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UMass Lowell Manning School of Business is looking for top doctoral students with an intellectual curiosity about the nature and manner in which business organizations work. Graduates are competent in conducting independent research and teaching.

Program Overview

The Ph.D. is primarily designed as a full-time program although we may occasionally admit students on a part-time basis. The expectation is that full-time students will finish the program within four or five years depending on the entry semester, while part-time students will complete the program in no more than seven years. 

With seven concentrations/options to choose from, our Ph.D. program has a mission in training graduates who are well-prepared to advance knowledge, educating the next generation of business professionals and contributing to their scholarly communities. The Manning School prides itself in having a high-caliber faculty who publish cutting-edge, industry-relevant research in top academic journals. 

Most of our full-time graduates are placed in universities as business school professors. Since our program’s inception in 2013, we have placed 28 graduates by 2024, most of whom started their academic careers as tenure-track assistant professors in AACSB-accredited business schools. Some universities our most recent graduates work at include CSU-San Bernardino, CSU-Los Angeles, Dominican University of California, Indiana University-Kokomo, Louisiana Tech University, Nichols College, Northeastern University, Portland State University, Sacred Heart University, Seton Hall University, University of St. Thomas, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, Wichita State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


The Ph.D. program has the following areas of concentration/option:

  • The program includes four essential learning outcomes, requiring students to demonstrate: research skills, communication skills (oral & written), functional specific knowledge, and ethical skills. Progress through the program can be broken down into four distinct stages:

    • Completion of core courses and first-year summer paper
    • Completion of concentration courses and comprehensive exams
    • Completion of dissertation proposal
    • Completion of dissertation defense.

    Core Courses and First-Year Summer Paper

    Upon admittance into the program, students will focus on core courses. In addition, certain advanced-level research method courses are required of specific concentrations. After completing the majority of the core courses, typically at the end of the first year for full-time students, students will complete an original research paper in the summer of the first year. The first-year summer paper provides an excellent introduction to research, and adequate quality of the summer paper is required for advancement in the program.

    Concentration Courses & Comprehensive Exam

    After completing the majority of core courses and advanced-level research method courses, students will then transition into concentration courses. Each concentration requires six three-credit courses. These courses are selected with the guidance of a concentration coordinator.

    After all courses are completed, Ph.D. students take comprehensive exams. Comprehensive exams are critical to the student’s progression. Comprehensive exams are compiled by a faculty team. The exams are meant to test the student’s knowledge of the larger business scholarship, as well as the student’s chosen concentration area. The format of the exam is determined by the faculty within the concentration area, as well as the Ph.D. program director. Exams are graded by a team of faculty; adequate performance is required for advancement in the program.

    Dissertation Proposal

    The dissertation proposal is started after successful completion of the comprehensive exams. It has four distinct activities:

    • Selection of a faculty adviser
    • Identification of a research question
    • Building a dissertation committee
    • Preparation of a dissertation proposal

    Students will orally defend the proposal to his/her dissertation committee, as well as the larger university academic community. The dissertation may take the form of a single monograph, i.e. the traditional dissertation, or three separate papers. This is at the discretion of the chair and committee.

    Dissertation Defense

    After the proposal receives committee approval, the Ph.D. candidate will execute the research in line with the approved plan detailed in the proposal. Throughout the process, the Ph.D. candidate will work closely with his/her adviser, as well as keep his/her dissertation committee apprised of the progress or setbacks. Upon completion of the research project, the Ph.D. candidate will put forth a final written report, i.e. dissertation, and defend his/her work to the dissertation committee, as well as the larger academic community. Once the dissertation receives unanimous committee approval, the Ph.D. candidate receives his/her doctorate degree.

    For complete program details and course descriptions, please visit the the Academic Catalog.

  • Our top admitted full-time students (usually up to two students per concentration in each new cohort) will be automatically considered for a financial aid package including a tuition waiver and monthly stipends (for 9 months) for up to 4 years. In return for such support, these full-time Ph.D. students work as research assistants and teaching assistants. This financial support is conditional upon Ph.D. students’ satisfactory academic performance and TA/RA evaluations. Each academic department also typically provides a summer stipend through TA/RA arrangements for the first summer. Additional TA/RA or adjunct faculty teaching positions may also be available in future summers, though they are not guaranteed. The Manning School Dean’s Office will provide some conference travel support each year for all Ph.D. students admitted as TA/RAs. The academic departments and the Graduate Students Association may have additional conference travel support for the Ph.D. students.

    We may also admit full-time and/or part-time students on a self-funded basis.

  • Admission Requirements

    Admission into the Manning School of Business doctoral program is highly competitive. Applicants must be graduates of an accredited U.S. college or university or an approved foreign equivalent institution, with earned grade point averages of 3.000 or better in all prior undergraduate and graduate studies. See the “Apply online” button below for the list of admissions materials needed with your application. 

    Our Ph.D. program requires all applicants to submit either the GRE or GMAT score. A minimum of four years full-time relevant work experience is preferred. In addition, students are expected to have successfully demonstrated graduate level knowledge in seven functional areas: Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behavior, Management Information Systems, Operations Management and Strategic Management. Additionally, they will demonstrate undergraduate competency in Calculus, Statistics and Micro/Macro Economics. Students without such knowledge will be required to take the appropriate course(s) for consideration into the program.

    Application Process

    Applying to the Manning School of Business doctoral program is done through UMass Lowell Graduate Admissions (see “Apply online” button below). When the Ph.D. applicant has successfully submitted all material, the Ph.D. Program Director will review the application in conjunction with a team of faculty members. Final recommendations are conducted by the Director. UMass Lowell Graduate Admissions will notify applicants of the final decision.

    Application Timing

    The Ph.D. Program admits students every other year. The next cohort begins in Fall 2025 with an application deadline of March 1, 2025. You are also welcome to contact the Manning School of Business Ph.D. Program Director, Tao (Tony) Gao, Ph.D., with any questions.

    Apply Online

Contact Us

For program questions or to connect with our current students, please contact:

Tao (Tony) Gao, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Program Director
Associate Professor, Marketing, Entrepreneurship & Innovation

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