PhD in Management

Boston University’s PhD program addresses this need by training scholars to develop and sharpen management theories to enhance their contribution to management education and practice. Students acquire advanced knowledge of literature and theory in their area of specialization—the major—as well as solid grounding in a minor (for example, a social science discipline such as sociology, economics, or political science) that broadens their foundation. They also gain theoretical and practical knowledge of advanced research skills, essential for publishing in leading academic journals.

The program ensures that students develop an appreciation of the role of their research domain in managerial and organizational contexts, and can translate their learning from scholarly research into effective teaching. Our faculty, which has earned worldwide recognition for its scholarly and applied research, is the school’s major resource for doctoral education. Their commitment to advancing management knowledge through research published in top journals, and improving the quality of teaching, enables them to effectively mentor doctoral students, who, in close collaboration with faculty, are part of the intellectual capital of the school.


After matriculation into the PhD program, a candidate for the degree must register for and satisfactorily complete a minimum of 32 graduate-level credits at Boston University. More courses may be needed, depending on departmental requirements.

PhD in Management Curriculum

The curriculum provides the graduate with a combination of major and minor foci which incorporates both the depth and breadth of knowledge and research skills required to contribute to management research. It creates the capacity for learning and innovation in the face of rapid changes in the social, economic, technical, and political contexts of management. The curriculum has the following specific learning goals:

Students must:

  1. acquire advanced knowledge of literature and theory in their area of specialization (the major).
  2. gain adequate knowledge of literature and theory in an area other than their specialization (the minor).
  3. acquire theoretical and practical knowledge of advanced research skills.
  4. have adequate preparation to teach at the undergraduate and master’s level in a business school.
  5. demonstrate an adequate appreciation of the role of their area of specialization in managerial and organizational contexts.
  6. be capable of producing original research of quality appropriate for publication in scholarly journals.

Course Requirements

The minimum course requirement is 16 courses (64 credits).

Course category Number of courses Total credits
Research Methodology 5 20
Major area 5 20
Minor area 4 16
DS 906 Philosophy and Science of Research 1 4
DS 907 Teaching, Publishing, and Dissemination of Knowledge 1 4
Total 16 64

Course choices must be approved by the department liaison prior to registration each semester. The department liaison must also approve whether courses will be accepted as meeting the requirements for classification as major, minor, or research methodology courses. In the fall of the first year, all students are automatically registered for DS 906 Philosophy and Science of Research. In the fall of their second year, all students are automatically registered for the DS 907 Teaching, Publishing, and Dissemination of Knowledge seminar.

Research Methodology Courses

Candidates are required to complete five courses in research methods and design. Students, with the advice and approval of department liaisons, will choose these courses. Courses may be taken at the Questrom School of Business or may be selected from appropriate courses offered in other disciplines at the University.

Major Area Courses

Students must acquire advanced knowledge of literature and theory in their area of specialization (the major). Such competence is gained by coursework, participation in seminars, and independent study. Candidates must complete five doctoral courses in the major area and pass a qualifying examination at the end of their coursework.

Minor Area Courses

Students are encouraged to choose a minor that draws on one or more of the social sciences that management theories draw on: for example, sociology, psychology, economics, and political science. Minor area courses may be selected from doctoral-level courses, including independent studies, from any department at the Questrom School of Business (other than the major area), or from other graduate departments at the University. The four-course minor may also be custom-designed as an interdisciplinary conceptual area with the advice and consent of the department liaison. For example, a student may define the minor as “human behavior” and take four doctoral-level courses in psychology, anthropology, and sociology to meet the requirement.

Philosophy and Science of Research & Teaching, Publishing, and Dissemination of Knowledge

All students are required to take the DS 906 Philosophy and Science of Research and DS 907 Teaching, Publishing, and Dissemination of Knowledge.

MBA Foundation Courses

In order to demonstrate a foundation in managerial literacy, students who do not have an MBA may be required by their department to take up to four MBA foundation courses, outside their major department. The liaison will determine if any of these requirements can be met with waiver exams.

Additional Requirements

Curriculum Paper

During the term of the coursework, candidates must prepare a paper suitable for publication. This paper will typically be submitted to the department before the end of the second summer session in the program. Students should consult with their department for individual department policies regarding the paper. The student must complete the curriculum paper and have it approved by the department in order to sit for comprehensive exams. An electronic copy of the final version of the curriculum paper must be emailed to the Director of Special Programs and Initiatives to complete this requirement.

Comprehensive Examination

Students in good standing who have completed all coursework requirements, maintained the required grade point average, and completed the curriculum paper, are eligible to take the comprehensive examination to demonstrate that they have:

  • acquired advanced knowledge of literature and theory in their area of specialization (the major)
  • acquired advanced knowledge of research techniques
  • developed adequate ability to craft a research proposal

Guidelines for the examination are available from the departments. To schedule the exam, the student must submit a Petition Form and have it signed by his or her department representative (PhD Liaison, Faculty Mentor, or Department Chairperson).

Students who do not pass either the written or oral comprehensive examination will be reviewed by the PhD Program Development Committee (PDC), which will determine if the student will be withdrawn from the PhD program.


The final phase of the doctoral program is the completion of a dissertation. The dissertation must be based on an original investigation that makes a substantive contribution to knowledge and demonstrates capacity for independent, scholarly research. After passing the Comprehensive Examination, the student will form a dissertation committee comprising a Committee Chairperson and at least two additional faculty members and, with their guidance, develop a research proposal for investigating an area of significance for management theory/practice.

Doctoral candidates must register as continuing students for DS 999 Dissertation, a 2-credit course, for each subsequent regular semester until all requirements for the degree have been completed. PhD students graduating in September are required to register for Dissertation in Summer Session II preceding graduation.

Academic Standards

Time Limit for Degree Completion

After matriculation into the PhD program, a candidate for the degree must meet certain milestones within specified time periods (as noted in the table below) and complete all degree requirements within six years of the date of first registration. Those who fail to meet the milestones within the specified time, or who do not complete all requirements within six years, will be reviewed by the PhD Program Development Committee and may be dismissed from the program. A Leave of Absence does not extend the six-year time limit for degree completion.

Milestone Maximum Time Period
Complete all required courses (no Incompletes) End of fall of 3rd year
Complete comprehensive examination and curriculum paper End of 3rd year
Form a dissertation committee with at least three members, a committee chair, and a dissertation topic End of 4th year
Defend the dissertation proposal End of 4th year
Complete the dissertation End of 6th year

Performance Review

The Doctoral Program Committee will review the progress of each doctoral candidate. Students must maintain a 3.30 cumulative grade point average in all courses to remain in good academic standing. Students who are not in good academic standing will be allowed one semester to correct their status. Prior to the start of the semester, the student must submit a letter to the PhD Department Liaison (who will forward it to the PDC) explaining why he/she has fallen short of the CGPA requirement and how he/she plans to correct the situation. Failure to so increase the CGPA to acceptable levels may result in probation or withdrawal from the program, at the discretion of the PhD Doctoral Program Development Committee (PDC).

Graduation Application

Students must submit a graduation application at least seven months before the date they expect to complete degree requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate the process for graduation. The application is available in the Graduate Programs office and should be returned there for graduation in September, January, or May. If graduation must be postponed beyond the semester for which the application is submitted, please contact the Director of Special Programs and Initiatives to defer the date. If students wish to postpone their graduation date past the six-year time limit for completion, they must formally petition the PhD Program Development Committee (PDC) for an extension. The petition, which must include the reason(s) for the extension as well as a detailed timetable for completion, is subject to departmental and PDC approval.

PhD degree requirements are complete only when copies of the dissertation have been certified as meeting the standards of the Questrom School of Business and are accepted by Mugar Library.