Ph.D. in Business: Concentration in Executive Business Research

Introducing Virginia Tech’s new Ph.D. in business with a concentration in Executive Business Research.

This concentration in Executive Business Research is designed specifically to serve experienced executives seeking the advanced knowledge and skills needed to conduct high quality research on critical issues facing the business community.

Tailored for high-ability working professionals, this three-year part-time program pushes students to dive deeply into disciplinary knowledge and research methodology in business, develop the ability to publish in leading-edge research journals, and cultivate insightful, evidence-based, and enduring explanations for their diverse business experiences.

In fall 2016, Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business launched a new concentration within its Ph.D. Program in Business. This concentration in Executive Business Research is designed specifically to serve experienced executives seeking the advanced knowledge and skills needed to conduct high quality research on emerging business issues.

Students gain in-depth understanding of the scholarly literature in their chosen business discipline, rigorous training in relevant analytical research techniques, and experience conducting high quality original research addressing a complex business problem. The program promotes interdisciplinary research, encourages collaborative research with faculty and other doctoral students, and aims to qualify graduates for careers that rely on advanced research skills — as full-time academics in university business schools, or as high level professionals in business and government.

Business professionals routinely grapple with complex organizational and marketplace issues, leveraging their expertise to identify meaningful resolutions. Although they possess an implicit understanding of how these issues arise, many seek deeper explanations that are based on knowledge of relevant disciplines and carefully honed methodological research skills.

The Virginia Tech Ph.D. concentration in Executive Business Research blends real world business experience with a critical disciplinary foundation and rigorous training in research methodology.

As high-performing, experienced business professionals, our students have the ability to navigate data archives and access relevant populations that are potentially rich settings for empirical research. Our Ph.D. program then equips them to generate original research that drives new business insights.

The curriculum fosters collaboration opportunities with experienced research faculty and other full-time and part-time doctoral research scholars.

The first-year curriculum in this three-year program includes two disciplinary content seminars (one each in the fall and spring semesters) that build in-depth knowledge of research in the student’s chosen discipline.

Two additional seminars during the second year (fall and spring) encourage students to dig deeper into the relevant disciplinary/ interdisciplinary literature.

The four semester-long seminars equip students with a core knowledge base for their dissertation research. In parallel, five methodological seminars build the student’s analytical research toolkit over these two years.

These nine seminars are identical to those taken by students in the traditional full time Ph.D. program in Business at Virginia Tech.

In addition, the first-year curriculum incorporates a winter proseminar in which business and academic thought leaders discuss cross-cutting business ethics and governance issues that pose new research challenges. In the second year, the winter proseminar presents innovations in business school pedagogy.

Virginia Tech Ph.D. concentration in Executive Business Research prepares students to conduct high quality, original research leading to scholarly publications in leading-edge journals. This mirrors the emphasis on research in traditional fulltime Ph.D. programs. The program also emphasizes participation in research conferences as part of the mentoring and career support process. Student involvement in the research process is built as follows:

Each student must write a research proposal/ paper by the end of the first summer. Along with the disciplinary content seminar assignments, this paper aims to simulate and test students’ ability to blend their formal training and business experience to develop an approach to researching an important business problem.

The student works with a faculty committee to develop this proposal (or another promising idea) into a publishable paper that may serve as a foundation for his or her dissertation research proposal. Students formally defend their dissertation proposal at the end of the summer in the second year.

The students work closely with their faculty committees to complete the project and defend the dissertation by the end of the summer (or as soon as possible thereafter).

The program’s primary focus is to produce highly skilled graduates who have an eventual interest in joining the faculty of collegiate schools of business.

There is a chronic shortage of doctoral-qualified faculty members in the business disciplines. Business schools increasingly need academics that not only have strong conceptual and analytical research skills, but can also leverage their business experience in the classroom to prepare students to meet professional challenges in the business world.

At the same time, the Virginia Tech Ph.D. concentration in Executive Business Research will create the research skills and expertise essential for high-level professionals in business and government.

The prototypical candidate for Virginia Tech’s Ph.D. concentration in Executive Business Research will be a working professional who holds a graduate degree in business or a related field. The candidate will have a minimum of seven years of experience in a position of responsibility and possess a demonstrable record of organizational accomplishments and contributions that reflect strategic vision and methodological skills.

Candidates must have the commitment needed to complete a three-year Ph.D. program that demands rigorous conceptual thinking and strong analytical skills with a premium on the applications of scholarly insights to business decision making and problem solving. The student should aspire to a career that emphasizes the creation and use of research primarily in academic settings in business school faculties, or in business and government.

The Virginia Tech Ph.D. in Business requires a minimum of 90 credit hours. The three year pro­gram for the concentration in Executive Business Research assumes prior graduate study in business or a related field from which a relevant 30 credits can be transferred to meet core credit require­ments.

Candidates without this preparation will need to complete an additional 30 credits of prepara­tory work. The remaining 60 credits will be com­pleted via 30 credits of graded coursework (four content seminars, five methodology seminars and a proseminar) plus thirty dissertation/ research credits.

The graded coursework is tailored to the stu­dent’s primary disciplinary interest (corresponding to the six traditional concentrations offered at the Pamplin School: Accounting and Information Sys­tems, Business Information Technology, Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Management and Market­ing). The first two disciplinary content seminars parallel closely to those taken by traditional full-time Ph.D. students. The two remaining content seminars will provide additional disciplinary depth or interdisciplinary content tuned to the student’s research interests.

These courses will meet on weekday evenings or Friday afternoons to allow executive Ph.D. students to participate synchronously with traditional doctoral students in live discussion. The five meth­odology seminars are scheduled for synchronous sessions on weekday evenings or Saturday morn­ings. Students will have access to faculty/tutors to support their academic work.

The proseminars are scheduled during the winter intersessions of years 1 and 2.

The fall and spring terms during years 1 and 2 employ a hybrid delivery format. Classes meet each week, with every other week being a residential session usually held at Virginia Tech’s extended campus in Northern Virginia. The res­idential sessions aim to help the Executive Ph.D. student assimilate into the Pamplin community and encourage face-to-face interactions with fac­ulty, doctoral student peers, and academic tutors who support students in coursework.

Students start registering for graded research credits during the summer of year 1. This three credit course aims to stimulate student think­ing about specific research problems and the development of an original research proposal. This research proposal also serves as the student’s qualifying examination.

During year 2, students develop this (or an alternative idea) into a formal research study. This process unfolds over the year and in a three credit summer course. Students also work on their dissertation research proposal throughout the year and in a four credit summer course. They are expected to defend this proposal formally by the end of the second year summer. These research activities and courses are guided by a faculty committee of mentors selected at the start of the second year.

During year 3, students conduct their dissertation research under the guidance of their dissertation committees. Although there is no stipulated interaction in this phase, students must stay in close touch with their committee to brief them on research progress and receive ongoing guidance. This process is expected to culminate in a successful dissertation defense by the end of the summer term of year 3, or shortly thereafter.

In year 3, each student has an opportunity to gain online or in-class teaching experience in a graduate or undergraduate class at Pamplin. This is essential for gaining the pedagogical skills integral to a Ph.D. degree.

For students starting this program in fall 2017, the yearly tuition cost for this three-year program is $40,000. This amount includes all coursework tuition, as well as local hospitality and meals during residential sessions, but does not cover costs of textbooks, lodging and travel to the residency site.

A small number of merit scholarships are available for particularly strong candidates with financial need.

Virginia Tech offers a valuable opportunity to preview the program experience. This summer intensive program provides a set of residential modules that overview the program experience for each major field of study in the Ph.D. program in business. Students may then make informed judg­ments regarding program fit, choice of major field, and interdisciplinary research interests.

The summer intensive also includes residential modules that offer “refresher” coursework in eco­nomics, statistical and mathematical methods, and analysis software. These are designed to enable stu­dents to get a running start in the Ph.D. program.

The deposit fee for these non-credit “Summer Intensive” courses is $4,000 and is non-refundable. However, this amount is applied to the first semester tuition for students who continue to the VT Ph.D. in Business with a concentration in Executive Business Research.

Interested candidates should apply online at:

Application Deadlines for Fall 2018 start:

Priority Deadline : Jan 15 2018
Final Deadline : March 15 2018


Please create an account and initiate your application.

  • Select Application Type: “First Time Graduate Study”
  • Program: “Business, Executive Business Research” (coded as BXBR)
  • Degree Type: PHD

For more information, please e-mail:
Joy Jackson, Associate Director,
Virginia Tech Ph.D. in Business, Concentration: Executive Business Research


Dr. Dipankar Chakravarti, Director
Virginia Tech. Ph.D. in Business, Concentration: Executive Business Research

Semester Topic Credit Hours
Content Methods Research TOTAL
Fall Research Methods I   3   6
  Disciplinary Content Seminar I 3    
Winter Proseminar Contemporary Issues 2     2
Spring Research Methods I   3   6
  Disciplinary Content Seminar II 3    
Summer Research Methods III   3   6
  Research Proposal/Paper     3
  TOTAL 8 9 3 20
Year 2
Fall Research Methods IV   3   6
  (Inter) Disciplinary Content
Seminar III
Winter Proseminar Business Pedagogy 1     1
Spring Research Methods V   3   6
  (Inter) Disciplinary Content
Seminar IV
Summer Research Paper Execution     3 7
  Dissertation Proposal
Year 3
Fall Dissertation Research     6 6
  (Compensated Teaching
Winter Dissertation Research     2 2
Spring Dissertation Research     6 6
  (Compensated Teaching Assignment)        
Summer Dissertation Research/Thesis
  TOTAL     20 20
  GRAND TOTAL       60
  Transfer from Prior Graduate Work 30
  Graded Coursework 30
  Research and Dissertation 30