and the obligation to put together an individual study plan with the support from their supervisors. Research is carried out according to an individual study plan under the guidance of supervisors (students in this track will have multiple supervisors from both academia and the business world). The progress of a doctoral student is evaluated yearly by the evaluation committee formed by the EBS R&D Council.


All doctoral students also have an opportunity to go on an exchange with the goal to pass part of their studies or conduct research in an overseas university. This opportunity is highly encouraged. The doctoral dissertation presented to apply for the Doctoral degree may be in the form of an independent thesis, a series of publications provided with the summarising review article, or a published monograph.


The programme is taught in English and has an international student body. On-going development activities and quality assurance of the programme are managed by the EBS Research and Development Council.