The PhD Program in Management & Organizations trains scholars for careers as researchers and teachers at premier academic institutions throughout the world.

PhD students at Michigan have the opportunity to work closely with social scientists spanning a broad range of research areas and have access to unparalleled resources for pursuing diverse scholarly interests.


NOTE:  All questions regarding our PhD Program should be directed to our Ross PhD Office at: 


The deadline for applications is December 15, 2022.




During the first two years of coursework, students take multiple courses which serve as a foundation for research as well as appeal to individual research interests.

Foundational courses include a sequence of four departmental theory seminars on organizations. They also include statistics and research methods courses, two of which must be quantitative while others may be qualitative. Together, these courses provide students with a strong foundation in both "micro" and "macro" aspects of the field.

Students take additional graduate courses in their areas of interest including at least two in related disciplines such as Sociology or Psychology. MO students routinely take courses in strategy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, as well as political science, complex systems, education, and linguistics. For a representative list of courses taken by MO students in the past, see here.

First-year students also enroll in an independent study on professional development. Co-taught by several faculty, each session covers a different topic, including "finding your topic of passion," "developing professional relationships," and "developing strong theory."

More details on course structure can be found here.


Faculty mentoring begins in the first year, soon after students enter the program.

In their first year, students are assigned to a faculty member for a research assistantship based on their research interests. Students often work informally on other projects with faculty – either self- initiated projects or projects faculty already have underway. In their second and third years, students rotate to work with other faculty members to gain exposure to other research topics and approaches.

Students work collaboratively with faculty and each other. From developing an initial plan to working out the details of the research, the faculty and student meet systematically to discuss the research question, theoretical development and methodological approach.

Take a look at the faculty who have recently guided MO PhD students on their dissertations.


Purpose and Scope

The IERP is an empirical project designed and conducted by the student under the guidance of two MO faculty members. The project provides hands-on experience in every stage of independent research aimed at publication, including reviewing the literature, designing a study, collecting and analyzing data, and writing up the results. The result is expected to be a study suitable for submission to the Academy of Management annual meetings. The IERP may not be submitted as a deliverable for another course.


Year One

Because the scope of the project is substantial, students are encouraged to choose a topic area in the first year. Students should select an advisor during the winter semester of the first year and begin work on the design at this point.

Summer: Data collection should begin during the summer between the first and second year.

Year Two

January 15: A draft of the sections up to and including the methods section is due.

February 15: Based on feedback from the advisor, a revised draft of the prior sections and a draft of the results section is due.

March 15: Final completed paper is due.


The study is to be evaluated by a committee comprised of the advisor and a second reader chosen from among the MO faculty by the student. The paper is acceptable if the faculty committee judges it to be highly likely to be accepted for presentation at the Academy of Management annual meetings. Students are given one opportunity to revise the paper to meet the standards of the committee.


Students are expected to present their study to the MO department students and faculty in the brown bag in April of their second year.


The preliminary exam, covering organizational behavior, organizational theory and research methods, takes place in the summer of the second year.

The exam tests a student’s synthesis of course material and assesses readiness to undertake independent research. Students work closely with others in their cohort to prepare for their prelims. In the remainder of the program, students enter a period of independent dissertation research with an advisor and dissertation committee.


Ross places a unique emphasis on developing students' teaching and classroom skills during their time in the program.

As opposed to the typical practice of TA-ing for a smattering of discussion sections throughout their time in the program, Ross students teach a full course as sole instructors for one semester.  This has the advantage of concentrating teaching effort to one semester, and more importantly gives students the critical experience and skills needed to differentiate themselves on the job market and succeed in the classroom as assistant professors.

In the fall of their third year, MO students teach one section of MO 300, the required Organization Behavior Course for undergraduate business students. Typically, students teach and are totally responsible (including grading) for one section (70-80 BBA juniors) of the multi-section class; other sections are taught by full-time faculty members. Students learn to teach in a supportive environment with weekly mentorship and guidance from the teaching team while also experiencing the autonomy and responsibility that comes with being the sole instructor for their section.

Leading up to the teaching semester, students take part in the Ross Faculty in Training program. These hands-on seminars cover lesson planning, classroom management, and instructional methods, and they include practice teaching sessions with live feedback.

Students typically find their teaching experience to be enriching and positive, and by the end of their teaching semester feel well-prepared to teach successfully as an assistant professor.


The Ross MO PhD is truly interdisciplinary.

MO students can take classes from a range of departments across campus. They routinely take courses in strategy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, as well as political science, complex systems, education, and linguistics. Likewise, students from strategy, sociology, public health, nursing, education, and information sciences are a familiar sight in MO classes. Friendships and learning partnerships flourish across departmental boundaries. For a representative list of courses taken by MO students in the past, see here.

True to the spirit of interdisciplinary scholarship, students enjoy the benefit of getting advice on their research from faculty in a variety of departments. In addition to MO faculty, graduating students in the last ten years have had faculty from strategy, operations, sociology, organizational studies, marketing, psychology, and even anthropology and medicine on their dissertation committees.

ICOS, or the Interdisciplinary Committee on Organizational Studies, is a Michigan institution going back over two decades with the single goal of enhancing the University of Michigan's strength as a world center for interdisciplinary research and scholarship on organizations. During the school year, weekly ICOS seminars at Ross feature organizational scholars from various disciplines such as business, psychology, sociology, public health, history, and information.

Ross is also home to the Center for Positive Organizations, a research community dedicated to inspiring and enabling leaders to build high-performing organizations that bring out the best in people.


MO PhD students have access to numerous best-in-class research and methods support resources on the University of Michigan campus.

A few of the campus resources available to our students include the following:

  • CSCAR - Consulting for Statistics, Computing and Analytics Research (CSCAR) provides consulting services and training opportunities in statistics, data science, and advanced research computation to researchers across campus, regardless of skill level or academic background. Many MO PhD students have taken advantage of free CSCAR consultations for advice on research design and analytic strategies for both survey and experimental data (e.g., R and Stata) as well as computational and big data (using Python/Numpy).

The consulting that CSCAR provides was critical for the completion of my IERP. I learned several new methodologies (e.g., survival analysis, logit models, sentiment analysis). In the first 6 months of the project, I spend a total of 18 hours with their statistics consultants. I came in with both conceptual questions (e.g., How can I figure out if I am meeting the non-informative censoring assumption of my model?) as well as more tactical issues (coding errors), and in each case, CSCAR was always able to assist me. They offer scheduled appointments if you want to meet with someone who specializes in the software or model you have a question about, as well as walk-in consulting for in-the-moment statistics crises. They are great!

- Laura Sonday, Doctoral Candidate, MO

  • ICPSR - The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), headquartered in the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, is a powerhouse of data and methods support for social and behavioral sciences. ICPSR's data archive provides students with access to over 250,000 files. MO students particularly enjoy ICPSR's Summer Institute, which holds 4-week intensive workshops on research design, statistics, and data analysis. 
  • Big Data Camp - The ICOS Big Data Camp is the latest in the series of cutting-edge methods training available to MO PhD students. Hosted by the Ross School of Business, the week-long camp teaches researchers how to tap into the Web-mediated social world to access massive data sets. Almost all current MO students have taken the camp at some point during their time in the program; many have gone from not knowing Python or SQL to using APIs and NLTK in their research.
  • UROP - The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) affords PhD students access to additional research assistance.  UROP matches undergraduate students interested in gaining research experience to faculty and doctoral students who are looking for research assistance and willing to mentor students. Occasionally, MO students take part in UROP, gaining competent research help while learning to mentor students.


The MO department is a tight-knit community with a supportive culture.

Students and faculty in the MO department meet weekly for a brown bag seminar. We use this meeting time to build community, share good news, and learn from each other. Sessions include faculty research presentations, student research presentations (including IERPs and practice job talks), departmental job talks and presentations from invited guests. The full department also gathers for parties and cultural outings. 

In addition, students in the department meet for weekly lunches to polish each other's evolving ideas and to learn from each other's areas of expertise. Students get together a few times a year outside of school for social events like potlucks, picnics, and kayaking.


Michigan Ross provides full funding to all students admitted to our doctoral program.

We do not require an additional application for financial aid. We provide five years of funding, which includes a full tuition waiver, health insurance, and a generous stipend package that combines both fellowship funding and a graduate assistantship. Students also receive funding for travel to conferences, have access to several thousand dollars in research money from Ross and Rackham, and can apply for a subsidy for child care. Additionally, students may receive bonuses if they achieve early candidacy by the start of their third year and if they defend their dissertation proposal by the beginning of their fifth year.


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Click here to learn more about living in Ann Arbor.

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Is there a typical MO PhD Student?

No. We have a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, which makes our PhD program so vibrant. One student was a physician before coming to Michigan, others have relevant Master’s degrees, some have a decade of work experience, and a few have no formal work experience. What unites the students is their passion for high quality, impactful research and their genuine interest in contributing to the research community in the department.

What do MO PhD students do in their free time? Do they have free time?

The first two years of the program are extremely time consuming, but our students make time for hobbies and interests from day one to keep balanced. A couple of students are regulars at yoga, one is an avid tennis player, another is a swimmer, and one enjoys basketball. Additionally, students participate in various musical activities, knitting, and hiking.  Our PhD Student government at Michigan Ross (The PhD Forum) hosts activities like community service, sporting events, karaoke and happy hours. The Ann Arbor community has all sorts of cultural events and eateries as well. Some of our students are regular attendees at UM football games.  Go Blue!

Where do MO PhD students live in Ann Arbor?

Our students live all over Ann Arbor.  Some opt for off-campus housing downtown or on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, while others choose on-campus housing.  When it comes to housing in Ann Arbor, you can find anything you would like.  Some students joke that in the first two years they live in Ross, but we encourage all students to spend some time away from the school.

Is it difficult to get financial support for my own research?

We are very fortunate at Michigan Ross to have several funding sources to support doctoral student research as well as collaborative research with faculty members.  Our students regularly apply for and receive small and large grants to conduct their work.  Additionally, the University of Michigan has many mechanisms in place to support our research.

Are there any interactions with the MBA program at Ross?

Most of our students do not interact regularly with the MBA students, but occasionally they take classes together and they see each other daily in the Seigle Café. The MBA students have many clubs and activities which some of our students participate in as well.  These interactions range from sports clubs to professional development groups and the Wolverine Wine Club.  The MBA student body has been quite welcoming to our students.

Do you have any advice for increasing my chances of admission?

The expectations for the qualifications of our applicants are quite high.  We regularly receive more than 100 applications for two or three spots in the program. However, one way to really stand out in the application process is to explain why you want to pursue a PhD in the department of Management and Organizations at Ross. We put a premium on fit with our department, in terms of both related research and our collaborative culture.  An understanding of how you fit with our department will emerge from learning about our students and faculty.

What types of jobs do the graduates of the program land?

As you can see from our recent graduates page, students go on to careers in business schools around the world following the completion of our program.  Some doctoral programs send their alumni to consulting firms and think tanks – our program generally does not prepare our students for these kinds of careers.  We are looking for applicants who are dedicated to long-term careers in business academia.

Are there certain faculty members who are better at mentoring doctoral students than others?

We are very fortunate to have several faculty members who regularly work with doctoral students.  They all have many things to teach our students, which is why many of our students will rotate and work with several faculty members during their time in the program.  Our faculty members enjoy their time and interactions with doctoral students, which leads to strong research productivity and high quality professional connections.

How can I learn more about the MO PhD program?

Please explore our website to learn more about the program.  Be sure to read up on the current research of our faculty and students.  You can also learn about our recent alumni and their research.  If you still have questions, feel free to email one of our doctoral student ambassadors or alumni ambassadors.  If you are in the Ann Arbor area, you are welcome to attend one of our weekly brown bag seminars to meet some of the department members in person.

Management & Organizations PhD Students

Recent PhD Graduates

Year Name Placement
2022 Mijeong Kwon University of Colorado, Denver
2021 Laura Sonday University of North Carolina
2020 Eun Woo Kim University of Nottingham Ningbo China
2019 Lindsey Cameron Wharton, University of Pennsylvania
2019 Teddy Dewitt University of Massachusetts, Boston
2018 Cassandra Chambers Bocconi University
2018 Chen Zhang Tsinghua University
2017 Lyndon Garrett Boston College
2017 Ashley Hardin Washington University
2017 Yong Hyun Kim Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
2016 Maddy Ong Singapore Management University
2015 Matt Karlesky Suffolk University
2015 Suntae Kim Boston College
2015 Chris Myers Harvard University
2014 Johan Chu University of Chicago
2014 Laura Rees University of Missouri - Kansas City
2014 Kristina Workman Cornell University
2013 Jeff Bednar Brigham Young University
2013 Natalie Cotton-Nessler Bentley University
2013 Chak Fu Lam Suffolk University
2013 Samir Nurmohamed Wharton, University of Pennsylvania
2013 Ned Wellman Arizona State University
2012 Maria Farkas Imperial College, London
2011 J. Adam Cobb Wharton, University of Pennsylvania
2011 Brent Rosso Montana State University
2011 Flannery Stevens University of Utah
2010 Michelle Barton Boston University
2009 Marlys Christianson University of Toronto
2009 Kathryn Dekas Google
2009 Daniel Gruber Northwestern University
2009 Aleksandra Kacperczyk MIT

Coordinator: Julia Lee Cunningham

  • Associate Professor of Management and Organizations
Julia Lee Cunningham is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. In...
Gretchen Spreitzer

Research Origins

Where do research ideas come from?

Michigan Ross Professor Gretchen Spreitzer explains the genesis of her research on how employees at the middle level of an organization can feel empowered to spark change and thrive.