Program Fit

How would you describe your doctoral program?

The PhD in Business Administration at the College of Management at UMass Boston is designed to prepare students for leadership roles as educators, researchers, business analysts, and organization decision-makers. Our business administration program is multidisciplinary, offering specialized training in a variety of management disciplines while bridging theories, concepts, and research methods drawn from across the social and behavioral sciences. Our approach reflects the urban mission of the University of Massachusetts Boston and gives special attention to the needs and opportunities of diverse, global communities.


What distinguishes your PhD in Business Administration?

  • Specialized Tracks: Students may choose to specialize in Organizations and Social Change, Finance, or Management Information Systems. 
  • Small Classes: The College of Management’s PhD in Business Administration program is dedicated to the personal and intellectual growth of a small group of students. A maximum of eight students are enrolled in the specialized tracks each year. 
  • Financial Aid: Most admitted students are offered graduate assistantships with tuition credits, a health insurance credit, and stipends for up to four years of study.
  • Research Opportunities: Students and faculty in the program engage in research and policy projects closely connected with several university business centers and institutes. 

What do your graduates do?

Graduates of the program will be prepared for academic careers in research-oriented business schools, as well as professional and executive positions in public and private organizations. 


Do I need a master’s degree to apply for your PhD program?

No, students holding a bachelor’s degree are eligible for admissions. However, it is expected that candidates have completed prior master’s level academic work. 


Do I need to have a bachelor’s and/or master’s in management?

Not necessarily. We do expect prospective students to have broad, foundation knowledge across at least four of the six traditional business areas of Accounting, Finance, Operations Management, Marketing, Information Systems, and Organizational Behavior. You can demonstrate that background by having taken five or more graduate-level courses (or their equivalencies) across the business foundation areas or across the disciplines that provide the substantive foundations for business studies, including computer science, economics, mathematics, political science, psychology, and sociology. Depending on your track, we also expect you to have a basic level of proficiency equivalent to one semester each of calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and micro/macro economics at the undergraduate or graduate level. 


If I already have a master’s degree from the College of Management, may I move directly into the PhD program?

No. The master’s programs and the PhD are entirely separate. Students wanting to earn a master’s degree in a management field from UMass Boston should apply directly to those programs. The PhD program does not offer terminal or “en route” master’s degrees. 


Is it possible to go through the program taking classes part-time?

No, the program is designed to be a full-time program. 


Can I start in the spring term?

No, each cohort will begin in the fall. 


How long will it take me to earn the degree?

The length of time students require to complete the PhD program varies. However, you’ll need at least three years to satisfy all requirements. Eligibility for financial aid runs out after four years. 


How much is it going to cost me to attend UMass Boston?

Below is an estimate of a single graduate student’s annual expenses. Bear in mind that these cost estimates for living expenses are minimum estimates for a 12-month period and that, depending on the individual, actual costs may be higher. Students must be prepared to pay their own expenses and should anticipate yearly increases in both tuition and living expenses. Transportation to and from the United States is not included in the estimates.

Expense / Cost Tuition: $9,758.00
Fees (including health insurance): $11,569.00
Room and Board: $10,200.00
Books and Supplies: $860.00
Personal Expenses (Miscellaneous): $3,000.00
Total: $35,387.00 


Do you offer financial aid?

Students accepted into the program are offered full tuition credits and a $25,000 stipend to help defray living costs for up to four years. Summer stipends of $6,000 are also available annually to all qualified students. Travel grants annually fund academic conference presentations. During the first two years of coursework, they are assigned to a faculty member as a research assistant; for the third year, students will be engaged in instructional activities. Funding for the fourth year is merit-based from a limited pool of program funds. 


What teaching responsibilities will I have as part of the aid package?

Students in the PhD program are generally expected to gain classroom-teaching experience as primary instructors before graduating. 


Does UMass Boston have graduate student housing?

The university does not currently offer graduate student housing. We do provide housing referral assistance and have a partnership with several area apartment complexes. Please call 617.287.6011 or consult www.umb.edu/housing for more information on prices and availability. 

Program Requirements

When are classes offered?

Classes are generally offered during afternoon and evening hours on Mondays through Thursdays. Most courses meet once a week. See the Academic Handbook for descriptions of the courses. 


Is it possible to transfer credits from previous graduate work?

No. You may be able to waive some required courses based on prior studies but all PhD students must take a minimum of 14 courses while in residence at UMass Boston. 


What exams do students take?

You will take an examination for admission to candidacy at or near the conclusion of your formal coursework. The examination is usually both written and oral and includes the defense of your dissertation proposal. The Finance track also has a qualifying exam after the first year in the program. 


What does it mean to defend your dissertation proposal?

Students must develop a written document that defines the research problem which is the focus of their dissertation and that explains how they intend to investigate it for answers. Students publicly present their dissertation proposals to members of their dissertation committees. 


What does it mean to defend your dissertation at the end of your program?

During the final part of the program, you must write an extended study based on original research. You choose the topic of research with guidance from your dissertation committee. The dissertation typically takes at least a full year to complete. Like the proposal, the completed study is subjected to scrutiny in a public forum (called the dissertation defense) before final approval. During the final part of the program, you must write an extended study based on original research. You choose the topic of research with guidance from your dissertation committee. The dissertation typically takes at least a full year to complete. Like the proposal, the completed study is subjected to scrutiny in a public forum (called the dissertation defense) before final approval. 


Have more questions?

Contact the PhD Program Office at: cmphd@umb.edu 

Application Process

On what basis do you assess applications?

Admission to the doctoral program is selective. We seek students with high potential to engage in academically rigorous and collaborative learning. A faculty committee considers each application evaluating your areas of interest with respect to our curriculum and faculty research specialties, your prior academic preparation, letters of recommendation from former professors and mentors, and standardized test scores.


How many applicants do you accept?

Each year the Organization and Social Change track aims to enroll four to six new students. The Finance track and the MIS track will be looking for entering classes about twice that size every other year.


What documents do I need to provide?

Applicants need to submit a current résumé or CV, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts of all prior academic work, a writing sample, official GMAT or GRE scores, and, if appropriate, an official TOEFL or IELTS score.

We also accept DUOLINGO English test results, TOEFL, IELTS Academic, and PTE Academic.

Provide these materials directly to the Graduate Admissions Office

*If applying to

the OSC track, please see OSC track-specific requirements


May I, and should I, contact individual professors?

During the pre-admissions process, you are free to initiate contact with individual faculty members about their research interests and current areas of policy work. In fact, this outreach could help to identify a potential academic advisor or mentor. However, there is no requirement to make such contact. 


Are standardized tests required?

Yes, all applicants must take the GMAT or GRE. 


If I already took the GMAT or GRE, must I take it again?

If you took the test within the last five years, we will accept an official notification of that score. 


Is there a minimum required GMAT/GRE score?

We do not consider applicants with less than 450 on the GMAT (or its equivalent on the GRE). As in our master’s degree programs, the higher your GMAT/GRE score, the more likely your chances of acceptance, but no score on a standardized test guarantees a favorable admission decision. 

We also accept DUOLINGO English test results, TOEFL, IELTS Academic, and PTE Academic.


Is the TOEFL required for all international applicants? Do you have a minimum acceptable score?

Non-native speakers of English, who earned their bachelor’s degree from a college or university outside the United States, must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS). Target test scores for the PhD in Business Administration are as follows: TOEFL: Paper-based: 600, Computer-based: 250, Internet-based: 100. IELTS: 7.0. These targets are flexible and are higher than the College of Management looks for in its master’s programs.   


I will be taking the GRE/GMAT/TOEFL Test in January or February. Should I submit the application without these scores?

Yes. Indicate that the standardized test score will be forwarded to the University of Massachusetts Boston and indicate the date that you are taking the exam. We can begin to process the application without all of the information but note that no official action can be taken on an incomplete application.

We also accept DUOLINGO English test results, TOEFL, IELTS Academic, and PTE Academic.


What is the minimum required GPA?

There is no application cutoff in terms of GPA, but academic excellence is expected. 


What does the writing sample entail?

The writing sample should be a sample of your intellectual work. It can be a paper from a previous course or a technical study you prepared at work, if that is appropriate. 


Who should I get to write my letters of recommendation?

Recommendations should be from faculty members in your major field, but may also be written by employers or others familiar with your academically-related strengths. 


Can the Graduate Program Office advise me whether I am likely to gain admission?

No. The evaluation of the details of each applicant's record requires consultation with several faculty members. We undertake this task only when the application is complete and the application fee has been paid. 


Do I have to have an interview?

Finalist applicants may be interviewed, in person or via the phone or Internet. 


If I am denied admission, may I receive feedback on my application?

Due to the volume of applications, the College of Management is unable to share the details of its application decisions. 


Once accepted, may I defer my admission?

Not usually. The Finance and MIS tracks follow a cohort model with a new class starting every other year, so deferral is not practical. With the track director’s approval, accepted students in OSC may defer admission to the next annual admission cycle. To discuss deferrals, contact the Graduate Program Office at cmphd@umb.edu.


May I reapply if I am not accepted?

Yes. However, due to the competitive nature of PhD study, the admissions committees do not encourage an applicant to reapply unless there has been a significant change in his or her credentials, such as additional coursework or a much-improved GRE or GMAT score.