PhD in Business Administration

Letter to applicants

Thank you for your interest in our PhD program!   Let me start by saying that you've made a great choice to consider our doctoral program.  We offer a suite of challenging PhD specializations that will prepare you for a successful career as a university research and educator.  We provide competitive funding and support to our admitted students, our faculty are high caliber recognized researchers in their fields, and our students place well in academic or high-level government positions throughout the world.  In addition, our students get to enjoy living and working in beautiful and diverse Vancouver, Canada. 

Let me now tell you a bit more about our PhD program to see it it is right for you.

What do you do with a PhD from the Sauder School of Business?  Our PhD program is fundamentally focused on research.  Unlike an MBA, which prepares you for a managerial career in industry, a PhD is designed to prepare you for a career doing research at the university level or as a high-level research specialist in government or industry.  So if your objective is to obtain a higher qualification for a managerial career, then our PhD degree is not appropriate. 

What kind of PhD specializations do you offer?  Rigorous research in management is built upon intensive study of the economic, quantitative and behavioural disciplines that provide the foundation for research in the area of interest.

Our school presently offers eight programs, as well as a more flexible program for those whose objectives do not readily fit one of these eight: 


For those wishing to combine study in one of the above areas with significant research emphasis in other business fields, such as International Business or Transportation and Logistics, we also offer a cross-field program.

How long is the program?  It typically takes 5 years of full-time work, with the first two years focused on coursework and the remainder focused on your dissertation and other research projects.  And as PhD students at top schools will tell you, full-time is usually far more than 40 hours a week.

How do you pay for a PhD degree?  We provide guaranteed financial support for 5 years to all students who are admitted, unless they already have a fellowship or other sources of support.  Currently, we provide C$30,000 to live on, and we also cover the costs of your tuition fees. 

Additional external funding is available to doctoral students but note that the application deadlines are very early.  Canadian citizens and permanent residents can consider the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council at or the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council at  International students should contact their home university awards office for information on fellowships and scholarships.

Who do we select?  Our PhD program is highly competitive and we seek to admit those with a strong academic aptitude along with the passion for, and abilities to do, high quality research.  Most admitted students have degrees in other areas other than business.  Common majors include, but are not limited to:  economics, operations research, mathematics, computer science, psychology, sociology, physics, and various branches of engineering.  Most of our successful applicants have a Master's degree but we will consider outstanding applicants with only a Bachelor's degree.

We look for strong academic records, high GMAT or GRE test scores (typically in the top decile), reference letters from those that can comment on your potential research abilities, and for those from non-English speaking countries, a TOEFL score from the prior two years (100+ on the internet based exam or 250+ on the computer based exam or 600+ on the paper based exam).   We also closely examine your reference letters and statement of purpose/research statement to select those whose interests align well with our faculty members.

How and when do I apply?  We open the application process on September 1st and the deadline for fully completed applications is December 31st.  We encourage you to apply early and be sure to have your tests taken so they arrive to us by this deadline.  We typically make our decisions in the early spring of the following year and admitted students will join us in September.  Please apply on-line via the PhD program website:

We would be glad to provide additional information should you need it.


Sandra L. Robinson
Director, PhD and MSc Programs

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