PhD in Business Administration

Strategy & business economics specialization


This PhD specialization covers applications of the disciplines of economics and statistics to topics of relevance for business or business related government policy. Applications include business strategy and international business drawing on insights from industrial organization and international economics. Topics in which faculty members have expertise include entrepreneurship and venture capital finance, international trade and investment; international trade policy, environmental management and policy, industrial organization, competition policy and public enterprise and regulation. 

The program is of modest size, as approximately two students enroll per year. Our graduates have been placed very well and have obtained positions at institutions such as Queen's University, York University (Schulich School of Business), Concordia University, Tsinghua University, and the City University of Hong Kong.

Masters - level training in economics and/or quantitative disciplines such as mathematics or statistics would be a typical background for qualified students. Entrance directly from an honours Bachelor’s program in Canada or from a first class Bachelor’s degree in the US is a possibility for outstanding students. 

Once students are admitted, they have extensive interaction with faculty members and attend a regular workshop run by the Strategy and Business Economics Division, in addition to normal course work. In the first summer after completing year 1 courses, each student is supervised by a faculty member to write a “summer research paper”, which is often later developed as part of the PhD thesis. Except for those funded from outside sources, all students making satisfactory progress receive four years of funding (direct grants, research and teaching assistantships). 

Program of study

There is considerable flexibility in the programs of individual students. All students are required to take a course in research methodology (COMM 693) and a course in teaching methods (EPSE 506). Students also take an advanced topics course (COMM 691) given by the Strategy and Business Economics Division. Students are also required to take courses from the UBC Department of Economics. The courses would include the PhD sequence of microeconomics (ECON 600 and 601) and a Master’s level course in econometrics (ECON 527) or equivalent. Students would also be expected to take at least one course in industrial organization, such as “Market Structure and Business Performance” (ECON 565) or “Business Performance and Public Policy” (ECON 566). Students are encouraged to take the PhD sequence of econometrics courses (ECON 626, 627 and 628). Students without the appropriate background in microeconomics would first take the Master’s level microeconomic theory course (ECON 500).

Students will take at least four courses to form two "fields" (two courses per field) and will normally take one or more other courses. These courses will be chosen in consultation with the PhD Advisor.

Students are expected to complete their course work in two years and write comprehensive exams at the end of the second year. Students who have not had previous experience with graduate level work may take a little longer.

Sample Program Sequence

Year 1 Fall term: COMM 693 (research methodology), ECON 600 (micro theory), ECON 527 (econometrics), field or other course
Year 1 Winter term: ECON 601(micro theory), industrial organization course, statistics course, field or other course
Year 1 Summer research paper 

Year 2 Fall term: COMM 691 (Advanced Topics in Policy Analysis), statistics course, field or other courses
Year 2 Winter EPSE 506 (Teaching), statistics course, field or other courses
Year 2 Summer comprehensive exams 

Year 3 Preparation and presentation of thesis proposal 

Year 4 Preparation and defense of thesis 

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