We offer the following seven areas of study for Ph.D. students, with major and minor options available for each. In addition to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School requirements and general Wisconsin School of Business requirements, students seeking a Ph.D. in business must meet the requirements of the department to which they have been admitted.

Areas of Study

General Academic Requirements

Minimum degree requirements and policies for all University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students are found in the Graduate Catalog of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School. Please note that each Wisconsin School of Business department has a separate set of specific course and degree requirements. These are found on each department’s website.

Credit Loads

Ph.D. non-dissertators must carry a minimum of eight credits per semester. Ph.D. dissertators must carry a minimum and total of three credits per semester. A full–time program is eight to 12 graduate-level credits for a regular semester. Graduate School rules prohibit Ph.D. students from registering for more than 12 credits in the fall or spring semesters or eight credits in the eight-week summer sessions.

Students with teaching and project assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships are required to carry a full program of approved graduate eight (8) credits for the semesters in which they hold the appointment or scholarship. Pass/fail, credit/no credit, and audit courses do not count toward fulfillment of this requirement.

Ph.D. students are required to earn a minimum of 32 credits of coursework in the degree program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison prior to applying for dissertator status. Coursework completed at another university may be counted toward the completion of major program course requirements but may not be used to fulfill the required 32 credits taken at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Students who have achieved dissertator status after completing all major and minor coursework and after passing the preliminary exam must register for three credits of dissertation research each semester. They are still considered full-time students.

Majors and Minors

Each student will have a unique degree plan with a major that is developed with his/her advisor.  Ph.D. Minor for Business Students

The Wisconsin School of Business provides business course descriptions by department. When available, links to online course materials are provided under the name of the instructor currently teaching the class.

Satisfactory Progress GPA standards

Departmental requirements and standards for satisfactory progress vary within the Wisconsin School of Business. Each student in a business Ph.D. program is provided with a summary of progress each year at the end of the spring semester. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of departmental expectations and requirements and to maintain satisfactory progress toward degree completion.

The Wisconsin School of Business expects students to maintain a grade point average of 3.2, with some departments having a higher requirement. The Graduate School may impose probationary status on a student who falls below the 3.0 level. The major department in the Wisconsin School of Business may impose some form of probation for a student who falls below the 3.2 level or their stated requirement, if it is higher. Grades below the B level may indicate that a student is not making satisfactory progress within the major department.

Preliminary Examination Requirements

Students should meet with the Ph.D. coordinator to initiate the process no less than four weeks before the potential date of the preliminary exam. A preliminary exam warrant will be issued only if the following conditions are met:

  • The student has completed the 32 credits of coursework.
  • The student has no incomplete courses on the record.
  • The student has an approved Minor Form on file and has completed all the minor coursework.
  • The student has the appropriate grade point average for the minor and major coursework.
  • The student has or will complete all required major coursework prior to the date of the exam.

Each department conducts preliminary exams in its own unique way. Be sure to discuss requirements and expectations for preliminary exams with your advisor.

Dissertator and Dissertation Defense Requirements

Successful completion of the preliminary examination in the format required by the major department entitles the student to be admitted to dissertator status. A dissertator registers for three credits of dissertation research each semester, works on the completion of the dissertation, and collaborates with departmental faculty on papers and presentations. Dissertators must defend and deposit the dissertation no more than five years from the date of the preliminary examination.

Degree Completion and Graduation

The Ph.D. degree is granted only upon completion of a set of requirements of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School. Detailed information about this process may be found on the Graduate School’s website.