Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Deadline: Dec 15, 2024
25 place StudyQA ranking:5237 Duration:4 years

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Business schools prepare future captains of the industry on the one hand, and knowledge creators and teachers, on the other. Research-based programmes such as the PhD aim at preparing the students to understand the world of business and organisations at a more fundamental level; and to generate ideas for the future and impart this body of knowledge. Doctoral students need to reflect on the principles and tools that they were taught, and ask why something works the way it does. Investigating this question methodically and reaching a tentative conclusion constitutes research. In answering these questions, researchers generate new knowledge that ultimately benefits practicing managers in one form or the other. A well-trained PhD not only generates new knowledge but also effectively communicates this knowledge to the students. 

Research in a business school is not very different from research carried out in social and physical sciences. The same philosophy of science guides the research enterprise in the business school. Business research is eclectic and draws on a number of disciplines such as psychology, sociology, economics, political science, statistics, mathematics, and computer science. The purpose is to understand the world of business in a holistic fashion and answer the interesting questions without being hemmed in by disciplinary boundaries. 

Ideas are tested and validated in small parcels by numerous researchers over the years. This knowledge is eventually integrated and presented in an accessible fashion to the practitioner. Doctoral studies prepare the student to do rigorous research and eventually communicate the results. An aspiring doctoral student must first appreciate this fact and the attendant rigor. 

We strongly urge aspiring students to read the faculty working papers on this website. The papers will give you an idea of the research done for doctoral degrees. We also suggest that you refer to some of the research journals listed below. For contrast, a list of the more popular practitioner-oriented journals is given. We want you to have the right expectations. We also encourage you to correspond with our faculty members and discuss research interests.

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, Decision Sciences, 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.

Requirement To Meet the Requirement Remarks
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.
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]
  • An outstanding bachelors degree (in relevant discipline).
  • Ability to pursue research in the candidate's proposed field of advanced study.
  • Applicants who obtained their degrees from this University can submit certified copies of the official transcripts of academic records. Applicants who obtained their degrees from universities other than NUS should submit original official transcripts after they are offered a place in the NUS PhD programme. Please use the attached transcript request form for this purpose. All documents must be in English or accompanied by certified copies of the English translated version.
  • All applicants should submit either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) OR Graduate Records Examination (GRE) scores. The tests must have been taken within 5 years before the proposed date of admission. GATE results from India and similar tests are generally NOT accepted for admission to the school of business.
  • Applicants who obtained their degrees from universities where English was not the main medium of communication MUST submit certified Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score sheets. TSE and TWE scores are required as part of TOEFL. Applicants who do not have TSE and TWE scores will be assessed on spoken and written English by a faculty member, and this may delay processing of their applications. IELTS is also acceptable. Applicants either submit TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Recommendations from 2 academic referees should be submitted by using the referees report forms.
  • Applicants will typically be interviewed either in Singapore or overseas by our faculty arranged through the PhD Office. The interviewers will assess the conceptual and analytical abilities, and English language proficiency through written essays and conversation.


  • NUS Research Scholarships
  • President Graduate Fellowships
  • Lee Kong Chian Graduate Scholarships
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