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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Caps Off to The PhD Project-20 Years of Diversifying the Business and Academic Workforce

PHD Project

Two decades ago, there were only 294 African-, Hispanic- and Native Americans at the front of the classroom in U.S. business schools. Today, that number has more than quadrupled to 1,230, due largely to the work of The PhD Project.

In 1993, a group of academics and corporate representatives sharing a concern for the lack of diversity in corporate hiring pools sought a solution. Over the next several months they initiated a systemic and fundamental program to correct a major problem: U.S. business school faculties consisted of less than two percent minorities. 

Without faculty of color in the front of the classroom, colleges and universities could not attract minorities to study business disciplines. There were no role models and an absence of natural and approachable mentors. Something needed to be done. In response to this overwhelming need, The PhD Project was created. The founding members were The KPMG Foundation, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Citigroup and the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Today, over 20 corporations, foundations and associations provide funding.

The KPMG Foundation administers The PhD Project and is a principal source of annual funding. The Project has three components to its approach:

1)     A marketing campaign to identify a population of the best and brightest potential PhD candidates of color – via an extensive direct mail, print advertising and public relations campaign. Qualified candidates are invited to visit The Project web site and apply to the annual conference. This conference takes place in Chicago each November and theapplication deadline is September 30th. The PhD Project will cover all travel, hotel and conference expenses for those who are invited to attend. There is a nominal $200 registration fee (which is waived for full time students.) To apply visit:

2)     Our annual conference. Qualified candidates are invited to this two-day conference where they hear from deans, professors and current minority doctoral students about the benefits of pursuing a business PhD. Participants are provided with the tools and resources they need for the application/admission process to doctoral programs. They are also exposed to representatives from more than 100 doctoral-granting universities during a four-hour “Doctoral Program Fair.”

3)     Minority Doctoral Student Associations, formed by The PhD Project as a means of combating the high (25 percent) attrition rate inherent among all business doctoral students. Through these professional associations’ annual conferences (in accounting, finance, information systems, management and marketing) minority doctoral students establish peer support relationships with others who are facing similar challenges on the way to becoming business school professors. Participants receive guidance and information concerning every step of the process of earning the doctorate and obtaining employment. The retention rate of doctoral students who are members of these associations exceeds 90 percent.

Leading corporations, foundations and associations funding The PhD Project include: KPMG Foundation, Graduate Management Admission Council, Citi Foundation, AACSB International, over 275 participating universities, AICPA Foundation, DiversityInc, Microsoft Corporation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, The Merck Company Foundation, Rockwell Collins, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., John Deere FoundationAmerican Marketing Association, AT&T,CIGNA, ADP, Lincoln Financial Group, Edison International/California State University System,American Accounting Association, Aerotek/ TEKsystems(operating companies of Allegis Group), 3M, and The Hershey Company.