PhD Program

PhD class being taught
Program Overview
Program Curriculum
Facts Q & A
Historic Placements
Profiles of Recent Graduates
Current PhD Students
How to Apply
Have a Question?



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The Operations PhD program is a rigorous, four to five year curriculum designed to train students to become leading researchers and teachers at top business schools.

The PhD curriculum is designed to provide all students with a background in the literature and techniques used in Operations Management research. The program is highly quantitative in nature, and as such, incoming PhD students often have a background in economics, engineering, mathematics, or statistics. Although some students have completed graduate work prior to entry into the PhD program, this is not required. The program provides full financial support for all students.

The purpose of the doctoral program is to develop students into scholars who are well-prepared to investigate topical problems in operations management and to present their results at major academic conferences and in top scholarly journals. Students work closely with faculty members on cutting-edge projects. The scope of the faculty’s research interests and expertise is quite broad, addressing problems in supply chains and operations management in global manufacturing and service firms. Current interests include supply chain design and coordination, sustainability and reverse logistics, mass customization and quick response, retail operations, health care and humanitarian logistics, and global outsourcing and offshoring. The context for this research is broad and includes the banking industry, information services, the apparel industry, the airline industry, the automotive industry, and humanitarian nonprofit organizations.Below is a typical student’s timeline in the program: 

  • During the first two years of the PhD program, students focus on course work in order to develop the tools necessary to produce high quality research. Upon entry each student is assigned to a faculty member who acts as an advisor.
  • By the end of the first year, students take their qualifier exam. The exam consists of a written exam covering the courses taken in the first year of the PhD program.
  • In the summer after the first year, each student conducts original research under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • By the end of the second year, students take their comprehensive exam. The exam consists of a take-home written exam asking open‐ended research question(s) and an oral presentation of student’s second year paper.
  • After passing the comprehensive exam, students begin the second part of the program where they spend the majority of their time working on research.
  • In the third year, students focus most of their time on their dissertation. During this process, students benefit from close collaboration with faculty members.
  • The rest of the program is spent finishing the dissertation and preparing for the academic job market. 
  • Upon completion of the program, students are awarded a PhD in business administration.



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The following document formalizes the course curriculum for the doctoral program in Operations. The purpose of a formalized curriculum is twofold. First, the curriculum is designed to prescribe a course of study so that a student will develop the ability to conduct scholarly research in the fields of operations and supply chain management. Second, the curriculum specifies the faculty expectations regarding the knowledge and skills that students must demonstrate in the doctoral qualifier and comprehensive examinations which are typically taken at the end of the first and second year of the doctoral program, respectively.

The Kenan-­Flagler Business School requires a minimum of 15 semester courses (45 hours) for the doctorate degree.  The 45-hour requirement should be regarded as a minimum.  Most students will take more than 45 hours to gain sufficient depth in an area of research interest. Likewise, the faculty may require an individual student to take more than 45 hours as a result of perceived deficiencies or performance on the doctoral comprehensive examination.  

Click here for detailed information on the Operations PhD curriculum.



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Q: Where are the program's graduates placed?   

A: All graduates in the past decade have joined top business schools in the US and around world as tenure-track professors. A list of past five years' placements is provided in the Historic Placements Section.

Q: Does the program provide financial support?   

A: Yes, the program provides full financial support, including tuition waivers, monthly stipends, and benefits such as medical insurance. The support is guaranteed for four years, and is typically provided for the fifth year as well. Currently, all of our students are financially supported.

Q: What are the faculty’s research interests/topics?   

A: Our faculty’s research interests span a wide range of topics in manufacturing, service operations, and supply chain management. Faculty research also cuts across functional boundaries with some studies looking at operations problems that interface with marketing, finance, and/or organizational behavior. Our faculty is well-known for its expertise in a broad range of research methodologies, including mathematical modeling, economic analysis, empirical analysis and econometrics. Please visit the Faculty page to learn more about each faculty member's research interests and to download research papers.

Q: Where do the faculty publish? Are they prolific?

A: The faculty mostly publish in top Operations journals, including Management ScienceOperations ResearchManufacturing and Service Operations Management, Production and Operations Management, and Journal of Operations Management. The faculty have been very prolific. In the UT Dallas Business School Research Rankings, we constantly rank very high in publications in the above Operations journals.

Q: What is the length of the program? 

A: In recent years, the average time a student spends in the program is 5 years.

Q: When do students connect with faculty advisors?  

A: Our faculty is very committed to advising students. Students typically connect with faculty members on research projects when they first arrive in the program. By the end of the first year, students will have started working closely with faculty on an original research problem.

Q: When a student graduates from the program, how many papers does he/she write?

A: Upon graduation, students typically have an average of one accepted or nearly accepted paper with 2 – 3 more papers under editorial review or in preparation. This may vary from student to student.

Q: Do students have the opportunity to learn about ongoing research in the field?

A: To broaden students' scope, the program regularly invites leading scholars from all over the world to present their research. On average, every year more than ten speakers visit Chapel Hill to give talks. 

Q: What is the teaching requirements for a doctoral student?

A: In preparing students for academic careers, we believe that all doctoral students should be given the opportunity to develop teaching competencies. Each student is required to teach only once during the first four years of the program. Faculty work with the student in developing teaching materials and preparing that student to enter the classroom. Some students who are funded for a fifth year may be asked to teach a second course. Many students find that having teaching experience is a plus in the academic job market.  



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Here is a list of our graduates' recent placements:

Ying (Maggie) Zhang 2018 Clemson University, College of Business
Pradeep Pendem 2018 University of Oregon, Lundquist College of Business
Hyun Seok Lee​​ 2017 Oregon State University, College of Business
Adem Orsdemir​​ 2014 School of Business Administration, University of California-Riverside
Karthik Natarajan 2013 Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
Aaron Ratcliffe 2013 The Bryan School, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Vidya Mani 2011 Smeal College of Business, Penn State University
Yen-Ting "Daniel" Lin​ 2011 School of Business Administration, University of San Diego
Gökçe Esenduran 2010 Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University
H. Muge Yayla-Kullu 2010 Lally School of Management and Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst.
Olga Perdikak 2009 Mays Business School, Texas A & M University
Adelina Gnanlet Amal Samuel 2007 Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, Cal State University-Fullerton
Yimin Wang 2007 Carey School of Business, Arizona State University
Z. Almula Camdereli 2007 McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
​Sriram Narayanan 2007 Broad College of Business, Michigan State University
John Gray 2007 Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University



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Karthik Natarajan
Karthik Natarajan is an assistant professor of Supply Chain and Operations at the Carlson School of Management. He received his Ph. D. in Operations from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, where he won numerous awards for his research including the outstanding graduating student award and a competitive university-wide fellowship. 

Natarajan’s research interests are in humanitarian and non-profit operations with a specific focus on global public health.  In a recent work, he studied how different donor funding schedules and uncertainty in donor funding impact the operational performance of humanitarian health supply chains. Natarajan’s previous work experience include Honeywell Technology Solutions and Brakes India Limited, and he is currently consulting for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He is an ad hoc reviewer for the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) journal.

Aaron Ratcliffe
Aaron Ratcliffe received his Ph.D in 2013 and now is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the Department of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management in the Bryan School of Business and Economics. He teaches classes in Operations Management and Quantitative Analysis for Decision Making. His research interests are in healthcare operations management and service operations management. He completed his PhD from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in August 2013 under the supervision of Dr. Ann Marucheck and Dr. Wendell Gilland. His dissertation, “Operating on Quality, Access, and Cost: Managing Better Health Systems” takes a hierarchical approach to improving healthcare delivery systems with chapters focused on health provider competition (health strategy), cancer prevention (health maintenance), and outpatient scheduling (clinical operations).


 Yen-Ting “Daniel” LinYen-Ting “Daniel” Lin received his Ph.D in 2011 and now is an Assistant Professor in the School of Business Administration at the University of San Diego. Daniel received his B.S. degree from National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan and his M.S. degree from Stanford University. Before joining the Kenan-Flagler Business School, he interned at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and worked at the Bureau of Foreign Trade in Taiwan. Daniel’s primary research interests lie at the interface between operations and marketing, including retail operations and supply chain integration. His dissertation analyzes the value of quick response and vertical integration under competition. He also has examined how customers’ strategic behavior affects firm performance. Daniel’s work has appeared in Production and Operations Management and International Journal of Production Economics.

Daniel’s thoughts on the PhD program in Operations. “One of the best decisions I have ever made. First of all, it has a consistent outstanding record of placement. Meanwhile, the program also provides an excellent environment for graduate study. Faculty here show their support and care for students. Plenty of opportunities are out there for students to interact with them. Faculty’s breadth of research interests also allows students to find the best fit for them. If you are looking for a collegial environment and a program with strong unity, I believe the Ph.D. program in Operations is your best choice.”

Daniel is happy to talk with potential candidates. Please email him at

For more information about Daniel and his research, please go to Yen-Ting "Daniel" Lin


Vidya ManiVidya Mani received her PhD in August 2011 and now is an Assistant Professor in the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. Vidya received her B.E. degree from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India and her MoM (Master of Management) from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India. Before joining the Kenan-Flagler Business School, Vidya interned at ABB and Marico Industries and worked at Birla Management Corporation and Oracle India Pvt. Ltd. While at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, she received Research Assistantships for five years and the Future Faculty Fellowship in 2010. In Vidya’s dissertation, Empirical Study of Link Between Operations and Financial Performance of Retailers, she conducted an empirical study of the link between operations management and financial performance of retailers by looking at drivers of store level operations of a single retail chain, and studying the relative firm level performance of US public retailers. Other research interests include Retail Operations, Humanitarian Operations and Supply Chain Management. 

Vidya recommends the PhD program at Kenan-Flagler Business School for three main reasons: 1) This program gives the students the flexibility to pursue a broad array of research interests. This could include interdisciplinary research as well as employing a mix of analytical and empirical methodologies. 2) Faculty at the Kenan-Flagler Business School are extremely well qualified in various research methods and come from very diverse backgrounds. They are extremely supportive of the student’s academic interests and encourage collaboration with other faculty members that help leverage the strength of the faculty as a whole. 3) While in the PhD program, students often get to interact with leading researchers in the field through a combination of seminars and conference presentations. Through these interactions, students have an opportunity to network with like-minded scholars and keep themselves abreast with latest developments as they move towards their research goals. 

Vidya is happy to talk with potential candidates. Please email her at

For more information about Vidya and her research, please go to Vidya Mani


Gokce Esenduran Gokce Esenduran received her Ph.D in 2010 and now is an Assistant Professor of Operations of Management in the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. Prior to her doctoral studies, Gokce received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from Bogazici University, Istanbul. Gokce’s many awards include Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Outstanding Graduating Student Award, a Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the UNC Graduate School, a Future Faculty Fellowship from the UNC Center for Teaching Excellence, and the Kenan-Flagler Business School’s M. Wayne Delozier Award for the Outstanding PhD Student in 2008. Gokce’s primary research interests lie at the interface of operations management and sustainability and include extended producer responsibility, product take-back and related regulations as well as closed loop supply chain management. In her dissertation titled “Role of Environmental Legislations and Company Level Strategies on Product Take Back and Green Operations," Gokce studied the profitability and efficiency of product take-back strategies launched in order to comply with environmental legislations and/or to turn product take-backs into profits.  

Gokce comments on the Operations doctoral program. “Being a part of the Operation family at Kenan-Flagler has always been exciting and enlightening. The PhD program provides a very supportive environment with a good balance of research and course work. The faculty is always enthusiastic, helpful, and encouraging. They provide excellent guidance and continuous support. Besides, it's great to work with all the friendly PhD students and staff.” 

Gokce is happy to talk with potential candidates. Please email her at

For more information about Gokce and her research, please go to Gokce Esenduran


  Olga PerdikakiOlga Perdikaki, received her Ph.D in 2009 and now is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information & Operations Management in Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.  Prior to her doctoral studies, Olga received her M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Florida, in Gainesville and her B.Sc. in Industrial Management, University of Piraeus, Athens, Greece.  Before joining the Kenan-Flagler Business School, Olga was a high school instructor for six years at a private school in Athens, Greece.  While at Kenan-Flagler Business School, Olga received the Outstanding Student Teaching Award and the Outstanding Graduating Student Award both in 2009.  She also received the UNC Graduate School Dissertation Completion Fellowship for 2008-2009.  Her research interests are operations marketing interface, retail operations, supply chain conflict and coordination.  In her dissertation titled “Essay on Retail Operations,” Olga attempts to shed light on retail practices that enhance consumer valuation, on factors that affect store performance, and on temporal management of demand enhancing activities using both analytical and empirical methodologies to help retailers understand their store performance and effectively manage strategies geared towards enhancing demand and consumer valuation about their product offerings.  Olga’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Decision Sciences and POM and MSOM.

Olga recommends the Ph.D program to other students for several reasons. “The UNC Operations PhD students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on interesting and current research.  They are assigned to a faculty member from the very first semester and can identify potential fit based on research interests. The curriculum is very rigorous and students are exposed to and trained in both analytical and empirical methodologies.  The Operations faculty are not only experts in their areas of research but also very friendly and collegial.  This sense of collegiality is also present among the PhD students who support and mentor each other at various stages of the program.  I believe it is one of the few Operations Ph.D programs, which has been very successful in placing its PhD graduates to leading universities in the US.  This speaks volumes about its reputation, rigor, as well as its alumni.  The UNC Operations Ph.D graduates have formed an incredibly strong network, which provides tremendous support to the students who are on the job market.”

Olga is happy to talk with potential candidates. Please email her at 

For more information about Olga and her research, please go to Olga Perdikaki.


Sriram NarayananSriram Narayanan received his Ph.D in 2007 and now is an Associate Professor with the Department of Supply Chain Management in Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. Prior to his doctoral studies, he received a MBA and an undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delhi, India. Prior to his doctoral studies, Sriram worked for Maruti Udyog Limited, a subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corporation as a purchase executive, and HCL Technologies as a team leader engaged in software testing for two years. His primary research interests are in managing outsourcing issues and in managing productivity in knowledge intensive work environments. His dissertation focused on understanding how operational productivity and customer satisfaction can be improved in offshore environments where individuals work on knowledge intensive tasks. Sriram’s work has appeared in Management Science, Production and Operations Management, Journal of Operations Management, Decision Sciences, International Journal of Production Research and Supply Chain Management Review.

Sriram’s thoughts on the Ph.D program in Operations. “It has been my privilege to have been associated with the UNC Ph.D program. There are three key attributes I consider to be important in choosing a Ph.D program…(a) rigor of training (b) involvement and encouragement of the faculty mentor and the faculty group in general in the welfare of the PhD student and (c) the sense of camaraderie and community with fellow colleagues not just in the PhD program but beyond. The UNC PhD program excels in all of these parameters. (It) actively encourages students to take courses in disciplines such as economics, operations research and statistics that are important in building a strong toolkit for research. The faculty at UNC are phenomenal mentors who teach you how to apply the toolkit one acquires from the courses to research problems in the chosen field. Further, they often encourage the right mix of independence and guidance in the students’ pursuit of research agenda. Finally, a high degree of camaraderie and mutual support characterize the Ph.D cohort, and one has the opportunity to form life-long colleagues as one steps into academia. In addition, a distinctive feature of the program is its vast alumni base in the broader research community.”

For more information about Sriram and his research, go to Sriram Narayanan


John GrayJohn Gray received his Ph.D. in 2006 and now is an Assistant Professor of Operations in the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. Prior to his doctoral studies, John received both a B.A. and B.E. from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Wake Forest University. He worked in Operations Management at Proctor and Gamble for eight years prior to joining the doctoral program in 2002. John was awarded the prestigious Royster Fellowship to support his doctoral studies by the UNC Graduate Program. In addition, he received a John W. Wood Fellowship from the Kenan-Flagler Business School and a Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Living from the Latane Center for Human Science. John’s research examines the performance implications of outsourcing and offshoring, particularly its impact on quality risk. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal of Operations Management, Production and Operations Management, Decision Sciences, Organization Science, and the Journal of Supply Chain Management, among others.

John commented on the Operations doctoral program. “(it) was distinct in that it provided rigorous training in OM analytical methods, while allowing a student to explore other methodological approaches. Such a combination is rather unusual in our field, and benefits researchers regardless of the primary approach the student pursues. The program allows students’ research interests to drive their choices in coursework and in faculty advisors. In addition to the excellent training and research environment, Chapel Hill is a wonderful place to live.”

For more information about John and his research, go to John Gray. 


Current PhD Students

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Dayton Steele 

RJ Niewoehner 

Anand Bhatia 

Oguz Cetin 

Brett Hathaway 

Baiyang Huang 

Hyun Seok Lee 

Nagarajan Sethuraman 



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You can find information and requirements on the application process and submit your application at 



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Please feel free to contact Dr. Parlakturk, the faculty contact for the PhD program, for any inquiries.