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Use Your Experience to Create Next-Level Impact

The Executive PhD is designed for seasoned business professionals who are ready to apply their expertise in new and fulfilling ways. Whether you’re looking to elevate what you can do in your current role or you want to branch out into consulting, teaching, or conducting research, the Executive PhD program will give you added credibility to become a more impactful thought leader. 

Elevate your impact by combining your extensive professional experience with WPI’s Executive PhD program. In our flexible, course-based program, you’ll work closely with a cohort of fellow students whose interests and initiative match your own.

Additionally, you choose from one of three concentrations in the Executive PhD program: Entrepreneurship, Information Technology, and Operations Management. Faculty will support and guide you as you produce publishable research that employs varied qualitative and quantitative research methods with your work as the applied research context. You’ll master well-defined, research-based approaches that are grounded in academic methods to increase your influence in your industry or professional path.

Two men at a table looking at a tablet discussing business ventures

Research methods for a business PhD requires a different, but equally rigorous, set of skills than other doctoral programs. As an Executive PhD candidate, you will learn and apply rigorous research methods, gaining experience in analyzing data and understanding human factors, and applying qualitative and quantitative skills for the most effective outcomes.

Headshot of WPI alum Ron Welter
This is a degree for people who love learning ... It also allows you to get valuable input from people who may not otherwise talk to you ... You’re actually trying to help an industry, which in turn can help them.
Ron Welter ’87, ’02 (MS), ’14 (MBA), Executive PhD Student
Headshot of Executive PhD student Scorpio Rogers
This degree will enable me to do more advanced research … and become a recognized expert on entrepreneurship.
Scorpio Rogers, Executive PhD Student
Professional woman presenting in front of a group

Required Executive PhD Courses

  • BUS 631 Research Methods and the Research Process 

    3 credits  

    This course introduces PhD students to business problems and the nature, scope, and purpose of research and research methodologies to study those problems. Topics include research approaches and designs, data types and their collection, measurement approaches, testing procedures, and interpreting and presenting findings. The ethics of various methods and data collection procedures are covered, as is the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process. Students will investigate applications of research methods to specific problems within their interest area, using qualitative and quantitative designs.  They will also read example articles that use the research approaches covered. This is a three-credit course.   

    • Prerequisite: Admission to the Business School PhD program or to another WPI PhD program.   

  • BUS 632 Qualitative Research Methods

    3 credits  

    Capturing and analyzing rich sets of qualitative (descriptive, non-numerical) data is typically required to investigate complex business cases, from discovering opportunities for innovation to identifying root causes of business problems. While quantitative business data is increasingly available, qualitative data is often the source of the deeper understanding needed for exploring, explaining, and developing theories for complex socio-technical business environments that dominate our digital economy. This course focuses on methods for collecting and analyzing qualitative research data with the purpose of enabling students to make the novel discoveries that characterize PhD research in business. Students will become familiar with methods for collecting (e.g., interviews and focus groups) and analyzing (e.g., coding techniques and case study analysis methods), as well as the software packages that aid in qualitative data organization and analyses. They will understand which collection, coding, and analysis techniques to use in which situations, how to interpret results, and how data collection and analysis methods affect research results. These skills are critical for understanding how business can contribute to solving the large, societal problems within and across disciplines and industries. This is a three-credit course.   

    • Prerequisite: Admission to the Business School PhD program or to another WPI PhD program, BUS 631 or equivalent knowledge 

  • BUS 633 Quantitative Research Methods

    3 credits  

    Developing predictive behavioral models, which heavily rely on quantitative (numeric) data, are a major success factor in helping businesses develop competitive products and services. This course focuses on methods for collecting and analyzing quantitative research data with the purpose of enabling students to make the novel discoveries that characterize PhD research in business. Students will become familiar with one or more internationally utilized statistical software packages and with the array of statistical analysis techniques in them. They will understand which statistical analysis techniques to use in which situations, how to interpret the output from these packages, and how data collection and analysis methods affect research results. In our increasingly data intensive business environment, these skills are critical for understanding business data and using that understanding to design better processes and systems and to make better decisions within and across industries. This is a three-credit course.   

    • Prerequisite: Admission to the Business School PhD program or to another WPI PhD program, BUS 631 or equivalent knowledge 

  • BUS 651 Seminar on Designing and Conducting Research Studies 

    3 credits  

    This course is offered every semester for cohort students as they start their research studies. It bridges between students’ methods courses and the start of their 30 dissertation credits. It is conducted in seminar format with a focus on students presenting the progress on their research studies and discussion among the class about appropriate research designs and analyses. This course can be taken multiple times. This is a three-credit course. 

    • Prerequisite: Admission to the Business School PhD program or to another WPI PhD program, BUS 631 or equivalent knowledge, BUS 632 or BUS 633 or equivalent knowledge. 

Available Executive PhD Concentrations

  • Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship encompasses opportunity seeking and identification, financing new enterprises, corporate venturing and other related topics. Research subjects address the conceptualization of new venture business models through to formulating exit strategies. Special areas of emphasis include technology entrepreneurship, intellectual property commercialization, international and cross-cultural studies, social entrepreneurship, and issues associated with trans-generational entrepreneurship in family business. For more information, please contact Professor Rosanna Garcia.

  • Information Technology

    Students will learn to use qualitative and quantitative methods to develop and apply theories regarding design, implementation, and use of advanced information systems and technologies with the goal of developing and publishing new information technology knowledge.  Students will study information technology and how it affects individuals, organizations, and society. By working closely with WPI’s Information Technology scholars, students will learn to conduct theoretically sound information technology research that addresses real business problems, apply for research grants, and teach information technology courses. WPI’s Information Technology scholars will involve PhD candidates in their research activities in various organizations in the region, including those in the technology, healthcare, financial, and public sectors. For more information, please contact Associate Professor Soussan Djamasbi

  • Operations Management

    Students will pursue research in the areas of management sciences, operations research, business analytics, health care management, supply chain management, and decision analysis. The operations area undertakes research on decision-making through quantitative modeling of operations functions in businesses. Research topics cover all levels of business decision-making, from operation systems design and technology choices to day-to-day scheduling and performance measurement. The program emphasizes research that focuses on real business problems and maintains a balance between theory and practice. This concentration is designed to train PhD students in fundamental and applied business modeling and analytical thinking. For more information, please contact Professor Joe Zhu

Meet our Faculty

Diane M. Strong

Diane M Strong

Professor & Department Head

WPI provides an environment that values both teaching and research, which is ideal for me. I enjoy teaching at WPI because students are interested in learning and willing to work hard. My teaching focuses on how business, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations can best use computing technologies, such as database systems, electronic health records systems, and mobile apps. Students in my classes learn to design computing applications that meet the needs of organizations.

Soussan  Djamasbi

Soussan Djamsbi

Professor-Business

I teach both graduate and undergraduate courses, as well as advise PhD projects, IQPs and MQPs. I enjoy teaching because it's a dynamic and innovative process that challenges me to continually evaluate and adjust my teaching strategies to prepare my students for today’s global and competitive business environment. Teaching is also one the most rewarding experiences in my career because it allows me to witness my students' growth and accomplishments.

Rosanna  Garcia

Rosanna Garcia

Beswick Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

I love teaching entrepreneurship because of the amazing innovations that students ideate and then create businesses around. I like the quote attributed to both Homer (the philosopher, not the father of Bart) and Steve Jobs, "The journey is the reward." I'm honored to be able to guide the WPI students through their journeys of not only learning about business ownership, but also actually building something - whether it’s a prototype, a minimally viable product (MVP) or a company. Being in a university setting provides students with a safety net to fail fast and pivo

Sharon  Johnson

Sharon Johnson

Professor

I enjoy teaching at WPI because students bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to their learning, and I am often inspired by their optimism. My teaching also reflects topics that motivate me:  detailed process design in our Industrial Engineering program, improving healthcare delivery as part of the Health Systems Innovation certificate, and exploring the implications of operational excellence in our MBA program.

Joe  Zhu

Joe Zhu

Professor

Joe Zhu is Professor of Operations Analytics in the Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is an internationally recognized expert in methods of performance evaluation and benchmarking using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), and his research interests are in the areas of operations and business analytics, productivity modeling, and performance evaluation and benchmarking. He has published and co-edited several books focusing on performance evaluation and benchmarking using DEA and developed the DEAFrontier software.