Business doctorate program reaches second year

Mindy Dickerson

The College of Business began its Ph.D. program in the fall of last year and has attracted a lot of attention from students with alternative degrees, and even many countries throughout the world.

“We are extremely delighted with the progress we have made,” said Sridhar Ramaswami, director of the doctorate program and professor of marketing. “We’ve spent no money on advertising. On Google, when we started, we had hits from six countries, now we have hits from 86 countries.”

Initially, the program started out small with seven students, but in the second year, it grew to 15. Of the students, seven are majoring in marketing, four are majoring in supply chain management and four are majoring in management information systems.

Without much advertising, students continue to learn about the program. David Correll, graduate student in business administration-SCM, was working on his master’s degree at Iowa State, double majoring in sustainable agriculture and biorenewable resources and technology, when he took a business modeling class, which sparked his interest in the program.

“I really liked the subject matter and [Rob Ruben, associate professor of supply chain and information systems], so I spoke with him about my interests,” Correll said. “He told me about the new Ph.D. program, and it sounded like what I was looking for, so I applied.”

Fellow second-year Andy Luse, graduate student in business administration-MIS, discovered the program in a similar way.

“I did my undergrad in computer science, and I did a master’s in computer engineering and information assurance,” Luse said.

Although Luse didn’t pursue an undergraduate or master’s degree in business, he did take an interest in it.

“The business side takes it a step further. I knew some faculty [from the College of Business], and I heard about the program from a couple of those professors,” Luse said.

The doctorate program consists of long hours, vast amounts of reading, writing and research; however, Correll may have a bit more to do than others, with his correspondence with ConocoPhillips.

“ConocoPhillips gave $22.5 million to the Biorenewable Resource Center, money allocated to research,” Correll said.

Representatives of ConocoPhillips, the third-largest integrated energy company in the U.S., made a visit to campus in 2007, which gave Correll time to present a research idea that focuses on finding the best mixture of plants to create alternative fuels. Currently, Correll is working on two projects related to this topic.

The students’ main focus is to obtain their doctorate degrees and to continue to remain in academia as teachers.

The faculty involved with the program are greatly involved in helping the students reach success.

“It’s very different transitioning to a collegial relationship with professors,” said Andrew Harrison, graduate student in business administration-MIS. “The professors are all very focused on making you into a good researcher. They’re incredibly interested in you as well.”

The students are expected to take four years to complete the program. In their third year, they are able to begin teaching courses.

“In the first few years, they have to complete preliminary exams,” Ramaswami said. “In their third, courses are taught by Ph.D. students, and they work with mentors. After four years, we want students with research potential who will be great teachers.”

Those who do not have an undergraduate degree or master’s in business are welcome to apply for the program, though they must complete an additional 18 credits of core business classes to be fully admitted.