What is required for a Doctoral Degree?

A doctorate is awarded for original contribution to the field of study. The contribution can be in the theoretical or methodological domain but should significantly add to the existing body of knowledge. A doctorate implies that you are an expert in the field of specialization.

Successful pursuit of a PhD degree requires complete commitment for the period of study. Doctoral students are expected to be independent thinkers and careful researchers who learn and sharpen their skills as they progress through the programme. The student also needs a structure to the study in order to cope with the knowledge explosion that has taken place over the decades. For these reasons, the PhD programme at the NUS Business School is designed with an extensive coursework component followed by a preliminary examination, proposal defense and dissertation.

The courses and seminars are intended to help the students with acquiring the requisite skills and fundamental knowledge. At the same, students are expected to develop the intellectual independence necessary to be an effective scholar. The seminars and courses are conducted at a higher conceptual level and require active participation by the students as aspiring scholars. Good language skills and strong analytical skills are essential in the research-based professions. Students are expected to develop and sharpen these attributes by the time they successfully finish the programme.

The time taken for completing doctoral studies varies from student to student. On the average, it can take up to four (4) to five (5) years. Students with a strong academic background, research capabilities and a clear focus can finish the degree sooner than this.

Programme Structure and Curriculum

PhD Programme Structure
A doctorate is awarded for original contribution to a particular field of study. The contribution can be in the theoretical or methodological domain but should significantly add to an existing body of knowledge. The student needs a structure to the study in order to cope with the knowledge explosion that has taken place over the decades. The PhD programme at the NUS Business School is designed to meet these demands and prepare the students for a successful career. The programme consists of a summer paper, an extensive coursework component followed by a qualifying examination, proposal defense and dissertation. The courses and seminars help the students acquire the requisite skills and fundamental knowledge, and develop the intellectual independence necessary to be an effective researcher. Good language skills and strong analytical skills are essential in research-based professions. Students are expected to develop and sharpen these attributes by the end of the programme. On the average, students complete the degree requirements in four (4) years.

Departmental Affiliation & Committees
The Business School has six departments: Accounting, Analytics & Operations, Finance, Management & Organisation, Marketing, and Strategy and Policy. Students take their courses and conduct their research according to their departmental requirements and research orientation. Prospective students must indicate the preferred department of affiliation at the time of entry in line with their research interests. PhD students should try to identify and attach to a thesis supervisor during the first year of the programme. Students need to constitute a PhD thesis committee of one supervisor and two committee members within two years.

Year 1 and 2: Coursework, Summer Paper and Qualifying Examination

Coursework: PhD students take a total of 10-12 doctoral level courses. Each Departmental PhD coordinator sets the number of required courses for their respective programs i.e. 10-12 approved courses with a minimum total of 40 modular credits. Some of these courses are core courses conducted by the department. The remaining courses are electives conducted in other departments or faculties. For instance, students frequently take their electives in statistics, economics, sociology, psychology, computer science, and industrial engineering.

Summer Paper: To help the PhD students kick-start their research early, a summer paper requirement will be introduced into the programme. All first year students (starting from the AY06/07 cohort) will be required to submit a summer paper at the end of their study in Year 1.

Qualifying Examination: After finishing their coursework, the students appear for a qualifying examination, usually at the end of the second year. A qualifying examination is a comprehensive test of the student's knowledge of the field and is made up of paper(s) set by the department. Passing the qualifying examination is the signal for the student to embark on the dissertation.

Year 3: Proposal Defense: After clearing the qualifying examination, the doctoral student begins to put together a proposal for the thesis. The proposal is an original idea for investigation put forth by the candidate, after an extensive study of the topic. The student is expected to detail the research question and also provide an outline of the study design. The proposal needs to be defended before the thesis committee and other examiners.

Year 4: The Dissertation: The doctoral candidate begins the final leg of the dissertation following the successful proposal defense. The dissertation is finally evaluated by internal and external examiners. Following this examination, there is an oral defense of the thesis before final submission. The PhD is awarded when the candidate meets all the requirements of the programme and the dissertation is certified for passing by the examiners.

* These requirements may change from time to time.

RequirementTo Meet the RequirementRemarks
Departmental Affiliation
& Thesis Committee

To facilitate systematic approach to research with guidance
Student attached to the Department. Advisor and two committee members needed. [Year 1] Need to constitute committee before completing coursework.
Coursework
For acquiring fundamental and essential knowledge in several domains
10-12 approved courses. (4-6) core courses and rest approved electives. Typically takes 2 years.
[Year 1 & 2]
1. Electives can be from other faculties / departments.
2. Minimum 3 and Maximum 4 courses per semester
Summer Paper To help the PhD students kick-start their research early, a summer paper requirement will be introduced into the programme. All first year students (starting from the AY06/07 cohort) will be required to submit a summer paper at the end of their study in Year 1. Student will also be required to present the summer paper to the department.
Qualifying Examination
To ensure that the student is ready to embark on independent research
Following coursework completion. Pass departmental requirements of written and/or oral examination
[Year 2]
Prerequisite to proceed to candidacy and proposal stage.
Thesis Proposal
To help the candidate refine the research ideas
Written proposal and oral examination. Typically during the 3rd year of the programme
[Year 3]
Pre-requisite for finishing dissertation

Teaching Development

Students may be required to assume teaching duties as part of their training after proposal defense.
[Year 3 to Year 4]
Departments can choose to appoint.
Doctoral Dissertation An original piece of research that makes a significant theoretical contribution to a body of knowledge. Written dissertation evaluated by internal and external examiners, followed by oral defense before the committee. The final step in obtaining the PhD degree.
[Year 4]
Time frame from proposal to dissertation defense varies between one to two years.

*Note: For information on Graduate Assistantship Programme, please refer to:
http://bschool.nus.edu/phd/financial-support/nus-research-scholarships
http://bschool.nus.edu/phd/financial-support/pgf-scholarships