Program Details

Details on the Penn State Smeal College of Business Ph.D. Program including competency requirements and the evaluation process.

All Smeal Ph.D. students focus intensively on gaining the knowledge and abilities to conduct solid research, working closely with faculty on projects and jointly authored papers. While we encourage a collaborative learning environment, we also equip students with the skills and motivation to follow their own research interests, preparing them to embark on their own individual career paths.

The Primary Field

Students enrolled in the Smeal Ph.D. Program can specialize in one of the following fields:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Management and Organization
  • Marketing
  • Real Estate
  • Supply Chain and Information Systems

Prescribed Course of Study

A doctorate is earned by demonstrating a high level of competency in one of the specified areas above, not by completing a specified number of credit hours. What you see below, therefore, is a discussion of the minimum number of credits that must be taken in certain areas. The number of credits that you will actually take is determined by your strengths and weaknesses and the requirements of your field of study. You must complete all requirements of your degree within eight years of earning candidacy.

The Supporting Field

The supporting field requirement consists of a minimum of 9 credits in at most two fields that complement your primary field, but lie outside of it. You may choose as your supporting field any of the more than 140 programs recognized by the Graduate School at Penn State. For example, business administration doctoral candidates have chosen geography, industrial engineering, mathematics, political science, psychology, and statistics. You may also move beyond these established fields to create an "experimental" supporting field by showing that it meets the following criteria:

  • At least two members of the graduate faculty possess competence in the proposed field.
  • You can present a plan proposing (1) course work, (2) members of your doctoral committee, and (3) a method to evaluate the supporting field through the comprehensive examination.
  • You can identify potential teaching and research opportunities in your supporting field.

Research Methods Field

Give the importance of research skills in your doctoral program, you are required to complete a number of graduate-level courses in research methodology. These optional or required components of the program are:

  • Quantitative Methods Summer Mini-Course: covers basic mathematical and statistical concepts. Depending on your background, this course may or may not be required.
  • Research Methods: you are required to take four graduate-level courses (12 credits) in research methods. At least two must be from the list below, with the expectation that the two-course sequence follow one of the three specified tracks. Recommendations for each field are given in parentheses:
    1. Economics Track (Accounting, Finance, and Real Estate)
      BA 597D Advanced Microeconomic Analysis
      AEREC 511 Econometrics II
    2. Behavioral Track (Management and Organization, Marketing)
      MGMT 591 Organizational Research Design
      MKTG 554 Research Methods in Marketing
    3. Systems Track (Supply Chain & Information Systems)
      SC&IS 525 Supply Chain Optimization
      SC&IS 516 Applied Stochastic Processes