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Applying to a Doctoral Program in Business

Business PhD Applications

Standardized Test Scores

Many doctoral programs require a minimum score on a standardized test. Every school's minimum score requirements are different. And, most schools pride themselves on the average tests scores earned by their students. For example, business programs in the U.S., sometimes use the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) or the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). Schools prefer to see scores in the upper percentile ranges on both exams.

Academic Records

Doctorate programs require that you provide a copy of your academic records. The primary area to be aware of here is the cost. Institutions will typically charge for copies of your transcripts. This can become costly, especially if you are applying to several schools.


The resume you submit should reflect both your professional and academic experience. Your resume will be a bit different and possibly longer than the resume you would typically provide to a potential employer. You should try to compose your resume in a way that reflects your research capabilities and interests. The selection committee wants to determine if you will survive their rigorous program requirements and if you will be able to research at a high-level.

Resume Inclusions to Consider:

  • Have you participated in any special research projects at your place of employment or in your previous coursework?
  • Have you been published or written a paper that has explored a topic in the discipline you are pursuing?
  • Have you led, organized, or established a research project?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, your resume is a good place to outline these types of experiences.

What is the difference between a vita and a resume?
A vita is an academic version of a resume. It is much longer and concentrates on research projects and published works. Once you obtain your PhD and enter the field of academia, you will use a vita. At this point, unless you have a large portion of experience in academics and research, you should use a typical resume format.

Recommendation Letters

Although letters of recommendation are usually the last thing an admissions committee reviews, they still add strength to your application. Most schools will have those who recommend you submit the letter directly to the school, therefore, be sure you trust this person to write accurately on your behalf. Your best writers will likely be direct supervisors who can attest for your professional abilities and past professors who can defend your academic skills.

Admission Essay

Your ability to effectively communicate your ideas is imperative and can be particularly important to a selection committee. In essence, as a business doctorate, you will be communicating your research findings through writing articles, reports, and text books. Each program will require a different essay topic. You may be asked why you are interested in researching the discipline, what your career objectives are, and/or how obtaining a PhD will help you achieve your goals. The most important thing to remember is the quality of your writing, your ability to organize and communicate your thoughts, and your desire for research and teaching. Following the generally accepted rules for formatting an essay is also important.