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 School of Management 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: Kumar Sivakumar
Learn more about the Accounting department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Information Systems

In Boston University’s Information Systems Department, we are interested in understanding both how information and communication technologies affect organizations in terms of productivity and innovation; and to use this understanding to improve the design, implementation, and management of information systems. The faculty has a wide variety of research interests spanning technical, strategic, and behavioral perspectives. Their research includes software development and maintenance, decision support systems, electronic communications, the role of technical platforms and networks, and the relationship between information technology and business strategy.

The goal of the program is to prepare students for academic careers in information systems and related fields. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to carry out theory-based empirical research concerning the design and management of information systems. The program includes training in both organizational and technical aspects of information systems.

Department Research Interests
Emergent network forms of markets and organizations: How markets and organizations can be effectively designed given the pervasive availability of new information and communication technologies. This includes the study of new forms of alliances and networks as well as new communities and new processes.

Organizational capability through new technologies:Understanding how to leverage new technologies such as mobile Internet, new telecommunications technologies, radio frequency identification (RFID), mote technologies, and visualization tools.

Investing in IT: The economic issues pertaining to investment in IT and how best to leverage value from new IT functions.

IT for Sustainability: The application of IT to corporate social responsibility, socially responsible inviting, ethical consumption and sustainability reporting.

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. For this examination, students are responsible, at minimum, for work in strategic technologies (e.g. telecommunication and expert systems), process analysis and design (e.g. systems analysis and business process redesign), knowledge representation (e.g. data modeling and file structures), and management perspectives (e.g. strategic analysis and organizational consequences).

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



PhD Liaison: Marshall Van Alstyne
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 School of Management 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: Carey Morewedge
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 School of Management 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: Sean Willems
Learn more about the Operations & Technology Management department, including faculty profiles, seminars, and research interests.

Organizational Behavior

In our concern for enhancing organizational effectiveness, we focus on personal, organizational, and societal development. Personal effectiveness includes abilities to perform tasks competently, to learn in changing circumstances, and to develop one’s own potential. Department research on leadership development, human resource development, emotional intelligence, and careers reflect this interest. Organizational effectiveness includes the capacities to attain organizational goals, to interact constructively with larger contexts, and to provide settings within which members can perform and develop.

Department research on organizational cultures, team learning, improving urban schools, and organizational change in many settings reflect these concerns. Societal development includes patterns of economic, political, and social relations within which organizations can contribute to creating healthy, productive, and just societies. Department research on international joint ventures, environmental preservation, social problem-solving across sectoral and national boundaries, and building capacity for social learning address these areas. 

Program Goals
The Organizational Behavior Department at Boston University addresses fundamental questions about the practice of management. We conduct research that has real-world impact, as well as intellectual sophistication. We teach topics with long-term significance as well as immediate importance. Organizational behavior research should both improve managerial effectiveness and benefit workers, customers, society, and other parties that affect or are affected by the organization.
To these ends, we equip our doctoral graduates with the research skills to generate new perspectives on management and the way it is taught. Doctoral graduates leave with expertise in their fields, broad perspectives, and an understanding of management across sectors, systems, and cultures.

Research Mission
The goal of the Organizational Behavior Doctoral Program is to prepare graduates to create and disseminate knowledge that will impact management practice. Hence, we focus on the individual, the group, the organization, and the environmental context, recognizing the important interactions across all four domains. In both our teaching and research, we strive to improve what and how organizations and individuals perform. We use a full range of research and teaching methods to accomplish that mission. Beyond the School, we maintain involvement in academic and professional organizations, government groups, corporate forums, and other associations that constantly bring us in contact with researchers, leaders, and managers who both influence and are influenced by our research and teaching.

Teaching Mission
The primary teaching mission of the Department is to train and develop prospective and practicing managers. We teach at the undergraduate, MBA, doctoral, and executive levels. We participate in team-taught, cross-disciplinary courses because managers must be able to apply multiple perspectives to solve complex problems and to manage across functions. We seek to build our students’ conceptual foundations and practical experience, enabling them to act as catalysts for team and organizational learning as well as their own future development. We also train future researchers and teachers in the PhD program. Overall, our approach to teaching reflects our conviction that people are the sources of sustainable competitive advantage for organizations.

Operating Strategies
We provide leadership in developing educational programs that prepare students to understand quickly, act effectively, and learn rapidly in organizations that must navigate “continuous white water.” Department faculty are at the forefront of developing educational innovations for undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and executive education programs, and we will continue to seek to innovate education strategies appropriate to changing managerial requirements.

We encourage long-term programs of research that enable faculty to build knowledge and insights relevant to fundamental real-world problems. In practice, this often involves significant faculty commitment to ongoing programs with research centers and programs, such as the Executive Development Roundtable, the Human Resources Policy Institute, and the Institute for Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Commercialization (ITEC).

We recruit and train PhD students to combine in-depth understanding of the field with creative research and teaching with practitioners and scholars from other disciplines. This strategy involves extensive collaborative research and teaching with doctoral students, initially as apprentices and later as important assets to research and education programs.

We support faculty participation in external initiatives that contribute to the emergence of the School on the world stage and the application of their resources to solving critical national and international problems. Some faculty participate in academic projects such as the Task Force on Emotional Intelligence and the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship. Some play leading roles in professional associations, such as the Academy of Management. Others become advisors to national policy formation, as in US AID’s Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid. Others are involved in community change initiatives, with state agencies such as the Department of Children and Families.

Faculty Contact: Emily Heaphy
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 school of management, 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 School of Management 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 School of Management 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.