Ethics & Legal Studies

Wharton’s PhD program in Ethics and Legal Studies is unique: the only doctoral program in the world to focus on ethical and legal norms relevant to individual and organizational decision-making within business.


The Ethics & Legal Studies Doctoral Program at Wharton program focuses on the study of ethics and law in business. It prepares graduates for careers in university teaching and research at leading business schools, law schools, and other programs.

Our curriculum crosses many disciplinary boundaries. Students take a core set of courses in the area of ethics and law in business, along with courses in an additional disciplinary concentration such as management, finance, marketing, or accounting. Faculty work closely with students to help them develop their own distinctive perspectives on norms in ethics and law. Faculty and student interests range over topics including international business ethics and human rights, corporate governance, social impact, environmental law and policy, securities, normative political theory, negotiation, sports law and policy, and corporate criminal law.

Sample Schedule

Years 1 and 2
  • Coursework
  • Examinations
  • Research Papers
  • Research Activities
  • Completion of Other Requirements by Field
Up to 4 courses per semester may be counted toward the overall requirement of 16 courses.


2 Ethical Theory, 2 Major Disciplinary Cluster courses, Economics (e.g. MGMT 900), Ethics in Business and Economics (LGST 920)and an Independent Study with selected faculty member.


2 Major Disciplinary Cluster courses and 1 Statistics course, Foundations of Business Law (LGST 921), 1 Statistics course, and Candidacy Research Paper.

End of Year 2 Spring: Take 2 Preliminary Exams: one in Ethics and one in Law.

Year 3
  • Directed Reading & Research
  • Admission to Candidacy
  • Formulation of Research Topic
Dissertation Research. By end of the third year, students will form a dissertation committee and submit a preliminary draft of a dissertation proposal to the committee.
Year 4
  • Continued Research
  • Oral Examination
  • Dissertation

Core Courses

In addition to the Wharton Doctoral course requirements, the student’s four-course unit core in the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department consists of two required doctoral seminars, LGST 920 Ethics in Business and Economics, and LGST 921 Foundations of Business Law. The remaining two LGST courses may be selected from a list of LGST courses that the faculty coordinator has approved.

Students without basic law courses will be required to take LGST 101 in their first semester. Students will take LGST courses, other than Ph.D. seminars, under an independent study number, meet with the instructor periodically outside class, and write a paper. These requirements should be satisfied through courses taught by members of the LGST standing faculty, though exceptions will be made in special circumstances. The requirements may be adjusted for students with law degrees.

Ethics and Law in Business Courses

Students must take four LGST courses, including these two core course seminars:

  • Ethics in Business and Economics (LGST 920)
  • Foundations of Business Law (LGST 921)

Major Disciplinary Cluster

The purpose of the cluster is to ground students in a single academic specialty other than Business Ethics. Clusters include the following:

  • Management
  • Law
  • Philosophy

Students must choose a disciplinary cluster during the first year, in consultation with a faculty advisor. Required courses may not be double-counted. For example, a student choosing Philosophy as the cluster may not use the two required courses in ethical theory as part of the five course cluster requirement.

Get the Details.

Visit the Ethics & Legal Studies website for details on program requirements and courses. Read faculty and student research and bios to see what you can do with an Ethics & Legal Studies PhD.


Ethics & Legal Studies Doctoral

Prof. Diana C. Robertson
James T. Riady Professor, Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics

Associate Director
Lauretta Tomasco
Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department

Faculty Members
PhD Students