Carlson School of Management

SME Program Requirements

SME focuses on the management of organizations from a top or general management perspective. It addresses both the external relations between the organization and its environment and the internal processes of organization adaptation and change. Students develop an individual program of study in consultation with their faculty adviser. The program combines coursework with active involvement in faculty research, research seminars, and opportunities for teaching.


The strategic management and entrepreneurship department requires its students to take four or five of the SME department’s core PhD courses. Typically students will take both of our strategy courses and our theory building course; they then choose one or two of the remaining courses (currently International, Entrepreneurship, and Organization Theory). Beyond the departmental courses listed here, special seminars will be offered from time to time on such topics as innovation, ethics and corporate responsibility, knowledge management and other cutting edge topics. Independent reading courses may be available by arrangement.

Students will also take from eight to eleven additional classes outside the SME department in order to deepen their knowledge and preparedness. These courses typically involve research methods and statistics as well as courses that support the students’ main theoretical grounding in their core disciplinary base.

The department offers the following PhD courses regularly:

Seminar in Strategy Content

Review of research on the bases and characteristics of organization strategy.

Seminar in Strategy Process

Review of research on processes of strategy formulation and implementation.

Seminar in Entrepreneurship

Review of research on new venture creation and opportunity realization in new and existing firms.

Theory Building and Research Design

Problem formulation, conceptual modeling, theory building, and research design in the social and behavioral sciences.

Seminar in International Management

Overview of the field of international management research.

Seminar in Organizational Theory

Major theories and current research on organizational and interorganizational topics from a macro perspective.

Other Topics in Strategy, as designed by professors

First Year Exam

At the end of their first year in the doctoral program, students must complete two requirements : an Article Review Exam and an Oral Article Presentation. In the Article Review Exam each student must prepare independently a short written critique of one published research paper from a field journal assigned to them. In the short Oral Article Presentation they are required to successfully defend their critique before a faculty panel.

Second Year Paper

The Second Year Paper, due after the second summer in the program, is an original research requirement that involves an empirical written paper that demonstrates the student’s original research efforts. The purpose of the Second Year Paper is to assess each student’s scholarly development and his/her ability to identify and investigate theoretically rich, important issues in a way that will significantly expand current knowledge. This work may be done with faculty so long as the student is the primary author.

Written Prelim

During the summer after the students’ second-year in the program, they take an in-house, open-note exam covering three days. The first day’s exam covers all major areas in the program. The second day’s exam covers organization theory and methods. The third day covers the individual student’s major supporting area of concentration.

Oral Prelim

The oral exam usually occurs during the student’s third year in the program, typically by the end of fall semester of the third year. This exam involves a presentation and defense of the second year paper.

Proposal Defense

Can occur within one semester of passing the oral prelim. It is the final step prior to dissertation completion.


Students are expected to get involved in research with department faculty as quickly as possible. They are also expected to attend all department-organized research colloquia, job talks, and workshops. Students are required to serve as teaching assistants and are expected to teach at least one section of a course. They will meet with the PhD Coordinator in the fall and spring semesters of each year to discuss progress goals and receive feedback on performance. For more information students may refer to the SME Unofficial Student Handbook.

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Program Demographics 2013

  • Average Age = 30
  • Average GRE (before August 2011) = 1440
  • Average GRE (after August 2011) = 332
  • Average GMAT = 734

Program Statistics 2013

  • Number of Applicants = 66
  • Admissions = 4 (6%)
  • Matriculants = 3 (75%)
  • Total program size = 14

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