PhD Curriculum

Specializations

Accounting

The accounting doctoral program at Boston University is small, with only one to three students starting the program each year. The program is directed towards producing accounting scholars—individuals who have the technical knowledge and insight necessary to ask interesting and relevant research questions, as well as the research skills required to discover appropriate answers. This training is designed to provide a strong foundation for a career as an accounting academic at a research-oriented institution. Graduates from the program have published in the leading journals in the field.

Major Area Coursework
Students must complete five accounting courses. The following courses are regularly scheduled seminars:
1. AC901 Introduction to Accounting Research
2. AC909 Contemporary Issues in Accounting
3. AC918 Financial Accounting Research
4. AC919 Managerial Accounting Research
Students must take one additional accounting course such as a directed study.

The description above is a supplement to the general policies of the Boston University Questrom School of Business PhD Program. It indicates how PhD program rules are applied in the Accounting Department, and lays out additional requirements that must be met by accounting doctoral students.

PhD Liaison: Kris Menon
Learn more about the Accounting department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Information Systems

In Boston University’s Information Systems Department, we produce high impact research on how information technologies are transforming organizations, industries, and society. We seek outstanding PhD students who wish to do the same.

The goal of the program is to prepare students for academic careers in Information Systems (IS) and related fields. In addition to gaining a broad understanding of the field of IS as a whole, our PhD students develop a deep and specialized mastery of a specific research area that will carry them through the early phases of their careers as productive scholars. Well-qualified PhD students are therefore not just accomplished, highly motivated and independent thinkers, they also have personal interests that fit with the expertise of our faculty so that they can take greatest advantage of the program.

Department Research Interests
The relationship between student and advisor is critical, so applicants should look carefully for potential mentors. As a quick introduction to our department’s general research interests, we have particular strengths in the following topics (specifically faculty listed in parenthesis):

Economics of IS (Dellarocas, Lubin, Van Alstyne)
Experimental Design: (Walker)
IS and Strategy (Van Alstyne, Venkatraman)
Mechanism Design (Lubin)
Organizational Communication and Knowledge Transfer (Carlile, Shore, Watts)
Recommender Systems (Sahoo)
Reputation (Dellarocas)
Social Networks, Social Media, and Social Influence (Dellarocas, Shore, Walker)
Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (Watts)

Major Area Coursework
Students must complete a minimum of five advanced IS courses, including two IS core doctoral research seminars, IS918 and IS919, and other coursework as appropriate. The major courses should assist the student in preparation for the qualifying examination, which occurs after the second year in the program. During this process, students are examined on the general IS literature, as well as on a topical area tailored to their personal research goals in consultation with the faculty. After passing the qualifying exams, students pursue their dissertation research under the supervision of their faculty advisor. Students will acquire the skills needed to carry out rigorous research through coursework and faculty mentorship in econometrics, machine learning, experiments, and/or qualitative approaches as appropriate to their specific research projects.

PhD Liaison: Stephanie Watts
Learn more about the Information Systems department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Marketing

The Marketing Doctoral Program equips PhD graduates with the theoretical, methodological, and substantive expertise needed for successful scholarly careers in marketing. The program offers students the interdisciplinary environment to generate creative research ideas, the analytic skills to evaluate and execute the research studies that inform these questions, and experience communicating to the marketing community through published articles, in conferences and seminars, as well as inside the classroom. Courses of study are typically designed along two tracks: micro/behavioral or economics/modeling.

Major Area Coursework
Doctoral coursework in Marketing is designed to provide both breadth and depth in specific areas of the field. The five required seminars are:
1. Consumer Behavior I
2. Consumer Behavior II
3. Marketing and the Customer-Focused Firm I
4. Marketing and the Firm II
5. Marketing Models
Major courses are critical to the comprehensive examination.

Upon joining the Marketing PhD Program, students become part of our collaborative community of scholars. Outstanding peers and advisors and a low faculty-student ratio provide a stimulating intellectual experience at the School. Students begin collaborating with faculty on their first day in the Program, assisting in faculty research, co-authoring research papers and presentations, and continuing as colleagues throughout their professional careers. In this spirit, the philosophy and research interests of the faculty critically define the doctoral experience at the School.

The Marketing Department is very applied in its focus. Our mission is to inform the practice of marketing by providing a deeper understanding of the customers who interact with services, products, companies, selling environments, and brands. We are a first-class research department, with steady publication in the most highly regarded academic journals of managerially-relevant research on the customer-focused firm.Our efforts are sensitive to three meta-trends affecting marketing and consumption:
1) a marketing paradigm shift from exchange to relationships,
2) an increasingly collaborative and consumer-controlled world, and
3) increased accountability for marketing performance.

We believe in marketing as a true multidisciplinary function—to do good marketing, managers not only have to be masters of psychology, sociology, culture studies, and economics, they also have to align their strategies with organizational business models, structures, and plans. Our research and teaching considers this integration. We are committed to advancing knowledge in both theoretical and methodological domains to support our substantive goals.

Though united in our philosophy and attention to particular trends in the marketplace, the marketing faculty is diverse in its methodological and theoretical perspectives. Two general approaches characterize the group, which also structure program tracks of study for doctoral students. The first approach, behavioral research, is concerned with understanding the psycho-social and cultural factors that influence buyer or managerial behavior in consumer and business markets. It typically uses the social sciences and humanities as a theory base. The second approach, quantitative research, leverages economic theory and methods or strategy as a core discipline to build predictive and structural models of markets and behaviors.

Doctoral student collaborations with faculty are a critical component of the Program and a primary learning venue for academic marketing research.

The description above is a supplement to the general policies of the Boston University Questrom School of Business PhD Program. It indicates how PhD program rules are applied in the Accounting Department, and lays out additional requirements that must be met by Marketing doctoral students.

PhD Liaison: Frederic Brunel
Learn more about the Marketing department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Operations & Technology Management

The Operations and Technology Management Doctoral Program equips graduates with broad perspectives; expertise in their fields; an understanding of management across sectors, systems, and cultures; and the research skills to generate new perspectives on management.

The Field of Operations and Technology Management
Faculty doing active research in special interest groups on supply chain management, the management of technology and organizational change, and other areas such as services and health care management deliver the PhD Program. The idea behind a special interest group is to create a critical mass of research and intellectual inquiry, and to carry this theme while doctoral students are in the Program.

Supply Chain Management Special Interest Group
Research in this area views optimal supply chain management as a source of sustained competitive advantage. This is done by analyzing data with two types of research. Modeling-oriented research focuses on developing decision support systems that can capture and optimize real-world constraints influencing supply chain performance. Empirically-oriented research focuses on explaining what characteristics drive optimal supply chain performance. Both frameworks rely on combining theoretical coursework and close interaction with the industry to ensure research applicability. Some topics of particular interest and current research activity include:

  • International supply chain optimization: Determining optimal supply chain structures for globally dispersed supply chains.
  • Operations and supply chain configuration strategies: Developing supply chain strategies and operational choices that create competitive advantage in both manufacturing and services.
  • Inventory policies for multi-company supply chains: Explicitly modeling the cost differences between participants.
  • Mapping the information supply chain: Recognizing and modeling the difference between product and information supply chains.
  • Planning for multi-generation products: Developing pricing, capacity, and production plans that consider the interactions between product generations.
  • Web-based business-to-business ordering: Examining efficiency gains from moving to Internet-based ordering.
  • Demand-driven supply chains: Examining how web-based technologies improve forecasting, planning, and managing customer relationships.

Required doctoral seminar: Supply Chain Management

Health Care Management Special Interest Group
Health care sector expenditures are currently over $3 trillion and more than 18% of the GNP, having grown from 5% in 1960; expenditures are about double that of other developed countries. The health care sector is one o rte three areas of strategic focus of the School. Faculty from a number of department study operations, economics, strategy and policy, both on the heath care delivery and biotechnology/pharmaceutical/device side of the sector. Within the operations and technology management department, specific areas of study arise from the persistent problems associated with access to care, rising costs, and needed improvement in quality and safety of care. Several member of the department are actively involved with the Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR) funded by the Veterans Health Administration. Ongoing project include the following:

  • An organizational intervention that involves working with senior management in 12 hospital in a program that encourages them to actively engage with front-line staff in order to identify safety and quality problems and prioritize quality improvement programs to improves the problems.
  • An analysis of the relationship of the extent of person-centered care, adverse event rates and costs in nursing homes.
  • An analysis of the proportion of hospital readmissions that, because they are related to quality problems in the initial hospitalization, are potentially preventable.
  • Working closely with patient safety and quality managers, the development of a data display tool that brings together patient safety data from multiple sources (administrative data, medical record data, and incidence reports) in a way that best support improvement efforts.
  • The developments of machine learning models to predict the likelihood of hospital readmission allowing a discharge with heart failure.
  • Identifying how hospitals can improve inpatient quality and efficiency of care.
  • Evaluating processes to facilitate discharge planning and patient flow.
  • Methods to develop composite (i.e. compressive summary) measures of health care provider performance.

Major Area Coursework
Doctoral-level courses provide in-depth knowledge of the field and include the following four courses:
1. OM920 Models in Manufacturing and Services Operations Management
2. OM921 Management of Technology and Organizational Change
3. OM922 Supply Chain Management
4. OM999 Directed Study (Curriculum Paper)
Students concentrating in Health Care Operations or Services Operations Management may take a doctoral-level seminar appropriate for their area of study in lieu of OM921 or OM922.

The description above is a supplement to the general policies of the Boston University Questrom School of Business PhD Program. It indicates how PhD program rules are applied in the Accounting Department, and lays out additional requirements that must be met by Operations and Technology Management doctoral students.

 

PhD Liaison: Nitin Joglekar
Learn more about the Operations & Technology Management department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Organizational Behavior

The field of organizational behavior aims to understand how people interact in groups, in organizations, and in entire fields. It builds on a rich history, primarily in psychology and sociology but also in the inter-disciplinary area of organization studies, to develop knowledge on and explanations for these interactions. In an increasingly complex world, organizational behavior scholars stand at the forefront of inquiries into the shifting dynamics that inform everyday life in many workplaces.

 

The Organizational Behavior Department

Departmental faculty members conduct research on a variety of topics, including ethical decisions, career trajectories, interpersonal relations, motivation, occupational cultures, creativity, organizational crisis and trauma, workplace inequality, organizational leadership and design as well as change initiatives. We encourage doctoral applicants to browse faculty members’ individual profiles to get a better sense of our current research areas and to identity potential joint-interests.

 

As a faculty, we are united in our research philosophy and attention to emerging workplace trends, yet we remain diverse in our methodological and theoretical perspectives. As an illustration, our research relies on qualitative and/or quantitative data (e.g., archives, experimental data, field observations, and interviews) to gain a deeper understanding of organizational dynamics at various levels of analysis (i.e., individual, teams, and organizations) and to advance multiple theoretical traditions (e.g., emotional labor, identity theory, and occupational segregation theory). Our scholarship also spans a variety of field settings, ranging from for-profit and non-profit organizations to government and multilateral agencies.

 

Two general approaches characterize the group, which also structures program tracks of study for doctoral students. The first approach, inductive qualitative research, is concerned with building theory by analyzing qualitative data gathered in select field(s). It typically involves students spending a lot of time in a given field or setting and/or collecting a significant amount of archival data to better understand the inner workings of these worlds. The second approach, experimental designs, relies on developing and running quantitative studies involving participants in laboratory or field settings. Students in this track will typically take advanced courses in psychology. While we advise students to be proficient in both approaches, we also encourage them to select and build a stronger foundation in one.

 

Program Goals and Structure
The Organizational Behavior Doctoral Program provides graduates with the theoretical, methodological, and substantive expertise needed for successful academic careers. The Program offers students an interdisciplinary environment that draws from psychology, sociology, and organization studies to generate creative research ideas, the analytic skills to evaluate and execute research studies, and experience communicating findings (through articles, conferences, and inside the classroom).

 

Major Areas of Coursework
Organizational Behavior PhD students must complete a minimum of five advanced organizational behavior courses. These typically include required doctoral seminars that cover major theoretical concepts both at the micro and macro levels of analysis as well as advanced elective courses, including courses offered by other departments at BU and by other local universities.

 

The required advanced organizational behavior courses currently include:

  1. Seminar in Micro-Organizational Theory (required)
  2. Seminar in Macro-Organizational Theory (required)
  3. Field Studies Seminar (required)

 

Depending on the doctoral candidate’s selected track of study, namely, inductive qualitative research (a) or experimental design (b), other advanced courses might include:

4a. Sociology of Culture Seminar (BU Sociology)

5a. Advanced Sociological Theory (BU Sociology)

4a. Experimental Designs and Methods (Questrom, Marketing)

5b. Major Issues in Social Psychology (BU Psychological and Brain Sciences)

 

The Organizational Behavior Department invites PhD applications from individuals interested in pursuing innovative research related to the faculty’s interests. Faculty members mentor students through research assistantships that help formulate their dissertation proposals. This process involves theory development, focusing on a research question, designing a methodology, collecting and analyzing data, formulating the contribution to the field, and discussing the implications of the research findings. As a result of this training, our graduates are highly qualified to launch successful academic careers.

Faculty Contact: Michel Anteby
Learn more about the Organizational Behavior department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Strategy & Innovation

The field of strategy is distinguished from others by its focus on the general management of the whole organization. A central pursuit in the field is the understanding of how firms generate performance advantages over competitors. Such pursuit involves the study of both internal, (firm-specific) factors as well as the influence of external (environmental) contexts.

The management of innovation and technological change first evolved as a separate field focused on the understanding of how industries evolve and how organizations foster, manage, and respond to innovation. As of late, the fields of strategy and innovation have increasingly converged, given that innovation (in all its forms, such as products/services, processes, or organizational) has emerged as one of the most powerful ways to generate and sustain competitive advantage in many industries.

By its nature, strategy and innovation relates to real problems that managers face in organizations competing in dynamic environments. It emphasizes theory development and translating that theory into practical applications that can help managers make better strategic decisions. Therefore, doctoral studies in this field provide an excellent preparation for research-driven academic careers, but have the added benefit of endowing graduates with a base to pursue alternatives paths related to teaching, consulting, or professional careers in industry.

Program Goals and Structure
The Strategy & Innovation Doctoral Program provides graduates with the theoretical, methodological, and substantive expertise needed for successful scholarly careers in strategic management and innovation. The Program offers students an interdisciplinary environment that draws from economics, sociology, and strategy to generate creative research ideas, the analytic skills to evaluate and execute research studies, and experience communicating findings, all through published articles, in conferences and seminars, and inside the classroom.

Strategy & Innovation Department
The Department focuses on how new and established firms generate and sustain performance differentials over competitors. We are interested in exploring not just the appropriate strategy for conditions but how firms execute on that strategy and the practices that most effectively enable implementation. We place particular emphasis on the study of innovation in different kinds of organizations and the role of technological change in creating new industries and reshaping existing ones.

The Department invites PhD applications from individuals interested in pursuing research closely related to the interests of the faculty. Faculty members mentor students through research assistantships that help formulate their dissertation proposals. This process involves theory development, focusing on a research question, designing a methodology, collecting and analyzing data, formulating the contribution to the field, and discussing the implications of the research findings. As a business school, we emphasize the translation of studying and testing theories into practical application. As a result of this rigorous training, our graduates are highly qualified to launch academic careers at prominent institutions.

Major Area Coursework
Strategy & Innovation PhD students must complete a minimum of five advanced strategy and innovation courses. These typically include doctoral seminars that cover major theoretical concepts of strategy and innovation; recent empirical studies in the field; theories of organizations and environments; advanced elective courses such as international management or entrepreneurship; and one-on-one directed studies with individual faculty members.

The description above is a supplement to the general policies of the Boston University Questrom School of Business PhD Program. It indicates how PhD program rules are applied in the Accounting Department, and lays out additional requirements that must be met by Strategy & Innovation doctoral students.

PhD Liaison: Stine Grodal
Learn more about the Stratgy & Innovation department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Curriculum

As a PhD student, you’ll build upon the strong foundation of the doctoral curriculum with specialized programs and concentrations reflecting your professional needs and goals.

PhD students take a full-time course load, in residence, during their first two years.

  • Students who have earned an MBA degree within five years of their PhD start date (from an AACSB-accredited university) take sixteen courses in the four areas below.
  • Students who have not earned an MBA degree within five years from a University accredited by the AACSB will be required to take up to four additional MBA foundation courses.*
  1. Major: 5 courses
    Providing in-depth knowledge of your field.
  2. Minor: 4 courses
    Enabling you to approach management issues from a broad perspective. May be fulfilled through courses from a second management concentration, or by defining a conceptual minor that integrates related courses in other departments or Boston University schools.
  3. Research Methods: 5 Courses
    Candidates are required to complete five courses in research methods and design. Students choose these courses, with the advice and approval of department liaisons.
  4. Required Foundation Courses
    • DS906: Philosophy and Science of Research
    • DS907: Teaching, Publishing, and Dissemination of Knowledge
  5. *MBA Foundation Courses (if needed) The exact number and the specific courses required are decided by each department.

Typical Progression

Year One

Students serve as research associates and take foundation classes in their chosen area of concentration. At this time they begin forming relationships within their department and explore the research already published in their field. Before the end of the second semester, they must complete a curriculum paper and present it to faculty and fellow doctoral students. They will also have their first teaching assignment, usually a discussion section of a required undergraduate foundation class. The first summer, they travel to professional meetings to build relationships and meet colleagues in their field.

Year Two

Students build on their research and teaching skills. They teach classes and undergo self- and group critiques of their teaching. They prepare a research paper, usually with a professor. They also learn about presenting to professional organizations and companies. During the second summer, they read and present papers at professional association meetings.

Year Three

In this year, students write an in-depth paper and submit it to a professional journal. They also take their comprehensive exam. Once they pass the exam, they become actual doctoral candidates, form a dissertation committee of three or four professors, and do an oral defense of their dissertation proposal. The teaching assignment continues.

Fourth Year

Students spend most of the fourth year completing research, writing their dissertation, and interviewing for teaching and/or research positions. Depending upon the area of study, job placements are usually set by early winter. At the end of the fourth year, students complete their dissertation and defend their findings before a faculty panel.

Optional Fifth Year

The option of a fifth year is available to students who are continuing to make satisfactory progress towards their Dissertation. The activities of a fifth year would be similar to year 4.

To be completed in addition to the PhD courses:

  • Curriculum Paper: While taking courses and before the end of the second summer session in the program, candidates must prepare a paper suitable for publication. Research papers are presented to the Questrom School of Business faculty and other doctoral students.
  • Comprehensive Examinations: After completing all coursework, candidates must demonstrate mastery of the literature in their major area by satisfactory performance on the comprehensive examinations.
  • Dissertation Proposal: Candidates must prepare and successfully defend a proposal for their dissertation. Once the proposal is approved by the candidate’s dissertation committee, he/she carries out the research and writes the dissertation.
  • Dissertation Defense
    The completed dissertation must be presented to and approved by the committee.