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Degree Master of Arts
Application access-restricted
Course commences winter semester only
Standard course duration 4 semesters
Format options full-time only
Language requirements None
Language of instruction German
Other features postgraduate / consecutive

Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences


Course outline

The Master’s degree programme in Sociology has been available at the Max Weber Institute for Sociology in Heidelberg since the winter semester 2009/10. It is designed for graduates of a first degree course in Sociology lasting at least six semesters, who achieved above-average grades.

Theoretical and practical sociological analysis of institutions forms the core of the Master’s programme, which covers four semesters. The aim is to teach theoretical, practical and empirical research skills and to use academic insights to establish concepts that are relevant in practice. As a result, it is possible to create individual focuses in line with the research topics currently being worked on at the Max Weber Institute. In particular, students have the opportunity to complete a certified course of study with a focus on Sociological Organisation and Personnel Development.

The Sociology M.A. in Heidelberg

The teaching and research environment

The Max Weber Institute for Sociology is part of several networks, internal and external to the University. Alongside intensive work and research collaborations with a range of disciplines, the Max Weber Institute for Sociology offers a modern working environment and excellent student support at its Bergheim Campus. Small seminars and a project seminar facilitate productive and creative learning. Other central aspects relevant for the programme include several IT pools, an additional experimental and CATI laboratory, a range of data processing programmes and data sets that are freely available, and an integrated library for Economics and Social Sciences with approx. 350,000 books, 400 international academic journals and e-Learning components. Moreover, regular colloquia give students the chance to attend lectures given by nationally and internationally renowned academics.

Career prospects for M.A. graduates

There is demand for graduates of Heidelberg University’s Master’s programme in a variety of professions, depending on the area of focus studied. Examples include roles in public and private, national and international research institutions; in organisation or personnel development departments within companies and non-profit organisations, or within public administration, political parties and associations; or in market, survey or electoral research.  The University’s graduate surveys reveal that, after their studies, the vast majority of graduates find employment suited to their qualification.

Course structure

The Master’s degree programme in Sociology at Heidelberg University has a modular structure and allows students to chose an area of focus.

The programme consists of the following modules:

  • MASoM 1: “Modern Sociological Theory”,
  • MASoM 2: “Sociological Analysis of Institutions and Organisations”,
  • MASoM 3: “Advanced Methods”,
  • MASoM 4: “Project or Research Seminars I and II”,
  • MASoM 5: “Thematical Focus”
  • The Master’s thesis has its own module (MASoM 6).

Students of the certified course of study with a focus on “Sociological Organisation and Personnel Development” must:

  • successfully complete a specific course profile,
  • complete a work placement, lasting six weeks, in an organisational development department or a personnel department within a large company,

produce a Master’s thesis relating to the field of sociological organisation development and/or sociological personnel development.

The M.A. course ends with the completion of an M.A. thesis on a topic related to the focus selected. A preliminary advanced seminar serves as a forum for discussion of problems in connection with the content, the methodology and the actual writing of the thesis.

Subsidiary subject

The M.A. course in Sociology can also be studied as a subsidiary (minor) subject accounting for 20 CP.

Main research interests

Research and teaching

According to a recent CHE research ranking (2008), Heidelberg’s Max Weber Institute of Sociology is one of the eight sociological institutes in Germany that are strongest on research. Both nationally and internationally, it is the leading location for research on Max Weber and the Third Sector. At the heart of its research activities is the comparative analysis of institutions and the theoretical and empirical grounding required for such analysis. The theoretical development of institutional analysis is an important facet in the work of Max Weber. It forms the starting point for the theoretical work done at the Institute, work that has left a decisive mark on the evolution of national and international research on Max Weber. Closely associated with this is empirical macrosociology and its emphasis on investigation of the connections between global development in different regions of the world and the institutional changes resulting from it. Central here is the analysis of global cultural development and the further development of the concept of civic society, international comparison of welfare institutions and social policy analysis, and the macrostructural comparison of the consequences of demographic development, changes in family structure and the transformation of educational institutions.

The third major research interest at the Institute is comparative international organisation and management research. Societal and institutional change manifests itself in specific kinds of organisation (for-profit and non-profit organisations) shaped by strata that are significantly operative in engineering social change (e.g. management). Tokens of appreciation for the research work done by the Heidelberg team are the numerous national and international prizes they have been awarded in all the relevant fields.

20 years dedicated to application

Sociology in Heidelberg sees itself as an agent of enlightenment, which implies that it must be in a position to come up with statements of practical relevance based on prior academic problem analysis. The aim is to make sociological knowledge useful for various fields of practical activity. At the teaching level, this programme was institutionalised back in 1988 by the establishment of an emphasis on Industrial and Business Sociology with interdisciplinary elements and a clear bias towards application. In conjunction with the Chair of Organisational Psychology in Mannheim and with funding from the state of Baden-Württemberg, an additional course called POP – Professionalisation in Organisation and Personnel Development – was introduced in 2002. This new profile favoured the bias towards practical concerns and has since been incorporated into the curriculum of the focal area Sociological Organisation and Personnel Development in the M.A. programme.

Formal requirements

The course is access-restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here.

Prospective students from Germany

Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the Max Weber Institute of Sociology for further information on how to proceed.

International prospective students

Prospective students from other countries must apply in writing, so that their previous academic record can be verified. The deadlines for international applicants are 15 June for the winter semester and 15 November for the summer semester. Applications must be addressed directly to the International Relations Office. Please use the M.A. application form here and enclose the necessary documents.

Further information

Current information on procedure

Internet pages of the Max Weber Institute of Sociology

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.A. (3 February 2016)
Examination regulations M.A. (5 February 2009)

Module Handbook

On the Max Weber Institute website you will find more information to download, including the module handbook for the M.A. course

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester

Academic advisor

Dr. Stefan Bär
Office 003 (2nd floor)

office hours: Thursdays 10 am – 12 noon; changes to office hours announced at Homepage Dr. Stefan Bär
phone: +49 (0)6221 543613
fax: +49 (0)6221 542996


Max Weber Institute of Sociology
Bergheimer Straße 58
D-69115 Heidelberg


Lydia Ponier-Kröhl
examination administration
Max-Weber-Institut für Soziologie | Forschungsstelle CSI
Bergheimer Straße 58, Raum 02.020
69115 Heidelberg
office hours: Mitarbeiterseite im LSF
phone: 06221/54-3614
Internet: Homepage des Instituts

Student representation

Bergheimer Straße 58, 3rd floor
69115 Heidelberg
Internet: Homepage Fachschaft

Editor: e-mail
Latest Revision: 2019-03-14
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