PhD and DBA Admission Requirements

Here’s what you need to know about our PhD and DBA admissions process.

Whether you choose to pursue a PhD for a career in academia or you decide on a DBA to prepare you for a research-intensive position, WashU Olin can help you achieve the future you want. The first step is understanding the requirements for your academic journey. Please carefully review the information below for our PhD and DBA programs.

Due to the sequencing and departmental offerings, Olin admits students to our doctoral programs for the fall semester only. To be considered for admission, you must submit a complete online application prior to the stated deadline.

Candidates for admission must demonstrate a strong academic record, documented by academic transcripts, high GMAT/GRE scores and recommendations. Candidates must also have strong writing and research potential, demonstrated in writing samples submitted with the application for admission.

PhD Requirements

Pursuing a PhD in business requires full-time commitment. You will spend long hours, week in and week out, immersed in course work, studying for prelims, and working on your research. Admission to the Olin PhD program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. 

PhD students must complete at least 36 credit hours; maintain satisfactory academic progress; pass certain examinations; fulfill residence and teaching requirements; and write, defend, and submit a dissertation.

DBA Requirements

While the DBA program is designed to be an extension of prior master’s level work in a relevant field, an earned master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission to the DBA program. 

Application Fee and Deadline

For the PhD: Application deadline is December 4.
For the DBA: Application deadline is March 1.

Application fee is $100.

How to Apply

Applications may be submitted beginning in September; the final consideration deadline is December 4.

Early application is encouraged to allow sufficient time for careful evaluation of your application for supplementary fellowship opportunities.

A complete PhD application should include the following:

  • Scanned copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (uploaded in the application)
  • Scanned copies of GMAT score report (pdf uploaded in the application)
  • Scanned copies of GRE score report (pdf uploaded in the application)
  • Scanned copies of TOEFL or IELTS score reports (pdf uploaded in the application)
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Essay Questions (considered Statement of Purpose)
  • Resume/CV
  • Application fee paid online
  • Writing sample (optional)
Apply Now

Admissions Documents and Policies

  • Academic Background

    Doctoral program requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Upload unofficial transcripts—one from each college-level institution attended. Scanned copies of transcripts may be too dark and difficult to read, so please adjust the scanner settings accordingly. Photographs of transcripts are not acceptable. If the transcript is in a language other than English, applicants must provide an official translation issued from the university or by certified members of the American Translators Association.

    PhD applicants who have already graduated must show a transcript with the degree conferred and date unless a copy of their diploma/degree certificate is required. Official transcripts of all college-level work must be submitted to the program office upon admission to Olin Business School. Updates to transcripts after applications are submitted will not be uploaded by Olin.

  • GMAT/GRE Test Score

    Although there is no minimum test score requirement, a good performance is weighted by the admissions committee. Successful applicants tend to have overall scores in the 90th percentile or higher.

    GMAT institution code

    • PhD: R4T-WG-45
    • DBA: R4T-WG-14 

    The GRE institution code is 6929.

  • TOEFL or IELTS Test Score

    An English language test is required for all international students. The TOEFL and IELTS exams test the level of English as a foreign language. The average internet-based TOEFL score of PhD students is 105.

    The TOEFL institution code for Washington University in St. Louis is 6929.

    An English Proficiency Test Waiver may be available to applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. For more information, please visit the Office of International Students and Scholars page.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    We accept only three letters of academic or professional recommendation. However, considerable weight is given to letters of recommendation from faculty members that highlight a candidate’s research potential, past academic achievements and a commitment to scholarly endeavor. Letters of recommendation are submitted online. If this presents a problem, please contact us.

  • Essay Questions (Statement of Purpose)

    • Why do you want to obtain a doctoral degree? (Please include what research interests you the most within your field of study.)
    • Describe any experience you have in conducting or assisting in any research or teaching activities.
    • Provide your own evaluations of your strengths and weaknesses in pursuing the PhD program at WashU Olin.

  • Curriculum Vitae

    All applicants are required to upload a copy of their CV or resume as part of the application process.

  • Writing Sample

    You may upload a research paper or abstract (30-page maximum) with your online application, although it's not required for admission to our PhD program.

    Please note: If you choose to submit a research paper or abstract, you should upload your paper into your application. Papers submitted by mail or email PDF will not be uploaded into your application. Revised versions of your paper will not be uploaded.

    If you have technical difficulties with uploading your paper, please contact the PhD program office by email at Applicants are encouraged to list this paper and any other papers they have on their resume with web links to these papers.

  • Decision Process

    Due to the high number of applications we receive each year, faculty members initiate phone or campus interviews for only the strongest candidates or for candidates from whom additional information is needed. Applicants cannot request interviews.

    The admissions committee will closely review each applicant’s academic record. Transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, resume, the statement of purpose and the writing sample (optional) are reviewed by the admissions committee to determine the applicant’s fit within the doctoral program and their potential for scholarly research.

    Each application will be evaluated against the application pool as a whole. Decisions for fall admissions are made between March 15 and April 15. Applicants will be notified of the admission decision by April 15.

    Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid and employment. The university does not discriminate in access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, veteran status or disability.

    Apply to the PhD program.

DBA Requirements

Like our PhD program, we admit students to the DBA program for the fall semester only. You may submit your application beginning in September, with a deadline of March 1.

To be considered for admission into Olin’s DBA program, you must submit the following:

  • A completed online application
  • Application fee
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Scanned copies of transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate work
  • Scanned copies of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); the GMAT institution code for the doctorate in business is R4T-WG-14; the GRE institution code is 6929
  • International students who do not possess a degree from an American university are required to submit a copy of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL or IELTS) score

In addition to the materials listed above, applicants are evaluated on the strength and breadth of their academic background, experience, ability to research and aptitude. An English Proficiency Test Waiver may be available to applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. For more information, please visit the Office of International Students and Scholars page.

Transfers Credits

Students with relevant graduate-level degrees may be given credit toward a DBA based on prior coursework at the discretion of the program academic director:

  • Students with a Master of Science in Finance (from Olin or another school) may be given credit of up to a maximum of 24 credit units.
  • Students with other relevant graduate degrees (such as MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Economics, Master of Statistics) may be given credit of up to 12 credit units toward their DBA.
Apply to the DBA program