Doctoral FAQ

1. Why a Ph.D.?
A Ph.D. is a requirement for a professional career as an academic in higher education. The program is aimed at preparing individuals who want to become university professors to be successful in the areas of teaching, research and service typically required of faculty. The primary focus of the program is to prepare qualified candidates for academic careers in teaching and research. Graduates are also qualified to hold positions in government and industry.

2. What is the demand for individuals with business and applied statistics doctorates?
Data suggest that there will be a strong demand for faculty in schools of business for at least the next 15 years. Faculty in schools of business are well paid and enjoy enormous freedom. The “job” of being a faculty member at a university requires a great deal of interaction with students and other faculty. It also requires exploring ideas and finding answers to questions about how to better operate modern businesses.

There is also a growing national and state demand for individuals with doctoral training in the area of applied statistics. Statisticians are in high demand in the growing biomedical field to develop methods for evaluating the efficacy and safety of new medications/drugs, surgeries, and other treatment and in the cutting edge research of Bioinformatics to assess such topics or protocols as gene therapy, genomics research, aging and many other newly developed issues. There is also an increasing demand for Ph.D. Applied Statisticians in academic institutions. These positions require extensive, specialized education and training.

3. What will I be expected to do?
Your role will change as your move through the program. Initially you will have the role of student. This role will require you to attend and participate in doctoral seminars with other doctoral students. You will read a great deal and you will write papers. You will also have the role of apprentice where, by working closely with faculty, you learn how to become a university professor. You will apprentice as a teacher by being a teaching assistant and, most likely eventually, you will be responsible for teaching classes by yourself. You will also apprentice as a researcher. Learning how to conduct research is an important part of the training for doctoral students. You will work closely with faculty on research projects and, under the direction of a faculty committee, you will conduct original research that will be the basis for your dissertation.

4. How long will the program take?
Most students will need four years. The coursework generally takes two years to complete. Also, it usually takes another year to pass comprehensive exams, to develop a dissertation topic and to defend a dissertation proposal. The fourth year is typically spent doing the dissertation research.

5. Is this a full-time or part-time program?
The Ph.D. programs are full time except for the Ph.D. in Applied Statistics which can be a full-time or part-time program. Students will normally be expected to enroll for nine hours each semester. Most courses will be offered during the day. Ph.D. students normally serve as either a teaching assistant or research assistant throughout the program. These experiences are an important part of the training and overall doctoral experience. It would be difficult for someone to manage both a full-time job and the doctoral program’s requirements, therefore it is not recommended.

6. As a Ph.D. student, who will advise me?
When you are offered admission to the program your letter of admission will identify a faculty member who will serve as your initial advisor when you enter the program. This obligates neither you nor the faculty member for a four-year period of supervision; as your interests and research agenda develop toward the preparation of a dissertation proposal, it is certainly possible that a different faculty member will emerge as the appropriate advisor for your dissertation research. With the help of your initial advisor you will put together a program committee of faculty who will advise you regarding your dissertation.

7. Are Ph.D. students required to teach?
Because teaching is an important part of the role of being a faculty member, every Ph.D. student will have the opportunity and be encouraged to teach before completing the program. Students typically serve initially as faculty research assistants, but also are called on to assist faculty members in teaching certain courses. Students receiving stipends will probably teach an undergraduate course in the College of Business at some time during their doctoral experience. Gaining teaching experience is important for developing an overall portfolio for the academic job market.

8. What is the research requirement of the Ph.D. program?
Research is carried out while students are taking formal coursework and during the summers. As research assistants students are involved with faculty in joint research activities and pursue their own research objectives under faculty supervision. These activities should lead to authoring or coauthoring papers presented at academic meetings and submitted to research publications by the time the student is ready for dissertation research. To compete successfully in the academic job market, students should give high priority to producing papers and publications while in the program.

8. What can I expect when I finish?
When you finish you should be well prepared to enter a professional career in higher education as an Assistant Professor in an academic institution or as an Applied Statistician in a private/government research organization. You can expect the faculty whom you have worked with at UTSA to assist you in finding a suitable position.

9. What are the key factors on which admissions are based, and who decides?
Admission is based on undergraduate (and graduate, if applicable) transcripts, scores on standardized tests and recommendations from former professors or employers who can speak to your ability to do doctoral-level work at UTSA. We are looking for evidence that the applicant understands the specific nature of the program to which he or she is applying, can articulate scholarly intentions that fit with the research interests of the current faculty, and is academically prepared to undertake the demands of the program with a high likelihood of success. The statement of purpose is perhaps the most important part of an application. Applications from individuals with fine academic credentials must also construct a clear, persuasive, well-written statement of purpose in order to be competitive. Thus, outstanding grades and test scores are important for admission but they are not sufficient.

10. I am completing an undergraduate degree. Am I eligible to apply?
Short answer is yes. But, you will be required to take additional leveling courses and any graduate coursework where your academic background is insufficient. The catalog states that the Ph.D. requirement is “66 hours beyond the master’s degree.” Thus, in effect, the time required to complete a Ph.D. will most likely be much longer for a candidate without a master’s degree than for a candidate with a master’s degree.

11. What financial assistance is available?
Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are usually awarded fellowships that include a waiver of tuition and fees for up to 21 credit hours a year, and a stipend to help cover living expenses. The stipend is likely to vary but could be in an amount up to $25,000 annually. These stipends carry with them the expectation that the student will work 20 hours a week in either a research or teaching assistant capacity.

12. When are admission decisions made?
Admission decisions are normally made in March. Exceptionally qualified candidates may be considered even earlier.