Management and Organizations

Curriculum Milestones in the Ph.D. Program (Revised January 2013)

Major Milestones

Major milestones in the Ph.D. program are as follows:

  1. Satisfactory annual student progress report and faculty review of student progress (every year).
  2. Completion of required and elective course work (normally by the end of 2nd year for required; end of 3rd year for elective).
  3. Comprehensive examinations (normally during summer after 2nd year).
  4. Third-year research paper (normally during first half of 3rd year).
  5. Participation in Friday Seminars.
  6. Completion of Teaching Checklist.
  7. Oral defense of dissertation proposal (normally during 4th year).
  8. Defense of completed dissertation (normally during spring 5th year).

Except for the first milestone, which occurs annually, the steps must be completed in the order listed. Specifications for each milestone are outlined in the following sections.

Annual Progress Report & Faculty Review of Ph.D. Student Progress

The departmental faculty will meet once per year in the late spring to discuss the progress of all Ph.D. students. Prior to the meeting, each student will be responsible for approaching a faculty member with the request to be his or her primary advisor. This advising relationship may be the same or different from the person who will eventually serve as the student’s third-year paper and dissertation chair. This solicitation of a faculty advisor is typically done in Year 1, but can be changed at the request of the student or faculty member. Each April the student is responsible for preparing a Progress Report that consists of his or her: (a) up-to-date curriculum vita; and (b) a one-page summary of goals attained during the year as well as goals and plans for the following year. This report is due to the student’s advisor and Ph.D. coordinator prior to the faculty review meeting in early May.

Each student's advisor will be responsible for preparing advance comments about the student for presentation at the faculty meeting. During the meeting, input from all faculty members will be solicited with respect to the student's performance in course work, mentored research projects, and research or teaching assistantships. Following the meeting, the student's advisor will be responsible for developing a written performance assessment, which will be shared with the student and Ph.D. coordinator as soon after classes are over as possible, but not after July 15.

Academic Probation: Although most students complete program requirements successfully, it is important to note that continuation in the Ph.D. program is contingent on satisfactory academic progress. As stated in the Graduate College manual, "A doctoral student on regular status shall be placed on probation if, after completing 8 hours of graduate work, the student's cumulative grade-point average on graduate work done at the University of Iowa falls below 3.00. If, after completing 8 more semester hours of graduate work at this university, the student's cumulative grade-point average remains below the required level, the student shall be dropped from the program and denied permission to reregister unless the student applies and is accepted for a nondoctoral degree or certificate program. If, after completing the second 8 semester hours, the cumulative grade-point average is at least 3.00, the student is returned to good standing."

Failure to Make Progress: Grades are one way that academic progress is assessed; however, faculty assessments of the student's overall performance in the program (including research and teaching assistantships), as well as the passing of other milestones are also considered. In cases where the overall faculty assessment is the student is failing to make adequate progress, the issues will be outlined in the advisor's performance assessment, as noted above. Recommendations for improvement will be provided and goals will be specified that need to be met in order for continuation in the Ph.D. program. In some cases, the performance assessment may advise the student to begin considering other (nonprogram) options, in the event that performance does not improve sufficiently to justify continuation in the program. Continued financial aid is contingent on acceptable progress in the academic program as well as on acceptable performance in previous research and/or teaching assistantships. It is possible that a student may be permitted to continue to take classes in the program, but be denied additional funding, based on faculty assessments of the student's previous RA or TA performance.

Completion of Required and Elective Course Work

Completion of the doctoral program requires a total of 72 hours of credit. Required course work is normally completed during the first two years of a student’s academic program. The following courses are required for all students:

Research Methods (18 s.h.)

MGMT:7160/6J:273Measurement Theory and Methods (3 s.h.)
MGMT:7140/6J:269Meta-Analysis (3 s.h.)
MGMT:7120/6J:270Methods for Field Research (2 s.h.)
MGMT:7124/6J:265Methods for Qualitative Research (2 s.h.)
MGMT:7128/6J:266Methods for Experimental Research (2 s.h.)

Plus 6 additional s.h. tailored to the student's needs and interests. Most students will want course work in intermediate statistics and regression analyses. Potential courses include 7P:243 Intermediate Statistical Methods and 7P:244 Correlation and Regression.

Content Courses (19 s.h.)

MGMT:7329/6J:267Organizational Theory (2 s.h.)
MGMT:7380/6J:272 Performance and Career Management (2 s.h.)
MGMT:7380/6J:272 Training and Development (2 s.h.)
MGMT:7330/6J:274Staffing Organizations (3 s.h.)
MGMT:7340/6J:275 Group Processes (2 s.h.)
MGMT:7350/6J:276Leadership (3 s.h.)
MGMT:7360/6J:277Motivation and Attitudes (3 s.h.)
MGMT:7370/6J:278Reward Systems (2 s.h.)

Mentored Research (4 s.h.)

MGMT:7700/6J:295Mentored Research (4 semesters of 1 s.h. each)

Thesis Mgmt. & Org. Credits (~15 s.h., depending on transfers)

MGMT:7975/6J:290Thesis Mgmt. & Org.

During the first two years of the program students will be continuously enrolled in Mentored Research (6J:295). The purpose of the mentored research credits is to get students involved in faculty research projects as soon as possible. In this way, students will learn the "nitty-gritty" of designing and executing studies, analyzing data, and writing papers for publication. In August of each year, the Ph.D. coordinator will solicit from the faculty any research projects on which they would like to have a Ph.D. student involved. The list of available research projects will then be circulated to the 1st- and 2nd-year Ph.D. students and the students will be asked to rank order their preferred projects. Giving priority to the 1st-year students, the Ph.D. coordinator will match students to faculty projects based on preferences. The assigned faculty mentor is then responsible for advising the student on the project. The work requirements will vary depending on the research project. Based on the student's performance and contributions to the research project, the faculty mentor may invite the student to be a co-author on publications resulting from that project. Whether these projects can be used for the student's 3rd-year paper is at the discretion of the faculty member and should be discussed with the mentor as early as possible.

In addition to the required course work listed above, students must complete 6 s.h. of elective course work. This is usually done during the student's 3rd year in the program, and will often consist of additional Research Methods training, such as structural equation modeling, multivariate statistics, or ethnography. Content courses from other departments are also encouraged according to the students' research interests. Approximately 15 s.h. of Thesis (6J:290) credits are also required. For many students, these may include credits transferred in from other institutions or programs if they have been approved by the director of graduate studies, the student's advisor, and the Graduate College. Students are encouraged to work closely with Renea Jay, the coordinator of the Ph.D. Program, to ensure that they have accumulated the 72 s.h. of credits required for graduation.

Passing of Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive exam is completed in the last week of June in the summer between a student's 2nd and 3rd years in the program. The exam is administered on campus over three days. It is expected that students will take the exam with their cohort of students who were admitted to the program at a common time. Each student will take the same exam with questions that cover the HR, OB, and research method courses content. The Ph.D. director will provide details on the exam and guidelines for studying to all students in their first year of the program.

As stated in the Graduate College Manual, "Admission to the comprehensive examination is granted upon the recommendation of the major department, the filing of the Plan of Study, and the approval of the dean of the Graduate College. A student must be registered in the Graduate College at the time of the comprehensive examination, which must be satisfactorily completed not later than the session prior to the session of graduation. This examination, administered only on campus, is intended to be an inclusive evaluation of the candidate's mastery of the major and related fields of study, including the tools of research in which competence has been certified. . . It is intended to evaluate a candidate's mastery of the subject at or near the end of the candidate's formal preparation and prior to the completion of the dissertation."

The examination committee will consist of faculty members from within the department. Normally these faculty members are the same individuals who have taught the Ph.D. seminars. Occasionally, if needed, an external faculty member may be asked to write a question if the students have taken a course with that person. Questions will cover the areas of all courses. Questions will require integration and analysis across courses. Students will be expected not only to have mastered specific course content readings, but also to be familiar with general research in the relevant area as included on the recommended readings lists provided by faculty prior to the exam.

Students are expected to produce their answers in word-processed format. Students will be provided a private room, a computer, and a storage device. Upon completion of the exam, the storage device with the saved file should be given to the department secretary who will print the student's answers and allow it to be checked prior to submission. Students with disabilities who need alternative arrangements should see the Ph.D. coordinator for any necessary accommodations.

Outcomes of the comprehensive exams also follow the Graduate College Guidelines for Comprehensive Exams. Possible scores are Satisfactory (3), Satisfactory with Reservations (2), or Unsatisfactory (1). If the average score across the examination committee is below 1.33, this will be considered a failing grade. In the event of failing an exam, the student must wait until the following exam date to retake the exam. Only one retake is permitted. Failure on two examinations will result in dismissal from the program. Students are advanced to Ph.D. candidacy when they successfully complete the Comprehensive Exam and have completed all required course work.

Completion and Committee Acceptance of 3rd-Year Paper

The purpose of the 3rd-year paper is to give students experience in writing a full-length paper that is of high enough quality to be submitted to a major academic conference or journal. There are several models that can be followed for the paper, including the following:

  1. Write an empirical-based academic paper based on existing data from a faculty member. In this case, the student would develop their own ideas to test given the constraints of the data set. The downside is that the final paper may not be publishable due to a multitude of reasons (data has already been used in previously published manuscripts, faculty member would like to publish the data for a paper on a different topic/model, faculty from other universities might be involved in the project).
  2. Design and execute a new study (quantitative or qualitative). This could be a full-scale study or a "mini-study" (e.g., survey only 50 employees, or interview only 10 individuals) to test their own ideas, but under faculty supervision. Students would then write a complete academic paper based on the results of their study. This type of paper will take longer because of the design element, but would likely make the dissertation less daunting. The student might even use this study/paper as a pilot for a dissertation.
  3. Develop a theoretical paper with a model and research proposition (similar to an AMR or JOM review article). This type of paper could be the beginnings of their dissertation and/or published as a theory piece. A narrative review of a content area would also be acceptable if it was substantial.
March of Year 2Identification of topic and faculty advisor.
June of Year 2Formation of committee; approval of topic.
Sept. of Year 3Draft of paper given to committee members.
Nov. or Dec. of Year 3Present paper to faculty and Ph.D. students.
By Dec. of Year 3Present the paper to faculty and Ph.D. students.
Participation in Friday Seminars

The department offers a variety of development opportunities outside of the classroom for students. Our Friday Seminars are devoted to skill development in the domains of teaching, research, publishing, and career preparations. The goal of these seminars is to socialize doctoral students to the various aspects of a successful career in academia. Topics will vary each semester, but often will include guest research speakers, CARMA webcasts to provide instruction on advanced research methods topics, practice sessions for poster and oral conference presentations, writing, teaching topics, and socialization topics on elements such as networks, job search, and dissertation writing. It is expected that students will attend these Friday sessions (typically occurring over the lunch hour), unless they are otherwise committed. Strict attendance is not taken at these seminars, but repeated absences are not acceptable.

Completion of Teaching Checklist

Specifically with regard to teaching, the department has generated a checklist of activities geared toward best preparing students to step into the classroom. All activities, or a replacement activity approved by the student's mentor and the director of graduate studies, must by checked-off prior to graduation. In addition, students may seek development outside the college through teaching programs. The director of graduate studies will maintain these checklists for all students.

Teaching Development Checklist

_______Satisfactory performance as TA for at least one section of Introduction to Management.
_______Satisfactory performance as TA/grader for at least one section of another course.
_______ Attends at least three department seminar sessions focused on teaching.
_______ Attends at least one Center for Teaching workshop.
_______Teaching is observed by a faculty member and provided with teaching feedback.
_______ Faculty member reviews and provides feedback on teaching materials (such as syllabus, slides, assignments, and exams) developed by student.
_______Standalone instructor of a course.
Successful Oral Defense of Dissertation Proposal

Following the completion of course work and comprehensive exams, the major remaining hurdles involve proposing, conducting, and defending the dissertation. The oral defense of the dissertation proposal is conducted at the point where the candidate has: (a) completed all course work, (b) passed the qualifying exam, (c) convened a dissertation committee, and (d) submitted a formal dissertation proposal to the committee. Successful completion of the proposal defense will mean that the dissertation committee has approved the student's proposal and plan for the dissertation.

Advance approval of the Ph.D. coordinator is needed to conduct the oral defense of the proposal. At least three weeks prior to scheduling the oral exam, the student must go to the departmental secretary to get an Application for the Ph.D. Oral Proposal Defense. In order to complete this form, the student must convene a committee of at least five faculty members willing to serve on the dissertation committee. At least four of the faculty members must be members of the University of Iowa tenure-track faculty. At least two of the faculty members must be from the major department (defined as faculty members who hold any appointment in the major department or program), and are members of the University of Iowa tenure-track faculty. The student, with the support of the department, may request the dean's permission to replace one of the five members of the graduate faculty by a recognized scholar of professorial rank from another academic institution. Also, a voting member may be added at the discretion of the Graduate College dean.

When turning in the application for the oral defense, the student must also submit a copy of his or her latest transcript and evidence of current registration. The student must request a time for the exam and confirm that all five committee members can attend at that time. A room will be reserved by the M&O departmental secretary.

The chair of the oral proposal committee is responsible for completing the Report on Oral Proposal Defense, initialed by all committee members, and notifying the student of the outcome. Possible outcomes are Satisfactory, Satisfactory with Reservations, or Unsatisfactory. Two Unsatisfactory votes among the five members will make the committee report unsatisfactory. In the event of a report with two or more votes of Satisfactory with Reservations, the exact stipulations of the committee should be recorded with the report form The statement must also specify the time allowed for satisfying the stipulations. In the case of an unsatisfactory examination, the committee may grant the candidate permission to present him or herself for reexamination. The examination may be repeated only once, at the option of the department.

The M&O faculty has a policy of generally not writing letters of recommendation for students who have not had their dissertation proposal fully approved (except for minor reservations) by their dissertation committee. Unless the proposal is defended, we also will normally not provide funding for travel to conferences for the purpose of job search. In short, this means that a successful job search requires students to have dissertation proposals defended during the spring before their final year. For best consideration for internal and external dissertation grant funding and doctoral student consortiums, it is strongly recommended that students strive to defend their proposal by February of their fourth year.

Experience has shown that students may underestimate the time it takes to work through dissertation revisions. Most dissertation proposals require a number of revisions before they are ready to go to an entire committee. Faculty also need some time to review drafts and provide feedback. Faculty will generally need at least two weeks to respond to a draft and provide feedback. We doubt that students will be able to respond to feedback in less than 2-3 weeks. A recommended timeline is as follows:

Spring Year 3Determine dissertation topic, choose a chair, and begin literature review.
Fall Year 4Meet regularly with dissertation chair and submit drafts of initial chapters.
Winter Year 4Submit dissertation proposal to committee members.
Early Spring Year 4Proposal defense scheduled and executed.

The student is required to register each fall and spring semester after passing the dissertation proposal defense (called the comprehensive exam in the Graduate College Handbook) until the degree is awarded. If a student fails to register, he or she may not be readmitted to candidacy until the student has submitted an application which has been approved by the student's advisor, the DEO, and the Graduate College dean.

Successful Dissertation Defense

Early in the semester in which a student intends to defend the dissertation, the following documents should be obtained: (1) Ph.D. Final Examination (Thesis Defense) and Graduation Procedures, from the Graduate College; and (2) Report of Examination: Advanced Degree, which the departmental secretary provides. The dissertation committee of at least five faculty must include a chairperson, and is normally the same committee as the Dissertation Proposal Committee. Following the examination, the committee will complete and submit the Report of Final Examination: Advanced Degree form. Dissertation defenses are open to all members of the department, as well as to the general public. More detailed procedures for final dissertation examinations can be found in the Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College.

Beginning with the fall 2009 semester, all doctoral dissertations and master's theses, excluding MFA theses, must be submitted to the Graduate College in electronic format. (See "Electronic Theses and Dissertations" for help with the submission of your ETD to UMI/ProQuest.) MFA students will have the option of submitting hard-copy or electronic theses. Please reference the Graduate College Manual of Rules and Regulations (sections X.H. and XII.M.) to review the revised submission text.


The information presented here should help students and their advisors effectively manage student performance in the Ph.D. program, and help them set goals that will enable student success. Within this overarching purpose, a great deal of specific information is provided that should help students (and their advisors) monitor their progress in the program, and set goals for the future. (A printable version of this information is also available.)

Students' progress in the Ph.D. program is monitored and evaluated in three main ways: (1) advisors keep track of all completed course work in the student's plan of study; (2) students undergo major milestones (e.g., qualifying examinations, third-year papers, proposal defense, and dissertation defense) that are evaluated by faculty committees; and (3) every student's overall progress (course work, assistantships, mentored research, and dissertation work) is reviewed by the full M&O faculty in the spring of each year.

These milestones correspond to the formal requirements toward earning a Ph.D. There may be a difference between fulfilling the requirements for earning a degree and preparing oneself to meet one’s career goals. To be competitive for positions at research universities, students must have significant involvement in multiple research projects that will result in publication. Because students'; goals are different, formal requirements for research projects are not promulgated here. Furthermore, although a student’s advisor and the Ph.D. coordinator can be sources of advice and input in terms of how to gain involvement in research projects, the impetus of such involvement rests with the student. Thus, while this document is meant to enhance students’ management of their performance in the program, it is not a performance management process in and of itself. Students need to be proactive, and work closely with their advisors, to make sure that both formal and “unofficial” goals are met.

This document should be interpreted as outlining normal procedures for moving through and completing the program. However, a student may appeal to waive or modify a particular procedure if he or she feels there is compelling reason to do so. Waivers or modifications may be approved, provided: (1) the case for the proposed deviation is presented in writing; and (2) the student's advisor, the department executive officer (DEO), and the Ph.D. coordinator all agree to the modification.