Applying for the Doctoral programme
Are you ready to ignite your extraordinary potential within a forward-thinking Business School? At Imperial we take a holistic approach to admissions, attracting a diverse range of individuals with varied backgrounds to foster an enriching learning experience. Looking beyond your professional qualifications, we also consider who you are, what motivates you and how you collaborate with others.
Who are we looking for?
At Imperial, we are looking for well-rounded candidates with the aptitude and ambition to thrive in our PhD programmes and make a global impact as future leaders of business and society.
A PhD at Imperial College London is a demanding academic qualification. We therefore look for evidence of strong and consistent academic performance and expect applicants to have high grades at undergraduate and Master’s level, including a strong dissertation.
From graduates of UK institutions, this would normally equate to a combination of at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree at undergraduate level and a Master’s degree awarded with Merit or Distinction. Please see the College Country index for the international equivalent of these qualifications, though please bear in mind that the Business School may ask for higher grades than the College minimum.
In exceptional circumstances, we will consider candidates holding a strong First Class Honours undergraduate degree, without a Master’s, if accompanied by very strong academic references and outstanding CV and personal statement.
For general enquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What to expect – pre-requisite knowledge and training
As a PhD graduate of Imperial College Business School, you will be expected to have a solid foundation in quantitative research methods, understand the breadth of your research area and have in depth knowledge of your specific field demonstrated through your own original research. Graduates who are working in primarily qualitative fields are still expected to undertake core quantitative methods training.
To be able to succeed in the formal courses, as a minimum, you should have knowledge of:
Topics include functions, limits and continuity, differentiation, applications of the derivative, curve sketching, and integration theory, methods of integration, applications of the integral, Taylor’s theorem, infinite sequences and series.
Matrix Theory/Linear Algebra
Topics include matrix algebra, systems of linear equations, determinants, vector algebra and geometry, eigenvalues, eigenvectors, vector spaces, subspaces, bases, and dimension, linear transformations, representation by matrices, nullity, rank, diagonalization, inner products, adjoints, unitary, and orthogonal transformations.
Topics include fundamentals of probability theory, confidence intervals, and tests of hypothesis for normal distributions, one- and two-sample tests and associated confidence intervals for means and proportions, analysis of variance, F-tests, correlation, regression, contingency tables, and statistical analysis using the computer.
Data analysis and programming
During your courses and research, you will use a variety of analysis tools and programming languages, including R, STATA, MATLAB, Python – applicants who are not confident with programming should learn before enrolling. There are many open online courses available that make it feasible to learn. This Data School web page gives a good round up of some available resources as a starting point.
One of the most important parts of our application form is the Statement of Purpose section. Although you are not expected to have your whole thesis planned at this stage, it is important to articulate your knowledge and ideas. It should include the following:
- Your motivation for undertaking the MRes and PhD
- A discussion of possible research areas that you might pursue
- Business School faculty you have identified that align with your research interests
- What interests you most about your chosen field of study
Relevant past study or research projects – in particular those completed with faculty
A GMAT or GRE score is a compulsory requirement to be considered for entry into the Doctoral programme at Imperial College Business School. This GMAT/GRE score must be submitted before we will consider an application. Please note that we do not make offers on the condition that a candidate achieves a satisfactory GMAT/GRE score.
There are only a few test dates per year in some countries or testing centres. It is highly recommended that applicants arrange a GMAT or GRE test at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure that they can submit a timely application.
No preference between GRE and GMAT:
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Strategy & Organisational Behaviour
- Economics & Public Policy
All applicants are free to take either test and we understand that there are some countries where only one of these tests is available.
We expect applicants to have obtained strong scores across all elements of the exam. We consider strong scores to be in the 90th percentile or higher in either test.
For the GMAT Exam, our preferred total score is 700 or above. From the different test elements, scores in the 90th percentile roughly equate to: 50/60 in quantitative reasoning, 39/60 in verbal reasoning, 6/6 in analytical writing and 8/8 in integrated reasoning.
We also accept the GMAT Focus Edition (available from 7 November 2023). If taking this test, our preferred total score is 655 or above. We would also be looking to see scores in the 90th percentile in the Data Insights, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning components. Scores are valid for five years from your appointment date.
From the different test elements, scores in the 90th percentile roughly equate to: 165/170 in quantitative reasoning, 163/170 in verbal reasoning and 5/6 in analytical writing.
All Doctoral students must meet our English language entry requirements. If you have a degree taught in English within the following countries, you meet the English requirement automatically: Australia, Canada, Guyana, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America, West Indies. This applies only to degrees that were studied entirely and awarded in the relevant country.
For all other applicants, a full list of acceptable English language qualifications and our required scores can be found on our detailed English language requirement page.
Most applicants meet the requirement in one of the following ways:
IELTS (academic): A minimum score of 7.0 with minimum scores of 6.5 in all elements. The IELTS indicator test will be accepted for admissions to the 2023/24 academic year.
TOEFL iBT: A minimum score of 100 overall with minimum scores of 22 in all elements. The ETS at Home test will be accepted for admission to the 2023/24 academic year.
- Duolingo English Test: 125 Overall with no less than 115 in any band score.
- IELTS, TOEFL and Duolingo scores are only valid if they are less than two years old on the programme start date
- TOEFL: You must meet the entry requirement in one test from your scaled scores (‘My Best Scores’ reported by TOEFL will not be considered). For more information regarding TOEFL please visit the ETS website. Please note if you would like ETS to send your TOEFL scores directly to the College, our TOEFL Institution Code is 0891.
You may submit your online application prior to meeting the English language requirement.
How to apply
Start your application
Applications are made through our online application system, which gives you the flexibility to complete your application in your own time and save your progress. The form includes questions about you and your educational history to date.
If you wish to be considered for the Doctoral programme, please follow the steps below:
- Start a new application and search for “Business”. Select either Business (MRes 1YFT) or (MRes 2YFT) depending on which pathway you wish to apply for.
- Applicants applying for the Marketing or Analytics and Operations pathways will need to select Business (MRes 1YFT). Applicants applying for the Economics and Public Policy, Finance, Strategy and Organisational Behaviour or Innovation and Entrepreneurship pathways will need to choose Business (MRes 2YFT). You must only select Business [LISS DTP 1+3] (MRes 1YFT) if you are also planning on completing a LISS Case for Support.
- Once you have chosen either the Business (MRes 1YFT) or Business (MRes 2YFT) programme, you will need to select which pathway you wish to be considered for based on your research area of interest.
- You will also need to provide a brief outline of your primary research interest and indicate a potential supervisor.
Submit your supporting documents
Once you have submitted your application form, you will need to upload the following supporting information to complete your application in time for the application deadline you want to be considered by.
- Current resume/CV
- Statement of purpose
- Complete degree transcripts
- Contact details of two academic referees
- GMAT/GRE test scores: you should have sat and have a valid test score that meets our requirements at the point of entry
- Evidence of English language qualification
It’s essential we receive your supporting documents and reference information before midnight (UK time) on Monday 8 January 2024. Until we have received all the necessary documents, your application will not be complete and will not be processed.
Once the following information is uploaded, the Doctoral Admissions Team will assess your application and you will be contacted if any additional documents are required. Complete applications will then be considered by the Academic Selection Committee. Applications submitted without a GMAT or GRE score or without references will be considered incomplete and will not be considered.
If you are shortlisted by the Academic Selection Committee, you will be invited to an interview with a panel of faculty before a final decision is made. In the case of overseas candidates, we will arrange an interview by telephone or via Skype.
Shortlisted candidates will normally be invited to interview by Friday 1 March 2024 at the latest.
You will be notified of your application result by email as soon as possible after your interview. Following this, you will receive official notification via your Imperial Gateway account from the College Registry team. If you have been granted a place on the programme the official offer notification will let you know of any conditions that you need to complete to take up your place.
If you have any further questions about the application process, please see our FAQs.
Start your Doctoral journey today
Funding your PhD
We offer a funded Doctoral programme at the Business School. This includes a full tuition fee waiver (Home/EU or Overseas fees) plus a living stipend for up to five years through the Business School Graduate Teaching Assistant Scholarship. Funding for a sixth year can be considered on a case-by-case basis, with the potential to undertake a teaching or research assistant studentship with one of the Business Schools research centres.
Some of our scholarship funding comes from EPSRC and ESRC for candidates who meet Research Councils UK’s academic and residential eligibility conditions. During the MRes you will have a discussion with our team to find out whether you are eligible to move onto any of these awards.
The fees for both UK and international students are the same.
Frequently asked questions
All applications to the Doctoral programme are made via our online platform. You will either need to select 'Business (MRes 1YFT)' or 'Business (MRes 2YFT)' based on your research area of interest. Further information can be found on our Doctoral programme page.
Please refer to the 'How to apply' section of this page to see application deadlines, what documents you are required to submit with your application and to view the selection process.
To find out more about application deadlines for our Doctoral programme please visit the 'How to apply' section of this page.
One of the most important parts of our application form is the ‘statement of purpose’ section. It should be no more than one or two A4 pages and should cover the following points:
- Your motivation for undertaking the programme
- A discussion of possible research areas that you might pursue and how these are a good fit for Imperial College Business School
- What interests you most about your chosen field of study
- Relevant past study, industry, or research projects
Long-term career goals
You should browse the description of the different research groups in the Business School and the webpages of faculty members. This will give an overview of their research interests and current projects. The MRes gives you an opportunity to pursue potential interests through courses and a project prior to committing to the PhD.
No, although in your application you should list a member of faculty you have identified as a potential supervisor. You can demonstrate in your statement of purpose how your research interests are aligned to a potential supervisor and the Business School.
Checking the research profiles of faculty members and Business School projects will give you an indication of whether the Business School is a good fit for you. If no faculty are working in your area of interest it is unlikely that you would be shortlisted, as we may not be able to provide supervisory support during your PhD.
During the MRes year, you will become part of the research community at Imperial College Business School and interact with faculty and other PhD students during taught courses and at seminars, which we hope will influence and help shape your research ideas for the PhD.
Not all applications progress to the interview stage of the selection process, however we interview all shortlisted candidates before making an offer. In the case of overseas candidates we will arrange an interview by telephone or via Skype.
Yes. A GMAT/GRE score must be submitted before we will consider an application. Any applications submitted without a GMAT/GRE score will be considered incomplete until we receive a score. Please note that we do not make offers on the condition that a candidate achieves a satisfactory GMAT/GRE score.
We offer a fully funded Doctoral programme at Imperial College Business School – this includes a tuition fee waiver and a stipend for up to five years. The 2024-25 rate of the Graduate Teaching Assistant scholarship stipend is £25,000. Rates are reviewed annually and are expected to increase for 2025-26 in line with Research Council UK rates. Stipends are tax-free and the continuation of the stipend will depend on your satisfactory progress on the programme.
The Doctoral programme is structured to take between four to six years full-time. In the first year, all students undertake a one or two year MRes programme depending on their chosen research area specialism. Subject to satisfactory academic progress, students then progress to the PhD which takes between 3-4 years.
The Doctoral programme has one intake each year in September and is spread over four to six years.
It is not possible to enrol on the Doctoral programme on a part-time or distance learning basis. Students must be in attendance throughout the full period of study.
It is not usually possible to transfer onto the Doctoral programme as it is unlikely that previous studies would perfectly overlap with the School’s expertise.
Imperial College Business School does not accept visiting student applications. On rare occasions students are invited to visit by an academic and are dealt with individually.
The Doctoral programme is full time. Students are able to undertake part-time work if this does not break any relevant visa and/or scholarship conditions, however the programme offers a living stipend to support students during their studies.
Admission onto the Doctoral programme is highly competitive as we accept around 15 students each year, from a total of approximately 200 applications.
There is a designated workspace which includes a computer and relevant software assigned to all enrolled Doctoral students. You will share working space with other PhD students in your cohort.
When the Business School recommends an offer, the College Registry team will perform a final review of your application to make sure that all College entry requirements are met before making an official offer. This process can take up to three weeks from Business School recommendation.
No. This is not required as all places on the Doctoral Programme come with full funding.
You will receive an email detailing what you are required to submit and where you need to submit relevant documents.
IELTS and TOEFL certificates should be scanned and emailed to email@example.com. If you have not yet received your certificates, you can email your IELTS Test Report Number or TOEFL 16 digit registration number to the Registry team.
If you have completed the Pearson Test of Academic English, please ensure you have sent your scores to Imperial via your PearsonPTE account.
If you have completed another one of Imperial’s accepted English language qualifications, you will need to post the original, physical document to the Registry team to support this qualification. You will receive an email with more information and the address that the document will need to be posted to.
The Business School is located on the South Kensington Campus of Imperial College London.
“The programme structure is different from many other business schools because during the first year at Imperial we study the Master’s of Research (MRes), which is focused on developing strong foundations before continuing to the PhD programme. This also gives us additional time to discover opportunities and find the right paths for our research. ”