UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Operations PhD Program

The Operations PhD program is a rigorous, four to five year curriculum designed to train scholars to produce high quality research as faculty members at top universities.

The PhD curriculum is designed to provide all students with a background in the literature and techniques used in Operations research. The program is highly quantitative in nature, and as such, new PhD students often have a background in economics, engineering, mathematics, or statistics. Although some students have completed graduate work prior to entry into the PhD program, it is not necessary to have any graduate training.

Visit the Operations area website

Program Timeline

  • During the first two years of the PhD program, students focus on course work in order to develop the tools necessary to produce high quality research. Upon entry, each student is assigned to a faculty member who acts as an advisor.
  • In the summer after the first year, each student writes an original research paper under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • By the end of the second year, students take their comprehensive exam. The exam consists of a written exam covering all of the Operations breadth courses taken in the first two years of the PhD program and an oral presentation of the student's current research.
  • After passing the comprehensive exam, students begin the second part of the program where they spend the majority of their time working on research.
  • In the third year, students focus most of their time on their dissertation. During this process, students benefit from close collaboration with faculty members.
  • The rest of the program is spent finishing the dissertation and preparing for the job market process.
  • Upon completion of the program, students are awarded a PhD in business administration.


UNC Operations PhD graduates have gone on to tenure track positions at some of the leading universities in the world including:

Arizona State
Emory University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Indiana University
Michigan State University
Ohio State University
Pennsylvania State University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

South China University of Technology
Texas A&M University
University of California-Riverside
University of Cincinnati
University of Illinois
University of Maryland
University of Minnesota
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of San Diego