The doctoral program in Marketing draws on a variety of underlying disciplines to research important marketing management problems centered on the immediate and future needs and wants of customers. Students in the marketing program work closely with faculty in the Marketing Unit and engage in a broad spectrum of disciplinary bases.

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Curriculum & coursework

Our programs are full-time degree programs which officially begin in September. Many incoming students choose to join us in July to conduct research with an HBS faculty member. Students are expected to complete their program in five years. Typically, the first two years are spent on coursework, at the end of which students take a field exam, and then another two years on dissertation research and writing.

The Marketing program draws on economic, behavioral, psychological and administrative theory to focus on marketing problems faced by the firm and its management. Through a combination of discipline- and field-based methods, the curriculum enables students to master concepts and research skills directly relevant to business problems. Candidates must come to understand the point of view of practicing managers and be able to bring theory and careful research to bear in illuminating important business problems.

The DBA program requires a minimum of 13 semester-long doctoral courses. Students in the Marketing program are required to complete a year-long discipline sequence typically in microeconomics, psychology, or sociology. They also complete courses in the areas of business management theory, research methods, academic field seminars, and the Business Education for Scholars and Teachers (BEST) Series. In addition to HBS courses, students may take courses at other Harvard Schools and MIT.


Students are required to complete a teaching assignment for one full academic term.

Field Exam

Students are required to pass a Field Exam in Marketing at the end of their second or the beginning of their third year. This includes a written exam and an oral examination based on a research paper a student has written.

Research & Dissertation

Students in Marketing begin research in their first year typically by working with a faculty member. By their third and fourth years, most students are launched on a solid research and publication stream. The dissertation may take the form of three publishable papers or one longer dissertation.

Recent examples of doctoral thesis research include: The effects of brand extensions on the value of parent brands; Multi-method examination of the consumption of “knockoffs” of high status brands, and the counter-intuitive positive outcomes for consumer-brand relationships; Competitive analysis of pricing and quality decisions in industries with strictly complimentary products; The psychological effects of pricing, and how these affect consumers and firms; and "Choice amnesia," the motivated forgetting of difficult decisions.

See Program Requirements for detailed curriculum information.