PhD AND DOCTORAL PROGRAMMESPhD in Business Administration



PhD programme structure

Programme structure for the Finance and Accounting, and the Management specialisations

First year

  • Students will be assigned to a supervisor and affiliated with a research centre.

  • Students will take several core courses of their specialisations.

  • Students need to attend the research seminars of their respective research centres. 

  • Students will also be required to write a detailed research proposal that will be defended at the end of the first year.

  • Retake exams will be organised at the end of the first academic year to allow first-year students to retake failed exams. There is no retake for the research proposal. 

Second year 

  • To enter the second year, students must have obtained at least a B- in each course (corresponding to a grade of at least 70%) and a successful defence of the student's research proposal before the scientific committee (end of the first year).

    > Students who fail these requirements are not allowed to enter the second year and thus cannot re-register in September unless approved by the scientific committee.

  • Students will take several advanced courses of their specialisation.

  • Students will start to work on their thesis.

  • Students need to continue attending the research seminars of their respective research centres. 

Third and fourth years

  • Students are dedicated to the writing of the doctoral thesis.

  • Attend PhD-related events, like:

    > IAFDS conference for finance and accounting students
    > Edison and SKEMA KTO Paper Development Workshop for management students.

  • Students may be offered the opportunity to visit a partner university. 

  • Students are expected to present their work in (peer-reviewed) academic conferences.

  • Students need to continue attending the research seminars of their respective research centres. 

Scientific Committee

The purpose of the Scientific Committee is to manage the programme’s evolution and innovation. 

Scientific Committee for the Finance and Accounting specialisation:

Scientific Committee for the Management specialisation:
In addition to the internal members listed above, external members may be appointed. 

Programme structure for the Operations Management and AI specialisation

First year 

  • The first year of the programme takes place on the campus of KU Leuven where the doctoral students follow courses of the doctoral programme "Business Economics". 

  • The courses, taught in English, are to be chosen with the two thesis supervisors from different fields in relation to operations research. More information on the list of courses is available on the KU Leuven website. 

  • 21 ECTS credits are to be validated at the end of this first year. 

  • Each academic year the student is required to register as a PhD student at both partner institutions and pay the corresponding registration and tuition fees at KU Leuven (see this page for the details of the fees). Such fees are waived at SKEMA for the second to fourth year.  


From the second to the fourth year 

  • Students will be situated on the Lille campus of SKEMA, in Lille, France. They will share their time between some course teaching and the necessary work on their thesis jointly with the two supervisors from KU Leuven and SKEMA. 

  • Students will participate actively in the scientific workshops and seminars organized at either institution insofar as these are relevant to the research carried out and at the discretion of the joint supervisors. 

  • Students are expected to submit conference papers at peer-reviewed academic conferences and high-impact journals in the field. 

  • At SKEMA, the progress of the thesis will be evaluated at an oral presentation by a scientific committee each year. 

  • At KU Leuven, the student must defend his/her progress in two scientific research seminars (at the end of the second and the third year).  

  • Students will be under contract with SKEMA for the duration of three years. 

  • Doctoral students are expected to publish at least one scientific article in a peer-reviewed journal before defending their thesis. 

  • In the final year, doctoral students will defend their thesis in English with a jury composed of researchers from KU Leuven and SKEMA.  A joint doctoral degree diploma will be awarded after a successful defense. 

Scientific committee for the Operations Management and AI specialisation is composed of: 

  • Associate Professor Bernardo Pagnoncelli 

  • Associate Professor Aida Jebali 

  • Assistant Professor Morteza Davari 

  • Associate Professor David Rey 

  • Professor Xavier Brusset 


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