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Management PhD Specialization

General information

The doctoral program in Management offers students an opportunity to pursue advanced study with a diverse group of world-renowned management faculty. Management is an interdisciplinary area, combining the study of organizations with areas such as sociology, economics, and psychology. The study of management involves examination of macro- and micro-level factors that affect organization effectiveness and efficiency.

The management Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students to conduct and publish research in top-tier journals and to take academic positions at leading research-based universities in the United States and abroad. The Ph.D. curriculum in management consists of two major tracks: 1) Strategic Management, and 2) Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management (OB/HRM). A minor is also available for PhD students working in other specialization areas.

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Strategic Management track

Strategic Management deals with the competitive dynamics of firms and industries. Topics of study include sources of competitive advantage, patterns of industry evolution, technological change, firm boundaries, and interfirm collaboration. Students are expected to develop expertise in a foundational discipline, such as economics or sociology, to inform their study of strategy phenomena. Students are also expected to develop mastery in a core set of corresponding research methods, including but not limited to quantitative archival methods.

Warren Boeker, Professor of Management, discusses the strategic management track within the PhD program at the UW Foster School of Business.

Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management track

This track is concerned with explaining individual behavior, team processes and outcomes, and how employees and organizations interact. Some of the central topics of study include leadership, motivation, decision-making, team performance, behavioral ethics, justice, turnover, and employee well-being. The core body of knowledge of this content draws heavily from the domain of psychology, as well as seminal and contemporary research in OB/HRM. This program also includes a strong research methods foundation, which includes the tools of laboratory experiments and survey-based field research, and a variety of analytic approaches. This track may also include qualitative research as well.

Michael Johnson, Associate Professor of Management, discusses the organizational behavior track within the PhD program at the UW Foster School of Business.

Admission requirements

Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree at an accredited university. An admission committee of faculty members reviews all completed applications. While the committee considers all relevant factors in its recommendations, important factors include past academic performance, GMAT scores, and essays. The GRE exam can be substituted for the GMAT but the GMAT is strongly preferred. In some cases we may request a personal interview.

Recommended preparation prior to entry

Students entering the PhD Program as Management majors should be comfortable with the basic concepts of calculus and statistics before they arrive on campus. It is strongly recommended that all new Management majors carefully review this material during the summer before entering the program.

Management Area Faculty Coordinator

For the most common questions we receive about our program, please refer to the FAQ at the bottom of this page. For additional questions about the Strategic Management track, please contact Faculty Coordinator Emily Cox Pahnke ([email protected]). For additional questions about the Organizational Behavior track, please contact Faculty Coordinator Ryan Fehr ([email protected]).

The purpose of this section is to provide an overview of M&O’s PhD program. It does not provide a comprehensive review of all credit hour requirements, etc. Instead it provides a “road map” of topics salient to successfully navigating the program. An overall schedule and major milestones for a five-year[1] program is depicted below.

Year Classes/Teaching[2] RA/TA Unique Tasks Major Milestones
First Course work 3 quarters Engage on-boarding faculty mentor (late summer)
Attend Ph.D. orientation & M&O Research Seminars
Begin formation of your supervisory committee
Engage research
1st year Research Paper
Second Course work 3 quarters
(1 of which is a teaching mentorship)
Formalize supervisory committee
Prepare for Major Area Exams
Engage research
Present 1st Year Paper
Submit to AoM
Take Major Area Exams
Attend AoM
Third Teach 1 quarter 2 quarters Engage research
Prepare to teach
Results: Major Exam
3rd Year Dissertation Forum
Submit: Journals & AoM
Attend AoM
Fourth Teach 1 quarter 2 quarters Engage research
Prepare to teach
Defend Proposal
Submit: Journals & AoM
Attend AoM
Fifth No: Fellowship[3] No: Fellowship Job Market
Engage research
Defend Dissertation
Submit: Journals & AoM
Secure a tenure track job at a peer institution

[1] This is not a statement of financial support.
[2] In five years, typical assignment is 3 qrts of fellowship, 2 qrts of teaching and 10 qrts of RA/TA. Summer are RA.
[3] Contingent on satisfactory progress in the program.

First and second years
Supervisory Committee: Until students establish a supervisory committee by the end of the Spring Quarter of their first year an initial advisor (the department’s Phd coordinator) advises students.  The supervisory committee approves the course of studies, and monitors the student’s progress.

Course work: The total amount of coursework required depends on incoming education and minor tracks selected. However, it is expected that students take the major doctoral seminars offered by the department as well as Research Methods courses. These courses are supplemented by course outside the department and outside the school, e.g., statistics.

Minor area requirements:  Students in management must select “Research Methods” as one of their minor areas.  A second or third minor area will depend on the student’s interest.

1st Year Paper: During the Fall Quarter of the second year, students must present their summer research paper to the management faculty.  In most instances, by this time a student will have formed a Supervisory Committee and will have conferred with them about this presentation.

Major area exams:  The examination will be held in Summer of each year.  This written exam will be scheduled over several days.  The focus per day will be made clear by the committee. One day will be research methods focused, while the other(s) will be theoretical content focused. If the Supervisory Committee believes that the student’s performance was unsatisfactory, the committee may recommend that the student retake the area exams.  If the student successfully passes these exams, then he or she has completed the prelims. In no instance will a student be allowed to remain in the program if the exam is not successfully completed by the end of their third year.

Third, fourth, and fifth years
3rd Year Dissertation Forum: During Spring of your 3rd Year a major presentation will be made to the faculty related to your intended dissertation research.

General exam:  Students who successfully complete the area exams can begin working on a dissertation proposal.  The general exam, also referred to as the “proposal defense” exam, is an oral examination of their dissertation proposal. After the successful completion of this exam the student enters “Candidacy.”  The oral exam in structured such that the student presents their dissertation research to their committee for approval.

Reading Committee: At this point, a student may reconstitute his/her Supervisory Committee and must select his/her Reading Committee, which is usually a subsection of the Supervisory Committee.  In practice, the chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee usually becomes the chair of the Reading Committee.  The Reading Committee may consist entirely of members of the Supervisory Committee or may include one or more members not previously on the Supervisory Committee.  The Graduate School appoints an outside member to the Reading Committee.  The student’s Reading Committee administers the final defense of a student’s dissertation.  With the successful completion of the dissertation defense and submission of the dissertation to the graduate school a student will have completed all the requirements for a Ph.D.

Strategic Management track:
First, the core of the program is a “five+one” major area doctoral seminar sequence. The “five” are Economic Foundations, Sociological Foundations, Contemporary Strategy, Theoretical Foundations of Entrepreneurship, and Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. The “plus one” requirement is chosen from the doctoral seminars in the OB/HRM track. Secondly, you will have two minors, including research methods and a complementary area, such as Economics, Sociology, or Political Science.

OB/HRM track:
First, the core of the program is a “four+one” major area doctoral seminar sequence. The “four” include the three required – Psychological Foundations, Social Processes, and Contemporary OB – while you choose one of the two Special Topics. The “plus one” requirement is chosen from the doctoral seminars in the Strategic Management track. Secondly, you will have two minors, including research methods and a complementary area, such as Psychology.

Course (offered every other year)
MGT 580 Psychological Foundations of Organizational Behavior
MGT 581 Social Processes in Organizations
MGT 582 Contemporary OB Research
MGT 583 Special Topics OB I
MGT 584 Special Topics in OB II
MGT 590 Economic Foundations of Strategy
MGT 591 Sociological Foundations of Strategy
MGT 592 Contemporary Strategy Research
MGT 593 Special Topics Strategy I
MGT 594 Special Topics Strategy II
ENTRE 581 Theoretical Foundations of Entrepreneurship
ENTRE 582 Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship
Course (offered every year)
BARM 590 Behavioral R.M. Theory and Design
BARM 591 Behavioral R.M. Approaches and Application

Course descriptions

MGT 580 Psychological Foundations of Organizational Behavior
The goal of this class is an introduction to a broad range of topics that are commonly seen as “on the micro side” of organizational behavior (OB).  The expectation for 580 is not expertise on these selected OB topics, but instead, the hope is to spark interest in one or more of these topics.  Topics include but are not limited to: voluntary employee turnover; personality and other individual differences; beliefs, attitudes and intentions; fairness, justice & voice; goals, feedback seeking and power; self-theories, fit, socialization, and climate and culture; organizational citizenship behaviors, job design, counter work behavior and creativity; and psychological contracts, stress and well-being.  The short term goal is to prepare you for the OB area exam, but the long term goal is to generate substantial excitement such that your dissertation topic and/or one or more publications emerge from this class.

MGT 581 Social Processes in Organizations
The purpose of the course is to review the literature on social processes, groups, and teams, focusing on their applications in organizational settings. This course focuses on important group processes for organizational effectiveness. It covers concepts such as composition, diversity, conflict, affect, decision making, and motivation. Class meetings will consist of brief overviews of selected topics (carried out by us jointly) and discussions of these topics with a focus on: (1) understanding the existing theory and research, and (2) developing research ideas that can and should be done to further our knowledge about a topic.

MGT 583 Special Topics OB I
The purpose of this course is to review the major theories of leadership and their applications in both research and in practice. Although the primary focus of this seminar is on examining the ‘science of leadership’, in each class, we will also discuss the application of this science in practice covering a vast array of leadership roles or loci in organizations including shared and strategic.

MGT 584 Special Topics in OB II
In recent years, scholars have employed an ever-widening array of perspectives to understand and predict individual ethical behavior in organizations. This course provides an overview of these perspectives and helps the student to better evaluate and conduct research related to individual ethical behavior in organizations.

MGT 590 Economic Foundations of Strategy
This course will review theories either derived from economics, or grounded in economic concepts, that are utilized in the field of strategic management. Each student will be expected to come to class prepared to summarize (1) one important research paper or book chapter per session and (2) one empirical paper pertaining to the topic discussed on that day. The summaries must be presented as a power point presentation. The power point presentations and relevant empirical papers must be uploaded into the shared drop box folder. We will decide prior to each class which theoretical reading each student will summarize. You are expected to search the literature to find relevant empirical papers. The empirical papers can be drawn from management or economics journals.  Grades will be based on the quality of your summaries of theoretical and empirical papers.

MGT 591 Sociological Foundations of Strategy
This course is an introduction to the major theoretical approaches and ongoing debates within the areas of organization theory and organizational sociology. Organizational theory draws on several different disciplinary roots, but the major focus of this course will be work on the sociology of organizations.  The substantive focus of the course will be explaining the origins, persistence, and disappearance of institutional structures that order economic life (organizations, firms, networks, markets, etc.).

Although this course is meant as an overview of the field of organizational theory and organizational sociology, we do not spend much time on the historical and classic statements of the field (e.g., Weber, Simon, March, Thompson). Rather, we will focus on the major contemporary schools or perspectives within the field, moving in roughly temporal order. The major topic areas we cover include resource dependence, organizational ecology, institutional theory, network theory, social movements theory, and theories of categories and classification.

ENTRE 581 Theoretical Foundations of Entrepreneurship
This Ph.D. seminar introduces students to the major theoretical threads and controversies in the entrepreneurship. The course focuses on theory building and empirical testing of the factors shaping the identification, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities and the creation of new organizations. It highlights various theoretical perspectives, examines different methodologies, and explores empirical research in entrepreneurship. It emphasizes current research in entrepreneurship – what are researchers talking about today and where will the field likely be headed in the future?

ENTRE 582 Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship
This doctoral seminar provides an introduction to the phenomenon of innovation from the strategic management perspective. Overall the emphasis is on understanding the main theories of innovation, synthesizing research in this area, and understanding how to design and write compelling research. Students will develop skills to both appreciate and construct empirical research designs and submit weekly writing assignments and a term paper focused on the innovation literature we read, as well as developing their own research ideas related to innovation.

BARM 590 Behavioral R.M. Theory and Design
BARM 590 is an introduction to research methods in the behavioral areas commonly found in a business school.  The mega goal for this class is to begin an appreciation of the research process.  The more specific goals are to: prepare you for BARM 591; begin the long journey of learning how to conduct research; and understand specific methods in the many substantive research articles that you will read in your classes, in preparing for the area exam and across your career.  By the end of BARM 590, you should feel comfortable with the vocabulary and general areas of research methods.  You may feel uncomfortable, however, with the many details of conducting research.  Such comfort evolves over the first two years in the program (and across the career).

BARM 591 Behavioral R.M. Approaches and Application
This course will introduce students to a variety of techniques and considerations important in analyzing multivariate data in organizational research.  Students will be exposed to descriptive and inferential multivariate methods and will learn about their underlying assumptions, correct usage, and proper interpretation.  Students will gain experience through a variety of problems, critiques, and data analysis projects.  Critiques are primarily based on articles published in the Academy of Management Journal, so students will also attain a high degree of familiarity with articles published in that journal and the norms associated with that journal. There are also a few articles from psychology, strategy, and education journals.

The course will be taught in a seminar setting and will also have a significant hands-on component.  At the beginning of each session, we will be discussing the articles that you will have read for the day. These have been chosen to highlight various flaws in design and to highlight statistical techniques. A lot can be learned by observing the weaknesses of various attempts at research. You should come prepared with comments and questions.  You should be ready to discuss each article and be able to compare and contrast the articles in terms of methodology.  During the second half of most sessions, I will be asking you to analyze a data set using the techniques we have learned.  We will be doing this together as a class.  There will be no curve for this course—thus there is every reason to help and learn from each other.

Who is a typical Foster Management PhD Student?
A Foster Management PhD student is intellectually curious, values academic freedom, and is passionate about contemporary management issues. You can build an exciting career involving research, publishing, teaching, and academic leadership. A foster Management Ph.D. student is NOT interested in pursuing a non-academic career, such as a consultant or corporate executive.

Who does well in the PhD program?
Students who are self-motivated, creative, and excited about learning on the job tend to do better in our program than students who like prescribed structure to their work. Our students are interested in actively collaborating with faculty members to conduct cutting-edge research and publish their research findings in top-tier journals. In addition to fellowships, we provide financial support in the form of research and teaching assistantships that often result in research collaborations with students as co-authors. These early projects have traditionally helped our doctoral candidates pursue careers as faculty members at major universities in the United States and abroad.

What’s the background of PhD students?
Holding a business degree is NOT a requirement for being considered for our PhD program. We frequently accept students with diverse backgrounds – economics, sociology, psychology, engineering, statistics, mathematics and other natural sciences. Our program is geared towards providing training for skills that students need to succeed in their careers.

What does it take to get in?
Our admission decisions are based on many criteria, including test scores (GMAT or GRE of over 80th percentile; over the 90th percentile is common), letters of recommendation, and prior academic performance. Once you join the program, we work hard to ensure that you succeed in completing your degree, and getting a faculty position at a research university.

What is the mission of the PhD program in Management?
The mission of our PhD program is to ensure that our graduates earn tenure at peer institutions.

What are the concentrations offered?
Our students select one of the three concentrations offered by the Department: Organizational Behavior, Strategic Management, and Technology Entrepreneurship.

When is the application deadline?
The deadline to apply is December 15th.

What are the documents that I need to submit?

  • Fill out the application online
  • Transcripts of all college or university level courses, degrees and diplomas
  • Three letters of recommendation. These could be from professors, supervisors, employers or colleagues
  • Official Test Scores for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT-code: 459-75-53) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE-code: 4854). If you are an international applicant, you need official test scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  • A personal statement/essay that clearly describes how a Foster PhD degree in Management fits with your career goals

Do you prefer GMAT or GRE scores?
Either is acceptable. The GMAT code for the PhD Program is 459-75-53 and the GRE code is 4854.

Is there a minimum test score requirement?
No; however, typically the admitted students have scores in the 80th – 100th percentile range. 90th and above is common.

I’ve already taken the GMAT/GRE; should I consider re-taking it?
You will need to re-take the test if your test result is over five years old. You can choose to retake the test if you feel that test score does not provide a reasonable evidence of your ability. We will base our judgment on your application on the most recent score provided to us.

Do you have a minimum grade point average?
Yes, the minimum GPA is 3.0. We particularly focus on courses and degrees that are directly connected to your intended area of specialization. While evaluating prior academic performance, we take several other factors into consideration, including the quality of the institution, their grading standards, and the overall trajectory of your grades.

Do I need to have an MBA or some other masters degree?
No. Even though most of our students have done some graduate-level work, we are open to considering students with undergraduate degree if they can demonstrate ability to undertake doctoral work either through their prior professional experience, or participation in research activity. We do recognize that some basic familiarity with statistics can be helpful in navigating the first year of the program.

How long is the PhD Program?
There is no strictly prescribed duration for the PhD program. The number of years that students take depends on their background, their willingness to work hard, and some external factors (e.g. access to dissertation data). Most of our doctoral students complete their degree in 4 to 6 years. 5 years is most common.

Do you have a part-time program?
No. Our program requires all the students to be residence full-time. Since the program places significant demands on students’ time and efforts, we do not encourage students to accept other employment.

How long does it take for students to complete their coursework?
Most students finish their coursework in the first two years.

What are some of the requirements for the doctorate other than course work?
In addition to course work, students are required to write a summer research paper at the end of the first year in the Program. Students must pass a comprehensive examination at the end of their second year. Students also need to pass a dissertation proposal defense, and final dissertation defense in order to graduate.

How do individuals support themselves while completing the PhD Program?
All the students receive financial support that includes a full tuition waiver, and a stipend to cover the living costs. This stipend is offered in the form of assistantship (research assistantship or assistantship), or fellowship. The support is typically available for the entire duration of the program, depending on satisfactory progress toward degree completion.

How do I earn an assistantship?
Students are required to perform 20 hours of research or teaching duties as instructed by the designated faculty advisors. These assignments serve the dual purpose of students earning their stipends by assisting faculty members, and, at the same time, gaining insights into the process of doing research and teaching classes. While students initially serve as apprentices to faculty members, eventually, they are given responsibility for teaching two undergraduate courses independently.

As research assistants, students are expected to do literature review, data collection, statistical analysis, and writing up results. These duties often end up offering valuable educational experiences to students and sometimes pave the way for dissertation research or co-authored articles.

How do students receive health insurance?
All the students admitted to the program automatically receive University-paid health insurance.

How much tuition do doctoral students have to pay?
None. As long as students are making progress toward their degree, and fulfilling their assistantship duties, they receive full tuition remission.

How many courses do students take in a quarter?
During the first two years of the program, most students take between 3-4 courses.

Do students receive credit for previous course work?
Only if they satisfy the program requirement. Prior masters level coursework, such as MBA courses, usually can NOT be applied toward the doctoral degree.

I am an international student. Do I need to submit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score? Do I need to submit a TSE (Test of Spoken English) score?
All the international students are required to submit a TOEFL score, unless they submit transcripts showing that they earned a bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited university in the United States or other English speaking countries and regions, such as Canada, Australia, the UK, or New Zealand. Students are not required to submit a TSE score as the TSE may be taken at the beginning of the doctoral program.

Students need to have an overall TOEFL score of 95 or higher. Please note that TOEFL scores are valid for two years.

How many students are admitted into the PhD program each year?
On average, two students are admitted in Organizational Behavior and two in Strategy and Technology Entrepreneurship.

Do I need to have a clearly defined topic of research at the time of application?
No. Most students enter the program without a clear research agenda and discover their research interests during the program. While it can be helpful for students to know their interests and goals, it is perhaps more important that students join the program with an open mind and show the willingness to explore new areas and topics. One of the key goals of the program is to help students develop an understanding of what is known in one’s area of study, and what questions are worth pursuing.