Ph.D. Business Administration (Management) Student Handbook
Updated July 2023
The following represents the program handbook for the current academic year only. For an archived version of a previous year's handbook, please contact the program directors.
The Ph.D. program offers cutting edge management training in theoretical foundations and quantitative methods in basic and applied research. Students will learn how to conduct original research by acquiring the skills necessary to develop theory and collect and analyze data from surveys, experiments, and data bases to test theory. The program will offer concentrations in organizational behavior, strategy, entrepreneurship, international management and behavioral decision making. The program also emphasizes interdisciplinary research and encourages collaborations with other disciplines such as economics, psychology, sociology, social psychology and neuroscience.
The program will train graduates to be competitive in pursuing careers in academia and industry including becoming professors or various positions in social science research centers and laboratories. Job prospects in industry would include opportunities with management consultants, executive level positions in strategy or human resources, research foundations, survey firms, among others.
The knowledge and skills graduates can expect to obtain include: (1) The theoretical, empirical and quantitative skills necessary to identify and explore important organizational, leadership, and managerial problems and to conduct original and independent research in both the lab and the field; (2) The ability to critically evaluate and determine the validity of both academic, industry, and popular research done by others; (3) The oral and written communication skills necessary to both produce and creatively communicate research findings to both academic and lay audiences; (4) The knowledge and skills to be an outstanding teacher in a higher education environment; (5) The social, collaborative, and team work skills necessary to conduct multi party inter-disciplinary research; (6) The ability to develop research relevant questions and write grants to successfully compete for extramural funding; and (7) Training in the professional culture and norms expected of Ph.D. professionals including appropriate ethical standards.
Program Admission Requirements
The Ph.D. in Business Administration (Management Concentration) program is governed by University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School requirements. All material should be submitted online through the graduate school. Applicants should submit the following:
- All required application materials as required by the Graduate School admissions requirements, including official transcripts from all previous educational institutions and GRE or GMAT scores.
- Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant's academic record and potential for doctoral work in management.
- Optional: Prospective students may elect to submit resumes and short examples of written work (articles published and/or working papers).
- Prospective students should indicate if they would like to be considered for teaching and/or research assistantships in the University’s application for graduate school admission.
The TOEFL is required of international students: minimum score of 550 (paper), or 79 (Internet-based version), or 6.5 on the IELTS (must be academic version) test. International students must fulfill all University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School requirements. An exemption for the TOEFL is granted if you have a degree from certain English speaking countries.
For international student information, please consult the Office of International Students and Scholars.
All completed applications received by February 1 will be given full consideration. Applications will continue to be accepted until March 31 or until the program is full.
Doctoral Program of Study Requirements
- Minimum of 72 graduate credits
- Minimum of 48 graduate credits of course work
- Maximum of 24 graduate credits from a completed master’s degree program or previous post-baccalaureate work may be applied to program (this includes grad special, transfer, the total cannot be more than 24 credits). Transfer credits will only be accepted if approved by the Graduate Director and Graduate School.
- Maximum of 9 graduate credits of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory courses (including transfer credits).
- Minimum enrollment of 3 graduate credits each fall and spring semester
- At least 30 credits of 700-level graduate credits exclusive of dissertation credits are required: as many as 18 of these credits may be used from a master’s degree program
- Doctoral Students must enroll in a minimum of 24 dissertation credits for degree completion
- Fulfill residency requirement; two consecutive semesters (fall/spring or spring/fall) of at least nine (9) graduate credits each; (students on 20hr/week assistantships require six (6) credits each semester (fall/spring or spring/fall)
- All requirements for the doctoral program, excluding prerequisite graduate course work or masters degrees, must be completed within a period of 8 years immediately preceding the granting of the degree.
- Continuous enrollment
- No undergraduate credits can be applied to any advanced degree program
- Every graduate core course (i.e. those offered in the Management Department) must be completed with a grade of “B “or better. All other courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.
Advisory-Examining Committee Requirements
All graduate degree advisory committee members must be members of the University graduate faculty. The advisory-examining committee consists of at least five graduate faculty members. In addition to the permanent advisor as chair, this committee is composed of two or more members from the major department, one or more from departments in related fields, and at least one member of the graduate faculty from outside the student’s major department or program who is the Graduate School Representative.
Typical concentrations in Management include the following:
- Organizational Behavior
- International Management
- Behavioral Decision Making
Students will choose a concentration in consultation with their faculty mentor.
In consultation with the student’s academic advisor and/or Graduate Director, each student will choose elective classes that will support the concentration. A student’s dissertation will be aligned with the chosen concentration. Students will be encouraged to take classes in other Ph.D. programs at the University in order to achieve a broad based interdisciplinary background.
Curriculum for the PhD in Business Administration
List of courses for the Business Administration Ph.D. Program with a concentration in Management
Ph.D. Course Requirements (72 credits)
Required Courses | Credits
BUS 701 Organizational Behavior | 3
BUS 702 Strategic Management | 3
BUS 703 Managerial Decision Making | 3
BUS 704 Leadership | 3
BUS 705 Theory of Entrepreneurship | 3
BUS 706 Data Analysis in Management I | 3
BUS 707 Data Analysis in Management II | 3
BUS 708 Research Methods in Management I | 3
BUS 709 Advanced Research Methods in Management | 3
BUS 710 Behavioral Game Theory | 3
BUS 790 Graduate Research | 3
BUS 795 Comprehensive Examination | 1-3
BUS 799 Dissertation Research | 24
Theory of Entrepreneurship
Behavioral Game Theory
Approved 700 Level Elective
Approved 700 Level Elective
Elective courses are typically chosen in consultation with the student’s academic advisor and/or the Ph.D. Director to support the student’s doctoral research, to strengthen fields of specialization. Many 700 level and some 600 level courses in the departments of Economics, Psychology, Social Psychology, Mathematics and Statistics, Geography, and some in other departments in the College of Business are approved electives.
Students who are engaged in research applications that are related to other fields may find it helpful to take graduate courses in another field. These can be counted toward fulfilling the elective requirements as long as they are at the graduate level (600 or 700 level) and are approved by the student’s advisory committee.
1st Year Summer Research Project
The Summer Research Project entails conducting supervised research in the summer between the first and second year of study. This requirement is designed to help prepare students with the research skills needed in their careers. Students will select a primary faculty advisor to supervise the project and a secondary advisor to assist on the project, both of whom must agree to supervise. The topic, content, and methods of the research paper will be negotiated between the student and the faculty advisors with the understanding that the student will likely continue work begun in a prior class. Students can pursue both theoretical and empirical research projects.
The expectation is the student should develop a research manuscript that could be submitted to a journal or a conference presentation or poster session. The manuscript should be between 3000-6000 words and should be essentially completed by the end of summer. Students will provide an oral presentation of the research project to the faculty early in the fall semester and the paper should be completed and ready for submission by late fall semester.
Students that need financial support to facilitate their research should submit a well-developed research proposal to the Graduate Director for funding consideration by a graduate faculty committee. The proposal should outline the theory, hypotheses, research methods, budget and IRB approval if required. Proposals should be submitted early in the summer for consideration and if approved funding will be available to facilitate data collection over the summer months. Funding requests up to $1000 will be considered and partial funding may be awarded.
A comprehensive exam committee consisting of three management faculty members will be chosen by the student and approved by the Graduate Director. The comprehensive exam committee is expected to have at least one meeting with exam candidates prior to the exam. The purpose of the meeting is to provide reasonable clarification to students regarding the exam process and content boundaries. In general, the comprehensive exam is a field exam that is intended to assess and certify competence in the domain of management, with specific concentrations depending, in part, on the student.
The comprehensive exam will consist of three sets of questions:
- One set of questions in a core area of the student’s choosing. The core areas the student can choose from include human resources, organizational behavior, strategy, entrepreneurship, leadership, and decision making/behavioral game theory.
- One set of questions particular to the area of research the student intends to pursue for the dissertation.
- One set of questions from research methods and statistics.
The student will take a proctored comprehensive exam in-person in the University of Nevada, Reno testing center over the course of one week. The student may choose to complete the exam either (1) in three days, attending the testing center three days in a row with one question per day, or (2) in five days, attending the testing center on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the week with one break day between exams. In either format, the student will receive one set of questions per day on the morning of the exam day, and they will have up to nine hours per day to write an answer to that question (from 8:00am to 5:00pm). The answer to each set of questions cannot exceed 10 pages (1.5 line spacing, 12 point font, 1” margins) per set, or 30 pages total. Answers must be typed except for specialized notation if necessary.
Students are expected to prepare for the comprehensive exam in advance by studying relevant literatures and class notes as recommended by their committee members. Students will be allowed three pages of handwritten notes, front and back, for each of their three sets of questions (i.e., nine total pages of handwritten notes, with three pages of notes allowed per exam day).
The students will be allowed a maximum of two attempts at the comprehensive exam. Each exam can be passed at MS level (low pass) or PhD level (high pass). To proceed with the Ph.D. program the exam must be passed at the PhD level. Otherwise, if the exam is passed at the MS level and if the academic record warrants it and the comprehensive exam committee approves of it, the student will be given the opportunity to move into a track for completing a terminal Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree. The comprehensive exam committee in consultation with the Graduate Director will determine if a student who does not receive a PhD Pass is awarded another chance at passing the comprehensive exam. If a second attempt is given, the exam must be taken within three months of the date of the first exam being completed. The Graduate Director will again approve an exam committee which may include one or more new members at the Graduate Director’s discretion. There is no appeal process for the exam. There will only be a written comprehensive exam.
If for any reason a student cannot sit for a scheduled comprehensive exam or has any extenuating circumstances, the student must notify Ph.D. Director at least five days before the exam begins. Circumstances that arise less than five days before the exam or during the exam need to be reported to the Graduate Director immediately. Extenuating circumstances reported at the end of the exam, or later, will not be considered. Additional written information on the process of the qualifying exam is provided to each student before the exam takes place and opportunities are provided for discussion and clarification of process.
Students must produce their own scholarly work for this exam. Students are expected to demonstrate thorough knowledge of the relevant literature, as well as provide their own unique contributions, synthesis, and ideas. All writing must be produced by the student on the day of the exam. All information drawn from other sources must be cited, and any text that is copy-and-pasted must be in quotations. Students are NOT allowed to copy or use any writing from published or unpublished works, any writing produced by other students, or writing produced by artificial intelligence software in their own written answers on the exam (e.g., ChatGPT). Doing so is subject to automatic failure of the comprehensive exam.
Any clarifications or modifications that the faculty makes to the Comprehensive Exam policy will be announced to students and added to this handbook.
Doctoral students achieve candidacy status upon the successful completion of the comprehensive examination and successfully defending the dissertation proposal. Doctoral students who have been advanced to candidacy are required to maintain continuous enrollment until all degree requirements have been completed and the student has graduated. It is recommended that only at this point, after the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended, that faculty should provide letters of recommendation for any job search the student may undertake.
The dissertation represents a major research project of an original and creative nature that will advance the state of theory in the student’s major field, while meeting the requirements of the Graduate College. Given the emphasis on research in the program, the dissertation is not viewed as the student’s first research project. However, when the dissertation is completed, it signifies individual competence as a researcher.
The dissertation process is supervised by a dissertation committee composed of at least five faculty members: the chair, at least two faculty members from the student’s major department/program, at least one faculty member from a department in a field related to the student’s major, and at least one Graduate School representative. The student should select a chair from the list of eligible faculty members in the department, based on mutual research interests. The selection of additional members of the committee should be based on the contributions they might make to the final product. The student, in selecting members, should consider the mix of knowledge and skills across the committee. In order to make informed judgments in this area, students should make substantial effort to interact with faculty to become aware of their research interests and areas of expertise.
Faculty members have a right to refuse the invitation to serve on a Dissertation Committee (as chair or as a committee member) and the right to withdraw from a Dissertation Committee up to the point when Dissertation Committee members indicate their approval for the student to defend their dissertation proposal. The intent is that after that point in time, the Dissertation Committee will remain intact through the completion of the dissertation and the dissertation defense.
1. Research Plan and Proposal Defense for a Traditional Dissertation: The first step in the dissertation process involves developing a proposal indicating the research topic and the method that will be used to examine it. The topic of the dissertation is to be selected through intensive interaction with the Dissertation Committee and particularly with the chair. Once initial approval of the topic is given by the committee, a research proposal detailing the conceptual model and methods will be developed and presented for final approval. This approval will be granted by the committee upon completion of an oral defense of the proposal in a special seminar open to all faculty and doctoral students. During the defense, committee members and others may comment on the proposal, question the student, and suggest revisions. In a closed session following the defense, the committee votes to determine whether the student will be allowed to proceed with the research and decides on necessary revisions.
Generally, this defense should take place within four semesters of completing the comprehensive exam. At least one week prior to the defense, a copy of the proposal will be placed on file in the department office for review by interested parties. The proposal will consist of (at a minimum): (1) a clear statement of the topic and an indication of its contribution to the state of theory in the field; (2) a review of relevant literature, indicating where the proposed topic fits in this literature; (3) a clear description of the methodology (e.g., sample/data source, measures, analysis) to be employed, including the rationale for this approach; and (4) a bibliography. It should be of sufficient rigor and depth that the committee is confident of the student’s ability and dedication to complete the project in a timely manner.
2. “Three-Paper Option” Dissertation: Instead of a traditional dissertation, the student has the option to adopt a three-paper format with all three papers related in a coherent fashion to the core idea of the dissertation. This option should be discussed and agreed upon by the dissertation chair and Graduate Director. The purpose of this option is to provide some flexibility in the format of the dissertation research and to ensure that the training provides the student with the best preparation for a productive research career. This format allows the student to have at least three papers ready to be submitted or already submitted to journals when they start their academic career. The quality standards are the same for both the traditional dissertation and the three-paper option. The process is similar to that of a regular dissertation. The student is expected to work with a committee to decide if the three-paper format is desirable and logical given the topic and the research plan. In other words, the three-paper option should be approved by the student’s entire Dissertation Committee, rather than just the chairperson. Also, no papers should be completed (e.g., already submitted to a journal for publication) before the committee’s approval of the overall plan. Once this decision is made, the student needs to develop a written proposal and sit for a proposal defense. After the proposal is approved at the defense, the student proceeds to complete the work and do a final dissertation defense.
a. The written proposal for the three-paper option
- A 3-6 page summary of the research stream represented by the three proposed papers. The papers should have a coherent theme that relates to a substantive topic or theory. To prepare students with both strong theory development and empirical research skills, each paper should have a strong theoretical component.
- A completed version of paper #1 (approximately 30 to 40 pages). This paper should serve as the foundation for the other two papers. This first paper should be close to ready for final, friendly review before submission to a journal at the time of the proposal defense. The paper should be ready for submission after the review and the committee’s judgment that it has met the quality requirements set forth.
- Written proposal for empirical paper #2, including theory, hypotheses, and methods (approximately 15 to 20 pages).
- A proposal for paper #3 (approximately 5-10 pages of text plus references) that details the central idea of the study/paper and its theoretical foundations.
b. The three-paper dissertation defense
- A revised summary of the research stream representing the three papers.
- The presentation of completed versions of papers #2 or #3.
- This is done in a regular defense-type setting with the committee and others who are invited.
Below are additional guidelines regarding authorship, and topics and data of the three papers.
Authorship: It is expected that all three papers directly reflect the ideas and efforts of the student. Authorship on the papers should not be part of the dissertation process. This should be decided after the dissertation is completed and the paper is ready to be sent to the journal for publication consideration. The papers, as part of the dissertation, should not have any names of co-authors, although the committee members’ names can be mentioned during any presentations. In other words, students and committee members should not focus on authorship, but rather focus on developing the papers.
Topics and data: At least one paper should involve original data collection. Students must demonstrate their empirical research skills by undertaking at least one empirical study involving substantial new data collection. If the dissertation includes a second empirical paper, that paper could be based on previously collected data, or data collected as part of a larger research project with other researchers.
The above are guidelines and the student in consultation with his or her committee might find that a broader or narrower range topic better suits his or her particular interests. However, the dissertation proposal and defense process should conform closely to the guidelines provided.
These are credits transferred from another institution. Credits completed at the University of Nevada, Reno in another program or as a graduate special do not need to be transferred. Transfer credit can be requested on the Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request form available on Graduate School website, and must be signed by the student, major advisor, and graduate director. Transfer credits applied to a master’s program must comply with the time limitation on master’s work (6 years). Thus, if a student took a course five years prior to admission, they would have to complete the degree within one year for the course to apply to the degree. Credits from a completed master’s degree will be exempt from the 8-year time limitation for those students pursuing a doctoral degree.>
- Program of Study form (end of 3rd Year; for doctoral programs, it is the end of the 4th semester)
- Doctoral Degree Admission to Candidacy Form - For students who have completed all requirements except for the dissertation
- Graduation Application. This is due several weeks in advance of graduation, so check dates on Grad School website.
- Notice of Completion. Should be submitted after meeting all requirements, including defending your dissertation.
- Exit Survey
Conference & Publication Aspirations
Students are encouraged to begin submitting and presenting papers to national, regional, and specialized conferences (e.g., Academy of Management, Western Academy of Management, Judgment and Decision Making) by their second year. First year students are encouraged to attend (with partial department financial support) the annual Academy of Management meeting and participate in the New Doctoral Student Consortium. Visibility at conferences enables students to meet other scholars in the field and eventually provides job placement and networking opportunities.
Publications are important for all of our students and are emphasized in the program as a highly desirable research outcome. As a general guideline, students should begin working on a publishable research project in their first year through their graduate assistantship and/or major paper in their field of specialization. It is expected that prior to the dissertation phase, students will have two or more manuscripts published or under review for publication. This level of research productivity is necessary in order to be competitive in the job market.
Yearly Progress Report and Feedback to Students
By the end of May each year, the Ph.D. Director will solicit feedback from faculty to develop a development progress report on each doctoral student. This progress report documents and evaluates the student’s accomplishments and activities during the year and is intended to help the student continue making successful progress through the program. Evaluations are made of course progress, research progress, teaching activities, and service.
Each student will also be asked to complete a self-evaluation, recording and evaluating his/her past activities, and setting developmental goals for the coming year. This form is submitted to the primary supervising faculty member, who uses the information as input to his/her final evaluation. For first year students, additional inputs are sought from all faculty members who taught the Ph.D. courses. The primary faculty advisor and/or Ph.D. Director will then meet with the student to conduct a developmental feedback session prior to the beginning of the next academic year.
A copy of the final evaluation is forwarded to the Management Department Ph.D. Committee. The Ph.D. Committee reviews all progress reports, research papers, transcripts, other faculty inputs and may make recommendations for student development beyond those provided by the advisor/Ph.D. Director. If sufficient progress is not being made, a student may be recommended for probation or dismissal, subject to University Graduate Schools dismissal policies.
Students are encouraged to begin working on research projects with faculty members as soon as possible. A Research Advisor from the Program faculty should be selected to supervise the first year summer project. By the end of the second year a student should be developing a relationship with a faculty member who will serve as the student’s dissertation advisor. Students are encouraged to work with as many faculty members as possible but once an advisor has been selected for a project it is expected that the student will continue to work with that faculty member until the end of the project. The relationship between a student and faculty member is collaborative and long lasting and both parties must be voluntary participants in the relationship. Your advisor(s) should be the primary Department contact for information, guidance and mentoring throughout a student's graduate studies.
Graduate student funding is awarded based on merit. Continuation of funding is contingent upon satisfactory performance as a graduate assistant and in course work. Failure to perform satisfactorily as either a graduate assistant or in course work can result in a loss of funding.
All new graduate teaching assistants will need to meet the University and Department requirements for Teaching Assistants, and these may change from time to time — please consult with the graduate advisor.
All teaching assistants must register for GRAD 701S (no credit) and attend the TA training workshop, run by the Graduate School, the week prior to the start of their first semester as a TA.
Teaching assistants will report directly to the course instructor to whom they are assigned. Their responsibilities to assist the course instructor may include, but are not limited to, the following tasks:
- attending class and assisting, as needed, with distributing materials, setting up and operating audiovisual equipment;
- conducting discussion groups;
- directing student study sessions;
- assisting in the development of lectures, assignments, quizzes, examinations and laboratories and/or discussion groups;
- proctoring examinations;
- grading of class assignments, quizzes and examinations;
- giving short presentations to the class, under supervision by the course instructor
- TAs should be available to students during office hours.
- TAs must take a between 6-12 credits per semester
All graduate students holding an assistantship (teaching GTA or GRA) are considered Nevada residents for tuition purposes. Non-resident tuition is only waived for the duration of the assistantship. To be eligible for an assistantship, students must be admitted to a degree-granting program and be in good academic standing. The student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least 6 graduate level credits (600-700) throughout the duration of the assistantship. State-funded assistantships (GTA/GRA) may be held for a maximum of: three (3) years for master’s degree students and five (5) years for doctoral degree students.
Graduate Student Expectations
Development of Teaching Competence
The development of teaching skills is accomplished through several interrelated activities. One activity is the assistantship described above. Students can learn-by-doing by assisting a faculty member in the design of course materials, developing and grading tests, and also conducting in- class activities. In addition to the assistantship, the university provides several resources for the development of teaching skills.
The University and the Graduate School offer faculty/GTA development seminars and workshops on teaching throughout the year. From time to time, the brown- bag seminars are focused on teaching skills. As the department and college has many faculty noted for teaching excellence, students are encouraged to visit and observe as many faculty classrooms as they can. Students are expected to begin their teaching development activities in their first year as these will be important elements in landing an academic job.
Students will be expected to adhere to all the guidelines in University of Nevada, Reno student code of conduct. Academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated. Cheating in class or plagiarizing, presenting the ideas of others as your own or without proper citation, will not be tolerated. Anyone suspected of violating academic standards will be treated consistent with Section 6,502 of the University Administrative Manual. In addition, we strongly encourage collaboration, transparency, and sharing of relevant information.
Ph.D. students are expected to participate in the research culture of the department. We expect students to attend all department seminars, lectures, brown bags, etc. unless there is an important reason for being absent.
Graduate School Academic Requirements
Please view the Graduate School's full academic standing and dismissal policy.
All domestic degree seeking graduate students, who are enrolled in six or more credits (regardless of the course level) in a semester, will be automatically enrolled and billed for the University sponsored health insurance for each term they are eligible (fall & spring/summer). The details of the insurance program and waive-out options are found here. The student is responsible for meeting the requirements of the insurance program or waiving out.
It is UNR policy that international students have health insurance coverage with appropriate repatriation and medical evacuation provisions. For the fall semester insurance coverage normally begins about August 23 and ends about January 17 of the following year. Spring/summer coverage begins about January 17 and ends August 28. The exact dates may change every year. If students are arriving early for their first semester at UNR, they may want to use travel insurance until their health insurance coverage begins. View more information about health insurance.
Leave of Absence
Continuous Enrollment: To maintain “good standing” all graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum of three (3) graduate credits each fall and spring semester until they graduate. International students may be required to enroll in nine graduate credits each fall and spring semester depending on the requirements of their visa. All students holding assistantships (whether teaching or research assistantships) are required to enroll in a minimum of six (6) graduate credits each semester they hold the assistantship.
Leave of Absence: Students in good standing may request a leave of absence by completing a leave of absence form available on the Graduate School website during which time they are not required to maintain continuous registration. Usually, a leave of absence is approved for one or two semesters. The leave of absence request may be extended by the student filing an additional leave of absence form. Students applying for a leave of absence should not have any “incomplete” grades which could be changed to “F” and have a detrimental impact on their cumulative GPA. Requests for leave of absences must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the leave is to begin.
Reinstatement: When a student has been absent for one semester or more without an approved leave of absence, he or she may request reinstatement via the Reinstatement form available on the Graduate School website. This form allows the program the option to recommend the student be re-admitted to their graduate program based on their previous admission OR require the student to re-apply for admission which would require students to submit a new application for admission and pay the application fee. The Notice of Reinstatement to Graduate Standing must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the reinstatement is to begin.
Graduate Student Association
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) represents all graduate students and promotes the welfare and interests of the graduate students at the University of Nevada, Reno. The GSA works closely with appropriate university administrative offices, including the Graduate School and Student Services and reports to the President of the University. The GSA government functions through the Council of Representatives, Executive Council and established committees.