The Doctoral Program at the Kellogg School of Management trains students to be innovative researchers with careers as professors. In preparation for the demands of academia, all doctoral students must meet a set of coursework requirements, pass a written qualifying examination and an oral examination (proposal), and complete a dissertation. Students must satisfy additional requirements, such as annual research presentations, teaching and research assistance, and other requirements determined by each program.
Each program administers degree requirements under the guidelines set by the Kellogg School of Management and The Graduate School at Northwestern University. Each program also determines the curriculum and monitors each student’s progress toward the degree. Specific program requirements — including coursework, examinations, research papers and professional development — are outlined under each program heading.
Kellogg doctoral students must make continuous academic progress and meet degree milestones within their PhD program each year. Academic progress is also tied to continued financial support. These degree milestones and other program requirements are outlined within each PhD Program’s Program Guidelines. Our faculty and administrators work with students as they approach a particular degree milestone, such as the qualifying exam and dissertation proposal, to ensure that they are on track. Students who do not meet predetermined deadlines and degree requirements may face academic probation and/or risk exclusion from the PhD Program. Questions about academic progress and degree requirements should be addressed to each student’s PhD coordinator and/or academic advisor.
Doctoral students at Kellogg fall under the policies and regulations set by the Graduate School of Northwestern University. The Graduate School's statement on academic integrity is available on their website. Any questions about this policy should be directed to the senior associate dean of faculty and research and director of the Kellogg Doctoral Program.
Coursework requirements include departmental PhD courses and seminars and any additional courses needed to develop competency for scholarly research. Because the type of coursework and statistical training varies among programs, students should refer to each program for details on its curriculum. Students complete their coursework in eight quarters or two years of study. Students must maintain full-time registration. Students must also maintain an overall “B” average (3.0) at a minimum; their program, however, may require a higher GPA. Students should consult with their PhD coordinator regarding expectations. Doctoral students, beginning in year three, will register for TGS 500 (Advanced Doctoral Study). Click here for a list of doctoral classes offered during the academic year.
Doctoral students are expected to be on campus full time and involved in the research and teaching activities of the department throughout the year, including summer quarter, to qualify for continued funding. Students who will be away from campus for more than three (3) weeks during an academic quarter need the approval of their PhD coordinator and dissertation advisor, if students have a dissertation advisor at this point in their studies. Unexcused absences may disqualify students from receiving financial aid from the Kellogg School of Management and/or Northwestern University.
Additionally, doctoral students who are conducting research off campus or who are hired as interns for professional development purposes are required to report these activities to the Kellogg School of Management. Before a student engages in research off campus or accepts an internship, approval must be granted by the student’s PhD coordinator and dissertation advisor. Also, a description of the research project or the terms of the internship must be provided, along with the timeframe the student will be away from campus. If an internship is paid, an adjustment to the student’s financial aid package may be made in consultation with the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research.
Students traveling internationally should refer to Northwestern University's policy on international travel and to information on international travel safety and security. International students should consult with Northwestern's International Office if they have questions about traveling outside of the United States.
Annual Student Review
At the end of each academic year, each doctoral student submits an activity report that summarizes activities for the year: coursework completed, status of research projects, teaching or research assistance provided, research presentations, professional development and any other field-specific requirements that the student has met. After reviewing the activity report and consulting with the program’s faculty, the student will receive an academic progress report from their academic adviser or PhD coordinator. The report provides feedback on the student’s progress to date as well as suggestions for meeting the next set of requirements or milestones for the coming year — advanced coursework, candidacy, dissertation research and the academic job market.
Teaching Assistance/Research Assistance
To become better integrated into the department’s intellectual life, in years two, three, and four, a portion of the student's stipend is allocated toward wages for teaching and research assistance for approximately 10 hours per week. These appointments are like apprenticeships; students receive on-the-job training under the guidance of the faculty.
Qualifying Examination and Candidacy
A written qualifying examination in the major field is required. This exam is focused on the coursework taken in the student’s major field of study and measures the student’s knowledge of the field as a whole. The structure and timing of the exam are determined by each program. Passing the qualifying exam, in addition to any other program-specific requirements (such as a research paper), will advance doctoral students into candidacy. Students who do not meet predetermined deadlines and degree requirements may face academic probation and/or risk exclusion from the PhD Program. Questions about academic progress and degree requirements should be addressed to each student’s PhD coordinator and/or academic advisor.
Dissertation committees are reviewed and approved by the senior associate dean for faculty and research at the time of the proposal and final examination (dissertation defense). The committee consists of at least four tenure-track/research faculty members, at least three of whom are on the Kellogg faculty. At least one member of the committee must be outside the student's program. The committee chair and at least one other member must be from The Graduate School faculty, and the chair and at least one other committee member are expected to hold appointments in the student's program to ensure that half of the committee members represent the student’s program. Usually one member of the committee represents the student's minor field of study.
These are the criteria for choosing a committee member from outside the student’s department/program:
1. a faculty member from outside the department/program or outside of the Kellogg School, but within Northwestern University;
2. a faculty member from outside Northwestern who has a permanent appointment (tenure-track, a research professor) at another university and who supervises doctoral students as they complete their dissertations.
Please note that a faculty member with a joint appointment spanning two Kellogg departments, one of which is within the student's own program, cannot be used as someone from outside the student's program.
After completing the coursework and the written qualifying examination, a student takes an oral examination in which he or she proposes a dissertation topic or other substantive piece of research, discusses its significance, and explains the research methods to be used and any preliminary results of the paper(s). Kellogg doctoral students must propose their dissertation by the end of the summer of their fourth year of study or by the deadline set by their program — whichever comes first.
Timelines and proposal requirements differ among Kellogg's doctoral programs. Students, therefore, should consult with their PhD coordinator and academic advisor/committee chair to determine the expectations for passing this degree milestone, such as how their program defines a successful paper/oral defense, and their program's proposal deadline. Students should also refer to the dissertation committee guidelines outlined above as they form their faculty committee.
Students who do not meet predetermined deadlines and degree requirements may face academic probation and/or risk exclusion from the PhD Program. Questions about academic progress and degree requirements should be addressed to each student’s PhD coordinator and/or academic advisor.
Dissertation and Final Examination
Each candidate must complete a dissertation demonstrating original and significant research and must pass a final oral examination on the dissertation. Students should refer to the dissertation committee guidelines outlined above as they form their faculty committee.
A student’s dissertation may include coauthored work with another student and/or a professor. This coauthored work may be found in a chapter or essay within the dissertation. While the student’s dissertation committee sets the guidelines and requirements for the student’s dissertation and provides final approval of the finished document, the Kellogg School of Management requires standardization in how students acknowledge coauthors within the dissertation. Below is the format that students should follow:
1. The coauthor(s) should be listed on the table of contents (next to the paper title).
2. The coauthor(s) should be listed next to the title on the title page of the essay/chapter.
Kellogg doctoral students are expected to complete their PhD degree requirements in a timely manner. The deadline to complete the PhD degree requirements (successfully defend and submit a dissertation that is accepted by the Graduate School) is the end of year nine (9) — the deadline determined by the Graduate School. Students must be in satisfactory academic standing up until this point. Any Kellogg doctoral student who does not complete the PhD degree requirements within nine years is subject to dismissal from the Kellogg PhD Program.
The Graduate School's academic calendar is available on their website.
Parental Accommodation Policy
The Parental Accommodation Policy, instituted by the Graduate School, applies to Kellogg doctoral students. The policy provides academic milestone extensions and, in most circumstances, continued financial support to all active graduate students who experience the birth or adoption of a child for whom they have parental responsibilities.
Eligible doctoral students are required to notify their PhD coordinator, dissertation chair (if they have a chair at that stage in their studies), the administrative director of Kellogg's PhD Program, and their student services representative at the Graduate School of the date of their intended time away at least sixty days prior to the expected date of childbirth.