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Advisory Roles and Responsibilities

Each student will be assigned a primary and secondary faculty advisor. All students pursuing the Accountancy degree will be based in the Accounting department. Students in the Business program will be placed in a department that is appropriate for their specific research interests.

Year One:

During the first year, the primary advisor is responsible for setting up regular meetings with both advisors and the PhD student, to discuss overall progress in the coursework, as well as to continue to discuss the student’s research interests. Where possible, the student should be encouraged to write coursework papers that relate to their general area of research interest – advisors can play an important role in helping to ensure this so that the student gradually builds up a multi-disciplinary perspective within their research area. The primary advisor is responsible for student assessment reports, monitoring the transition of the student in terms of acclimation and/or language and writing development, where applicable, and for reporting such progress to the PhD Program.  Progress of each student is regularly discussed at PhD Council meetings.

In the first year, students on a stipend are expected to work for 10-15 hours per week during the semester with their primary advisor or another member of faculty. This work should be research-related and, where possible, provide opportunities for research output of some kind.

During the summer at the end of their first year, each student will take an independent study reading class that is focused on their specialized area of research. The primary advisor is responsible for developing this course and acting as the independent study tutor and grading the final paper that will be the output from the course – a paper that will subsequently be developed in year 2. 

Year Two:

In addition to monitoring the student’s progress in the coursework, the primary advisor should focus on specific areas such as working with the student on drafting a paper for a conference submission in the student’s 2nd year (typically through continued development of their summer independent study paper and/or some previous course assignment papers; submitted in the middle of the 2nd year to be delivered in the summer prior to the 3rd year). In the second year, students on a stipend are expected to work for 10-15 hours per week during the semester with their primary and/or secondary advisor or another member of faculty. This work should be research-related and, where possible, provide opportunities for research output of some kind.

Year Three-Four:

The primary advisor, together with the PhD student, will be responsible for putting together the supporting dissertation committee during the 2nd and/or 3rd years of the student’s program based on discussions with the PhD student about his or her research interests and career goals. The committee will include only research-active faculty and must be approved by the PhD Council and will consist of faculty from different departments and a faculty member external to Bentley

The primary advisor is responsible for setting up an initial meeting to include all members of the dissertation committee and the student. At this meeting, the committee will work with the student to agree to a division of responsibility between the different members and to agree to a schedule of meetings (committee and individual) for the year ahead. This committee meeting must occur at least annually, and the agreed outcomes of the meeting should be recorded. The primary advisor will then communicate regularly with the student to discuss progress of the dissertation proposal and data collection; to ensure that the student is meeting regularly with other members of the dissertation committee; and to discuss the dissertation research as well as other research opportunities.  The primary advisor thus has a role in relation to helping the student to consider the data collection sites; assisting the student in determining a primary area of specialization and the network of colleagues most appropriate for that area of research.

The PhD student has the responsibility for following the agreed schedule or for ensuring that any deviations from the agreed schedule are reported to the primary advisor in the first instance. If the student feels that deviations are occurring because of a failure of supervision, the student can write formally to the PhD Director, outlining the concerns. The PhD Director will arrange a meeting with all PhD students who make such formal complaint. Where deemed necessary, the PhD Director will meet with the advisor(s) and/or the dissertation committee. Where attempts to rectify the advisory experience are not deemed to be satisfactory from the point of view of any of the parties involved, the PhD Director will work to identify more appropriate advisory arrangements without prejudice to the student.

Conferences and Workshops

Students are encouraged to take an active involvement in all of the research-related activities that are ongoing on campus, including department seminars, research center-related workshops and conferences. These opportunities are regularly advertised to all faculty members and PhD students. Students may apply for funds from the PhD Program to support student-led research projects and presentations at professional academic conferences. All funding proposals are reviewed on a case by case basis. 

Comprehensive Examinations

At the end of this two year period (or when the taught courses have all been completed, which may be longer than two years for some students) students will be required to satisfactorily pass four qualifying examinations. Exams for the PhD in Business students assess the student’s ability analyze and synthesize research in three major areas of Business (Economics, Information Systems and Organizational Theory) plus assessment of their knowledge in their chosen specialized concentration area. The exams for Accountancy PhD students assess the student’s ability to analyze and synthesize research in three major areas of accounting (Auditing and Assurance, Financial Accounting, and Managerial Control Systems), and in the area of Judgment & Decision Making.

Students will not be able to defend their dissertation proposal until they have successfully passed all four comprehensive exams. Any student who fails the comprehensive exam is considered to be not in good standing until such time as they have passed their exams. Failure to pass the comprehensive the second time will normally result in immediate dismissal of the student from the PhD Program. At the end of this first stage of the PhD program students who have satisfied the requirements of the first two years of the program may discontinue their studies and obtain a master’s degree (MS in Business Research).

Dissertation Proposal

Students are required to present a detailed dissertation proposal (typically during their third year), which covers a review of the relevant literature and an overview of the intended research methods to be used in the research and also details of the empirical material that will be collected (e.g., case sites that will be accessed). Students will not be allowed to formally present their dissertation proposal until they pass all the required courses and the comprehensive exams. The written proposal and an accompanying oral presentation will be evaluated by the Dissertation Committee of the student. The Bentley community will also be invited to attend the oral presentation and read the written proposal. The student and primary advisor are responsible for coordinating the defense with the PhD Program Office. The Dissertation Committee must approve each proposal before students are allowed to continue with the program. In exceptional circumstances, students can ask for an extension to the proposal submission date. Requests for extension with an explicit reason for the extension must be submitted to the primary advisor who must seek approval for the extension on behalf of the student from the PhD Council. Once the dissertation proposal has been approved the student’s status will move to PhD Candidate.

Final Specifications for PhD Dissertations

For graduation purposes, students can submit as their final dissertation either:

  • Three papers, published, or deemed publishable, in a refereed journal or in high-quality refereed conference proceedings, including quantitative and or qualitative analysis, or both, as appropriate, which in combination with introductory and concluding chapters, constitute the PhD dissertation, or
  • An in-depth dissertation of a specific topic area, including either quantitative or qualitative analysis, or both, depending on the nature of the study. Students adopting this route will also be encouraged and mentored to publish one or more articles while in the program.

The dissertation committee (inclusive of an external examiner or member), will decide whether the student passes, needs to revise the dissertation, or fails. Such assessment will be made following an oral examination of the written dissertation. The oral defense of the dissertation will be open to the Bentley community.

Program Time Limits

Upon completion of all the coursework requirements students have a maximum of two years to pass the qualifying examination. The maximum time allowed to complete the degree from matriculation will be seven years. The minimum time of study is three years. After five years, students who have not completed their degree will be required to pay continuing registration fees for each semester until they have completed their degree requirements.

Written requests for extensions to these time limits must be submitted to the primary advisor and must contain a comprehensive explanation of the reason for the student’s failure to complete the work within the time limit. If the student has received extensions to the time limit prior to the current request, the student must also provide a comprehensive explanation for his/her failure to complete the degree during the previous extension(s).  If the student claims medical reasons (of self or family member) for being the reason for failing to complete the degree, with appropriate supporting documentation. The student may also request letters from members of the advisory team which document the student’s progress toward completion of the dissertation. The primary advisor will review the case and make an initial recommendation. This will be sent to the PhD Council along with the supporting documents. The PhD Council will make the final decision about granting any extension and communicate these in writing to the student and the primary advisor.