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Admissions Criteria

Admissions Criteria

Each year, from an application pool of approximately 500, the Michael G. Foster School of Business PhD Program admits a class of approximately 15 highly qualified PhD students. In selecting applicants, we give primary consideration to academic potential and aspiration. Each applicant is evaluated in terms of the following:

  • Academic accomplishments to date
  • Institutions attended and graduate and undergraduate grades and courses taken
  • Scholarships, awards, and honors earned
  • Graduate Management Admission test (GMAT) scores, or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
  • TOEFL iBT and/or IELTS scores (if applicable)
  • Academic and other references
  • Relevant nonacademic experience
  • Statement of Purpose: academic objectives and past or future experiences/contributions (including to advance the Foster School’s commitment to diversity and inclusion).

Admission decisions are also influenced by the availability of faculty, the number of students already in the program, and the availability of financial support in each major area of specialization.

Application Process

Start your application to the Foster School of Business PhD program today


Application Deadlines

Students are admitted Autumn Quarter only. Applications for admission must be received by the department specific deadline listed below. Due to possible administrative or mail delays, we suggest that applicants submit all materials well ahead of the deadlines to ensure full consideration.

Accounting December 1st
Finance January 1st
Information Systems January 1st
Management (Organizational Behavior) January 1st
Management (Strategic Management) January 1st
Management (Technology Entrepreneurship) January 1st
Marketing January 1st
Operations Management January 1st

Selection information

Applications are sorted and distributed to the relevant departments immediately after application deadlines. Each department has a committee that reviews all the applicants to their discipline, identifies the top candidates, and provides that information to the PhD Program office.. We extend offers based on the faculty-generated lists and the number of openings available to each department. We aim to have all offers out by April 15th.

Please keep in mind the following: A highly qualified incoming student will typically have a very high GMAT/GRE score (e.g., 90th percentile), a very high GPA (e.g., 3.9) often in both undergraduate and graduate level work at highly regarded institutions and they will have some, if not extensive, experience with research.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the past research and current interests of department faculty in their desired area of specialization. Regarding research, faculty can be contacted directly. For department-specific questions about the program, contact the area coordinators using information available under the Areas of Specialization tab.

Required Application Materials

Uploading unofficial transcripts via the online application system is a requirement to complete the Foster Ph.D. application. You should not have official transcripts mailed to the University of Washington unless we directly request them.

Three letters of recommendation are required. We do not accept additional letters.

Letters of recommendation are submitted via the online application system. In the online application, you will submit the names and email addresses of three recommenders. The system will send them an email that provides instructions on how to submit the recommendation letter on your behalf.

The admissions committees prefer recommendations from academics familiar with your scholastic and research capabilities; those from faculty members with whom you have worked in a research capacity are particularly valued.

Submit a copy of your CV. Be sure it includes relevant experience not addressed elsewhere in your application materials.

This can also be referred to as statement of academic objectives. Please state as clearly as possible your objective in pursuing a PhD program and your areas of interest for teaching and research.

As part of or in addition to this statement, please comment on how your past experiences and/or future contributions will advance the Foster School’s commitment to diversity and inclusion; the DEI Primer provides clarification on how to do this.

Applicants are required to submit either the GRE or the GMAT regardless of previous experience and/or advanced degrees. The GRE At Home and the GMAT Online exam will be accepted.

Copies of the score reports should be uploaded into the application. Test scores on either the GRE or GMAT are accepted only if taken within the last five (5) years.

Unofficial test score reports may be used during the application review process; however, official test scores are required if admission is recommended.

Scores are considered “official” when sent directly to the University of Washington from the testing agencies: ETS for the GRE score and GMAC for the GMAT score. If submitting GMAT, then request that GMAC send your official scores to the University of Washington, school code 459-75-53. If submitting GRE, then request that ETS send your official scores to the University of Washington, school code 4854. Allow three to four weeks for our office to receive your scores.

Applicants to the Michael G. Foster School of Business whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency in one of the following three ways to be eligible for funding:

  1. Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or hold a bachelor’s degree from an institution in Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, or the United Kingdom, where English is the medium of instruction. While enrolled at the degree-granting school, the student must be in residence on campus. (Note: A master’s degree does not satisfy this requirement).
  2. Hold a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Juris Doctor (JD) from a regionally accredited institution located in the United States where English is the medium of instruction.
  3. Official English Language Test Score:

The University will not accept IELTS or TOEFL scores that are more than two years old. Unofficial test score reports may be used during the application review process; official test scores are required only if admissions is recommended.

The following scores are minimums to be eligible for admission to the Foster School of Business PhD Program:

  1. TOEFL iBT: 92 total score, with a 23 in the speaking section
  2. TOEFL myBest: 92 total score, with a 23 in the speaking section
  3. IELTS: 7.0 total score with a 6.0 in the speaking section

Funding information

The School’s goal is to provide financial support for at least four years for all doctoral students who make satisfactory progress toward the completion of the degree and maintain a high standard of performance in their assignments. Financial aid in the form of tuition waivers, teaching and research assistantships, fellowships and scholarships is available in the Ph.D. Program. The objectives of financial support packages are to help fund the student’s educational program and to provide the student with supervised professional experience in both teaching and research. The financial packages for more senior students are designed to allow them to focus on their own individual work (i.e., the dissertation). At this stage, many students also successfully compete for national fellowships and research grants.

Financial Aid Form

Since the requirements for several of the School’s fellowships and scholarships list financial need as one of the criteria for selection, applicants who are admitted to the program will be strongly encouraged to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). University policy requires that this application be filled before a student can be considered for any fellowship or scholarship that specifies financial need as one of the criteria. Applications can be filled out and submitted at the FAFSA website. Note that applicants with substantial income in the year before entering a doctoral program may still qualify for financial need based on projected income for the first year in the program.