Decision, Operations & Information Technologies

Operations Management/Management Science Major

OM/MS PhD Program Coordinator: Wedad Elmaghraby


The requirements for the PhD program in OM/MS can be divided into the following categories (details about each below):

  • Coursework: four courses in research methodology, 6 courses in the major, and 4 courses in a minor to be chosen by the student. 
  • Additional requirements:  Four one-credit seminars in research in DO&IT.. Further, students entering the program without an MBA or BS in business administration have an additional business breadth course requirement.
  • Qualifying exam: This exam is taken at the end of the first year in the program.
  • Comprehensive exam: This exam is taken at the end of the second year in the program.
  • Teaching: A funded student is required to TA for BMGT 332 (or similar course) once during the program, typically in his/her second year, and to teach one section of BMGT 332, typically in the third year.
  • Dissertation proposal defense: An oral defense of the dissertation proposal, with a significant portion of the dissertation (at least 40%) already completed.
  • Dissertation completion and defense.

Research Methodology Courses (4 courses)

Specific course numbers can change between semesters.  The most recent designation for each course is shown below:

  • BMGT 830
    Operations Research: Linear Programming (Fall 1st year)
  • BMGT 834
    Operations Research: Probabilistic Models (Fall 1st year)
  • BMGT 808G
    Doctoral Seminar: Applied Microeconomics, or equivalent (e.g., ECON 603) (Fall 1st year)
  • BMGT 808X
  • Doctoral Seminar: Applied Regression Analysis or equivalent (Spring 1st year)
    If a student chooses to take a course different than BMGT 808G, BMGT 808X or ECON 603, then the student needs approval from the PhD coordinator.  For more information about these and other courses, see department website.

Major Specification (6 courses)

There are two major concentrations: Operations Management (OM) and Management Science (MS). Courses are as follows:   

  • BMGT 808F: Seminar in Operations Management (Required; Spring 1st year)

Plus five additional courses.  The choice of courses is open; however, the student needs approval from the PhD coordinator when choosing a course sequence.     

Minor Specification (4 courses)

Four courses in an area. The choice of area is open; examples are shown below:

  • Logistics/Supply Chain Management
  • Management and Organization
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Information Systems
  • Statistics (courses outside of major area)
  • Management Science (courses outside of major area)
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science

Additional Requirements

  1. All students need to be enrolled, during their first and second years, in BMGT 8xx:  Research in Decision, Operations, & Information Technologies (1 credit).  
    This is a one-credit course, which basically requires attendance to the DO&IT research seminar series. The student will take this seminar every semester during his/her first two years in the program (total = 4 credits) 
  2. Business breadth courses: Students who enter the PhD program without an undergraduate (BSBA) or graduate degree (MBA, MS) in business administration are required to take two business breadth courses (2 or 3 credits each) at the MBA or doctoral level. Each one of these two courses should be in a different functional area than OM/MS: finance, accounting, management & organization, marketing, or information systems.  Example: Consider a student with a masters and undergraduate degrees in IE, and with a minor in marketing. Given the marketing minor, the student only needs to take one additional business breadth course (examples: MBA core Finance class, a doctoral seminar in organizational behavior, etc).  These courses can be taken anytime during the doctoral program. Additional questions about this requirement should be directed to the OM/MS PhD coordinator.

Qualifying Exam

This exam is taken during the summer of the first year (typically, last week of July), and comprises four 2-hour parts.  Parts 1, 2, and 3 will cover BMGT 830 (Linear Programming), BMGT 834 (Stochastic Processes), and BMGT 808F (Seminar in Operations Management), respectively.  The Part 4 subject area can be chosen by the student to cover the content of one other course taken by the student.  The course could be chosen from among the remaining required courses (Economics or Statistics) or could be a course taken by the student as part of his/her major concentration courses.  The precise format of each exam part will be determined by the faculty member designated to prepare that part, e.g., each part could be open or closed book.  However, questions are not expected to be a mere “repeat” of the final exam in the respective course, but rather can be more unstructured and attempt to test research potential.  If the student does not pass the first trial, the student shall be given an opportunity to repeat the exam in the winter (six months later).  Only two trials are allowed.  A student who fails the qualifying exam twice will not be allowed to proceed further in the Ph.D.  Program.

Comprehensive Exam

Prior to taking the exam, each student must designate a three-person examination committee comprised of DO&IT faculty.  The committee must be approved by the DO&IT PhD Coordinator by email. This exam is taken during the summer of the second year, at the time requested by the student and agreed upon by the committee.  The student has two choices:

The student can submit a research paper co-authored by the student and other faculty members (but not with another student).  The research paper is expected to be of such scope that it can be submitted to a refereed journal, i.e., it has to present an original contribution and it has to be complete, with introduction, literature review, analysis (model and/or data analysis) and conclusions.  Any faculty member(s) who are co-author(s) of the student are required to supply a statement to the PhD Coordinator indicating that the student did a significant portion of the intellectual work and writing of the paper.  The student needs to prepare and deliver a one-hour presentation of the paper to that student’s examination committee and the presentation will be open to the University Community.  During and after the presentation, the examination committee may question the student on the research paper and on topics in his/her major concentration area as they relate to the research paper.

The student is given three papers.  The set of three papers assigned to a student will be taken from that student’s major concentration area.  The student will be given two weeks to read the papers, and submit two deliverables:  a written document of at least 10 pages (12 pt. font, single spaced), explaining how the papers relate to each other, and offering suggestions for future research.  The student must also prepare and deliver a one-hour presentation on his/her conclusions to that student’s examination committee.  During and after the presentation, the examination committee may question the student on the assigned papers and on topics in his/her major concentration area as they relate to the papers.  The presentation will be open to all members of the University community.

Each student’s examination committee will provide informal feedback to the student immediately following the oral presentation part of the comprehensive exam.  However, a final grade will be given later after a meeting of the OM/MS PhD Comprehensive Examination Committee.  The OM/MS PhD Comprehensive Examination Committee will consist of the combination of the individual student examination committees together with the PhD Coordinator.  That committee will assign grades to the comprehensive exam.  It is anticipated that the merits of each student can be openly debated and that the meeting will also serve the purpose of providing guidance to those admitted students on how they should proceed in the program, e.g., they might be given guidance on research areas, possible thesis supervisors, etc.  Students will be allowed to take Part II only once and the decision on admission to candidacy will be final.  However, students will be allowed to petition to retake the comprehensive exam if they fail the exam.  Flexible MS degree options will be given to students who are not advanced after the qualifying or comprehensive exam.

Admission to Candidacy

  1. Completion of, and satisfactory grades in, all required courses in the Department:
    • BMGT 808F: Seminar in Operations Management
    • BMGT 830: Operations Research: Linear Programming
    • BMGT 834: Operations Research: Probabilistic Models
    • BMGT 808G: Doctoral Seminar: Applied Microeconomics, or equivalent
    • BMGT 808X: Doctoral Seminar: Applied Regression Analysis or equivalent
    • Plus seven electives in the major and/or minor, for a total of 12 courses. The remaining 2 courses (total = 14 courses required for BMGT PhD degree) can be taken in the student’s third year in the program, after advancing to candidacy.   
  2. A passing grade on the Department's Comprehensive Exam (summer of 2nd year)
  3. A passing grade on Qualifying Exam (summer of 1st year)

Information Systems Major

PhD students in IS are required to complete at least 46 credits of coursework, as outlined below. Students generally complete their major coursework within their first two years in the program. During the summer after the first year, students work on a summer research project. A paper based on that project is submitted and presented to the faculty during the Fall of the 2nd year. After completing all relevant coursework, students take a comprehensive exam at the beginning of the third year. Following successful completion of the comprehensive exam, students commence work on their dissertation research. The dissertation is an independent research project conducted by the student under supervision of a dissertation committee, assembled by the student. Research interests of the current faculty include technical, behavioral, organizational, and social issues related to information systems. Students may, in their dissertations, choose to pursue any of these avenues.

Required Courses in the Major (18 credits):

Specific course numbers may change between semesters. The most recent designation for each course is shown below.


Social and Behavioral Research in Information Systems


Research Methods in Information Technology


Strategic Management of Information Technology


Information Systems Economics


Current Topics in IS research (taken twice, in the Fall of 1st and 2nd years)

Research Methodology (12 credits):


Applied Microeconomics


Applied Regression

BMGT 882

Applied Multivariate Analysis I

BMGT 883

Applied Multivariate Analysis II

Students should consult with their advisor to determine other methods training needed for their research. Students may substitute courses on a case-by-case basis when approved by the IS PhD program director, in consultation with the student’s advisor.

DO&IT Seminar (4 credits):


Research in Decision, Operations, & Information Technologies (1 credit, taken 4 times)

Minor (12 credits):

4 courses in the minor, determined in consultation with the student’s advisor and the IS PhD program director.

Other Requirements:

Incoming students will attend MathCamp before the start of their first year. This requirement can be waived if the student demonstrates sufficient math skills.

Any student admitted without a sufficient technology background will be required to take at least two technology-related classes, generally BUDT 620 and one other MBA-level course. These courses will be determined in consultation with the IS PhD program director.

Admission to Candidacy:

To be admitted to candidacy students must successfully complete all coursework in the major (including methods courses and 4 credits of the DO&IT Seminar), the first year summer paper, and the comprehensive exam.

Recommended Schedule and Milestones for the Information Systems PhD

Year and Semester


Year 1, Semester 1

Complete BMGT808I Information Systems Research
Complete BMGT808G Microeconomics
Complete either BMGT808L Technology Artifact in Information Systems Research (o) or BMGT808A E-Commerce and Supply Chain Management (e),
Work on research assistantship with faculty
Plan to extend research on seminar papers

Year 1, Semester 2

Complete BMGT808I Research Methods in Information Technology
Complete BMGT808X Applied Regression
Complete either BMGT808D Strategic Management of Information Technology (e) or BMGT808D Information Systems Economics (o)
Work on at least one publication for submission to a conference

Year 1, summer

Conduct independent research with faculty advisor and write paper for presentation in year 2

Year 2, Semester 1

Complete either BMGT808L Technology Artifact in Information Systems Research (o), or BMGT808D Information Systems Economics (e)
Complete BMGT882 Applied Multivariate Analysis I
Complete one course in the minor
Begin work on a paper for submission to a journal

Year 2, Semester 2

Complete either BMGT808D Strategic Management of Information Technology (e) or BMGT808D Information Systems Economics (o)
Complete BMGT883 Applied Multivariate Analysis II
Complete one course in the minor
Prepare to submit journal article by the end of summer

Year 2, summer

Prepare for comprehensive examinations
Develop preliminary ideas for a dissertation topic

Year 3, Semester 1

Complete one course in the minor
Conduct research for dissertation proposal
Begin work on second journal article
Teach one undergraduate course here or next semester

Year 3, Semester 2

Complete one course in the minor
Defend proposal

Year 3, summer

Conduct dissertation research
Submit second journal article

Year 4, Semester 1

Complete enough of dissertation to be able to interview at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) in December

Year 4, Semester 2

Complete enough of dissertation to be able to give a job talk by January

Year 4, Summer

Finish and defend dissertation; prepare articles from dissertation


For academic issues, contact:
Dr. Katherine Stewart, Associate Professor of Information Systems
Phone: 301-405-0576

For admission issues, application status, or other questions, please email or call 301-405-2214.

Information On Choosing a Doctoral Program

How should a potential applicant choose among the large number of PhD programs in information systems and related fields? You can find considerable information about doctoral programs on ISWorld.

At universities like Maryland, the PhD program concentrates on research, and it is important for you to be excited by the prospects of a career as a researcher when considering doctoral studies.

In evaluating schools, the first question is what kind of research does the IS faculty conduct? Are faculty members prominent in the field, are they currently involved in leading-edge research and are they publishing their results? You can learn a great deal from looking at faculty research pages on different schools' websites. (We are pleased that a recent editorial in MISQ (Sept. 2001) rated Maryland's information systems group as one of the top in the country.) Schools have different emphases in their programs, for example, one school may focus on looking at information systems from an economics perspective while another might focus on technology. Maryland has a diverse group of IS faculty with interests in managerial, economics and technical areas.

You also might want to consider the size of the IS faculty; a larger, more diverse faculty can support research in many different areas, giving you a wide choice in dissertation topics.

Location is another consideration, especially if you are interested in field research. A school in a major metropolitan area offers greater access to businesses and potential research sites.

A good way to learn more about a school is to send email to faculty members with questions about the school and their research. You can also gain an interesting perspective by sending email to doctoral students who are currently enrolled in the PhD program.

Professor Kate Stewart
IS Doctoral Coordinator

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