PhD in Business Administration

Management science specialization


The complexity of modern organizations necessitates the use of mathematical modeling techniques. Management Science and Operations Research are concerned with the application of mathematical models to decision problems in business, industry, government and other organizations.

Our PhD program offers a wide variety of courses in Management Science, Operations Research and Operations Management, exposing students to the latest methods, recent modeling approaches and current issues in the general areas of operations and logistics.

Sauder's Centre for Operations Excellence (COE) provides a focus for applied management science and business statistics activities at UBC. This centre offers PhD students the opportunity to work on significant applied projects.

The Management Science PhD program is intended for students with strong technical background who aspire to a career either in academia, industrial research, or as a high level staff member in government or industry. The Operations and Logistics Division, which offers the Management Science PhD program, has earned a justifiably high reputation as one of the best research departments in North America.

Its current research focus emphasizes Supply Chain Management and Health Care Management. Graduates from the Management Science PhD program are respected for both the quality and creativity of their research. Many of them hold positions at leading schools in Canada, the USA and worldwide. Others have taken up careers in a wide variety of organizations.

Program of study

The following three courses (or equivalent ones) are prerequisites for the program. If a student has not taken one of these classes prior to entering the program, then they must take the class in the first year of the program:

  • MATH 221: Linear algebra
  • MATH 320: Real analysis
  • STAT 305: Statistical Inference

Students are required to take the following courses:

  • COMM 581: Statistical Methods
  • COMM 616: Optimization Theory and Applications
  • COMM 693: Research Methods
  • COMM 590B or its equivalent: University & College Teaching
  • Topic course(s) in Optimization, Stochastics, or Production and Operations Management
    • COMM 612, COMM 618, COMM 682

Students must take at least 3 credits of graduate-level course(s) offered by other Sauder divisions, e.g., Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behavior and Human Resources, and Strategy & Business Economics. These (at least) 3 credits cannot cover topics similar to the other required courses in the program of study.

The following classes are recommended as electives:

  • Probability and stochastic processes: STAT 547C, MATH 544 & 545
  • Micro economics and game theory: ECON 500, ECON514
  • Statistics and econometrics: ECON 527, ECON 562, ECON 626 & 627, COMM 581
  • Machine learning: CPSC 340, CPSC 540
  • Algorithm design and analysis: CPSC 500

Students write a Preliminary Examination in the beginning of their first summer. In the first two summers, a student begins active research (Summer Research Internship) as a Research Assistant with a faculty member. Most students write their Comprehensive Examination after their second year of course-work and spend the remainder of the program working on their dissertation research.

Sample program sequence

A typical schedule for a Management Science PhD student may look as follows. Selection of elective and minor courses will depend on the interests and background of the student.

Year 1 Fall: COMM 581, COMM 693, COMM 612 or 618 or 682
Year 1 Spring: COMM 616; COMM 612 or 618 or 682, COMM 693, or one elective
Year 1 Early Summer: Preliminary Examination
Year 1 Summer: Summer Research Internship

Year 2 COMM 590B; second COMM 612 or 682 course; elective courses; research and preparation for the Comprehensive Exam
Year 2 Summer: Comprehensive Exam;  Summer Research Internship

Year 3 Preparation and presentation of Thesis Proposal

Year 4 Preparation and defense of thesis

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