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Programme Structure & Curriculum

Students are encouraged to complete the programme in 4 years.

The minimum duration of the programme is three years. Most students, however, are expected to take about four years to complete the programme. The maximum registration duration of the programme is five years, unless special approval for a longer duration is given by SMU.

The curriculum consists of

  • 6 Foundation courses (6 course units)
  • 2 Electives (2 course units)
  • 4 Advanced Research Topics (ART) courses (4 course units)

The programme also requires the preparation and completion of a PhD Dissertation (28 course units).

Programme Schedule (Sample)


Term 1 (Aug - Nov)

Term 2 (Jan - Apr)

Term 3 (May - Aug)


Foundation courses


Elective courses

Foundation courses


Elective courses



ART courses




Prepare Dissertation Proposal

ART courses




Pass PhD Qualifying Exam


Form Dissertation Committee



Submit Written Dissertation Proposal


Oral Defence of Dissertation Proposal


Dissertation Research

Dissertation Research

Dissertation Research


Dissertation Research

Dissertation Research


(i) Submit written report of completed Dissertation Research

(ii) Oral defence of completed Dissertation



(i) Revise and/or re-submit Dissertation Report


(ii) Submit Approved Dissertation Report to LKCSB PGR Office


(iii) Dissertation Report from LKCSB PGR Office to GSO for approval


Years 1 & 2

Six research foundation courses including:

  • Foundations in Business Research
  • Research Methods in Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Research in Organisational Behaviour
  • Research in Human Resources
  • General Linear Model
  • Multivariate Statistics

Two electives:

Four Advanced Research Topics (ART) courses:

Some ARTs may be taught by faculty members visiting from overseas. The specific list of ART courses is subject to confirmation each year, based in large part on the expertise of available faculty members. Relevant ART courses offered in other areas, such as on advanced statistics (SEM, HLM), are also eligible.

PhD Qualifying examination

By Term 2 of Year 2, students should have completed the PhD Qualifying Examination.

Years 3-4 (+ Year 5 if warranted)

Completion of PhD Dissertation

Students are expected to form the PhD Committee in Year 2, including selection of a PhD Supervisor. Then, under the supervision of the PhD Supervisor, students will prepare and defend their dissertation proposal, conduct dissertation research, and conduct a final defence of the dissertation.

Teaching Mentorships and Teaching Experience

Every student is expected to participate in a one-semester teaching mentorship in which the student acts as ?under-study? to a faculty member teaching an undergraduate-level OBHR course. This mentorship provides exposure to the main aspects of university-level teaching including course design, course delivery, and student assessment.

To gain autonomous teaching experience and confidence, PhD students are expected to teach at least one undergraduate-level OBHR course at SMU prior to graduation. If desired, it may be possible for students to teach additional OBHR courses to gain further teaching experience. The teaching duties may be used to count towards fulfilling unpaid Research Assistant (RA)/Teaching Assistant (TA) duties, which is part of students' PGR training. (For information on RA/TA duties, please see section on Admission, Fees and Scholarships)

OBHR Research Seminar Series

Students are expected to actively participate in all OBHR research activities including biweekly brownbags, research seminar series, job talks, etc.

Conference Attendance

Students are encouraged to attend international conferences. (Typically, this will be the annual meeting of the Academy of Management or the Society for Industrial-Organisational Psychology). Students presenting a paper may request for funding support from the School to attend the conference. Requests for funding support will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Graduation Requirements

PhD in Business (OBHR)

  • PhD level seminars in disciplines outside OBHR
    • Assessing and Developing Theory in OBHR
    • Research in Workplace Affect and Attitudes
    • Research in Decision Making
    • Research in Leadership
    • Research in Motivation
    • Research in Negotiation
    • Research in Organisational and National/Societal Culture
    • Research in Organisational Trust
    • Research in Personnel Selection & Staffing
    • Research in Organizational Justice
    • Research in Individual creativity
    • Independent Study
    • Research Foundation Courses (6 course units)
    • Electives (2 course units)
    • Advanced Research Topics (ART) courses (4 course units)
    • PhD Qualifying Examination
    • Oral Defence of Dissertation Proposal
    • PhD Dissertation (28 course units)
    • Oral Defence of completed Dissertation

Last updated on 18 Oct 2016 .