Global Executive Track (GET) Ph.D.

More than a required credential

Filled with talented leaders who want to do more than simply earn a credential that can carry them higher in industry, the WSU Global Executive Track Ph.D. is for driven people. It is for those who have a resume full of accomplishments to prove that their success isn't dependent upon a degree. It is for driven learners who want an educational experience that will challenge and invigorate them – and take their thinking to a whole new level. Their strategic and in-depth view of their research area can help their organization develop new and innovative business practices.

Our mission

To provide opportunities for working executives to combine real-world experience with academic skills to create a new class of technical leaders who embrace integrative thinking, are globally aware, and are capable of producing sustainable value to any organization throughout the world.

The WSU Global Executive Track Ph.D. is designed for mid- and senior-level managers, executives, technical leaders and entrepreneurs. Students typically have 10+ years of work experience under their belts, much of it in management, leadership, or ownership roles.

The class schedule is formatted to allow students to continue working while they pursue their studies – in fact, the expectation is that they will remain employed in a position that allows them to apply what they are learning while they complete the program.

Because of this, student interaction is different in the Global Executive Track Ph.D. Program. By bringing their current and prior experience into the classroom, these accomplished students enrich one another's learning experiences. Wayne State's faculty experts from diverse disciplines of business, cultural anthropology, global leadership, and engineering, lead lively conversations and real case discussions that provide access to leading edge knowledge that contributes toward a Ph.D. experience that is unlike any other.

Our alumni call the Global Executive Track Ph.D. and exhilarating and intense experience, one that changed the way they think about leadership, global business, system improvement, and problem solving.

About the program

The WSU Global Executive Track Ph.D. program is an intense program that minimizes time out of the workplace. Our course meetings occur only a couple times per month, primarily in evenings and on weekends to avoid work conflicts. On-line access is available for all courses and the degree can be completed totally on-line. Students begin the program in January and move through the program as a cohort, however we do offer flexibility in the program.

The Global Executive Track Ph.D. comes with a great support system. GET Students are busy people who don't want to hassle with administrative tasks, coordinating on campus parking, paying attention to deadlines, or worrying about getting food between work and class. Our concierge like staff handle these chores so that students can focus on their jobs and studies.

Peter Varma
Read more about Graduate Ambassador Peter Varma

The GET program is unique in that it is specifically designed for experienced technology and engineering professionals and provides unparalleled access to world-class business leaders and professors. I know of no similar engineering doctoral program.

Peter Varma
Graduate Ambassador & Product Development Director
Industrial and Systems Engineering & S&P Global

Advisory board members

  • Dr. Andrew Brown, Retired VP & CT, Delphi; NAS
  • Dr. Mark Dolsen, President, TRQSS
  • Dr. Jennifer Hitchcock, Defense Acquisition University Professor, Department of Defense
  • Dr. Nabil Raad, VP Data Science, GM Financial
  • Jim Ruma, Retired VP Engineering, GDLS, Executive in Residence - Macomb OU Incubator
  • Dr. Kathy Schroeder, VP of Production Operations - Automotive, IHS Markit
  • Doug Szopo, Retired Executive Director, Global Product Planning & Strategy, Ford Motor Company


The GET Ph.D. program is based on the expectation that you, learning partner, will develop the ability to think intensely and critically about problems confronting an organization, a community, a nation and the world. Through conceptually modeling these problems, assessing and modifying the assumptions underlying the models, testing assumptions empirically and applying modes of thought drawn from many disciplines, you will draw conclusions and propose solutions based on the results your research generates.

Our curricula and coursework provide a foundation for conducting rigorous research and practicing evidence-based management. Courses are interrelated theoretically and methodologically and prepare you to bring academic, theoretical and empirical perspectives to take on problems that you face in your organization or in public policy advocacy.

Our program offers two concentrations: 

  • Managerial - Designed for Executives, Managers, Consultants who are interested in broadening their global leadership skills & competencies while pursuing research around strategy, leadership, all facets of the product & service development life cycle & related business functions.
  • Technical - Designed for Technical Leaders and Consultants who want to deepen their domain knowledge and customize their research to a specific problem of practice.

Course map

  • Coursework: 60 credits, or 70 credits for students without IE background
  • Transfer from relevant master's degree: up to 32 credits
  • Develop two teaching case studies
  • Dissertation research: 30 credits

For a minimum total of 90 credits and two teaching case studies for program completion.

View course information

Research requirements and deliverables

Case studies

To enhance writing skills and provide the learning partners with the opportunity to contribute to the body of teaching knowledge in industrial and systems engineering, each Executive Track cohort will draw on their years of relevant experience to develop and defend two (2) original Teaching Case Studies throughout the program. Successful development and defense of these two case studies will serve to satisfy the preliminary examination requirement of the Ph.D. program. 

Research intensive sessions

Each year the GET Program will conduct up to three half-day Research Intensive Sessions that learning partners will be expected to participate in. The Sessions will learning partners presenting their research topics or proposals to faculty and industry professionals.  Faculty and Industry professionals will provide feedback on the topics and insight into the proposals to better help the learning partners hone their research.


The GET program will run workshops that learning partners are encouraged to participate in. The workshops are designed to correlate with the materials being covered in the Executive Track program by using visiting Faculty and Industry Experts to provide new, interesting, and relevant material. In the past we have had workshops with faculty members from Georgia Tech, experts from Steelcase, Sonic Rim, and Johnson Controls.


The GET program requires all learning partners to propose and complete a formal dissertation. Learning partners will have the opportunity to tailor the dissertation research to their interests aligned with the program objectives. The learning partners are also required to disseminate the results of their dissertation research for publication in scholarly journals.

Admission information

The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering is seeking creative learning partners interested in sharpening their critical and analytical thinking skills. Our learning environment promotes participants' intellectual development and adds to the knowledge and mastery both of fundamental and cutting edge engineering and business principles and their application to many different environments.

Ideal candidates

  • Hold a bachelor's degree in engineering and master's in industrial engineering, operations research, engineering management, or master's in business administration.
  • Have at least 10 years of technical experience and at least five years of leadership experience.
  • Be dedicated to creative leadership, continuing intellectual development, creating a collaborative learning experience and enhancing one's organization and community.
  • Be a demonstrated leader with initiatives with complex, cross-organizational impact.
  • Be committed to completing a rigorous four-year doctoral program requiring in addition to class time at least 15 hours of study per week.

Application deadlines

  • Nov. 30, annually (January enrollment)
  • Early application is encouraged as class size is limited and decisions are made on a rolling basis

Application requirements


  • Minimum of 10 years of relevant work experience, with at least five years involving substantial managerial responsibilities
  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a relevant master's degree or MBA
  • Potential for career advancement to a senior managerial position
  • Ability to participate in and contribute to an intensive learning environment
  • Time and willingness to make a four-year commitment to attend classes, study group meetings and other required activities
  • Evidence of the ability to complete graduate-level coursework

The following materials will be required to complete your application.

  • Transcripts*
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Current Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation from senior leaders
  • Cite any publication / conference presentation

*Transcripts must be official transcripts sent by the university or college from each post-secondary school you have attended.

Program directors

Dr. Ratna Babu Chinnam, Co-Director

Dr. Nancy Philippart, Co-Director

Mark Garrison, Program Manager