PhD Curriculum



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. Download the Accounting Concentration Brochure.

PhD Liaison: Kumar Sivakumar

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. Download the Information Systems Concentration Brochure.

PhD Liaison: Marshall Van Alstyne


In Boston University’s Marketing Department, we are interested in understanding a variety of issues related to customer relationship management, consumer behavior, and distribution systems that enable a firm to be more market-focused. The faculty has a wide variety of research interests spanning both methodological and behavioral perspectives. Examples of their research include customer lifetime value computation and analysis and the role of the value of customers in determining company worth; the role of product design in adoption decisions; the role of corporate social responsibility and corporate identity in strengthening customer relationships; ways to minimize post-purchase consumer regret; inter-organizational relationships in franchising contexts; and multiple issues in branding.

The goal of the program is to prepare students for academic careers in marketing. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to carry out theory-based empirical research related to a variety of cutting-edge marketing issues. The program includes training in theoretical, methodological, and substantive aspects of marketing.

Download the Marketing Concentration Brochure.

PhD Liaison: Carey Morewedge

Operations & Technology Management

Special interest groups of faculty who are doing active research in supply chain management, the management of technology and organizational change, and other areas of faculty strength such as services and health sector management deliver the doctoral program in operations and technology management. The idea behind a special interest group is to create a critical mass of research and intellectual inquiry and to carry on this theme throughout the doctoral student’s time in the program. Download the Operations & Technology Management Concentration Brochure.

PhD Liaison: Sean Willems

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.  Download the Organizational Behavior Concentration Brochure.

Faculty Contact: Emily Heaphy

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. Download the Strategy and Innovation Concentration Brochure.

PhD Liaison: Stine Grodal


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 courseload, 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.