PhD Student Handbook

School of Management PhD Student Handbook

(Approved Spring 2023)

The School of Management (SOM) reserves the right to amend or alter the content of this handbook (policies and procedures) at any time. All policies were reviewed and approved by the PhD Committee in Spring 2023. 

Doctoral students admitted to the School of Management (SOM) at Binghamton University should familiarize themselves with the policies of the Graduate School and that of SOM. This handbook describes the specific requirements of the SOM and is prepared in accordance with the policies of the Graduate school.

Table of Contents 



Residency Requirements


Minimum Grade Requirements

Comprehensive Examination

Admission to Candidacy for a Doctoral Degree

Dissertation Expectations

Dissertation Proposal and Defense

Graduate Application for Degree

Additional Funding Information


Academic Honesty Expectations

Professional Expectations of Doctoral Students

Performance Expectations

Appeal policy

SOM PhD Program Supplemental Forms


Applicants to the PhD program at SOM are admitted into the regular, full-time, on-campus program starting in Fall. SOM does not offer part-time or other programs.

The school offers the PhD in Management degree to all its students. However, students will be admitted to a particular concentration area of study. Each concentration area has a faculty coordinator who operates under the supervision of the SOM PhD Director.


All admitted students into the SOM PhD program will be offered a graduate research/teaching assistantship and a waiver of graduate tuition for four years. The assistantship requires funded students to assist faculty in their teaching or research for 20 hours a week. After completing their required coursework, students are expected to teach at least three classes independently as part of the assistantship. Area coordinators will assign the responsibilities of the students each semester.

The assistantship is composed of the Graduate School assistantship ($18,500 annually, as of Fall 2022), supplemented by a potential $6,000 faculty supervised summer research assistantship (for a total of $24,500 annually). In order to be considered for summer funding, students need to submit a summer research plan that is endorsed by the faculty supervisor to the PhD Program Director by May 1st of the funding year. Winners of the Provost’s Summer Fellowship will receive an additional $4,000 in summer research assistantship. The university also offers a fee scholarship to full-time PhD students to help offset the cost of broad-based fees not covered by tuition scholarship. 

Residency and Other Credit Hour Requirements

As per the NYS Education Department (8 CRR-NY 52.2), doctoral students are required a minimum of three years of full-time graduate-level study after their baccalaureate degree. The Graduate School also requires that the students complete 24 of the total credit hours necessary for the degree at Binghamton University. 

Additional credit hour requirements are established by each area of concentration. Area coordinators will communicate the requirements to the doctoral students when planning the program of study. The Graduate School also requires continuous registration, including the semester in which the final degree requirements are completed. 


The area coordinator will assist the student in planning the coursework and in understanding the program structure and requirements. Students should seek the area coordinator’s advice regarding their plan of study as well as other aspects of the PhD program and follow their recommendation. 

The students will take courses in their major and minor (specialization) areas of study. In addition, they have to take courses that develop their research skills, and such courses are often offered through other university departments (e.g., Psychology, Economics, Bioengineering, Systems Science). Each area has varying requirements for each of these three categories. Some areas may have prerequisite qualifications to be completed before joining the program (e.g. CPA exam qualified in Accounting).

Background Courses in Management

It is desirable that all doctoral students, irrespective of their areas of study, should have a basic understanding of the different management disciplines. Such minimal proficiency is generally satisfied through prior business courses completed in the undergraduate or master’s program. If the doctoral student’s bachelor’s or master’s degree is not in a business-related field, the area coordinator/PhD Director may require the student to audit core business classes in addition to the courses required for the doctoral program of study. 

First Year Requirements

All areas have formal and informal first-year requirements for the students. They include satisfactory progress in courses and towards a first-year research project and/or qualifying exam. The area coordinator will communicate these requirements to the doctoral students and provide written expectations at the beginning of the program. Many areas make a decision about whether a student can continue in the PhD program at the end of Year 1 based on progress made in coursework and on the first-year research project and/or qualifying exam, and all doctoral students should be aware of such expectations. 

Minimum Grade Requirements

SOM requires that all doctoral students hold a B average, with no grade in a required class falling below a B minus.[1] In case a student earns a grade in a required course of B minus or below, the student may be permitted to repeat the course with the approval of the PhD Director and the Graduate School. Under such circumstances, the grade received in the second attempt is substituted for the first grade in the computation of the grade-point average. For the purpose of financial loans, the repeated course remains on the transcript as it was part of the student's academic load. Tuition scholarships do not cover repeated courses. 

Incomplete Grades

Incomplete grades are rarely given for PhD classes. Consistent with the policies and procedures outlined in the Graduate School Manual, incomplete grades are only used in instances in which students have completed the majority of course work successfully, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they have not fully completed the required course work. In practice, this tends to be reserved for extreme events such as health or family emergencies. The appropriateness of and decision to issue an incomplete course grade is at the discretion of the instructor. However, if an incomplete is issued, this should: 1) be done in consultation with the SOM PhD Program Director; 2) have an Incomplete Contract that outlines the timeline and expectation for competition of required course assignments; and 3) must be completed within six months from the last day of classes to make up the incomplete work. Additional details about Graduate School policies regarding incomplete grades and a sample Incomplete Contract document is provided here.

Comprehensive Examination

A major requirement of the SOM PhD program is the comprehensive examination. The exam will be conducted soon after all the required coursework is complete, but commence no later than Fall semester of the third year of study. Some areas will also require passing of the comprehensive examination in a minor area of study.

The responsibility of the comprehensive exam rests on the student’s comprehensive examination committee. At least three faculty are required to form the committee with one member chairing the committee. Some concentrations may require that a least one faculty member on the committee be from outside the primary area - including tenure-track faculty members from outside SOM (e.g., Psychology, Economics, Systems Science, Bioengineering), to test the students’ research prowess beyond their primary research track. All committee members should be tenure-track, “doctorally qualified” faculty as defined by SOM. 

Comprehensive Examination Format

It is expected that the comprehensive examination will have a written component with a possible oral component. The area coordinators should communicate the format, expectations, and grading criteria to the doctoral students. The Graduate School stipulates that a student should be allowed to repeat once one or both parts of the exam. The Comprehensive Examination Committee must make a final determination on the student’s passing of the comprehensive exam before the end of the Spring semester of their third year.  

Admission to Candidacy for a Doctoral Degree

Doctoral students successfully completing their comprehensive examinations and passing their dissertational proposal defense (see below for more information about this requirement and associated policies and procedures) will acquire the status of ABD (All-But-Dissertation). The Recommendation for Admission to Candidacy for Doctoral Degree (ABD Status form) must be filed with the Graduate School through the SOM PhD Director. In order for all billing and student records to reflect this status correctly, this form should be submitted at least one month prior to the beginning of the semester. 

Dissertation Expectations

The objective of the SOM’s PhD program is to train doctoral students to conduct independent academic research in their chosen management discipline. A dissertation represents the culmination of the doctoral educational process, and should generally reflect the hallmarks of scientific research in the process of new knowledge creation: substantive literature and/or theoretical review, hypotheses development, collection of data, incorporation of appropriate research methods and analytic tools to test hypotheses, inferences related to analyses, discussion of results within the context of the constructs of interest, presentation of the results, and the incorporation of feedback from colleagues related to presentations. The ultimate goal is to publish findings from the dissertation research in a top journal in the candidate’s field of expertise and the experience gained in the process to lead the student towards a successful academic career.

Forming the Committee

The responsibility to form the committee rests solely on the student as faculty members are not obliged to work with any particular student - just as no doctoral student is obliged to work with a particular faculty member. Students unable to form a dissertation committee are in jeopardy of not satisfying degree requirements. 

It is desirable that the dissertation Chair holds the rank of full or associate professor. Assistant professors can co-chair a dissertation with a full or associate professor. The committee should minimally consist of four faculty members, including one external member (outside examiner). The outside examiner can be a Binghamton University faculty member from a related area outside the student's major program, department or division, or someone from a related discipline outside the University. The outside examiner cannot be a SOM faculty member.

Students should file an Outside Examiner Request Form to the Associate Dean at the Graduate School through the SOM PhD Director. If the nominee is on the pre-approved outside examiner list, the SOM PhD Program Director does not need to submit this form and can instead e-mail the Graduate School to request approval. If the nominee is from another institution, the SOM PhD Program Director should forward the nominee's academic credentials, including a vita, to the Associate Dean at the Graduate School to be evaluated. The program director should also include a brief statement (one paragraph) that explains the relevance of the nominee to the student's dissertation research topic and the nominee's experience in evaluating doctoral research (e.g., as outlined in the description listed in the form above regarding criteria for appointment). The Associate Dean at the Graduate School then decides whether to invite the nominee or appoint another faculty member to serve as outside examiner. The nomination should be submitted to the Graduate School no later than one month before the dissertation defense.

Dissertation Proposal and Defense

The dissertation chair should inform doctoral candidates of the expectations, standards, and procedures regarding the dissertation. Conventions regarding dissertations vary from area to area. In some areas, co-authorship, when publishing the dissertation, is the norm, whereas other areas stress solo-authorship. This is an important discussion that PhD students should have with the area coordinators and dissertation chair. The number of research outputs (e.g., essays) required to complete the dissertation also vary.

Proposal Defense 
The dissertation completion process typically has two steps. First, there is an oral proposal defense. The actual defense of the dissertation happens later. The proposal typically consists of the plan for research. Requirements for a successful proposal defense vary by area and the dissertation chair should guide the student on the requirements for a defense in the student’s area. 

Students should set up a date for the proposal defense with the SOM PhD Program Assistant and at a time convenient for the committee members and the SOM PhD Program Director. There should be at least two weeks’ notice before the proposal defense date, to facilitate timely announcements to the general SOM faculty and students. A time should be selected so that there is minimal conflict with the other area PhD students who should be attending the proposal defense. The dissertation committee members (and others) will evaluate the prospect of the dissertation proposal and will offer suggestions to improve the research plan. A PDF and/or hard copy of your dissertation proposal should be made available with the SOM PhD Office for interested people to review prior to the proposal defense.

Dissertation Defense
Students are expected to incorporate the suggestions made at the proposal defense and complete their research before defending their dissertation. The research should be written up following the guidelines of the Graduate School. The dissertation committee has direct charge of all matters pertaining to the dissertation. The student's dissertation must have the unanimous approval of members of the dissertation committee and of the SOM PhD Program Director to be considered successful in the defense of the dissertation and proceed to the granting of the degree.

Students should establish a date for the dissertation defense with the SOM PhD Program Assistant and at time convenient for the committee members, the external examiner, and the SOM PhD Program Director. Contact the PhD Program Assistant at least two weeks prior to the proposal defense date to facilitate timely announcements to the general SOM faculty and students. A time should be selected so that there is minimal conflict with PhD students and faculty who wish to attend the proposal defense. A copy of your dissertation should be made available with the SOM PhD Office for interested people to review prior to the defense.

The dissertation defense will be held in person. At least one member of the committee should be physically present for the defense. Other committee members can choose to participate virtually for the examination with the permission of the Dissertation Committee Chair.

As noted, the student must receive the unanimous approval of the dissertation committee to be considered successful in defending the dissertation. All members of the dissertation committee who accept the dissertation in partial fulfillment of requirements for the doctorate shall so attest by their signatures on the Recommendation for Award of Doctoral Degree form

Please submit this form to the SOM PhD Director. SOM also requests students to fill out an assessment survey that helps SOM improve the experience of students in the PhD Program. 

The final dissertation needs to be submitted to the Graduate School in electronic form with the payment of appropriate fees and by the deadlines. Students also need to inform the Graduate School about plans for graduation (see GAFD below) including arrangements for the commencement. Please visit for more details. 

Graduate Application for Degree

Doctoral degree students must file a Graduate Application for Degree (GAFD) form at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to complete all degree requirements and graduate. This serves as notification to both the Graduate School and the department of a student's intent to graduate. The GAFD can be accessed from the "Student" tab in BU Brain. The GAFD is valid for one semester only. If a student files a GAFD but fails to graduate, they must submit a new application for degree survey in the following semester or the next semester of intended completion.

Additional Funding Information

Research/ Travel Grants
The school currently offers $1,000 to the doctoral student’s travel/ research budget each year for four years. Travel must be approved through channels (i.e., PhD advisor, PhD Program Director) and all required forms and information must be filed with the PhD Program Assistant well in advance (month or more) of the student’s travel.

PhD students should use their SOM travel funds to support travel to the annual major conference in their area. For secondary conferences, there are three other sources for travel/research funding: 

Contract Renewals
Doctoral students are required to make satisfactory progress in their coursework, assistantships, and towards their dissertation as a condition for their renewal of assistantship. The area coordinator will monitor and determine the student’s progress in this regard. Unsatisfactory progress will be immediately reported to the SOM PhD Director who will make the decision of non-renewal of assistantship or other appropriate actions, including termination from the program. The SOM PhD Director may seek the opinion of the full PhD committee during the decision process. 

Summer Funding
To be eligible for summer research funding, students must outline the various summer research projects they will pursue, and have the research plan endorsed by an SOM doctorally qualified faculty advisor (via their signature). ‘First-year papers’ may be included in the proposed summer research plan for first-year PhD students, but only as a supplement to other research projects, as ‘first-year paper’ deadlines are at the start of summer session in some areas and students are expected to make progress on research projects in addition to their first-year papers. Students are required to have their summer research projects approved by their faculty mentors prior to summer session, and submit these forms to the SOM PhD office before the end of the Spring Semester (see documents in the “FORMS” section of PhD Handbook). Students are expected to be on campus during the summer pursuing their summer research (exceptions can be granted in consultations with the area coordinator and the SOM PhD Director). 

At the end of the summer, (or in the first week of the following Fall semester), students must submit a signed faculty mentor form that certifies that the summer research project was completed satisfactorily. The payment of the summer research assistantship will be split into two payments, one at the beginning of summer, and one at the completion of the project. Students should plan their cash flows accordingly. 

Fifth Year Funding
Graduate school funding is designed to offer funding for four years of doctoral study. Doctoral students are not guaranteed funding beyond their fourth year, but may be able to receive a fifth year of funding for exceptional academic performance (subject to the availability of funds and approval by the SOM PhD Program Director). To be considered for fifth year funding, the area coordinator will need to stipulate the teaching requirements and justify that the extra year will result in a significant difference in the quality of the student’s placement in an academic position (e.g., an acceptance at a top-level journal). A doctoral candidate must have completed a proposal defense to be considered for fifth year funding. 


From time to time, unforeseen issues crop up that are not specifically discussed in the Handbook. Such cases will be brought to the attention of the PhD committee and the final path of action will be decided by the SOM PhD Director. Two such recent situations that were resolved are described below.

Changes in Dissertation Chair Affiliation

A dissertation chair who is no longer a Binghamton University employee may continue in the role of dissertation chair with the approval of the Associate Dean of the Graduate School. A request for approval should include signatures of the chair (indicating they will continue to meet those obligations in a timely and appropriate way), student (indicating they accept the arrangement and will provide regular updates to the chair), representative of the department (area coordinator) who attests that this is in the student's best interest, and a faculty co-mentor (indicating availability to student and willingness to mentor). The co-mentor's role is to ensure that the student has someone in residence to assist the student and to make sure that the student's paperwork is completed on time (e.g., annual progress report, recommendation for award of degree). The co-mentor may be another member of the student's committee or the PhD Program Director. The approval usually lasts for a year.

Switching Concentration Area within the School of Management
A student may request to switch from one program (i.e., Marketing) into another program (i.e., Leadership and Organizational Sciences) within SOM. Such requests are strongly discouraged and are granted only under extenuating circumstances (sudden resignations leave an area without a cohort of students). The consent of the PhD coordinators of the two concerned programs -- original and the one being switched to -- is required before any changes in programs can be made. Additionally, all such requests need to be approved by the SOM PhD Director in consultation with the SOM PhD Committee.

Academic Honesty Expectation

All PhD students should read and abide by the SOM’s Academic Honesty Policy at all times. There is zero tolerance for academic dishonesty within the program. All instances of plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, cheating on exams, fabrication and misrepresentation, forgery, sabotage and/or violations surrounding the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) standards and/or processes will be treated as a Category II violation. The School of Management’s Implementation and Adjudication of the Binghamton University Academic Honesty Code will apply to any SOM doctoral student facing an Academic Honesty situation; and, where the PhD student is found guilty of the Category II offense, the punishment will be expulsion from the program, which may be more significant than the outcomes stated in the University Bulletin and reproduced below:

“The faculty assumes that themes, term papers, studio work, results of laboratory experiments, examinations and computer-generated material submitted by the student represent the student’s own work. The presentation for academic credit of the same work in more than one course is prohibited unless a joint project receives the express and prior consent of the instructors involved. All student work, including collaborations, should conform to the University's ethical standards…Whenever there is a question regarding academic integrity, students and faculty should consult the Student Academic Honesty Code, which appears later in this section of the University Bulletin.”

Professional Expectations of Doctoral Students

In addition to adhering to the highest standards of academic honesty, all SOM PhD students should meet the highest standards of professional academic conduct and behavior. They are expected to attend all class sessions, arrive on time, meet established deadlines for projects, papers and assignments, and communicate any exceptions to these behaviors to the appropriate faculty member(s) in advance. A PhD student who fails to meet these standards ,will be given a written notice of warning by a faculty member. Two or more written warnings of a violation of professional conduct, either within the same class or across different classes, and/or across semesters, can lead to severance from the program and from the Graduate School.  

Performance Expectations

Academic Performance

Students are required to maintain academic performance that exceeds the minimum GPA requirement of the Graduate School. The area coordinator, in consultation with appropriate faculty and/or the dissertation committee, judges whether a student has demonstrated adequate progress towards the following academic performance requirements and expectations:

  1. Students achieve a B minus or above in required coursework and classes
  2. Satisfactory progress towards the First-year requirement
  3. Successful completion of all required coursework prior to the Fall semester of the third year
  4. Successful completion of all comprehensive examinations (minor and major) by the end of Spring semester of the third year
  5. Forming a dissertation committee
  6. Making adequate progress to defending the dissertation.

The area coordinator, in consultation with appropriate faculty, or the dissertation committee, judges whether a student has demonstrated adequate progress towards these additional academic performance aspects. Students unable to demonstrate such progress will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Assistantship Performance 

If a faculty member is not satisfied with the quality of the student’s assistantship work, they will alert the area coordinator and SOM PhD Program Director. Together, the faculty member and area coordinator will communicate to the student clear expectations of the level of performance that is to be achieved within a set timeframe. If there is repeated non-fulfillment of assistantship obligations by the student, the area coordinator may recommend non-renewal of assistantship to the SOM PhD Director. 

Appeal Policy

A grievance must initially be addressed at the level of the department or program, through the established grievance mechanisms of the unit, both informal and formal (consult with the Area Chair or SOM PhD Program Director to learn more about the departmental procedures). Steps to mediate and resolve the complaint at the area level will normally have occurred before a formal grievance process is put into motion through the Graduate School.

An appeal to the Graduate School will ordinarily be based upon allegations of procedural problems or upon claimed new and pertinent information not known at the time of the hearing to the party who wishes to have it presented and therefore not available to the area/program committee at the time of its deliberations.

SOM PhD Program Supplemental Forms and Instructions

Please see the additional forms and instructions that will need to be completed by PhD students and submitted to the SOM PhD program director as needed. 

[1] Grades are on a letter scale: A through C, and F.