Department of Your Department

PhD Programs

Overview

The doctorate offered through the Department of Business Information Technology is a full-time, four-year, residential program offering specializations in information technology/decision support systems/business analytics and in operations and supply chain management. It is designed to prepare students for teaching and research careers in higher education.  Although the program emphasizes the study of technology used in the creation, storage, exchange, and use of information in its various forms, considerable emphasis is also placed on the related disciplines of mathematical programming, decision support systems, data mining, stochastic processes, computer simulation, production/operations management, and statistics.  Study of these topics requires that the student have a strong quantitative background.

The primary goal of the program is to prepare graduate students for a successful career in an academic environment.  This objective is realized through a research-oriented program of study that provides extensive interaction with a faculty of outstanding researchers and teachers.  Recent graduates of our program have accepted faculty positions at North Carolina State, William and Mary, University of Connecticut, Radford University, Xavier University, Wyoming, and Iowa State.

Requirements

Responsibility for the administration of the doctoral program is shared by the Department of Business Information Technology and the university’s Graduate School.  General university graduate degree requirements, procedures and policies, departmental listings, course descriptions, and financial information is available through the Graduate School web site http://www.grads.vt.edu/. 

Virginia Tech academic calendar operates on the semester system.  There are two 15 week sessions scheduled from late August through early May, followed by two five-week summer sessions.  The normal academic load for full-time doctoral students is 12 hours during each regular academic term and six hours during the summer sessions.  All Ph.D. candidates must complete a minimum of 90 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate.  This total must include a minimum of 60 semester hours of approved course work and no fewer than 30 hours of research and dissertation credits.  At least 50 percent of all graduate course credits (excluding research and dissertation credits) must be earned at Virginia Tech.  The program of study must also satisfy four departmental specifications.

  • A minimum of 12 hours of graduate course work must be taken in the Department of Business Information Technology.
  • A minimum of nine hours of research methodology related course work must be completed.
  • At least two continuous years must be spent in residence on the Blacksburg campus.  A minimum of 24 graduate-level semester credit hours must be earned during this period.
  • Full instructional responsibility for a least one course during doctoral studies.

The typical Ph.D. candidate enters the program with a master’s degree in business or a related technical discipline.  For students with the appropriate background, three to five years are normally required for the completion of the program. 

Each student’s formal program of study is prepared during the second or third semester of study.  This plan is developed by the student in conjunction with the Ph.D. advisory committee.  In formulating the program, attention is given to the candidate’s prior academic preparation and career objectives.  Typically a significant number of credits are taken outside the Pamplin College of Business in the departments of computer science, electrical and computer engineering, industrial systems engineering, and statistics.

Core Courses and Requirements

Academic Performance

University policy requires that all graduate students maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.  An evaluation of each doctoral candidate’s academic progress is conducted during the spring semester to ensure that the candidate is making satisfactory degree progress and that he or she is aware of faculty expectations.

Examinations

Doctoral candidates are required to pass three major examinations.  The first is the screening exam that consists of two parts covering foundational topics in statistics and operations research. Both parts of the screening exam must be completed successfully by the end of the student's second year of study. The second major exam is the comprehensive examination that consists of both a written and oral component.  The written comprehensive examination is taken during the student’s third year of study. Shortly after the student’s dissertation research is initiated he or she is required to present a prospectus for the research before their dissertation committee.  The third major examination follows the completion of the dissertation and is an oral defense of the candidate’s research.

Admission

In evaluating applications the department’s Graduate Admissions Committee seeks to identify individuals who possess the intellectual capability, motivation, and quantitative background necessary for successful completion of the program.  Desirable quantitative competencies include computer programming skills and a strong foundation in calculus and linear algebra. 

Admission decisions are based on a composite of factors, including, academic record, areas of previous study, academic institutions previously attended, score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), letters of recommendation, and work experience.  International applicants are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and achieve a score of at least 600 on the paper version or 250 on the computer exam. There is no minimum required GRE score.

Application for admission to the doctoral program is restricted to the fall semester.  All application materials should be received by the Graduate School and/or Department of Business Information Technology no later than February 1.  A complete application consists of the following items:

  • a completed online application
  • GRE and TOEFL (if required) scores should be sent to Virginia Tech; ETS Institution Code 5859;
  • official transcripts of undergraduate and graduate course work and letters of recommendation should be sent to the Graduate School

Additionally, copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores should be sent to:

Dr. Cliff T. Ragsdale
Director of Graduate Programs
Department of Business Information Technology
1007 Pamplin Hall (0235)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Financial Assistance

The most common form of financial support for entering doctoral candidate is a graduate assistantship.  These awards presently carry a stipend of approximately $18,000 for the nine-month academic year and require that the recipient work 20 hours per week in support of the instructional and research activities of a faculty member.  Students holding one of these graduate assistantships receive a full tuition waiver.

Candidates who have completed most of their course work frequently hold either a half or full-time instructorship.  Half-time instructors normally teach six hours (two classes) of undergraduate course work.  The salary is dependent upon the individual’s credentials but exceeds the graduate assistantship stipend.

Current Students

Current students in the PhD program are listed in the faculty directory.

Related Departments

This flexible PhD program allows for students to take classes, pending advisor approval, in a variety of related academic departments including Accounting and Information Systems, Computer Science, Finance, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Management, Mathematics, and Statistics.