Coursework is tailored to each student’s background and interests and typically extends over two to two and a half years. Some of the courses may be offered by different departments at Duke University and even neighboring universities, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and North Carolina State University (NCSU).  Travel is required when taking courses on other campuses; the other campuses are about 30 minutes from Duke.

In the first year, students often take graduate-level courses in operations research, economics, and mathematics. Every first year student must audit the Operations Management core course taught in the daytime MBA program in the spring semester. Students are required to choose one of the sections of the core to sit in, inform the corresponding instructor, and attend all class sessions.

In the second year, the coursework often extends to advanced courses in operations research and economics, doctoral seminars, and elective courses offered by other areas in the school.  Coursework may extend to the first semester of the third year, depending on the relevance of the work to the student’s intended dissertation topic(s).

Students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 throughout their PhD. A student who receives an “F” or does not attain a 3.0 average by the end of the first year may be subject to dismissal.

Fuqua OM Courses

There is typically one Ph.D. course offered by Fuqua OM faculty each semester.  The faculty teaching this course and the content vary from year to year.  In the first and second years of the Ph.D. program, students should take all Fuqua OM courses that are offered.  Common offerings include:

  • Foundations of Optimization (Bernstein)
  • Dynamic Pricing & Revenue Management (Keskin)
  • Inventory Theory (Shang)
  • Stochastic Comparisons (Song)
  • Supply Chain Modeling (Swinney)

Required Courses

In the first year of the doctoral program, it is important to build a strong background in the tools and research methodologies commonly used in the field of operations management.  As such, in addition to the offered Fuqua OM courses, students are required to take at least one course in each of the following categories:

  • Linear Programming (e.g., STOR614 Linear Programming at UNC)
  • Advanced Optimization (e.g., BA911 Convex Optimization or BA912 Dynamic Programming)
  • Microeconomics (e.g., ECON701 Microeconomic Analysis I)
  • Stochastic Models (e.g., BA915 Stochastic Models)

These requirements are flexible and could be filled by many different courses; the course numbers listed above are merely examples of satisfactory options.  Students should consult with the doctoral coordinator to discuss whether a particular course satisfies the requirement.  If a course or topic is not offered in a given year, the doctoral coordinator may change the requirements.  If a first year student has achieved an A in a master’s level or higher course in a particular topic, they may take a more advanced course or be exempted from the requirement at the doctoral coordinator’s discretion.


Students in the OM doctoral program frequently take electives in decision sciences, economics, econometrics, marketing, and statistics.  Electives should be tailored to the student’s research interests in consultation with the student’s advisor.

In addition, students who do not have a strong undergraduate background in probability and statistics are encouraged to take such courses as a part of their doctoral coursework.

Sample Course Selection

Term 1 Offered OM Doctoral Course
BA911, Convex Optimization
ECON701, Microeconomic Analysis I
Term 2 Offered OM Doctoral Course
ECON705, Microeconomic Analysis II
STOR614, Linear Programming (UNC)
BA915, Stochastic Models
Term 3 Offered OM Doctoral Course
BA901, Game Theory
BA912, Dynamic Programming and Optimal Control
Terms 4/5 Offered OM Doctoral Course
STOR612, Models in Operations Research (UNC)