PhD Overview

PhD Program Lead business education and research for the digitally driven world

The Doctor of Philosophy in Management prepares you for a career in teaching and scholarly research at the university level. This full-time program emphasizes a strong foundation in both methodological and theoretical training.

Highly individualized, the doctoral program allows students to pursue their own areas of interest. Candidates are expected to work closely with the Merage School faculty members and, when appropriate, with faculty from other academic units on campus. A teaching requirement, supported by an ongoing seminar in pedagogy, will give you valuable experience in the classroom. 

A PhD STEM Degree Program

Our PhD in Management program is approved as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Designated Degree Program. Under the Optional Practical Training program, international students who graduate from the program are able to remain in the United States and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months, and can remain for an additional 24 months on an OPT STEM extension.

Application Fee Waiver

In order to support initiatives aimed at addressing and increasing diversity of business school faculty, UC Irvine will waive the PhD Application fees not only for applicants who meet university-wide criteria but also for students who have participated in various programs. See a full list of those programs here.

  • 3.79 Average Graduate GPA
  • 78% Female Students
  • 67% International Students

Program Structure

The doctoral program reflects the School's philosophy that a broad and cross-functional orientation is necessary to appreciate complex business problems that extend beyond the narrow confines of a particular discipline. Students planning academic careers can take advantage of teaching opportunities, along with instruction in teaching techniques that are especially effective in management education.

Within the general field of management, many disciplines and technologies are appropriate for advanced study. Because you work closely with the Merage School faculty, areas of concentration often parallel the strengths of faculty members. These areas include accounting, finance, information systems, marketing, operations and decision technologies, and organization and management, and strategy. The doctoral program is divided into two phases, qualification and dissertation.

The Qualification Phase provides students with a general exposure to their area of specialization, the discipline of management, and methodological tools. The doctoral program curriculum is based on a flexible menu system, consisting of two menus of courses – one for research methods and one for theoretical breadth courses. 

Coursework requirements are approved by the faculty from your area of specialization. Before advancing to candidacy, your are also required to complete 4 breadth courses on the school-wide menu and the theoretical menu, outside your major field. During this phase, you acquire the knowledge necessary to conduct original research and scholarship including: 

  • Knowledge of research, theory, and key issues in the major subfields in the area of specialization
  • The appreciation of critical analytic abilities relevant to the area of specialization
  • Research methods relevant to the area, including both knowledge of methods and a demonstration of the capacity to use the methods

To advance beyond the Qualification Phase, you must complete all required coursework, a written preliminary examination, and a formal oral qualifying examination. The maximum duration of this phase is 9 academic quarters or 3 calendar years.

Academic Advisor

As a Phase I PhD student, you will be assigned an academic faculty advisor from your area of specialization to assist you in getting acclimated to the Merage School PhD program. The advisor guides you in planning your PhD coursework and supervises your academic progress for the first two years of the program. 
During this phase, you have the opportunity to identify/discover your research interests and find a faculty member who best fits your research needs. The Academic Advisor and the Qualifying Advisor may or may not be the same person.

Qualifying Advisor

At the beginning of the third year, the Qualifying Advisor provides you guidance in pursuing your research interests. The Qualifying Advisor may also be the chair of your thesis committee.

The Dissertation Phase requires the completion of a significant original research project and a dissertation which demonstrates your creativity and ability to launch and sustain a career in research. The type of research project selected is an important determinant of the amount of time you will spend in this phase. Upon approval of the dissertation and final examination (dissertation defense), your doctoral committee recommends the conferral of the degree. The Dissertation Phase is expected to take 24 months after you have advanced to candidacy, which ordinarily occurs three years into the program. The normative time to degree is five years.

Mary Gilly returned to the Paul Merage School of Business in the summer of 2015 to serve as the Senior Associate Dean after a two year term as Vice Chair and Chair of the Academic Council at the UC Office of the President. In earlier years, Mary served key administrative roles at the business school and on the UC Irvine campus. Some of these roles at the business school include PhD Director, Associate Dean, and Vice Chair, and Chair of Academic Personnel and Chair of the Academic Senate.

Mary is also an accomplished scholar in the area of marketing, with expertise in consumer behavior, focusing her research on the indirect and often unintended consequences of marketing actions. She conducts her research in a variety of organizations, such as hospitals, quick-service restaurants, high-tech firms, and small retailers. 

Current projects include a study of household decision-making at a distance via new technologies, consumer compliance with debt management services, and the phenomenon of consumer generated advertising. Two of her research grants funded by the National Science Foundation have focused on older Americans’ use of the Internet. 

Her research findings have appeared in the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Consumer Research, California Management Review, and the Journal of Retailing. She and a colleague recently wrote "Why Consumers Shop Online, Who They Are, and What They Want" for The Internet Encyclopedia. 

Professor Gilly has made nearly 30 presentations on marketing to colloquia and conferences held across the United States, and internationally. She has co-chaired conferences and served as an officer in the American Marketing Association. She is currently Academic Director for the Association for Consumer Research, and is a member of the American Academy of Advertising.


UC Irvine’s faculty are top-notch and care deeply about their students. I wanted to attend a program that developed my interests, honed my skillset and was ultimately vested in the outcome of my education. I can categorically say that UCI has exceeded all my expectations.
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