The Ph.D. Experience

Explore a Research-Oriented Doctoral Program

UCLA Anderson offers doctorates in seven  areas of study. Our doctoral students come from around the globe and possess a broad range of research interests and experiences. Working closely with faculty, both in the classroom and in the development of research, students reach the highest levels of scholarly achievement. The program's primary focus is on independent inquiry, research methodology and publication of research results.

Our school continually strives to enhance its position among the most elite business school Ph.D. programs. We have been adding new faculty at an unprecedented rate, even since receiving our #1 in intellectual capital ranking from Business Week just a few years ago. The additional faculty has given us one of the best ratios of research faculty to students among major programs.

Upon graduating, UCLA Anderson students have obtained positions at most of the great educational institutions in the world including Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, M.I.T., Northwestern, New York University, Penn State, Purdue, Stanford, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas, the University of Virginia, Yale, INSEAD, Hong Kong University, London Business School, and the University of British Columbia.

Successful students are those with the discipline, innate creativity, and intellectual curiosity necessary to meet the challenges of a demanding academic program. The program is designed to be completed in four years. Students enroll full time, taking a minimum of 12 graduate units per quarter. While this can consist of independent research study, particularly for advanced students, our Ph.D.s typically enroll in 15 to 18 quarter courses that use traditional lecture and group seminar pedagogy in their first three years. The lecture and group seminar coursework must minimally satisfy requirements of the major field (which vary by area), a research requirement, and a breadth requirement. Students generally are in residence over the summer, writing a research paper in the first summer and collaborating with faculty on research projects in subsequent years, often as part of the Summer Doctoral Fellows Program, which employs students in research assistantships.

Prerequisites for Entering the Program
A bachelor's degree is the only educational prerequisite for the UCLA Anderson Doctoral Program. Admitted students generally exhibit proficiency in business administration, quantitative methods, or one of the social sciences. Approximately 5-7 percent of applicants are admitted to the program each year. Admitted students should consult with their areas on whether they need additional preparation in the summer prior to entering the program.

Course Research and Breadth Requirements
In addition to individual requirements from the areas of study, known as major field requirements, all Ph.D. students are required to take 13 quarter courses from outside the major field of study--5 research courses and 8 breadth courses. The 5 research courses may not be waived because of previous graduate studies. Depending on the area, up to 3 breadth courses may be waived because of previous graduate coursework. To meet the research coursework requirement, the student typically takes one or two courses covering traditional statistical methods and two or three courses covering more advanced topics, such as multivariate methods, econometrics and causal modeling. Many of these courses are found in other departments at UCLA, including Economics, Education, Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology, and Statistics. The breadth coursework must meet one of four criteria: (1) to gain more knowledge about non-management disciplines that support the student's main scholarly interests; (2) to become more knowledgeable about research in other management disciplines; (3) to define a minor field of study; or (4) to deepen methodological capabilities.

Maintaining Good Standing in the Program
Each year, a diagnostic review of the student is conducted by members of the academic unit in the student's major field. The review considers indicators of progress, including course grades, written and oral examinations required by the area, and research progress and promise--as demonstrated by written papers, analyses in progress, and performance in research seminars. The review includes a recommendation as to whether or not the student should continue in the program and how the student can improve his or her performance. Beyond the area review, the UCLA Graduate Division requires that students maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (B). The UCLA Anderson School Doctoral Program expects that students will maintain a grade point average of 3.5 (B+) or above.

Students admitted in 2009 or later are required to complete a research paper under the supervision of a faculty member before they enter their second year. Students also are required to write a separate paper as part of advancement to candidacy and present the latter paper and dissertation plan in a formal seminar known as the "pre-advancement to candidacy seminar."

Each academic area sets its own required and recommended courses for the major field.  The level of competence students are expected to achieve is that of professional research scholars contributing to the field's progress.  This achievement implies acquiring a broad knowledge of the field and its literature and a detailed understanding of current research in at least one subfield.  To demonstrate mastery of the major field, each student is required to pass a written examination which in some fields is supplemented by an oral examination.  The exam encompasses a broad sampling of the areas of knowledge identified with that field and, to a limited extent, the student's specialization.  The format and content are determined by each academic area.  Performance on the major field exam is an important indicator of a student's intellectual abilities and capacity for successful completion of the degree.  To maintain normal progress, the exam should be taken by the end of the second year.

Advancement to candidacy formalizes commencement of the dissertation writing process. In addition to the 2nd research paper and seminar, described above, students form a committee, approved by the Graduate Division of UCLA, to supervise the dissertation. The committee both uses the research paper and an oral qualifying examination to assess whether the student is ready to commence the dissertation. If the committee's "pass recommendation" is approved by the Graduate Division, the student advances to candidacy. Advancement to candidacy is generally completed by December 15 of the 3rd year of study. Students must complete advancement to candidacy before entering their 4th year to maintain good standing.

A student who fails to meet any one of the above requirements may be recommended for termination of graduate study.

Doctoral Dissertation
The dissertation culminates the student's academic endeavors. Of substantial magnitude, the dissertation should make a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the chosen field of study. It should be of sufficient originality and quality to merit publication, either in whole or in part, in a professional journal or as a book that other academics would want on their shelves. The dissertation serves as the primary positioning of a student in his or her chosen discipline and shows others in the field what the content and quality of an individual's research is likely to be. The dissertation is defended at a final oral examination. It must be completed and accepted within seven and one-half years from the date of entry into the program.