Program Structure


PhD students fulfill their coursework and methodology requirements by taking advantage of the more than 150 subjects offered at MIT Sloan — in addition to hundreds more offered across MIT. Students may also avail themselves of courses at other local universities. Course selection is made under the guidance of faculty in the student's research group.

Master’s Thesis

In addition to taking elective classes, students in the second or third year of the program are expected to complete their first major research paper which will be a master’s thesis, earning them an SM in Management Research.

General Examinations

The single most important hurdle in the PhD experience at MIT Sloan is the General Examinations. The exact form of these exams can vary according to the faculty and students involved, but they always involve written and oral parts given by the area faculty covering all of the relevant material.


After students complete the General Examinations, the stage is set for them to begin work on a dissertation or thesis, the most unstructured and difficult part of doctoral studies. Students must choose a topic, define it to the satisfaction of a faculty committee, investigate it thoroughly (including gathering data at field sites), and write the dissertation.

Dissertations typically take one of two forms, either book-style chapters or separate essays. They are usually completed within two to three years of passing the General Examinations. The final step before achieving the doctorate is a public defense seminar, which is open to the entire MIT Sloan community.