Doctoral study is a full-time, year-round enterprise. Accordingly, we only admit students who expect to devote their entire energies to the program. Although some students may finish more quickly, the program requires an average of five years to complete.
The first two years of the program usually are devoted to courses that satisfy University, school, and area requirements.
Cognate courses: Two graduate-level courses in University departments or colleges outside the Ross School. This requirement is designed to increase students’ intellectual breadth. Students commonly elect cognate courses in economics, psychology, sociology, statistics, or engineering.
Ross School Requirements
General background courses: Basic knowledge in accounting, finance, marketing, and organizational behavior. Students entering with an MBA usually will have satisfied this requirement. Others fulfill it through doctoral, MBA, or executive education courses.
Analytical tools courses: Mastery of statistical inference. Typically, students take a one-year, graduate-level sequence in statistical methods and probability through the University’s statistics or economics departments. Individual areas determine the appropriate sequence and additional courses to prepare students for research in their fields.
Doctoral seminars: These sequences acquaint students with research literature and current themes and controversies in the field. Area seminars are supplemented by schoolwide doctoral seminars in research methods and research on decision-making under uncertainty.
Although coursework is important, the main goal of the doctoral program is to impart independent research skills. We achieve this under a mentorship model.
Students work with faculty formally and informally as research assistants, beginning in the first semester.
Students must satisfy research requirements specified for their area.
Because graduates of our program typically pursue academic careers, and teaching at a top-notch school such as Michigan is demanding, we require our PhD students to teach an undergraduate course in their specialty for one semester, often during the third year. Students are paid as teaching assistants for the courses they teach.
Our teacher development program is a required sequence tailored to students’ experiences. The program guides students by providing special mentors and addressing instructional concerns through multiple avenues, including:
- lectures, workshops, and brown bag discussions
- a teaching methodology course
- class observations of master teachers
- videotaping of instructional presentations
- experience with the latest technologies
The diverse techniques our faculty employ — from the case method to action-based learning and interactive video — provide a solid base for exploration.
Preliminary examinations are a prerequisite for candidacy. They are designed and administered by each area to evaluate a student’s mastery of basic knowledge.
When students have fulfilled the above requirements, they are eligible to prepare a doctoral dissertation — an original and significant piece of research that is conducted and written under the guidance of a faculty committee. The average time from dissertation proposal to oral defense of the completed project is two years.