Policies on the M&IS Ph.D. Programs in Business Administration

The M&IS Department offers the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in business administration with concentrations in management, information systems, and supply chain management. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree in any of these disciplines should consult with the Ph.D. Program Handbook and the Department’s Ph.D. coordinator for guidance on their responsibilities and appropriate courses they need to fulfill their degree requirements.

The mission of the Ph.D. program is to prepare students to conduct high quality scholarly research and to teach effectively in the field of business. The key objectives of the program, as articulated in the College of Business Administration Ph.D. Program handbook, are that through advanced coursework and apprenticeship with graduate faculty, each student will be expected to through:

  • Area of specialization, acquire the knowledge for establishing expertise in a functional area of business;
  • Research Competence, develop the conceptual and methodological skills required for conducting original research in the chosen area of specialization;
  • Teaching Commitment, prepare for the responsibility and challenge of undergraduate and graduate business education through classroom experience;
  • Service Orientation, acquire expertise to promote effective resolution of prevailing business and social problems at the local, state, or national level.

The Ph.D. program has coursework and research or dissertation components, with appropriate minimum number of credit hours required for each. Students in the program take college required and departmentally selected courses, and courses in their major and minor areas of study.

  1. Comprehensive Examinations

    As stated in the College of Business Administration Ph.D. Program Handbook, all candidates for the Ph.D. degree in the College of Business are required to take a comprehensive examination as part of their evaluation process. More detailed and most current policy pertaining to the Ph.D. program in general and the comprehensive examinations in particular can be found in the College’s Ph.D. Handbook. While comprehensive exams are required in the student’s area of concentration, there is no such requirement in the student’s minor.

    1. Composition of Comprehensive Examinations

      Comprehensive examinations pertain to areas of knowledge rather than specific courses. The materials covered, number and format of questions, and other such details are determined by the graduate faculty in the area developing the exam. It is strongly recommended that the student consult with the Area Coordinator well in advance (at least two months) of the comprehensive exam date, so that the Coordinator can direct the student to appropriate graduate faculty members for guidance in selecting reading materials for study.

      The writing and grading of Ph.D. comprehensive examinations are restricted to the graduate faculty members. Any or all members of the graduate faculty in the student’s area of concentration may be called upon by the Coordinator to participate in the Ph.D. examinations process. Thus, the student should not expect only those professors from whom coursework has been taken to participate in the writing and/or grading of the comprehensive exam.

      The Ph.D. Coordinator requests questions from selected graduate faculty who teach in the area which the student has specified as his/her area of concentration.  The faculty submit their questions to the Ph.D. Coordinator, who compiles them and works with the Comprehensive Examination committee to create the comprehensive exam for the student. 

      The Comprehensive Examination Committee is composed of graduate faculty in the Department, and is appointed by the Ph.D. Coordinator.  This committee reviews all questions submitted by the graduate faculty and selects a set of questions which comprehensively examines the student in the area of concentration.  The concentration exam should be designed not to require more than eight hours over two consecutive working days to complete while each minor exam should not exceed four hours over one day.

    2. Guidance to the Student

      At the minimum, students taking these examinations will be provided with both the title and the scope of the questions. The PhD handbook further recommends that each student contact the graduate faculty for guidelines in selecting reading materials for study. However, this does not imply that students be given a specific, or an exhaustive reading list. The current partial readings list can be found at http://mis.kent.edu/gp/phd-program/rlis.html.

      These examinations are comprehensive, and any list, even if provided, should act only as a guideline to the type of material a student should be familiar with to do well in the examinations. Questions, as long as they conform to the scope, can come from outside any such list. Ultimately, the student is responsible and accountable for any relevant literature in their area of study.

    3. Grading and Evaluation of Comprehensive Examinations

      If the candidate passes most but not all of the questions, it will be at the discretion of the Comprehensive Examination Committee whether to require the student to retake only the parts failed or retake the entire examination. The student should register for BAD 70198 (Research) during the semester in which he or she wishes to retake the examination. A student may retake the entire exam a maximum of one time. Partial retakes will also be permitted a maximum of one time. If a second attempt proves unsuccessful, the student will be subject to dismissal.

      As with any other student complaint of an academic nature, students have the right of appeal of the result of their comprehensive examination if they feel that they have been disadvantaged by the process. The administrative policy and procedure for student academic complaints at the Kent campus may be found in the University Policy Register, Section 3342‑4‑02.3. Guidance to the adjudication of grievances of a nonacademic nature is provided in the University Policy Register, Section 3342-4-02.102.

      Students are encouraged to first try to reach a resolution of their complaint with the Department’s Graduate Program Coordinator. If the Coordinator is not able to reach resolution at this point, he/she may then petition the Chair who may request that the graduate committee of the Department convene as a Student Academic Complaint Committee, augmented by a student member appointed according to College procedure.  After hearing both the student and the Comprehensive Examination Committee, the Student Academic Complaint Committee will make a recommendation to the Chair for resolution of the issue.  If the grievance is not satisfactorily settled at the department level, the student may appeal to the Dean of the College of Business Administration, through the College of Business Ph.D. Director and Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs.

      Failure in procedural matters by the graduate faculty member, Comprehensive Examination Committee, or the Department shall not be sufficient cause for the awarding of a passing grade for the comprehensive examination or subsequently, the Ph.D. degree.

  2. Mentoring of Ph.D. Students

    The Mentorship program in the Department of Management & Information Systems has two primary goals: First, to help the Ph.D. student develop the conceptual and methodological skills required for conducting original research, and secondly, to help the student acquire the knowledge necessary to establish expertise in their area of concentration.

    1. Research Mentorship

      All incoming Ph.D. students will be assigned a faculty mentor. Students will work collaboratively with their mentor and other professors or students as a research team to undertake and publish research. A new faculty mentor will typically be assigned each year to the student, until the student passes their comprehensive examinations. It is expected that students in their third year will work on research related to their dissertation.

      An important aspect of this program is to expose students to a wide variety of research perspectives. As each mentor may have different perspectives on research, the student benefits from working with a variety of mentors.  It is also expected that the amount and type of work done by the student will change during their tenure. Typically, first-year students will need more guidance at all stages of the research process. Second and third year students will play increasingly greater roles in the research process. They should be more actively involved in the creation of the research idea, in the execution of the design, in the analysis of the results, and in the writing of the early drafts of the research paper.  The faculty mentor will often be more directly involved in the development of the research design, in guiding the analysis, and in "polishing" the research paper and moving it through the publication process.

      The student will present the research idea to the department, and receive feedback from faculty and students on study design. The student will play key roles in the research team that will complete the study. Results from the study will then be presented to the department as part of our Research Seminar Series. At the minimum, the quality of work should resemble a presentation at a professional conference.

      These research experiences are outside the domain of coursework, and will require many hours every week. This required expenditure of time is essential action learning; the student learns while doing. It provides the student with hands-on experience in how to conduct research, and may result in publications that will enhance the student's marketability in the job market.

      It is the student's responsibility to coordinate with their research mentor at the beginning of every semester to set up goals and expectations, regular schedule of meetings, and to follow through with these meetings in a timely manner.

    2. Teaching Mentorship

      Students will be assigned a mentor to guide their teaching for every course they teach. As part of this mentorship, students who are teaching are required to discuss their course preparation with a faculty who has previously taught the course.  Students are also encouraged to invite their mentor to class, so faculty can provide useful suggestions for effective teaching.

      It is the student's responsibility to coordinate with their teaching mentor at the beginning of every semester to set up a regular schedule of meetings, and to follow through with these meetings in a timely manner.

  3. Research Seminars

    The research seminars provide a forum for students to develop and refine their research ideas and methodology, and their presentation skills.  These skills are vital for research presentations at conferences, job interviews, and in the classroom. As part of the mentorship program, students are expected to make presentations, and address questions in these seminars. The Mentor will play a supporting role during the presentation.  Students are evaluated both on the content and quality of their research material and on their presentation skills.

    For the student presentations in fall, the emphasis is on receiving input from the audience.  Students should view this as a learning experience, rather than taking a position and defending it against all suggestions. The intent of this presentation is to educate the audience about the area under study, and be receptive to new ideas, questions, and problems.

    The presentations in the spring term are intended to be more formal, emulating a typical conference presentation.  For completed studies, the emphasis should be on presenting the results.  Both content and style are important.  As with conference or job interviews, the presenter must not only get the point of the study results across to the audience, but must also be willing to listen and defend comments and questions about the completed study. 

  4. Keys to a Successful Mentorship

    The following is excerpted and modified from Koblinsky, S. (2000), Mentoring Advice for Graduate Students, Family Science Department, University of Michigan.

    There are many things to consider when working with a mentor, including your own needs and preferred style of learning. Faculty mentors vary in terms of their availability, communication styles, expectations for student productivity, involvement in co-authorship of publications, and their own reputations within a discipline.  A serious appraisal of the expertise and work styles of prospective mentors, as well as your own strengths and needs, can help you maintain rewarding mentoring relationships.

    1. Communication
      1. Inform a prospective mentor about how your own previous academic, professional, or personal experiences intersect with his/her interests.
      2. Be open and honest about your interests, needs, and career aspirations.
      3. After you are assigned a mentor, clarify your goals and expectations early on. Work with your mentor to create a realistic, mutually agreeable timeline for your study.
      4. Establish how often you will meet face to face and how you should contact your mentor with questions outside of meetings (e.g., email, phone).
      5. Communicate regularly with your mentor about your research progress; ask questions when they arise – remember that there are no dumb questions and that your mentor’s role is to help.
      6. Share your academic and professional achievements with your mentor.
      7. When conflicts arise, communicate clearly, stating the perceived problem and requesting that you and the mentor work collaboratively toward a solution.
      8. Maintain contact with your mentor during periods of slow progress and problems; don’t give the impression that you are avoiding your mentor.
      9. Respect your mentor’s time; if you need time beyond your appointment, schedule another meeting.
      10. Be aware of faculty-student boundaries; although you may have a friendship with your mentor, be respectful of his/her other duties and need to be objective in evaluating your work.
    2. Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities
      1. Arrange regular meetings about research, scholarship, and creative activity with your mentor; many students believe that scheduling a meeting at least once every other week keeps them motivated and making steady progress.
      2. Always prepare yourself for meetings with your mentor.
        1. Arrive on time.
        2. Bring a written, prioritized list of topics and questions for discussion. 
        3. Bring a summary of what you’ve accomplished since the last meeting. 
        4. Bring your notes from previous meetings. 
        5. Bring any relevant, upcoming deadlines (e.g., Graduate School deadlines, submission deadlines for professional meetings).
      3. Ask your mentor to:
        1. Help you shape your research proposal or creative project.
        2. Discuss historical trends, current research, and research methods in your discipline.
        3. Guide and critique your research project or creative activity. 
        4. Help you think about the ethical implications of your research work. 
        5. Assist you in selecting members of your thesis/dissertation/project committee. 
        6. After each meeting, email your advisor a brief summary of your new tasks and any commitments that your mentor has made to you. Ask your mentor to respond if anything appears incorrect. These summaries will help you avoid future misunderstandings and maintain a record of your research progress. 
        7. Follow the advice of your mentor; read recommended publications and give your mentor feedback about the usefulness of his/her suggestions.
        8. Give appropriate credit to your mentor and fellow collaborators in publications, presentations, exhibitions, and creative activities. 
        9. Seek opportunities to work with your mentor on research, scholarly, and creative projects; professional meeting presentations; editorial reviews of publications and creative works; and grant proposals.
        10.  Actively participate in the activities of your laboratory or research/creative group. 
        11. Strive to complete all research and academic tasks on time; notify your mentor in a timely manner when you cannot meet a deadline. 
        12. Demonstrate an excellent work ethic.
    3.  Theses and Dissertations
      1. Submit only carefully written, well-edited and proofread drafts of the thesis/dissertation to your mentor (unless otherwise instructed by your mentor). 
      2. Determine how long your mentor expects to have your draft before returning a critique. 
      3. Accept critiques of your draft in a professional manner; if you continue to disagree with your mentor about an issue, present a well-reasoned response at your next meeting. 
      4. When resubmitting drafts of your thesis/dissertation, mark the new or edited sections so that your mentor will not always have to read the entire document. 
    4. Teaching
      1. Seek out at least one excellent teacher to mentor you in developing your teaching skills (this person need not be your dissertation advisor). 
      2. Develop a relationship with your teaching mentor, establishing expectations and regular meeting times. 
      3. Work with your mentor to identify teaching opportunities in your department, including serving as a laboratory instructor, a discussion section leader, and/or an autonomous teacher. 
      4. Share your teaching goals with your mentor, including the syllabi and assignments you wish to develop, the content you wish to cover, and the skills you hope to improve. 
      5. Arrange for your mentor to observe your teaching on multiple occasions; then set up times when the two of you can meet to review your instruction, evaluate your progress, and set future teaching goals. 
      6. Encourage your mentor to help you create an inclusive classroom environment, capitalize on the diverse backgrounds of your students, and recognize different learning styles.
      7. Take advantage of teaching-oriented opportunities offered by your department/college and the Graduate School; discuss what you have learned with your mentor. 
    5. Career and Professional Development
      1. Ask your mentor to provide you with career information and guidance.
      2. Meet with your mentor to discuss your career aspirations and important issues in your professional development.
      3. Request that your mentor introduce you to colleagues, potential employers, and other professionals who might help to advance your career.
      4. Present your research and creative work in multiple forums (department, university, professional conferences/performances), and network with your mentor and his/her colleagues at these events.
      5. Encourage your mentor to nominate you for fellowships, awards, and service committees that will enhance your professional profile.
      6. Ask your mentor to help you develop interviewing skills, handle job offers, and negotiate a first contract.
      7. Maintain contact with your mentor after graduation; inform him/her of your successes and continue to seek professional advice when needed.


  5. Guidelines for Incoming Ph.D. Students in M&IS

    On behalf of the Management & Information Systems (M&IS) faculty, the College of Business Administration, we welcome you as students for the Ph.D. program in Management and Information System (M&IS) at Kent State University. The selection process for this program is extremely competitive and only the most deserving candidates are admitted. Congratulations!

    The doctoral program in M&IS has a rich legacy of building careers. Our alumni have been distinguished researchers and excellent instructors who command national and international presence in their respective disciplines. In order to maintain the legacy, we have to mutually work towards attaining a level of research and pedagogical distinction that will help you remain competitive in your field.

    As you are well aware, the doctoral program in M&IS is intensive and you will be expected to follow a set of guidelines as stipulated by the department. These guidelines are for the overall health of the department and the program, and you, as Ph.D. students and candidates, are expected to clearly understand and follow them. The guidelines have been set by the M&IS Department and complement the general requirements by the graduate school. These guidelines are also independent of your immediate assignments or advisors. Your success in this program will be contingent upon following these guidelines.

    • Every M&IS Ph.D. student, throughout their tenure, is expected to actively participate and attend all departmental presentations and meetings as directed by the Ph.D. coordinator. Note that these presentations will give you headway into crafting better research models, collaborating with faculty, presenting your own research ideas, receiving feedback, and getting a general sense of operational issues in academia.
    • Every M&IS Ph.D. student, throughout their tenure, will be expected to fulfill departmental requirements and deadlines. Such requirements and deadlines can include completion of research projects, meeting deadlines, and presenting summer research reports.
    • The M&IS Department will offer mentoring to Ph.D. students during their tenure in the Department. Your mentor(s) will regularly meet with you to offer advice and direct you in your research, teaching, and service endeavors. Further mentoring guidelines can be found in the Ph.D. student handbook.
    • Every M&IS Ph.D. student, throughout their tenure, is expected to meet with the Ph.D. coordinator and interested graduate faculty on a yearly basis to review their progress in the program. This review will be conducted in a professional, open and constructive manner, and is intended to ensure that you are making satisfactory progress in the program. 
    • Every M&IS Ph.D. student must follow the above guidelines in order to remain in good standing in the program. Failure to actively participate in departmental presentations/meetings and mentorship, or failure to meet deadlines, could result in release from the program.


    Please remember that these guidelines serve the purpose of crafting a world-class Ph.D. program for which you are and will remain ambassadors.


    I, _____________________________, a Ph.D. student in the department of M&IS at Kent State University, have read and understood the guidelines above and understand that to maintain my position as a graduate student, I will be expected to follow them until amended by the Chair or the Ph.D. Coordinator in the M&IS department.


    Signature: _________________________              Date: _________________________


    Attested:  __________________________                      __________________________

          Chair, M&IS Department                               Ph.D. Coordinator, M&IS Dept.