PH.D. PROGRAM

Connecting you with highly ranked faculty and sharpening your research capabilities in preparation for an impactful academic future.

Ph.D. Program In Depth

Candidates successfully completing the SC&IS Program receive a Ph.D. from the Smeal College of Business, and must satisfy general requirements of the Smeal Ph.D. program (e.g., English Language Requirement). The course work encompasses four areas: foundation, advanced, supporting field(s), and research methods.

Program Requirements

Total of 48 Prescribed Credits:

  • Primary Field (18 credits total)
    • Two courses (6 credits) in SC&IS principles/foundations, taken in first year
    • One course (3 credits) that emphasize industry interaction, taken in first year
    • At least 9 additional graduate credits selected in consultation with the doctoral committee or graduate adviser
  • Supporting Field (12 credits)
  • Research Methods (18 credits)
    • Optimization or approved Management Science course (3 credits)
    • Stochastic Processes or approved Statistics course (3 credits)
    • Econometrics (6 credits)
    • Empirical Research Methods (3 credits)
    • An approved methodological elective (3 credits)


    The specific milestones are as follows:

    Candidacy Examination

    A candidacy exam is taken near the beginning of the Ph.D. program and is required by the Graduate School. The purpose of the exam is to test the student's ability to execute a successful research program as part of the Ph.D. To that end, the Supply Chain and Information Systems Department administers the Ph.D. candidacy examination under the following policies:

    • All SC&IS faculty who are members of the graduate faculty may serve as the candidacy committee.
    • A candidacy exam coordinator shall be responsible for all administrative aspects of preparing, administering, and grading the student's examination, along with communicating the results to the student.
    • The exam will be administered in a format and date determined by the coordinator and announced in advance to the students, generally following the completion of the student's first two semesters in the program.
    • The exam includes:  (1) an evaluation of course work/program performance; (2) a first year paper proposal (should represent a solid start towards the second year paper); and (3) a presentation of this paper proposal to a paper proposal evaluation committee (faculty appointed by the department).
    • If a student does not pass the first exam, the candidacy committee will vote whether to offer a second chance to take the examination in a future date to be determined. If this second exam is needed, the original candidacy exam coordinator will serve as coordinator for this exam also. This second candidacy exam will follow the same format as the first candidacy exam.
    • No student may take the candidacy exam more than twice.
    • In all cases, students will be informed of the outcome of the exam within thirty business days of completion of the exam.


    After the student passes the candidacy exam but before taking the comprehensive exam, the student completes the following requirements intended to enhance his or her professional development:

    • The candidate will conduct a synopsis and critique of a selected research area or of selected research papers. The candidate will work with faculty to determine the research topic or selection of papers.
    • The candidate will develop a research proposal based on the above synopsis and critique.
    • The candidate will develop a working paper and present it to the faculty. (This is a Smeal College requirement for English language standards).
    • The candidate will co-author, with a faculty member or members, a paper for presentation at a major professional conference or submission to a journal.
    • The candidate, in consultation with the SC&IS graduate adviser, will select a doctoral committee.
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    Comprehensive Examination

      After the candidate completes the required course work and the above requirements, a comprehensive examination is administered. The comprehensive examination includes both written and oral components. The written component covers the material covered in the candidate's courses plus the developmental work listed above. The oral component may also cover these areas and may also serve as a forum for the candidate to present a dissertation proposal.

        Doctoral Dissertation Defense

          After the candidate has completed his or her dissertation, the candidate will orally defend the dissertation before the dissertation committee and anyone else who wishes to attend.