College of Business Mississippi State University

Ph.D. in Management

The Ph.D. Program in Management at Mississippi State University is unique in the sense that we blend a solid foundation in the core disciplines of strategic management, organization behavior, and human resource management with specialized training in the emerging fields of family business management and entrepreneurship. Indeed, Mississippi State University is a world leader in the study of family business and that theme provides a linkage for the research conducted by our faculty and doctoral students. It allows us to compete with much larger universities yet maintain the close interactions between students and faculty that are characteristic of a relatively small program (i.e., 5-10 students).

As suggested above, because our program is small there are substantial opportunities for students to work directly with faculty, and other doctoral students, on research projects. In fact, Ph.D. students graduating from our program will have typically presented a number of joint-authored research papers at professional meetings and have at least one solid journal publication prior to writing their dissertations. This provides them with an advantage in the job market and indeed our students have been able to find positions at good universities that pay very competitive salaries.

Although the key to success in a doctoral program is clearly the ability to assimilate and integrate prior knowledge to create new knowledge through research, the Ph.D. Program in Management at Mississippi State University is still what is known as a balanced program in that we are adamant in our belief that a scholar must also be effective in the classroom. Consequently, we offer students the opportunity to develop their teaching skills as well as their research skills. Furthermore, just as developing effective research skills require active mentoring by faculty, effective teaching skills require the same sort of assistance. Therefore, Ph.D. students are allowed to gradually immerse themselves into teaching activities rather than being thrown into the classroom without preparation. The frequent teaching awards won by our doctoral students provide evidence of the effectiveness of this strategy.

With regard to the specifics, students with MBAs are required to complete two years of coursework that provide grounding in the theoretical literature in the field as well as training in research methods and statistics. As noted above, the main body of coursework combines training in the core disciplines of management with a study of family business and entrepreneurship, which represent the strategic focus of the management faculty. This combination provides a competitive advantage to our students since they emerge from the program with multi-faceted skills. Following course work written and oral comprehensive examinations are required before beginning the process of developing a dissertation. Our students have been particularly successful in their dissertation research both in terms of winning national awards for their work and for publishing the results in high quality journals. Again, this is a consequence of the close mentoring we provide as well as our focus on family business, which provides a wealth of research opportunities.

In summary, the Ph.D. Program in Management at Mississippi State University provides students the sort of collegial environment needed to develop strong research and teaching skills. The program is small and tightly knit, run by faculty recognized as world leaders in family business. That focus, combined with training in the general management disciplines provides students with a unique opportunity to build the foundation necessary for a successful academic career.


For specific information about the Management Ph.D. program at Mississippi State University, please contact the Area advisors, Dr. James Vardaman at and Dr. Laura Marler at

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