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Program overview

Our goal is to develop candidates with an integrated perspective on management to address complex global issues. Our emphasis is on international business, one of our school’s core areas of specialization. 

Our PhD program focuses on:

  • strategy
  • organizational behaviour
  • organizational theory
  • global management
  • sustainability
  • entrepreneurship
  • emerging topics in management and organization studies (including Indigenous knowledges, comparative perspectives and alternative forms of organizing)

You can also take content-specific coursework to gain expertise in other areas of business.

Our PhD experience

A few of our students met to talk about their experiences doing their PhD at Gustavson. This video is their discussion on:

  • their backgrounds, influences and research interests
  • why they chose our school
  • who would be a good fit for the program
  • the research culture and available supports
  • their advice for prospective students
  • what to expect while doing the program


During the first 2 years of the PhD program, you will take a variety of courses in research methods and foundation courses in international management. At the end of your second year, you will take a comprehensive doctoral candidacy exam to ensure you have reached a depth and quality in your understanding of the field.

We require all PhD students to take 12 formal courses in research methods and foundations courses:

  • BUS 601 - Research Foundations
  • BUS 603 - Strategy
  • BUS 604 - Business and Sustainability
  • BUS 605 - Comparative Human Resource Management
  • BUS 606 - Micro Organizational Behaviour
  • BUS 607 - Macro Organizational Theory
  • BUS 608 - Cross-Cultural Management
  • BUS 655 - Global Management and Society I
  • BUS 656 - Global Management and Society II 

Students will benefit from a solid foundation in advanced theory and methods during the first 2 years of the program (3 courses) including:

  • BUS 640 - Quantitative Research Methods
  • BUS 641 - Qualitative Research Methods
  • BUS 642 - Advanced Research Design 

Each term throughout their program, students will take BUS 670 - Academic Career Development, a course designed to support them in their journey towards a career in academia. All students will be active contributors as part of the overall research program at Gustavson, and are also engaged in the academic community. 

We teach a balanced approach to methodology (quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods). 


Year 3 begins once you've passed the doctoral candidacy exam. You will work with a supervisor to develop a dissertation topic and within 6 months of passing the exam, you will defend a dissertation proposal. 

During your third and fourth years, you will continue to work closely with your supervisor to develop your dissertation.

Dissertation topics

Our PhD student research topics are broad and tied to your interests and values. They also align to the traditional streams of management such as strategy, entrepreneurship, international business, organizational theory, organizational behaviour, sustainability, cross-cultural management and comparative human resources. 

Some research themes from recent PhD students include:

  • business history
  • entrepreneurship
  • equity, diversity and inclusion
  • meaningful work
  • multiculturalism
  • social enterprise
  • stakeholder management and community partnerships

International exchange

To round out your research experience in your third or fourth year, you can take part in an international research exchange at select, research-focused universities where our professors have strong ties.

Teacher training

Teacher training is an essential component of our PhD program. Through our comprehensive program, you will be mentored and given opportunities to learn how to teach university-level courses. 

At the start of your third year and after successfully passing your candidacy exams, you will begin your formal training by taking BUS 686 - Foundations of Learning and Teaching. Once complete, you will teach a full, for-credit course in our undergrad programs to apply your teaching skills and meet your funding obligations.