PhD Requirements & Deadlines

We are committed to fostering your personal and professional growth as an academic leader in your chosen area of specialization. Our faculty values rigorous and engaged scholarship and are committed to your development as a scholar. During your program, you will develop close collaborations with our nationally and internationally-ranked faculty as you develop the skills and expertise needed to launch your career. Carlson students can access solid financial support, technology resources, and research and teaching opportunities.   

Application Deadline

The Carlson School Ph.D. program admits students once per year in the fall.

Application Deadlines

  • December 15

Application Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent from a recognized college or university. While there is no set formula for determining admission to the doctoral program, most incoming students have:

  • Excellent academic records
  • 3 strong letters of recommendation
  • Competitive GMAT/GRE scores: the minimum score that is typically accepted for the GMAT is 650, and 320 for the GRE


The Carlson School requires one exam score. It can be either the GMAT or GRE. There are no fixed cutoffs for consideration of an application. Scores cannot be more than five years old from the application submission date.

International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency. The Carlson School expects a total score of 100 for the TOEFL test. For matriculated students, if your TOEFL speaking score is less than 27 you will be required to take the Spoken English Test for Teaching Assistants (SETTA) once on campus. For the IELTS we expect a score of 7.0 or higher.

English Language Proficiency exam scores are not required if you have completed 16-semester credits of post-secondary coursework in an English-speaking country within the past two years from the application submission date. Otherwise, you must include exam scores with your application. 

We consider the quality of the school(s) attended, major field, graduate experience, and degrees. A 3.0 or higher GPA is recommended for undergraduate work and a 3.5 or higher GPA for graduate work.

Work experience is not required, but we do consider the relevance of any work experience for research and practice.

We consider demonstrated research capability through undergraduate and graduate research projects, work-related projects, and publications.

We consider the strength and sources of your letters of recommendation.

In the online application system, there are multiple options for statements to upload. We only require a personal statement. Other statements are not required by our program. Please include in your personal statement:

  • Expressed area of research interest
  • Expressed understanding of academic research
  • The fit of research interests with those of the faculty
  • Expression of career goals


You may choose to write a statement that identifies your unique or diverse life experiences, such as successfully overcoming obstacles or hardships, that you would bring to your graduate program and how those experiences would contribute to the education and enhanced perspective of fellow students at the University of Minnesota.

General Program Requirements

The general expectation is that students can complete the program within five years of admission. Within this general framework, the seven areas of concentration have specific requirements and guidelines for format and timing.


The first two years are spent taking pertinent coursework determined by the student with the advice of the area coordinator. Students must complete at least 40-semester credits or coursework within the first two years of the program, including:

  • Courses in a major area and a minor or supporting program
  • An integrated sequence of methodology courses in areas such as statistics, research design, cognitive modeling, econometrics, psychometrics, survey methodology, or database design
  • Maintain a 3.3 minimum GPA

All students are assigned teaching and research assistantships each year as part of the requirement for their stipend, tuition waiver, and health insurance.  While expectations vary by department, students typically work 20 hours per week (50% time) as a TA and/or RA. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, students will teach one or two courses before completing the program. 

Students must successfully complete both a written preliminary exam and oral exam. The written exam usually occurs during the summer after the second year of coursework. After passing the written prelim, students can schedule the oral prelims typically during the third year.

As a research degree, all PhD students receive comprehensive research training by working closely with faculty advisers. Following the oral preliminary exam, students pursue their dissertation research, completing a proposal and final defense.

Carlson School offers a graduate minor in business administration through its PhD Program.

To complete this minor, a student must complete at least 16 graduate credits from one of our concentrations: Accounting, Finance, Information Decision Sciences, Marketing, Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, Supply Chain and Operations, or Work and Organizations.

For more information about the doctoral minor, contact