Instruction in the program is separated into three general phases. The first encompasses formal coursework in basic and advanced subjects. The time devoted to these studies depends on prior preparation, but generally requires two years. Students are usually required to complete two semester courses in each of the following areas:

Common Core Courses

The subjects in the common core of knowledge encompass economic theory and basic quantitative methodology. The economic theory requirement calls for a strong grounding in the principles of this field at the intermediate level. This may be achieved through the completion of graduate-level micro- and macro-economic theory courses in the Department of Economics. The quantitative methodology requirement calls for training in calculus, linear algebra, mathematical modeling, and intermediate statistics. Typically, graduate courses in the departments of Statistics and Mathematics are used to fulfill this requirement. Certain fields, such as accounting and finance, prescribe more advanced work in the quantitative area, much of which must be taken in the departments of Statistics and Mathematics. Core courses taken at Berkeley must be passed with a minimum grade of B+.

Fields of Study Courses

Fields of study provide PhD students with at least eight semester units in advanced courses. Additional work may include courses in the business school but often involves developing research skills in theory and methodology through other departments at UC Berkeley. In consultation with their advisors, students may choose from a wide range of courses in such disciplines as economics, statistics, engineering, and psychology. On completion of this coursework, usually at the end of their second year of study, doctoral students take a written preliminary examination, graded by faculty within the student's chosen field.

Basic Discipline Courses

In addition to the field of study, students choose a basic discipline from a department outside the business school, such as economics, psychology, sociology, or political science. The development of analytic skills in one of several disciplines gives students the depth they need to place their training within a fuller and more unified understanding of the world of business and research.

Research Strategy Courses

Unless similar work has been taken elsewhere, students must take either Research and Theory in Business: Economics and Management Science (PHDBA 297A) or Research and Theory in Business: Behavioral Science (PHDBA 297B). The first focuses on normative models of decision making, while the latter examines research methodology in behavioral sciences. For a formal description of these courses, please refer to the course listings online at In addition, students are generally expected to take further work of their own choosing in research methodologies. This work may take the form of intermediate or advanced statistical courses in psychology, statistics, or economics. In the third year of their studies, doctoral students take another methods course through the business school.

The first phase ends with the preliminary exam.The second and third phases together usually require two to three years for completion. In addition to coursework, students are normally expected to serve as either teaching or research assistants for one or more semesters.


Jenny Chu

Jenny Chu

PhD Accounting, 2011
Assistant Professor
Cambridge University

"Haas achieves a great blend of empiricism and theory, discipline and creativity."