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Curriculum Summary

The Virginia Tech Ph.D. in Business requires a minimum of 90 credit hours. The pro­gram for the Executive Business Research concentration assumes prior graduate study in business or a related field from which a maximum of 30 relevant credits can be transferred to meet core credit require­ments. Candidates without this preparation must complete an additional 30 credits of prepara­tory work.

The remainer (a minimum of 60 credits) will include at least 30 credits of graded coursework (disciplinary/interdisciplinary and methodology seminars) and a minimum of thirty research/dissertation 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 those taken by traditional full-time Ph.D. students. The remaining (two or more) content seminars provide additional disciplinary depth or interdisciplinary content tuned to the student’s research interests.

These disciplinary seminars meet on weekday evenings or Friday afternoons. The meth­odology seminars meet on weekday evenings or Saturday morn­ings or afternoons. These meeting times (outside of normal work hours) allow executive Ph.D. students to participate synchronously with traditional doctoral students in live discussion (either face-to-face or via Zoom technology). Students will have access to faculty/tutors in all methodology courses to support their academic work.

The microeconomics review and the business pedagogy course meet during the winter terms of the first and second year, respectively. The module on scholarly ethics, diversity and inclusion is completed during the Spring term of the first year. 

The fall and spring terms during years 1 and 2 use 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. Typically, three of these residential sessions meet in Blacksburg.  These mandatory res­idential sessions help the Executive Ph.D. student assimilate into the Pamplin community and facilitate face-to-face interactions with fac­ulty, potential research mentors, peer doctoral students, and academic tutors who support coursework.

During Year 1, students should plan on attending approximately 23 residential sessions (Fall: 8; Winter: 2, Spring: 8, Summer: 5). In Year 2, there are 18 residencies (no summer residencies). In Year 3, when students are working on their dissertation proposals there are only four residencies (Fall: 2 and Spring: 2).  No formal residencies are planned thereafter. During this period, students are strongly encouraged to communicate regularly and substantively with their Ph.D. Dissertation Committees.

The Study Plan for the program lays out the registration schedule for the research and dissertation (R&D) credits. In Year 1, students register for 3 R&D credits (the summer proposal).  In Year 2, students register for 7 R&D credits to initiate work on research papers as well as their dissertation proposal.  Students in Year 3 register for 20 R&D credits during which they work on their dissertation proposal (and defense).  Thereafter, as they work on their dissertations, students register for only 3 R&D credits in each of the Fall and Spring semesters. A minimum of 30 R&D credits must be accumulated during the program.        

Note that in Year 3, each student has an opportunity to obtain teaching experience.  This may involve teaching an online or face-to-face graduate or undergraduate class in Pamplin. This experience is essential for gaining the pedagogical skills integral to a Ph.D. degree.