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PhD. Program General Information:

Should I pursue a Ph.D. in Management?

The short answer is, if you want to become a professor in a business school, then maybe. If not, then no. If you might want to become a professor in a business school, then you have to ask yourself if you want to dedicate 4-5 years to a Ph.D. program. What you will do as a Ph.D. student is: (a) Take 2-3 classes per semester for 2-3 years. (b) Teach management classes to undergraduates, probably starting in your second year. (c) But more than anything else, you will do research. Some of it will be your dissertation, but if you are in a good program, your dissertation will only be one of many research projects. If you don’t want to do research, you may as well stop reading this.

There are many advantages of entering into a business PhD program:

  • Most universities DO NOT charge tuition and DO provide stipends to business doctoral students (e.g., WVU offers $23K graduate assistantship)
  • You do NOT need an MBA to enter a business doctoral program (you do need the GMAT/GRE).
  • Academic salaries are VERY attractive. View the latest AACSB salary data
  • Experience and maturity gained in the corporate world is highly valued.

If you’d like to know more whether a Ph.D. program is for you, you can attend a Pre-doctoral Consortium held annually at the Southern Academy of Management (SMA) conference (visit ). The Pre-Doctoral consortium is a program designed to help those who are committed to, or are seriously considering, earning a doctoral degree in management or a related field. The goals of the Consortium include: (1) helping students to gain a better understanding of key factors to consider in applying to doctoral programs, and (2) to provide students with a “realistic preview” of life as a doctoral student and faculty member. The consortium features nationally recognized scholars who will lead panel sessions and round table discussions on such topics as “How to decide which programs are right for me,” “The ins and outs of grad school applications,” and “Life as a doctoral student and beyond.” In addition, opportunities for networking with current doctoral students, faculty, and PhD program directors are built into the program. SMA usually provides breakfast and lunch on the day of the consortium as well. To provide more encouragement, SMA awards stipends to help with travel expenses.

There is a great opportunity for minority students to learn more about PhD programs through the PhD Project. The PhD Project provides information about earning a business PhD and rare networking opportunities with doctoral granting institutions and members of the business academic community. Learn more about this opportunity by visiting

What should I look for in a Ph.D. program?

A lot of people will tell you to go to a school that has faculty with similar interests to yours. They are wrong. I’m not saying that you should avoid such places. I’m just saying that there are more important things. Some places emphasize development of Ph.D. students like our program at WVU. Others have that as a lower priority. It is also important to visit the schools that you are considering if you have a possibility to do so. When you get there, ask the faculty about their approaches to mentoring. But more importantly, ask the current Ph.D. students. They’ll give you the real scoop. DO NOT go to a place that doesn’t prioritize development of Ph.D. students.

What kind of research will I work on?

It depends on the faculty member with whom you are working. Most programs will assign you to one or two faculty members at the outset of the program. The good programs (e.g., WVU) will assign you to someone with whom you share some interests. At WVU, for example, if you express interest in leadership research, you will probably be assigned to Jeff Houghton or Nancy McIntyre. If you have an interest in emotions and trust in the workplace, you will probably be assigned to Ed Tomlinson. If you are interested in research methods and/or meta-science, then you will work with Jamie Field and Jodi Goodman. If you are interested in strategic management, you’ll be most certainly working with Olga Bruyaka studying inter-organizational relationships and innovation or with David Dawley studying organizational crisis. The really good programs will also start helping you to develop your own ideas for research. For example, Alanna Hirshman, one of our current Ph.D. students, came up with an idea for a research project in Abs Srivastava’s Philosophy of Research class. The project is looking to understand which types of corporate social responsibility actions of big oil and gas companies creates greater and more positive media coverage. Alanna then further developed this idea in a research proposal in collaboration with Olga Bruyaka. At present, this research project is part of Alanna’s dissertation and she is working to develop it in a full paper to be submitted to an academic journal.

What is life like as a business school professor?

Olga Bruyaka, an Associate Professor of Management and Management PhD Program coordinator answers this question.

I’m a professor, so I have to give the professorial answer, which is that it depends. Some business schools are more teaching-oriented while others are more research-oriented. All professors are expected to do both, but the ratio depends on the school. I have friends in teaching-oriented places, and they spend almost all of their time preparing for class, teaching classes, developing classes, and advising students. At a research-oriented school like WVU, you do teach classes in undergraduate, Master’s and MBA programs of course, but your teaching also includes one-on-one or one-on-a few mentoring of graduate students. That mostly consists of working on research with graduate students, teaching them how to conduct studies, how to write, how to navigate the journal review process, and the like. The rest of your time is devoted to one of two things. You are either working on various research projects or you are engaging in some sort of professional service. The research projects are usually collaborative efforts. For example, I have several projects on which I am collaborating with my WVU colleagues, but I also have collaborators in other US universities as well as in China, Switzerland, Spain and France. The other thing on which you work is professional service. We review papers that have been submitted to journals in order to decide if the papers should be published or not. We review submissions to conferences to see if they should be accepted for the conference. We attend conferences like the Academy of Management conference, Strategic Management Conference or the one of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. We might be members of committees for these and other professional organizations. But mostly, if you aren’t in the classroom or preparing to be, you are working on research.

This is a link to a good video about life as a b-school professor:

For someone who wants to understand the world of work, collaborate with people all over the world, and work with students, there is no better job.

Can I do a Ph.D. program half-time and work elsewhere?

We don't have a provision for part-time PhD where a student has a full-time job somewhere else and pays the tuition here.

We believe that our doctoral program cannot be successfully completed unless one has a full-time commitment. We strongly discourage doctoral student to pursue any other job/business while being a doctoral student. The only exception could be after a student has defended the proposal, is close to the completion of the dissertation, and takes a job somewhere else around that time. Dividing responsibilities between one's workplace and the PhD Program would not work in our department. It is an intense program with standards that are hard to meet unless one is fully engaged. Even the full-time students find the program quite challenging.

Graduate Assistant Information:

How are graduate assistantships awarded?
Graduate Assistantships are awarded to all incoming Management Ph.D. students. Continuation of a Graduate Assistantship is based on a student’s good standing in the Ph.D. program and performance of assistantship duties. Funding is provided for four years, with an option for fifth year funding for qualified students.

How are graduate assistantship assignments allocated to particular graduate students?
The Ph.D. Coordinator assesses the available research opportunities with particular faculty members and matches students with faculty members. Faculty and student preferences are considered, to the extent possible. Course teaching assignments are made by the department chair.

How can I obtain a classroom teaching assignment?
Students acquire teaching experience through teaching undergraduate management courses on several occasions during their time in the Ph.D. program. Teaching assignments are made by the department chair, with consideration of a student’s progress in the program and teaching readiness. Prior to teaching, at minimum, students should discuss teaching philosophy and methods (e.g., evidence-based instructional strategies, course organization, choice of course content, testing) with faculty members, observe how classes are conducted, and seek opportunities to give guest lectures.

If English is not your native language, it is important to develop a clear accent, so undergraduate students will not have difficulty understanding you. English as a Second Language classes and other forms of practice can be very helpful in this regard. The University requires international students to take and pass the Speak Test prior to assuming teaching duties.

How can I get a research assistantship?
Research Assistantships are awarded to all incoming Management Ph.D. students. The Ph.D. Coordinator assesses the available research opportunities with particular faculty members and matches students with faculty members. Faculty and student preferences are considered, to the extent possible.

How else can I get involved in research projects with a professor?
Students are encouraged to approach professors with similar research interests to pursue opportunities to get involved in research projects outside of their research assistantships.

Dissertation Information:

How can I find a dissertation topic and chair?
You should start exploring dissertation topics early in the program, while you are taking coursework. You need to read everything on course reading lists; but don't stop there! If an article interests you, and you think there's more to be done in that area, look through the article's reference list to find some other relevant articles to read on that topic, and perform a systematic literature search using WVU’s extensive library databases. Always ask yourself: Is there something I would have done differently, a different direction I would have taken with the ideas, a significant gap in current knowledge? Discuss your ideas with your professors. Interact with other Ph.D. students, even those not in your area of concentration, to learn how they developed their dissertation topics.

By the start of year three, you should have substantially narrowed down your area of interest for your dissertation. Use your course projects, qualifying paper, or other work in progress to turn your ideas into a concrete dissertation topic. Your searches for a dissertation topic and a dissertation chair are really a joint search: A particular professor would be the natural choice to supervise a particular dissertation project.

What funding is available for my dissertation work?
The WVU Library subscribes to a number of databases that can be used for dissertation and other research. Some faculty members may have funds available from grants to support dissertation work.

Employment Information:

How does job placement work?
Key indicators of readiness to go on the job market are the successful completion of the dissertation proposal and having articles accepted in high quality journals. When you and your advisor agree you are ready to go on the market, the two of you will make arrangements concerning the logistics. Usually, PhD students go on the job market in their fourth year. The search for an academic job happens one (1) year before you would actually start your job as a business professor.

There are several sources that allow you to find information about academic job openings. Among them:

Universities post job openings through the Academy of Management Job Placement Services, which provide information about application procedures. PhD students can also post their profile on the Academy of Management Placement web site.

Hiring universities post the information about job openings on their web sites.

The Chronicle of Higher Education is another popular source of job postings.

What’s the job market like?

There are always jobs, because there are so many business schools. Most Ph.D. programs have a 100% placement rate straight out of graduate school. Starting salaries for new Ph.D.s vary depending on the school. Even the lowest salaries for tenure-track jobs are almost six figures. The highest salaries for new Ph.D.s go up every year. For those on the market to start in Fall of 2019, total salaries for the best-paying jobs will be over $175,000 plus guaranteed money in the summer (often 1/9 or 2/9 of base salary). Not a bad salary for doing whatever interests you.

How can I succeed on the job market?
Do well in your classes, impress your professors, produce a high quality dissertation, do a good job in your teaching and research assistantships, network with faculty and doctoral students from other universities, present your research at conferences, and publish in high quality journals. Strong support from faculty members, including, but not limited to your dissertation committee, is vital for success on the job market.

Do not get into the market prematurely. Successful completion of the dissertation proposal is imperative before going on the market. If potential employers are concerned about your ability to complete your Ph.D. before starting a job, your efforts are less likely to be successful.