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.

Learning Goals

The PhD curriculum has the following learning goals:

  • Students will demonstrate advanced knowledge of literature, theory, and methods in their field
  • Students will be prepared to teach at the undergraduate and master’s level in a business school.
  • Students will produce original research of quality appropriate for publication in scholarly journals.


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 sound 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. Be capable of independently producing original research of quality appropriate for publication in scholarly premier journals.

Course Requirements

The minimum course requirement is 17 courses (64 credits).

Course category Number of courses Total credits
Research Methodology & Methods Core 5 20
Major area 6 24
Minor area 4 16
DS 906 Philosophy and Science of Research 1 4
DS 907 Teaching Intensive 1 0
Total 17 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 summer prior to year 3, all students will take DS 907 as an intensive.

Research Methodology & Methods Core

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.

At least one of the five research methodology courses must be taken from the following list of approved Methods Core courses:

  • DS 913 Experimental Design and Methods
  • OB 923 Field-Studies Seminar
  • DS 925 Methods for Causal Inference in Management Research
  • DS xxx Computational Tools and Methods

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 Intensive

All students are required to take the DS 906 Philosophy and Science of Research and DS 9xx Teaching Intensive.

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.