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Organizational Behavior

PhD in Organizational Behavior

Organizational Behavior

Our Organizational Behavior (OB) PhD Program prepares you to conduct high-impact research on a broad range of topics critical to businesses and managers. Since 2018, our students have secured job placements at many top research schools.

Our faculty have expertise in a wide range of research areas such as leadership (including ethical leadership), emotions, team dynamics, decision-making, motivation, power and influence, negotiations, employee well-being, creativity, voice, and cross-cultural issues. They use cutting-edge methodological approaches including lab experiments, experience sampling, meta-analyses and qualitative interviews.

Through your coursework and research alongside innovative, supportive and passionate faculty, you will learn the necessary skills to become a high-quality researcher and faculty member at a top research university.

While direct research experience is not required, familiarity with academic research in organizational behavior or psychology is a plus to ensure you are prepared for the rigors of conducting research.

We do not narrow our search to students who graduated from a “top” university or have achieved a specific score on a standardized test. We take a holistic approach. We aim to admit students who demonstrate passion for exploring organizational questions and the motivation to put in the work to learn the complex skills and methodological approaches needed to become a high-quality scholar.

We have found the most successful students are self-directed, enjoy problem-solving and are unafraid – if not excited – about digging into some of the most complex challenges facing organizations.

We look for students who are friendly, collaborative and seek a welcoming and intellectually stimulating academic environment.

We welcome potential applicants from all experiences and backgrounds. The UNC Kenan-Flagler OB PhD Program prides itself on a diverse and inclusive student body. Our thriving and collaborative culture (both with faculty and between students) is a focal point to our department. Join us!

Typical course schedule by year


We believe the best scholars are crafted through impactful mentoring relationships. When you begin the program, you will be assigned to one (or two) faculty members with overlapping research interests. These advising relationships are aimed at being both professionally and personally productive for you. From day one you will begin working on research projects (whether self-directed or ongoing faculty projects) alongside these faculty members as they seek to teach you the skills you need to conduct high-quality work and develop your own research identity.

If you ask a UNC Kenan-Flagler OB student the classic question “Who do you work with?” be prepared for a long answer involving multiple faculty. We encourage our students to work with several faculty members to take advantage of the diverse skill sets, theoretical perspectives and research approaches they offer. These collaborations happen informally as you progress and grow within the program and give you flexibility and breadth of resources as you pursue your research passions.

As part of our larger mission to make academia an inclusive place where people of all identities and life experiences can thrive, we view it as a moral imperative to foster a diverse PhD student body that represents the next generation of scholars.

Ensuring that all feel welcome to pursue a doctoral degree is not only the right thing to do – it also is important for producing better science. Identities and life experiences shape the questions that we ask about the world and the knowledge that we produce.

We believe that our understanding of organizational behavior is incomplete if our scholarly community does not reflect the rich diversity of identities, experiences and perspectives that are found in the broader population. Inviting people of all walks of life to enter into our intellectual community can therefore result in better scholarship because it opens the door for new questions to be asked and new truths to be uncovered.

We strive to be a community where every student feels supported in their scholarly journey. We encourage all interested individuals to apply to the program, especially those who belong to historically underrepresented populations. We look forward to learning from you and welcoming you!