PhD students' curriculum will establish the foundation on which they build their program of original research, ultimately culminating in your dissertation. The program of research and study is customized to each student's interests and background.

Course Requirements

Required and elective courses are designed to develop a strong foundation in organizational behavior. Coursework will be tailored to individual background and interests.The time frame for taking classes generally extends over 2 to 2.5 years.

The plan of study required for the management PhD is designed to provide students with sufficient breadth to successfully complete the qualifying exam and have working knowledge of the major functional areas of management. In addition, rigorous statistical and methodological training is essential for success as an academic researcher. The requirements that follow are minimal guidelines; we expect that all students will take additional courses in their area of specialization, chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor. Any variation from the courses prescribed below requires approval of a request, submitted in writing, to the PhD committee. Students may apply for a waiver from the PhD committee if they have completed similar coursework at a previous institution.

  • Statistics. We expect all students to complete at least 2 semesters of graduate-level statistics training in one of three possible sequences, preferably during the first year of graduate study. The psychology sequence is recommended for those with a limited statistics background. Students may also consider the sociology sequence, and those seeking a more rigorous mathematical treatment should consider the ISDS sequence. Students planning a more macro focus in their research should consider the economics sequence. Because a solid statistical background is imperative for success in our program, we require a B (or its equivalent) in each of these courses. Additional statistics courses are recommended.
  • Research Methods. We require at least one semester course in research design and methods, to be completed before the end of the second year of graduate study. Again, multiple courses in the methods of study are recommended.
  • Core Courses. All students will be required to show competency in each of three levels of organizational analysis: Individual (Bus. 925 Behavioral Decision Theory), Interpersonal (Bus. 921 Organization Seminar: Micro), and Organizational Theory (Bus. 922 Organization Seminar: Macro). These courses must be completed by the end of the second year of the program before taking the qualifying exams.
  • Electives. Students will work with the research advisor or the doctoral coordinator to choose elective courses that will bolster their foundation in  specific research interest areas. These may include courses from psychology, sociology, economics, marketing, strategy, and other areas, depending on needs and interests.

First Year Paper

The first-year project is an opportunity for students to begin conducting empirical research in collaboration with a faculty member. Students, along with their faculty advisor, should choose a project that will allow them to experience as many aspects of the research process as possible within a 1-year time frame—i.e., generating hypotheses, collecting data, analyzing data, reporting results, etc. Ideally, this paper should be suitable for both presentation at a professional conference and eventual submission (following some revision) to an academic journal. The student should provide copies to his or her faculty advisor, a second faculty reader (selected by the student in consultation with the advisor), and the chair of the PhD committee. The advisor and second reader are expected to provide extensive feedback to the student as well as a brief written summary appraisal of the work to the PhD committee. If the first-year project does not meet minimal standards, the PhD committee may require the student to rewrite the first-year paper. The first-year paper is due on September 30th of the second year. A late paper will be looked on poorly during the second-year review and will result in a reduction in RA wages until submitted.

Annual Presentations

Beginning in the second year, students give annual presentations to the faculty and students of the Management program. These presentations will be approximately one hour including a Q&A period. Students will present one of their ongoing research programs in the style of a typical colloquium or job market talk. Faculty will evaluate and provide comments to help guide the research program.

Qualifying Exam

This is a field examination designed to certify a student’s competence in each of three major functional areas of our management group (behavioral decision research, micro-organizational behavior, macro-organizational theory). We expect that completion of the three core courses plus some additional background reading should be sufficient preparation for these exams, which must be taken at the end of the student’s second year of the program. The examinations will be scheduled approximately four weeks following the end of Spring classes (generally, late May). The exam period will take approximately three days and consist of (1) general essay questions requiring a synthesis of extant literature in a given area, and (2) specific essays in the student’s core area of competence. The exam will be evaluated by a group of faculty called on by the PhD committee. Graders will determine whether further actions are required depending on the level of the performance on the exam. Such actions might include retaking some or all of the exam; a recommendation to leave the program with a Masters of Arts of Business Administration; or dismissal from the program.

Second Year Review

In the summer after completing the qualifying exam, students will be reviewed by the Management area PhD committee to assess their suitability for continuing in the program to pursue an academic, research career. This review will include an evaluation of research in the first two years (including the first-year paper), course work, and performance on the qualifying exam. The outcome of this review process can be continuation in the program, leaving the program with a Masters of Arts of Business Administration, or dismissal from the program.

Preliminary Exam

The official preliminary examination takes place during the third year. At this time, the student will submit a completed research paper that is suitable for submission to a journal. The paper should be completed under the supervision of the faculty advisor. The student will present the completed paper in front of a faculty committee.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is a comprehensive presentation of the student’s existing work toward his or her dissertation as well as a proposal of the remaining steps to complete the dissertation, and is typically made in the student’s fourth year. At this stage, faculty assess whether the student has shown satisfactory progress toward completing the dissertation and whether the topic of the dissertation shows sufficient promise. Faculty may make suggestions for improvement in the dissertation topic or methods during this stage.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense is a comprehensive presentation of the student’s dissertation, typically made in the spring of the student’s fifth year. At this stage, faculty assess whether the student has shown sufficient mastery of methodology and research to submit their dissertation and be granted a PhD from Duke University. The final examination and subsequent submission of the dissertation are the final stages in the doctoral program.

Teaching

Our graduate program is designed to train young scholars for academic careers. Our priority is therefore to encourage students to assist and teach courses that they could list on their vitae and teach in their first faculty position. However, students are strongly discouraged from teaching and consulting to the point that this distracts from progress on research.

In order to prepare for independent teaching, we require that each student will actively participate as a teaching assistant in a minimum of three different Fuqua MBA courses by the end of the fourth year of the program. At least one of these courses should be a core MBA class. Students will be expected to attend each session of the course and assist in all aspects of grading. Ideally this experience should qualify the student to list the course on his or her CV under the heading “I am prepared to teach courses in the following.” Students are discouraged from assisting in more than two courses in a given academic year.

We encourage doctoral students to pursue opportunities to teach on campus. Traditionally, PhD students have been unable to teach in the daytime MBA program. However, other programs, such as the Markets and Management Studies (MMS) undergraduate program (administered by the Duke Sociology department) and the Masters program at the Sanford Public Policy School, have had our PhD students teach their students. Students should seek teaching opportunities after passing their qualifying examination.

Sample Program Overview

How the program of study will be scheduled depends on background, needs, and interests. Students will take roughly three courses per semester for the first 2 to 2.5 years.

Year 1

Fall

Spring

Summer

Coursework

Research

Coursework

Research

Research

 

Year 2

Fall

Spring

Summer

Coursework

Research

Submit First-Year Paper

Coursework

Research

Qualifying Exam*

Research

 

Year 3

Fall

Spring

Summer

Coursework (Optional)

Research

Coursework (Optional)

Research

Preliminary Exam*

Research

 

Year 4

Fall

Spring

Summer

Research

Dissertation Proposal*

Research

Research

 

Year 5

Fall

Spring

Summer

Research

Research

Dissertation Defense*

 

Asterisk indicates key milestone; teaching assistantships will vary in duration in timing throughout the program