Program Structure and Courses

Department of Management and Organization PhD Program Structure and Course Requirements

The program of study leading to the doctoral degree involves an intensive period of course work and research, along with opportunities to teach. Major program requirements include: (a) graduate course work; (b) faculty/student research assignments; (c) a candidacy examination, the centerpiece of which is a comprehensive examination with written and oral components; (d) a scholarly empirical research “Working Paper” based on the student's own theoretical framework; (e) a doctoral dissertation based on original theory, data, and analyses. Assuming good progress, a graduate assistantship supports the work of all students admitted into the program throughout their residency. The program requires at least four, and usually five years to complete.

“Quite simply, when it comes to gaining a position in a top business school, publishing as a doctoral student makes the difference. The department has focused on publishing since day one. Seminar papers are geared towards a goal of submission to conferences and, ultimately, journals. RA work is generally focused on projects that are driven by the student rather than busy work in the service of the advisor’s research interests. And, perhaps most important, comprehensive exams occur after year one allowing students to focus from that point forward on gaining a publication track record. The results are clear. Not only is the Management and Organization Department at Smeal among the most productive, many of these papers are led by doctoral students. When I talk to peers at other universities, it is clear what an advantage this is.”
- Tim Quigley, 2011 Smeal Ph.D. Graduate


  • Seminar in Organizational Behavior - MGMT 528 (3 credits)
    Examines theory and research focusing on individual and small group behavior within organizations. Topics typically covered include: leadership, motivation, teams, decision-making, cognitive processes, diversity, organizational justice and fairness, conflict management, and individual differences in organizations.
  • Seminar in Organization Theory - MGMT 538 (3 credits)
    Examines various theoretical perspectives used to understand organizations and their actions. Theories typically covered include: scientific management, human relations, bureaucracy, contingency theory, the behavioral theory of the firm, resource dependence theory, institutional theory, networks and social capital, population ecology, sensemaking and enactment, organizational economics, social movement theory, status, reputation and celebrity.
  • Seminar in Strategic Management - MGMT 578 (3 credits)
    Examines theory and research focusing on the interrelationship between strategy, structure and performance at the organizational and industry levels. Topics typically include: business strategy, corporate strategy, corporate governance, organizational performance, environmental and industry forces, resource-based views of the firm, and strategic decision-making.
  • Colloquium - MGMT 590 (3 credits)
    All Management and Organization Ph.D. students take this professional colloquium during their first  year in the program. Each fall semester, the colloquium focuses on reading and discussing management classics in addition to discussion of other topics of relevance to the student’s socialization into the field of management and organization study (e.g., the publication process, job search process, scholarly review process, etc.) In the spring semester, the colloquium focuses mainly on writing an academic paper. Students typically choose a paper that they would like to move toward publication, and work on the paper over the semester with guidance from the colloquium faculty member, as well as fellow students, and other faculty members in the Department. Students may present their papers at the end of the spring semester. Our Ph.D. alumni tell us that the colloquium is one of their favorite program features.
  • Organizational Research Design - MGMT 591 (3 credits)
    This seminar introduces the student to research methodologies used for testing hypotheses. The course focuses on (1) hypothesis modeling; (2) research design; (3) measurement, and (4) data collection methods. Students acquire a basic understanding of conventional quantitative approaches and processes employed in organization science and develop a conceptual background for undertaking an original program of scientific research.
  • Qualitative Research Methods - MGMT 592 (3 credits)
    Exposes students to a wide variety of qualitative research strategies including participant observation, ethnography, in-depth interviewing, historical analysis, fieldwork, action research, interpretive research approaches, analytic induction, and other observational techniques such as unobtrusive measures. We give attention to all stages of the inquiry process from research design from data collection and analysis to presentation and publication of research findings.
  • Advanced Analytic Skills - MGMT 597 (3 credits)
    The general objective is to make you a better organizational scholar by improving your analytical skills. More specifically, this course is designed to prepare you for issues that you'll deal with in testing hypotheses from covariance or correlation structures in messy, organizational data.  This course concentrates on development, measurement, and analysis of "real-world" data, data in which you would test hypotheses.
  • Applied Communications - B A 591 (1 credit)
    Develop oral and written communication strategies to succeed in professional and academic contexts.
  • Teacher Training Mini-Camp
    The college offers a teacher training mini-camp to all Ph.D. students, which you are required to take it before your first teaching assignment.

Elective Courses

  • The Upper Echelons Perspective: Theory and Research - MGMT 535 (3 credits)
    To learn to evaluate and conduct research on top executives and their influence on organizational strategy, structure and performance.
  • Seminar in Organizational Social Networks - MGMT 539 (3 credits)
    This course familiarizes doctoral students with the theory, research and methodological issues connected with social network analysis in organizational contexts. The course encompasses topics from the micro level (e.g., cognition and networks) to the macro level (e.g., interorganizational networks) and introduces a range of network ideas concerned with centrality, structural holes, embeddedness, and social capital. Class periods will consist mainly of focused discussion of academic papers, but will also include discussion of data analysis exercises, and student presentations. Upon completion of the course, students should have a good grasp of social network concepts and methods and be able to use them to conduct research. The course requirements include participation in discussion, the completion of data analysis exercises, and the writing of a research paper.
  • Multilevel Theory and Research in Organizations - MGMT 597 (3 credits)
    Theorizing across levels of analysis is a core competency in management/organizational behavior research. Our field engages with multiple disciplines and in understanding organizational phenomena no single level of analysis provides adequate explanations.  In this Ph.D. level seminar you will explore and critically analyze research and theory involving multilevel issues in management.  We will consider processes and outcomes across different levels of conceptualization (micro, meso, macro) and evaluate the tools, techniques, and theories used to investigate various organizational phenomena.

View the Program Course Requirements