Prospective Doctoral Students

Are you interested in applying for PhD programs?

If you are an International student, see highlighted yellow below for specific information that may be pertinent to your application.

*Caveat: Each university will be a bit different. To get a more accurate representation of the application process, faculty, or department, it’s best to reach out to current or former students for department or university specific information.

Each university will be a bit different. To get a more accurate representation of the application process, faculty, or department, it’s best to reach out to current or former students for department or university specific information.

How to choose schools that are a potential fit?

Pursuing a PhD program is primarily based on your interest in research. Therefore, going through the faculty pages to understand their research is an important part of this process. You want to go to a school with similar research interests to yours. Another important factor is to figure out if the department’s culture and atmosphere matches your personality and expectations, because you are going to be in the PhD program for at least four or five years and want to have a good experience interacting with your department. Also, the school location may be an essential factor in some applicants’ decision making process. Some schools are in smaller cities or rural areas which have low living costs, but may not provide much social life. It may prove beneficial to reach out to the Ph.D. coordinator of programs of interest and ask him/her for an informal interview. During this interview, you can ask him/her if you can reach out to faculty for informal meetings (30 mins) about research interest. This will allow you to get first hand information on who is taking in the respective year. When you talk to the researchers you will get a feeling for both mutual research interests and collegiality. Since PhD applications are an investment from both you and the faculty involved, informal meetings save you resources in the long run. Cost of living and department atmosphere are important to Ph.D. student‘s mental health but are hard to measure from the outside. Ask a Ph.D. student who is listed to be currently in the program for an informal meeting and ask those things. Don’t be afraid. Everyone has been in your shoes before.

There are also some schools in big cities with higher living costs but may come with a better social life. These aspects are personal decisions.

When should you apply? The timeline of the PhD application process.

September to Early December/Early February

Most schools open up applications starting in the Fall. Although each school has a different deadline, Generally, most schools have deadlines at the very beginning of December. Then there’s a minority of schools that set deadlines into the new year with most cutting off around mid-January. Make sure you check each department’s web page for the correct deadline.

If you plan to apply to schools, start reaching out to Ph.D. coordinators and faculty in the beginning of October. November and December in most schools are busy with wrapping up the ongoing semester.

You need to prepare your application materials before the start of applications because taking GMAT (GRE), TOEFL (IELTS) needs time. Then you should write your statement of purpose and have some professors give you recommendation letters. The materials needed for application can be found in the section below.

What materials do you need to apply? The application itself.

Admission decisions are typically made by the doctoral admissions committee and are based on a number of factors including but not limited to prior academic performance, GRE or GMAT standardized exam scores (within the past 5 years), letters of recommendation, research and professional experience and your statement of purpose. Admissions to marketing doctoral programs are competitive and focused on students with GPAs of 3.5 or higher and GMAT scores of 650 or higher. It’s recommended to cast a wide net and apply to more than just one school.

Typical submission checklist

  • Include the names and contact information for references (Generally 3, depending on the program). This will generate an automated email sent to your references.
  • Current resume or C.V.
  • Required transcripts
  • Application fee (Generally $30-$150)
  • Required test scores for GMAT or GRE exam (check to see which exam your program prefers)
  • For International students: An English proficiency exam score (Generally, TOEFL/IELTS/PTE) must be submitted for international applicants whose native language is not English or who have not received a college degree from an institution where the instruction is primarily in English.
    • Score requirements may depend on the institution, you can check it on departments’ websites, but it is generally a minimum of 100 on TOEFL or 7.5 overall score on IELTS.
  • Statement of Purpose (Normally 2-3 pages)

An explanation on some of the material:

  • Statement of Purpose (SOP): This document plays a crucial role in the admission committee’s decision making. In the SOP, you talk about your experiences, interests, and motivations. You should make it clear for the admission committee that you are a good applicant for a PhD in Marketing. Don’t repeat your CV in your SOP. In this statement you can also discuss the mutual research interests with faculty. This shows your interest in the program and your familiarity with the faculty’s research. shows your interest in the program and your familiarity with the faculty’s research.Marketing professor Broderick Turner put together a comprehensive overview of how that could look like: How to get into a top ranked marketing PhD program.
  • CV: The curriculum vitae, also known as a CV or vita, is a comprehensive statement of your educational background, teaching, and research experience. It is the standard representation of credentials within academia.Tips and Samples here: Curriculum Vitae Tips and Samples
  • Recommendation letters: Each application needs three (in some cases two) letters of recommendation from people who know your abilities and potential and have experiences collaborating with you on projects. Most applicants ask their professors to write their letters, but your thesis advisors are important people who can talk about your research abilities. Also, letters from your coauthors can be very helpful and informative. Since you are expected to be a researcher and teacher in the future, the letters are best used if they show your research and teaching abilities.
  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts uploaded to your application, provided they are in English and have grades assigned to coursework, will be sufficient for the first round of review. An official transcript will be required if you are accepted into the program. Here, you have a couple of options depending on the university. You may have your (attended) university send official transcripts to the university you are applying to. Or, you may use an intermediary service that will translate your official transcript to English and send it to the University in which you are applying. Some potential options are NLC Translations ( and ASAP Translate (
  • Test Scores: Unofficial test scores are usually sufficient for the first round of review. Official test scores will be required if you are accepted into the program.

Application Submitted- Now What? Next steps to expect.

Mid January-Late February: Start hearing from schools for interviews

After you submit all your materials, you should ensure that you received some kind of confirmation that the school received all your application materials. This might entail reaching out to your recommenders to remind them of your application. Once you are 100% your application is submitted, you have some time to relax. This is the time where you start getting excited. If you decide to network with the program and its faculty through informal meetings beforehand, make sure to send them a short email stating that you applied and that you are looking forward to the application process. That emphasizes your professionalism and sincerity about the application. Overall, they will better remember your name in the process.

Early February-Mid April: Acceptances and rejections

You should expect to hear back from schools around this time. Make sure you check your email often. If you don’t hear back in early February, don’t fret. Sometimes things take longer in higher administration.

For International students requiring a U.S. Visa:

If and when you receive an offer, you should consider accepting the offer as soon as possible in order to get I-20’s on time, because you need to set a visa interview appointment at one of the U.S. embassies. Some students might go through the administrative processes which need time to be done by the U.S. government. Typically, each university has a department that offers support to international students regarding official immigration documents required to process your VISA. Find out if the school you are looking to attend has such a department and seek help from them if needed.

Tip for US Visa Appointment: US Visa interview appointments can get fully booked, especially for some countries. So, make sure you check their available appointments very early in your application process. Always remember that you can reserve an appointment even before getting a school admission. For peace of mind, try reserving a US Visa interview appointment in early October. The best time for the interview appointments is also between Mid-April and Mid-July; Because by that time, you will have heard back from all the schools that you have applied to and you will be ready to have your Embassy interview.

More information regarding visas: d-questions/what-is-us-visa.html

April 15: The general cutoff date by the Council of Graduate Schools

April 15 is the absolute last day you have to accept an offer. Some schools may set arbitrary deadlines for acceptance sooner than this. Depending on your options, this may not even be an issue, but it’s good to be aware of.

Do not be discouraged if you do not get accepted this time. Rather take it as an opportunity to reach out to faculty at the respective schools to ask, “What would it have taken.” Now you have another six months to work on these points.

Resources (websites) for Prospective PhD Applicants:

A global list of PhD and DBA granting institutions:

UTD Top 100 Business School Research Rankings:

Marketing PhD Applications

All encompassing resource of a Marketing PhD admissions process by a Marketing Professor:

Transitioning from PhD student to faculty: