Jul 20, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 Previous Edition

Business Administration, Ph.D.

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The Ph.D. in Business Administration is a research-oriented program designed to prepare graduates for teaching and research careers in academia.  The program includes core courses covering all business specialties combined with an in-depth study in both theoretical and empirical aspects.  Students also receive training in pedagogy.  Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the existing body of knowledge and to develop new knowledge through original independent research.  With the educational background provided by the program, graduates are qualified for tenure-track professor positions at both national and international research and teaching universities and other educational institutions.

Admission Requirements

All applicants seeking admission into the Ph.D. in Business Administration must fulfill the University’s general requirements for graduate admission at the Ph.D. level. Additional requirements for admission into the program are listed below.

  1. A baccalaureate or master’s degree in Business, Economics, or a related field with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.5 (A=4.0) overall. In the case a candidate presents a master’s degree at application, a minimum graduate GPA of 3.25 (A=4.0) on all graduate coursework is required.
  2. A GMAT score of at least 650 or GRE scores with scores on the quantitative section of at least 700 and on the verbal section of at least 500.
  3. For non-native speakers of English that do not hold degrees from a U.S. university, a score of 557 on the paper-based TOEFL or 85% on the MELAB.
  4. Non-native speakers of English may be required, at the discretion of the Graduate School or the Program Director for the Ph.D. in Business Administration, to enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at the English Language Training Institute.
  5. Three positive letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a former professor.
  6. A Statement of Purpose from the applicant explaining why they wish to pursue a Ph.D. in Business Administration and why they wish to study the specific area to which they are applying.
  7. To ensure their preparation for doctoral coursework, students may be required to take additional undergraduate or graduate courses, as determined by the Ph.D. in Business Administration Program Committee and the Program Director. Such courses will be specified at the time of admission into the program and may include courses in finance, economics, accounting, marketing, management, operations management, management information systems, mathematics, or statistics.

Students are admitted to the program by the Dean of the Graduate School based on the recommendation of the Belk College of Business Doctoral Program Director, in consultation with the Belk College of Business Doctoral Program Committee. Recommendations are based on the assessments of the Program Director and the Program Committee of the candidate’s ability to complete the program, as supported by the application materials. The Program Director, in consultation with the Program Committee, may waive certain requirements if they judge the candidate to be capable of completing the program. If there are more candidates than can be accommodated, candidates are recommended in order of their perceived ability, promise of success, and suitability to the program.

Degree Requirements

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration is awarded for completion of scholarly research that advances knowledge in the field of research.  Evidence of this is demonstrated by a successful dissertation defense.  Additionally, recipients of this degree must demonstrate mastery of the body of knowledge within the field and potential for success in future teaching and research.

Students that enter the program must work with the Graduate Program Director to develop a Plan of Study during their first two semesters in the program.  This Plan of Study determines the exact coursework that the student must meet in order to be eligible to take the Qualifying Examination.  The Plan of Study must meet all Graduate School and Belk College of Business requirements.  The Graduate School requires that any student earning a Ph.D. must complete at least 72 post-baccalaureate credit hours, including at least 18 hours of dissertation credit.  Some of these graduate credit hours may include courses taken while enrolled in other graduate programs.  It is a Belk College of Business requirement that any program of study within the Ph.D. in Business Administration must contain at least 42 credit hours of doctoral coursework, regardless of other graduate hours that the student may have previously earned.  These 42 credit hours are in addition to the minimum 18 hours of dissertation credit that the Graduate School requires.  The Plan of Study must contain a minimum of 33 credit hours in finance and economics courses and a minimum of 9 credit hours in research support courses.

In addition to the general requirements above, if a student enters the program with only a Bachelor’s degree, the Plan of Study must include an additional 30 credit hours of coursework.  This coursework must be taken at the graduate level and will generally include courses that are part of the Master of Accountancy , Master of Business Administration , Master of Science in Economics , or Master of Science in Mathematical Finance   programs.  These 30 credit hours of additional coursework are subject to the approval of the Graduate Program Director.

To ensure that all students are ready for doctoral courses in Business Administration, the program has two distinct sets of prerequisites.  First, students entering the program must either demonstrate or attain proficiency in each of the business specialties.  Second, students must also demonstrate or attain mathematical proficiency.  Students entering the program will be evaluated for these proficiencies by the Graduate Program Director.  If a student is found to be deficient, then the Plan of Study must include appropriate courses, as determined by the Graduate Program Director, from the Business Core and Mathematical prerequisites listed below.  These courses are in addition to the finance, economics, and research support courses.

Business Core Courses

To ensure their preparation for doctoral level coursework in all business specialties, students must demonstrate proficiency in the Business Core.  Students may satisfy this requirement either by taking the following courses or by having previously taken equivalent courses:


Students who lack sufficient preparation in accounting, economics, or information systems may, at the discretion of the Program Director, be required to complete one or more 5000-level business courses in these disciplines. For the 6000-level courses listed above, only graduate courses may count as equivalent courses. However, students may, at the discretion of the Program Director, be permitted to take other 6000-level or higher-level courses in place of those listed above if the student’s background indicates that this would benefit the student.

Prerequisite Mathematics Courses

Finance and economics are mathematically intensive fields.  To ensure that students are prepared for doctoral level coursework, they are required to have had, at the graduate or undergraduate level, the equivalent of the following courses:

  • MATH 1241 -  Calculus I (3)
  • MATH 1242 - Calculus II (3)
  • MATH 2164 - Matrices and Linear Algebra (3)
  • MATH 2241 - Calculus III (3)
  • MATH 3122 - Probability and Statistics I (3)
  • MATH 3123 - Probability and Statistics II (3)

Students lacking these mathematics courses will generally be allowed to take those courses at either the graduate or undergraduate level.  At the Graduate Program Director’s discretion, a student may be permitted to take combined courses to meet multiple prerequisites.

Although unlikely, it is possible that a student may enter the program without having taken a specific prerequisite or business core course but has, nevertheless, acquired the same skill and technical abilities that the course would convey.  In such cases, the Graduate Program Director may waive the course.

Students who lack strong computer programming skills may be advised to take programming courses offered by the College of Computing and Informatics.  Specifically, the Graduate Program Director may advise a student to take ITSC 1212 (Introduction to Computer Science I) or other similar courses after reviewing the student’s background and prior programming experience.


Two of these courses, BPHD 8200  and BPHD 8240 , are cross-listed with courses that are part of the Master of Science in Economics  and the Master of Science in Mathematical Finance  programs. Ph.D. students in these cross-listed courses will be required to complete the master’s level requirements of the course and in addition, will be required to take separate exams, prepare a research paper, and complete additional readings. Students that have taken those equivalent courses may, at the discretion of the Program Director, substitute additional sections of BPHD 8650  on their Plan of Study for those courses. In addition, the Program Director may require a student to list BPHD 8650  more than once in their Plan of Study as topics change. Exceptions to the economics courses may only be made with the permission of the Ph.D. Program Director.

Research Support Courses (9 credit hours)

The Ph.D. in Business Administration requires that students have at least nine hours of research support courses in their Plan of Study. These research support courses must come from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics or Department of Economics.  Students are required to choose three courses from the following:


Some of the research support courses are cross-listed with courses used in the M.S. in Mathematical Finance  program. Students that have taken those equivalent courses may, at the discretion of the Graduate Program Director, take other mathematics, statistics, economics, finance or related courses in place of the courses specified above.

Dissertation Credits (18 credit hours)

Students are required to complete at least 18 hours of dissertation credits.

Degree Total = 72 Credit Hours

Grade Requirements

Students are expected to earn an A or B in all courses included in the program of study and must have at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate.  The dissertation is graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis and, therefore, is not be included in the cumulative average.  An accumulation of more than two marginal (C) grades will result in suspension of the student’s enrollment in the program.  If students earn a grade of U in any course, their enrollment in the program is suspended, and the student cannot take further coursework without being readmitted to the program.  Readmission to the program requires approval of the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the Program Director.

Teaching Mentor and Pedagogy Training

To ensure that graduates of the program are prepared for a career in both teaching as well as in research, a formal system of pedagogical training is required. Students that enter the program without prior teaching experience will be assigned a faculty Teaching Mentor and will be required to attend a teaching workshop. Most students entering the program will also initially be employed as teaching assistants. Normally after one year in the program students will begin to teach their own sections of undergraduate courses. The combination of mentoring, apprenticeship training through the teaching assistantships, formal pedagogy, and actual instructor experience will allow students in the program to develop their teaching skills along with their research skills.

Diagnostic Evaluation

Students entering the program will take a diagnostic evaluation at the end of their first full year in the program. The diagnostic examination will be administered by the Program Director, in consultation with the Program Committee. The format of the diagnostic examination will be determined by the Committee, but might consist of a review of the student’s work in classes, a written exam, or an oral exam. The purpose of the diagnostic evaluation will be to determine whether the student is making sufficient progress toward the degree. Students that are determined not to be making satisfactory progress toward the degree will be suspended from the program.

Dissertation Advisor and Advisory Committee

Every student in the program must have a Dissertation Advisor and an Advisory Committee prior to being admitted to Candidacy.  The student should select a dissertation advisor before the end of the second year of residency.  The student and the dissertation advisor jointly determine the advisory committee.  The Dissertation Advisor serves as Chair of the Advisory Committee and must be a member of the Graduate Faculty of UNC Charlotte.  Normally, the Dissertation Advisor for a student will be a member of the Department of Finance.  A student may petition the Program Director to allow a member of another department within the Belk College, or a member of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, to serve as their Dissertation Advisor.  The advisory committee must have at least four members, three of which are chosen by the student.  Normally, two members will be from finance and one from economics.  A student may petition the Program Director to allow a member of another department within the Belk College, or a member of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics to serve on the Committee.  The fourth member of the committee will be the Graduate Faculty representative to the Committee.  That member will be appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. All members of the Committee must be members of the UNC Charlotte Graduate Faculty.

Qualifying Examination

Upon completion of all required finance coursework, a student must take the Qualifying Examination. The Qualifying Examination is typically taken at the end of the second summer in the program. This exam consists of the student presenting an original research paper on a topic in any area of finance. The paper must be sole-authored and presented in a seminar that includes the Examination Committee, which includes the Program Director and at least two other members of the Finance Department Faculty. The written paper must be provided to the Examination Committee at least three days prior to the seminar presentation. In addition to the Examination committee, the seminar may be attended by all faculty and doctoral students in the Belk College of Business. The paper and seminar presentation will be graded by the Examination Committee on a pass/fail basis. Students who fail the Qualifying Examination will be terminated from the program.

Admission to Candidacy

The dissertation topic may be proposed after the student has passed the Qualifying Examination.  Pursuant to Graduate School rules, a doctoral student advances to candidacy after the student’s Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School approve the dissertation topic.  Further pursuant to Graduate School rules, candidacy must be achieved at least six months before the degree is conferred.


The student must complete and defend a dissertation based on a research program approved by the student’s Dissertation Advisor and Advisory Committee which results in a high-quality, original and substantial piece of research.  The student must orally present and defend the dissertation before the Advisory Committee in a defense that is open to the University Community.  A copy of the dissertation must be made available to the Graduate Faculty of the Belk College at least three weeks prior to the public defense.  While the defense is open to the University Community, the deliberations of the Advisory Committee are held in Executive Session.  The dissertation will be graded on a pass/unsatisfactory basis by the Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School.

The dissertation defense is the final examination.  It is a Graduate School requirement that a student that fails the final examination twice will be terminated from the program.

Residency Requirement

The Ph.D. in Business Administration is a full-time program. Normally students must enroll for at least nine credit hours during each semester of the regular academic year (i.e., Fall and Spring) and at least six hours in the summer semester. Students may petition the Program Director for permission to enroll in less than nine credit hours (six credit hours in summer) in cases of hardship or other emergencies. Students that have passed their Qualifying Examinations must enroll in BPHD 8999 - Doctoral Dissertation Research  for at least 9 hours during the fall and spring semester and 6 hours during the summer semester. It is a Graduate School requirement that a student must enroll in at least 18 total hours of Dissertation Research in order to graduate from the program.

Students that have completed all degree requirements, including the Dissertation Defense, may enroll once in GRAD 9999 - Doctoral Graduate Residency Credit  in order to meet Graduate School Residency requirements.


A number of graduate assistantships are available each year for qualified applicants. The Graduate School also has a limited number of fellowships available for highly qualified applicants.

Transfer Credit

Only courses with grades of A or B from an appropriate doctoral program at an AACSB accredited school may be accepted for transfer credit. Transfer credit must be approved by the Program Director, and cannot exceed the limit set by the Graduate School.

Time Limit for Degree Completion

The student must achieve candidacy for the Ph.D. degree within six years of enrolling in the program, and the student must complete all degree all requirements within eight years of enrolling in the program. All courses listed on the Plan of Study must also meet Graduate School time requirements.

Application for Degree

Each student should make application for their degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.

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