Each student plays an active role in the design of his/her program of study. All coursework on the program of study in the Ph.D. in Business Administration program must be completed within four years from the semester of entry into the Ph.D. program.
Although there are a number of required courses for all Ph.D. students, each program of study is individually tailored to meet the student’s particular needs and goals. Input from faculty and fellow students can be valuable. Courses should be chosen to enhance substantive knowledge and research skills.
The program of study is not cast in stone once it has been approved and filed with the Ph.D. program office. However, any changes must be approved in writing by the unit coordinator and the Ph.D. program office.
The rate of progress in the Ph.D. program may be a factor in the allocation of competitive awards made to students. These awards include fellowships as well as graduate research and teaching assistantships. As a general guideline, students are expected to register for a minimum of nine hours each semester (with the exclusion of summer quarter) until graduation. Many students will opt to register for more hours than the minimum. Failure to follow the program of study may be interpreted as a lack of progress.
Quantitative and Economic Foundations
Students entering the Ph.D. program are presumed to have background and current knowledge in:
- multi-variable calculus – including multiple integration, partial derivatives and infinite series
- matrix algebra – including linear transformations, vector differentiation and eigenstructures
- computer skills for empirical research – including statistical packages and the use of data tapes and files
- macroeconomics and microeconomics through the intermediate level
New students will want to discuss any deficiencies in their academic background with their Ph.D. coordinator. Students lacking English communication skills may be required to take special English courses as foundation coursework. A proficiency test is administered at the special orientation program for international students. Any English courses assigned as a result of this test must be taken during the student’s first semester of coursework.
Required Courses – 42 Semester Total Hours
- Research Methods (15 hours)
- Major (18 hours)
- Secondary Area (9 hours)
Research Methods Requirements
(15 semester hours)
The satisfactory completion of no fewer than 15 graduate-level semester hours constitutes minimum preparation in research methods. The Ph.D. Coordinator may approve substitutions for any of the following research methods requirements.
Approved Graduate Level Statistics Course - 3 hours
MGT 9940 - Design of Experiments (3 hours)
This course examines epistemologies and methods that lie at the heart of experimental research. It covers validation of experimental instruments, internal and external validity, and statistical conclusion validity derived through the family of ANOVA techniques, regression, and structural equation modeling. Students learn how to properly design an experiment and how to handle problems that come up in actually conducting experiments.
MGT 9950 - Regression Analysis (3 hours)
The focus of the course is on regression as an inferential tool for conducting empirical research. As such, in-depth coverage is given to the topics of parameter estimation, hypothesis testing, and residual analysis. Multicollinearity diagnostics and remedies are discussed, and several special topics are covered.
MGT 9960 - Multivariate Data Analysis (3 hours)
Prerequisite 9950 - Regression.
Multivariate data analysis is illustrated for data reduction, quasi-experimentation, and true experimentation. Critical assessment of published research is the key goal. Among various techniques covered are multivariate hypothesis testing, principal components analysis, factor analysis, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis, canonical analysis, multivariate analysis of variance, and multivariate analysis of covariance.
BA 9260 - Theory Development (3 hours)
Students understand how to develop theory and surface a theoretical contribution. They understand the distinction between identifying a business problem and a scientific problem, and the approaches to achieve rigor and relevance. They learn about the elements of a theory and the approaches to build theory. They understand the distinction between process and variance models, and the importance of achieving correspondence between theoretical arguments and model specification. They develop an understanding about how to leverage context and time in building theory, and about multi-dimensional constructs and multi-level models. Cumulatively, they develop the skills and understanding to formulate a research question, synthesize the literature, build a theory, and specify a model.
BA 9280 - Quantitative Research Methods in Business (3 hours)
This course develops skills in designing, evaluating, and understanding quantitative methods and methodologies for research in the social science paradigm. Students also acquire skills in developing research proposals, supporting methodological choices, and understanding how to successfully publish their work. The course is intended for students across the business disciplines.
BA 9300 - Qualitative Research Methods in Business (3 hours)
This course helps develop knowledge and skills in the application and use of qualitative research techniques. The course provides a survey of the methodological literature on qualitative research methods paired with appropriate article-length exemplars in the disparate business disciplines. This course covers a variety of different research strategies including case study, ethnography, grounded theory, and action research. In addition, students acquire skills in developing a research design, and qualitative date collection and analysis techniques, and authoring research manuscripts.
BA 9320 - Managerial Decision Making (3 hours)
Managerial Decision Making. This course introduces students to the subject of managerial decision-making. Decision-making is obviously a very important part of what managers do. Research into managerial decision-making is highly relevant to a wide variety of business school disciplines including: accounting, marketing, managerial sciences, information systems, risk management and insurance, and real estate. Drawing on relevant theories and academic journal articles, the student is introduced to bounded rationality, cognitive biases, bounded awareness and ethicality, framing effects, escalation of commitment, whistle blowing, negotiator cognition, and emotional influences on decision making.
BA 9360 - Managing AI (3 hours)
Managing AI in Business and Society. Prerequisites: None. Students develop an understanding of the research landscape and opportunities on how AI can be managed to create value and mitigate risks in business and society. The course employs a multidisciplinary approach that integrates economic, behavioral, design, computational, policy and legal perspectives. Students learn about the future of work, learning algorithms and applications, explainable AI, ethics and fairness in developing AI systems, and human trust in AI systems. They understand how to manage AI payoffs and risks that arise from automating processes and augmenting decision-making, organizational learning, engagement, and collectives. They learn about AI strategies and governance that can be used by firms, and policy and legal implications of AI in different application domains.
IFI 8650 Image and Text Analytics with Deep Neural Networks
IFI 8650 Image and Text Analytics with Deep Neural Networks
Text documents and images have proven to be useful complements to structured data in different research fields such as marketing, information management, real estate, accounting, finance, operations management etc. This course studies how to use deep neural network methods to analyze text documents and images to solve business related problems.
IFI 9000 Research Methods with Analytics
IFI 9000 Research Methods with Analytics
This course introduces analytics methods for research. In particular, basic methods of machine learning, text and image analytics will be introduced. The applications of established and recent developments of these methods in solving practical business problems will be studied.
Students may be eligible for funding for travel to conferences. Students should check with their department coordinator to determine if funding is available. When students are traveling on Georgia State funds, they must submit a Student Travel Authorization Form before travel. This form encumbers the travel funds and should be forwarded to the appropriate departmental staff member who processes travel.
Students must submit a Travel Expense Statement with original receipts to receive reimbursement upon return from authorized funded travel. Even if the student gets partial funding, all expenses should be listed and documented.
For reimbursement of conference or registration fees, students must use the Payment Request Form.
It is never too early to begin thinking about the research process. Ideally, every Ph.D. student should begin to consider research areas and article writing while undertaking coursework. Students should start thinking about the process of research even if they have not selected a specific dissertation research topic. It is a good idea to conduct at least one small research project and article writing effort prior to completing coursework. This project does not need to be in the primary area of interest as long as it allows the student to experience the process of research. The professors of the academic unit can help students select and execute such a project. If a student is a GRA, it is possible that s/he may be able to work with the supervising professor on a research idea.
Selecting a Dissertation Chair and Topic
The first substantive step in the dissertation process is to discuss topics with prospective chairs. Determine which faculty members would be willing and able to serve as chair. The student should consult with the Ph.D. coordinator to determine who would be the most appropriate person to serve as chair among the faculty. Only upon agreement with the Ph.D. coordinator should the student invite a particular faculty member to chair the committee. Direct verbal commitment should be obtained.
Although it is the responsibility of the student to identify and develop a dissertation topic, faculty input is encouraged. Quite likely, the student will receive more enthusiastic support and direction if s/he is working on research that is in the realm of interest and expertise of the chair. However, it is essential that the student also be interested in the topic.
During the topic selection process, the student must consider the following:
- What is the classification of the area of research being suggested?
- What is the general objective of the research (develop and test an algorithm, exploratory fact finding, survey research, theory or model building)?
- What research techniques might be involved (computer simulation, questionnaire, structured interviews, mathematical programming, statistical analysis)?
The student must be able to identify the specific measurable objectives and scope of the research, the independent variables (or controllable variables), the dependent variables, the methods of measurement to be used in the research and the research design methodology.
Dissertation Committee Approval Process
The committee must be approved before the proposal is announced. Each committee member should sign the form to indicate they agree to serve on the committee. The completed form should be signed by the faculty coordinator and returned to the PhD Program Office for final approval.
- A minimum of four committee members are required.
- The Dissertation Committee consists of a chair plus a minimum of three members.
- At the time of formation and for a projected additional three years, the chair must be tenured, have graduate faculty status, meet Robinson’s AACSB criteria for PhD teaching, and be from the home department.
- If the chair is not tenured, the co-chair must be tenured and meet the same criteria as a chair including graduate faculty status and Robinson’s AACSB criteria for PhD teaching.
- Internal committee members must have graduate faculty status.
- Faculty from institutions other than GSU may serve as members of the committee, but at the time of the initial formation of the committee, there must be at least three GSU faculty members on the committee.
- At least three committee members must be from the home department and in good standing with respect to GSU graduate faculty status.
- One member must be from outside of the academic unit.
- The committee, and any subsequent change in its membership, is appointed by the director of the Ph.D. program upon the recommendation of the Ph.D. coordinator.
Responsible Conduct in Research
Before a student begins to collect any data, s/he must make sure that all data collection, including surveys, complies with the guidelines set out by the Institutional Review Board.
All Ph.D. students will be required to complete an online questionnaire and attend a 5-hour session of discussion-based education on the responsible conduct in research. Please contact the Ph.D. program office for information or read more on our website. No student may be engaged in research without having first completed these requirements.
The Dissertation Proposal Defense
Overview and Conduct of the Proposal Defense
The dissertation proposal defense is held to determine the proposal's suitability and provide constructive criticism of the research effort. Some chairs prefer a rather formal setting, while others prefer an informal setting for the meeting. The committee often wants to meet for five minutes or so before the defense to discuss the exam protocol. During this time, the student might be asked to leave the room.
If the student has been diligent in coordinating with the committee, the proposal defense should be uneventful and a rewarding experience. The student should have spoken with every committee member at least once regarding the research and thus should know their position regarding the proposal. Regular contact with the members and conscientious preparation should help the student avoid any surprises on the day of the proposal.
The Proposal Presentation
The student should have previously rehearsed the presentation. The presentation should be clear and concise. The student should convey his/her interest in the subject matter and be able to satisfy any questions about the feasibility of the research and the ability to develop it into a successful dissertation. The student must not view this meeting as an adversarial process. Likewise, the student should avoid the temptation to automatically agree to change his/her approach or methodology based on impromptu questions from the committee. Any possible changes should be discussed with the chair. The chair's responsibility is to moderate the meeting and keep the discussion focused.
Assuming that all goes well and the proposal is approved, the chair will ask the committee members to sign the Record of Dissertation Proposal Defense to acknowledge that the examination has been completed. It is the responsibility of the chair to secure committee signatures and transmit the forms to the Ph.D. program office. If the committee has serious reservations about the proposal's validity, the student may be asked to restructure the proposal and sit for another examination. A unanimous decision is required to pass the proposal.
It is essential that a student file an official application for graduation at least two semesters before the expected completion of the dissertation. It is relatively simple to postpone a graduation date, but it may prove impossible to apply late.
Writing the Dissertation
Following the Plan
Whereas the research plan is structured in the proposal stage, the subsequent stage requires its implementation. Although the student will be following an approved proposal, s/he should anticipate recommendations for changes from the committee based upon findings from the research. The student should regularly meet with the chair to discuss the progress of the research and writing of the dissertation. With proper planning and coordination with the committee, the student should have minimal difficulty meeting dissertation objectives. However, unforeseen circumstances can arise (e.g., the inability to secure the necessary data) that prove fatal to the research. The student must be prepared to restructure the proposal. It is a good idea to have discussed any contingency plans with the chair before starting the analysis.
Committee members may or may not wish to see each chapter of the dissertation as it is completed. The student should assume nothing and speak to each member regarding this matter. Meeting weekly with one member to discuss design or statistical testing may be necessary, while other members will require far less interaction.
It is the student's responsibility to be familiar with and follow the college’s guidelines on the procedural aspects of the dissertation. One of the two following guides should be used in writing a Ph.D. dissertation at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business:
- A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Kate L. Turabian, University of Chicago Press, (most recent edition).
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C. (most recent edition).
Students should select a suitable style early in the dissertation process and follow it exclusively. It is good to ask if the chair prefers a specific style.
Basic Formatting Guidelines
- Page size: 8.5 x 11 inches
- Margins: One inch on each side
- Justification: Text should be left-aligned only.
- Font: Use 11 or 12 font size. Use true type fonts (Times, Arial, etc.).
- Tables/figures: Embed in the dissertation as close to the related text as possible. When this is not possible, refer to your style guide for alternatives.
Defending the Dissertation, the Final Oral Exam
Once the chair believes the dissertation is in final form, it should be circulated for approval to the committee. The committee members will then provide the student with oral and written comments. Once all comments have been addressed to the committee's satisfaction, the final oral exam should be scheduled through the Ph.D. program office. The committee members should be given two weeks to review the final draft of the dissertation, and the student should discuss any problems and secure verbal approval of the dissertation draft from each member. This exam should be held no later than four weeks before the commencement date of the semester the student expects to graduate. The dissertation chair or the departmental Ph.D. coordinator will email the Final Oral Information form to the Ph.D. program office two weeks before the scheduled date to make the necessary arrangements. The associate director will be able to help make any special arrangements regarding the room and any essential equipment. It is the student’s responsibility to check for chalk or a whiteboard marker and bring extra blank transparencies and a pen. The Ph.D. program office will send an email announcement to all Ph.D. students and college faculty.
Style of the Examination
The student and the chair will decide how the examination is conducted. Typically, a 20- to 30-minute presentation is made. Instead of explaining all details, a student should concentrate on the following points:
- What was the objective of the research?
- What research methods were used?
- What were the significant findings, and were the goals realized?
- What conclusions were reached?
- How does this study expand or differ from earlier research?
- What are the implications for further research?
The student should start with a simple outline of the general relationship of this research to other similar research, or a diagram depicting the relationship of the major variables in the research. The student should be prepared to define the boundaries or limitations of the research.
Typically, the candidate and audience will be asked to leave the room so that the committee may deliberate at the conclusion of the presentation and questions session. Assuming that everything goes well, the committee will give their collective vote of approval to the dissertation and will sign the Final Oral Pass Sheet that has been provided to the chair by the Ph.D. program office. This sheet, along with the Acceptance Sheet, must be submitted to the associate director. A unanimous decision is required to pass the final oral examination.
The preceding description is general and each program within RCB has its own requirements. It is essential that the student follow the guidelines as communicated by his or her dissertation chair and by the Doctoral Coordinator for the program.
The Dissertation's Final Form
The final copy of the dissertation will be submitted electronically to the university library and to UMI-Proquest following the directions provided by the Ph.D. program office. Students also should pay close attention to pagination of their dissertation. All dissertations must be in the correct PDF format. Students must embed fonts in order to have the dissertation display correctly. Information concerning this and other formatting topics can be found at the UMI-Proquest site or through the Adobe Acrobat support site. UMI-Proquest allows students to convert their Word document dissertation to PDF at the time of transmission. Graduating students will receive access to the Proquest site through the Ph.D. program office.
The dissertation will comprise preliminaries, main body and reference materials. The page order should be followed exactly as it appears below.
Permission to Borrow
As is our policy on all electronic documents, no signature will be displayed.
The title page must include the full title of the dissertation and the candidate’s full legal name.
Copyright protection is not required, although it is recommended. The copyright notice is placed in the center of a blank page. If the dissertation is not to be copyrighted, a blank page is inserted immediately following the title page.
This sheet will not contain signatures, only the names of the dean and the members of the committee.
The candidate is requested not to include dedications in the dissertation.
Preface or Acknowledgments
Neither is required. They may be combined as a single composition of not more than two pages or be written as two separate compositions. The preface should include brief comments concerning the general nature, problems, scope and objectives of the research. The acknowledgments single out help rendered by members of the dissertation committee, and acknowledge others who have assisted the candidate. The date and the author’s signature should appear at the conclusion of the preface, if included. The Preface or Acknowledgments is the first page to be numbered (page iv). Beginning with the title page, the pages are paginated in the process, although they are not numbered on the page.
Table of Contents
The format of this table must conform with the requirements of the style manual selected.
List of Tables, Figures, Illustrations, Maps, Drawings
Separate pages are used for each type of list. The list of tables is presented first, followed by the other lists, if they apply.
The abstract will be published in Dissertation Abstracts and cannot exceed 350 words. It should include a statement of the problem, procedure or methods, results and conclusions. Most current word processing programs automatically will count words. Alternately, to check the 350-word limit, use the following methods:
- Maximum 2450 typewritten characters per abstract. Count number of characters (including spaces and punctuation) in a line of average length and multiply by the number of lines.
- In an average abstract, there will be about 70 characters per line with a maximum of 35 lines.
Main Body of the Dissertation
Usually the first section of the text is an introductory chapter or chapters; it may be entitled “Introduction,” and subsequent chapter designations will be introduced at the beginning of the major report. Pages of the main body should be numbered using arabic numbers in the upper right-hand corner, except on the first page of each chapter where the number is centered at the bottom of the page. The following information should be presented in the introduction:
- The purpose of the study, including a concise statement of the problem(s).
- The importance or significance of the project and perhaps the candidate’s reasons for interest in it.
- The scope and limitations of the study.
- References to the most important previous studies and contributions concerning the subject. The student may wish to contrast his/her research with that already accomplished by others.
- A general plan of presentation for the rest of the dissertation.
- General information, including the main data sources used, the procedures and techniques involved, and other technical aspects of handling the material.
Main Body of Text
This main body is divided by chapters; each chapter begins a new page. Chapters are numbered with Roman numerals and are given distinct titles. Subtitles are acceptable and recommended.
The conclusion gives a clear and comprehensive summary of the previous chapters. The significant findings and the author’s conclusions based on those findings are presented. Suggestions and recommendations for additional research should be made.
The references are the last section of the dissertation’s general format and consist of the appendices, the bibliography and the vita.
Each appendix is identified with a capital letter, and must bear a title. Reference to the appendices is indicated by the letter rather than the page of the dissertation on which the appendix is located.
Following the appendices is the list of references.
The last page(s) of the dissertation is a biographical sketch of the author of two pages or less. Written in the third person in prose, the vita includes the writer’s full name, date and place of birth, schools and colleges attended, degrees held, major research and publications, various types of work and military experience, and a permanent address.
This is the examination taken by a Ph.D. student when he/she has completed all courses on the program of study in the major field and the quantitative and research methods courses specified on the program of study.
Preparation for the Preliminary or Field Exam
Diligent study while taking each of the major field courses and research methods courses on the program of study should prove to be the most valuable preparation for the field exams. Each student should have a well-organized set of notes from the courses taken. These should be reviewed prior to taking the exams.
The formation of study groups among students is encouraged and should prove helpful in preparing for the exams. The materials or concepts that might be missing from one student’s notes might be covered by another’s. As a study guide, it may be helpful to develop a list of potential exam questions. The office manager in the academic unit has copies of past exams available for review. These will prove helpful in determining the types of questions that have been covered in the past. The exams cover broad, important topics in the chosen discipline. Students who have achieved a mastery of the knowledge of the discipline should pass without a great deal of difficulty.
Additional Requirements for the Academic Unit
Students may request a copy of the written standards that supplement and/or exceed the minimum academic regulations published in the Graduate Bulletin from their academic unit’s Ph.D. coordinator. Examples of such standards could include the following: a specific GPA requirement, an oral or written presentation, a first-year paper, or a reading list from which the student will be tested.
It is not uncommon for an academic unit to have requirements for the degree specific to the major. It is the student’s responsibility to secure a copy of these written guidelines. To be successful in the program, a student must understand the expectations of the faculty.
With the change to electronic dissertation storage, students will not need to submit hard copies of the dissertation to the Ph.D. Program Office. Students can request binding from an external vendor.
Students must apply for graduation through the Office of Graduation. The deadline for applying for graduation is usually several months before the anticipated graduation date, so students need to use it promptly. The associate director of the Ph.D. program will provide the candidate with information regarding clearance for graduation at the beginning of the term the candidate is scheduled to graduate.
If you plan to attend the ceremony, contact the Commencement Office for details about the hooding ceremony. There is no summer commencement.
- Students must be registered for at least six hours of research/dissertation hours (BA 9000 or BA 9500) within three semesters of graduation, a mandatory university requirement. Students also need to be registered for at least one hour of BA 9500 during the defense semester. Students also must be registered for the appropriate hours if receiving an assistantship during the last term of enrollment.
- Completion of Responsible Conduct in Research and CITI training.
- Provide the following information for the graduation program by the semester's midpoint. Use the example below.
- Your First Name, Last Name
- B.S., 1998 Name of Institution
- M.S., 2003 Name of Institution
- Dissertation: Complete Title
- Chair: Dr. First and Last Name
- Removal of all NR, I and IP grades three weeks prior to the end of the semester.
- Once the final oral examination is scheduled, send the Ph.D. program office the final template. The Ph.D. program office will confirm the final oral examination information with the dissertation chair and then announce it to Robinson faculty and doctoral students. Final oral exams should be announced two weeks before the defense date.
- Students should defend, complete revisions, obtain final revision approval and upload the dissertation three weeks before the end of the semester. Students should speak with the dissertation committee to be sure enough time is allowed for the committee to review and approve dissertation revisions.
- The student or committee chair should bring the original Acceptance and Final Oral forms to the Ph.D. program office, or these final approvals from the chair can be emailed to the Ph.D. program office. The acceptance form should include a statement that all required revisions are complete and approved. Forms must be received three weeks before the end of the semester.
- Upload the dissertation to Georgia State’s ScholarWorks repository using these Georgia State upload instructions.
- Remember to add the required insert pages, embed your fonts (ex., Times, Arial) and convert your document to a PDF three weeks before the end of the semester. Upload the final version of your dissertation after your committee has approved revisions.
- The UMI upload is optional.
- View the UMI upload instructions »
- Students who want to request an embargo (3-, 6-, 9- or 12-month period the public cannot review the dissertation) must receive approval from the dissertation chair. Before the student uploads the dissertation, the student should send an embargo approval email to the Ph.D. program office.
- Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates three weeks before the end of the semester. Provide the Ph.D. program office email address, [email protected], on the notification screen or email the certificate of completion to [email protected].
- Submit your most recent CV to [email protected]
- If you already have accepted employment, please provide your place of work, title and email/mailing address to the Ph.D. program office at [email protected].
If you already have submitted an application and are looking for a status update or are following up with supplemental documents, please contact the Georgia State University Office of Admissions – Graduate Programs:
Robinson College of Business
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 3989
Atlanta, GA 30302-3989
J. Mack Robinson College of Business
35 Broad St., Ste. 802
Atlanta, GA 30303