UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Frequently Asked Questions


The Program

Financial Aid


What does it take to get in?

The deadline to apply for 2019 admission consideration is no later than January 8, 2019. We seek to admit 12-15 students, 2-3 per concentration area for the 2019 admission cycle. Admission is very competitive. Submitting a completed application by the deadline will give your application full consideration for admission and financial support; any incomplete applications will not be reviewed for admission.

To be considered for possible admission, an applicant must submit:

Sending a complete application by the deadline will give your application full consideration for admission and financial aid; any incomplete application will not be processed.

Do you prefer GMAT or GRE scores?

Either is acceptable. The GMAT code for the Ph.D. Program is D40-HL-50 and the GRE code is 5816.

Is there a minimum test score requirement?

No; however, most of the applicants given serious consideration and are considered to be competitive with other applicants test in the 90th - 100th percentile.

I've already taken the GMAT/GRE; should I consider re-taking it?

If your test result is over 5 years old, you are ordinarily required to re-take it. If you don't think your test score provides reasonable evidence of your ability, you should certainly take the test again. Please let us know if you intend to re-take the test, unless you want us to base our decision on your previous score.

Do you have a minimum grade point average?

No, but we prefer to see good grades, particularly in courses that are related to your area of specialization. The strengths of the institution, their grading policies, your major and the trend in your GPA are all factors we consider when we assess your previous academic performance.

Do I need to have an MBA?

No, but a very limited number of applicants are admitted without some type of graduate-level work. The first year of the program will proceed much more smoothly if you have a reasonable command of calculus and familiarity with basic material in statistics, economics and accounting. The relevance of other courses will depend on your major.

The Program

How long is the PhD Program?

The answer depends greatly on your background and how hard you are willing to work. Course work generally takes 2 years. The third, fourth, and fifth year should be devoted to writing the dissertation.

Do you have a part-time program?

No. We think that much of the learning experience occurs outside the classroom through interaction with faculty and other graduate students. Part-time students would miss this experience. Also, pursuing your degree on a part-time basis could cause other activities to get in the way of your PhD studies.

Can you get a PhD degree while attending weekend classes?

No. All of our classes are during the week.

What are the major features of the program?

  • We allow you to tailor a program that will fit your needs and produce a graduate who will be well accepted in the academic marketplace.
  • We offer an open, responsive relationship between doctoral students and faculty.
  • The Program allows you to take full advantage of a strong faculty and a diverse set of course offerings not only at the Business School, but at neighboring universities. These include Duke and NC State.
  • Students typically choose to major in one of 6 areas; Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behavior, Operations Management and Strategy & Entrepreneurship. Course requirements include 10 courses in your major and supporting areas and 5 courses in research methodology. We also expect that students will have or acquire knowledge of each of the 5 functional areas of business, microeconomics and macroeconomics equivalent to that in the first year of an MBA program.
  • Students are required to complete a research paper during the summer and fall after their first year in the Program. Students work closely with faculty to produce a potentially publishable paper. It is evaluated much the same as a journal's editorial review board would proceed. The primary purpose of the paper is to help students develop research skills and experience. It also helps us and the students tell at a fairly early state whether they belong in a research-oriented program or career.

What are some of the requirements for the doctorate other than course work?

In addition to course work, you are required to complete a summer research paper at the end of the first year in the Program and, in the second year, you must pass an area examination. You must also defend your dissertation proposal and the final dissertation. Each student is required to serve as a research and teaching assistant for at least one semester.

What "hurdles" must I pass to complete the program successfully?

Besides grades in course work, these include the research paper requirement, the area comprehensive exam, an oral defense of the dissertation proposal and an oral defense of the completed dissertation.

What are the current students like?

The Program has approximately 70 students who represent 17 countries. The age range is 24 to 45, with most students in their mid-twenties or early 30s. Almost all intend to pursue academic careers at institutions with strong research programs.

Financial Support

How do individuals support themselves while completing the PhD Program?

All admitted students are provided financial support through Kenan-Flagler or University fellowships.  These fellowships typically require that students perform research and teaching duties during the course of the academic year.

How long is the support provided?

Usually we are able to provide financial support for 5 academic years including summers between years 1 thru 4. For exceptionally strong students we sometimes provide aid for a longer period of time. We expect you to make good progress toward a degree or we cannot continue to provide aid. We also expect you to apply for nationally competitive fellowships when appropriate.

How do I earn an assistantship?

In addition to maintaining a full course load, you will be expected to perform 15-20 hours per week of research or teaching duties assigned by your academic area. Most of the time will be spent as a research assistant (RA). As an RA, you will work on research under the direction of a professor(s). An RA experience is much like an apprenticeship. As a teaching fellow (TF), you will have complete responsibility for teaching a course. In most instances, this is a semester-long, undergraduate-level introductory course in your field. Students serve as a TF for a minimum of one semester in five years. You will prepare for this responsibility by serving as a teaching assistant (TA) to a faculty member who is teaching an undergraduate (or MBA) course whose content is similar to the one you will teach. Initial TA assignments typically occur in the second year, with possible exceptions contingent on the Area’s needs and your background and skills. Serving as a research assistant, teaching assistant and teaching fellow is a UNC Kenan-Flagler requirement for graduation. We believe you will find this required service to be an important part of your learning experience in the doctoral program, and helpful to preparing you for a successful academic career.

As a research assistant your responsibilities could involve library work, computer programming, supervision of data collection, and some writing. Students often find that this work is one of the most valuable parts of their educational experience, and sometimes lead to a dissertation topic or to co-authored publications.

Many other schools may require more teaching resulting in less research involvement and a longer program. You should compare the assignments we offer to those at several other schools.

What about tuition remission and health insurance?

Students who receive financial support from Kenan-Flagler or the University are recommended for a waiver of out-of-state tuition and are eligible for supplemental health insurance. The health insurance premiums will be covered by the School as part of the financial support. 

Is there a tuition waiver for doctoral students?

Yes. Eligible out-of-state graduate students may receive both: (1) a tuition remission award that reduces their tuition to the in-state rate, as well as (2) an in-state tuition award. Eligible in-state graduate students may receive an in-state award. These funding sources provide full tuition support for graduate students serving as university-supported TAs, RAs, or fellow/trainees.