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Business - Research

The PhD programme is a four year structured programme which involves coursework in research methods, discipline specific courses and generic skills and training.

Our PhD programme is a key part of our research culture and has a global reputation for excellence and facilities that are second-to-none. We have a large number of PhD students and post-doctorate researchers from many countries, doing research of the highest international quality.

The programme is aimed at graduates with an excellent academic background in business or an area relevant to their chosen field of research. It is designed for those who intend to pursue a career in academia, business education, research, consultancy or related professions.

Our structured PhD programme is centred on the preparation of a research thesis, which must contain material of a publishable/peer reviewed standard. You will prepare the thesis under the guidance of a Principle Supervisor and submit it within four years of registration for full-time students and six years for part-time students.

Taught Courses
In addition, we provide a set of taught courses on research methodology, advanced disciplinary knowledge, and personal and professional competencies. The modules on research methodology focus on philosophical positions in social science research, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and research management and design. Discipline-specific modules are taken in consultation with your supervisor and your Doctoral Studies Panel (which is a panel of two to four doctoral studies advisers that supports and advises the student and the supervisor(s) throughout the doctoral programme). There is also the opportunity to take modules that focus on other competencies such as teaching and communication skills. In addition, PhD students can also avail of extensive training in transferable skills and research management skills offered to all PhD students in UCD.

Your PhD is structured into two stages. Stage 1 is an initial period of advanced education and normally comprises 90 ECTS credits so that it can be completed by a full-time student in one calendar year. At the end of Stage 1, students may apply to transfer to Stage 2, which is largely dedicated to original doctoral research but may also include taught modules. Students with a relevant masters degree may be admitted directly to Stage 2.

All PhD students are required, with the support of their Doctoral Studies Panel, to develop a Research and Professional Development Plan that describes the student’s educational, training and personal and professional development needs.

Entry requirements

Admission onto the UCD Smurfit School PhD is subject to stringent entrance criteria, the submission of a proposal outlining your intended line of research, references and, where appropriate, proof of linguistic and academic ability.

Applicants must have one of the following:
• A minimum 2.1 primary degree in Commerce or Business Studies, or in a subject closely related to the proposed area of study
• An appropriate Masters degree (or equivalent) from a recognised higher education institution
• Evidence of academic standing and/or relevant professional experience proving the applicant’s suitability for doctoral studies
• Please submit original/ certified copy of your transcript along with your application

A 1000-word research proposal outlining:
• The chosen topic
• The nature, scope and methodology of study
• The relevance or importance of the topic
• A preliminary literature review
• Please submit your research proposal along with your application

• Two references attesting to the applicant’s intellectual ability, maturity and motivation.

• Two original references are required.

Please arrange for referees to post their references to the Centre For Doctoral Research, Smurfit School, Carysfort Avenue, Balckrock, Co Dublin or e-mail directly to If posted, the reference should be on headed notepaper of the referee's institution. If emailed, then the email must be sent from the referee's work email.

Applications remain incomplete until the receipt of Original References and must be received by relevant application deadlines.

•A sample of your scholarly work (e.g. masters dissertation, undergraduate individual project)

Please submit a copy of your scholarly work along with your application.

For non-native English speakers (except those whose primary degree was taken in English), an English language qualification is required:
• IELTS: An overall score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6 in each section
• TOEFL: A minimum of 100 on the internet-based test, 250 on the computer based test or 600 on the paper-based test
• Please submit original/ certified copy of your test results along with your application

A Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) score may be requested for some PhD studies.


Business (B140/B141) PhD Research 3 Years FT/ 6 Years PT

Further enquiries

If you have any questions, please contact

Jane O’Mara
Programme Manager
Telephone: +353 1 716 8064

Professor Donncha Kavanagh
Director of Doctoral Studies
Telephone: +353-716 4751

Subjects taught

Set 1 modules

GSBL50050 Approaches & Techniques in Qualitative Research 7.5 credits

BMGT50040 Research Measurement & Design 7.5 credits

STAT40470 Introduction to Quantitative Research I 5 credits

STAT40480 Introduction to Quantitative Research II * 5 credits

Set 2 Modules

Modules specific to the student’s chosen area of research

* Students must have completed STAT40470 prior to taking this module


UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School is a member of a number of internationally renowned alliances, giving our doctoral students the opportunity to participate in a wide range of PhD seminars and workshops organised by participating member schools. For instance, the School of Business is a member of CEMS, which is a strategic alliance of 28 world-class business schools, over 70 corporate partners, and 4 NGOs. A key strategic objective of CEMS is to foster doctoral education through collaborating across the alliance.

The School of Business is also one of 71 member institutions in the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM) which seeks to advance the study of management in Europe. An important element of EIASM is EIASM’s Doctoral Education Network (EDEN) which provides a wide range of doctoral seminars across Europe.

UCD School of Business is the only Irish member of the European Doctoral Programmes Association in Management and Business Administration(EDAMBA). EDAMBA promotes cooperation between its 61 member schools by providing and managing a network that facilitates the exchange of information and PhD candidates.

The Business School’s Centre for Doctoral Research provides funds to support attendance at conferences, seminars and workshop.

Research areas

The School is organised into six subject areas, spanning the core disciplines of business and management and providing hubs for research activity. Research in each group is carried by academic faculty members, doctoral students, and visiting faculty, creating a stimulating collaborative research environment for collaboration. Each subject group hosts regular research meetings and seminars.

Banking & Finance
Industrial Relations & HR
Management & Information Systems

Enrolment and start dates

Start date: To be agreed with School

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