Ph.D. in Business Management Programs 2021

Written by Victoria Hudgeons
Last Updated: February 8, 2021

A doctorate in business management builds necessary knowledge for aspiring business leaders and academics. Boasting the terminal degree in their discipline, doctoral graduates demonstrate advanced expertise in at least one business area.

Individuals seeking research careers or higher education teaching positions often opt for a Ph.D. in business management, and students seeking management positions may pursue a doctor of business management (DBM), doctor of management (DM) or doctor of business administration (DBA) degree.

All doctoral business degrees exceed educational requirements for upper-level management positions in most industries. Because these positions typically garner high salaries, a DM, DBA, or Ph.D. in business management can increase graduates' financial security and prosperity.

The following guide discusses the academic requirements and professional benefits of earning a terminal business degree. The guide also breaks down the differences between DBA, DBM, and Ph.D. programs and includes a list of accredited schools offering doctoral degrees in business.

Why a Doctorate in Business Management?

A doctorate in business management can improve a professional's job performance, expand their network, and qualify them for executive positions as president, director, or chief information officer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management occupations garnered a median annual salary of $105,660 as of 2019. Manager job prospects also appear promising, as the BLS projects a 5% growth in management occupations from 2019-2029.

A doctorate in business management demonstrates serious discipline and commitment to leadership excellence and sets graduates apart from their competition for management positions. Depending on degree concentration, interests, and industry expertise, doctoral graduates work in a variety of booming national industries, including healthcare and information technology. Many Ph.D. in management graduates shape the future of business practice through research or teaching.

This degree best suits midcareer business professionals who want to further their knowledge and advance their careers.

Even for newer professionals, business management doctoral programs include internship programs and other job placement services.

In addition to training students in "hard" management skills — such as data and market analysis, budgeting, and hiring — doctoral programs in business management foster "soft" business skills in leadership, communication, and decision-making.

DBA vs. DBM vs. Ph.D. in Business Degrees

Earning a terminal degree requires major financial and time commitments, so learners should make sure to select the program that truly fits their goals. At first, prospective students may struggle to distinguish between DBAs, DBMs, and Ph.D.s in business. The following table compares and contrasts these degrees.

Comparing DBA, DBM, and Ph.D. Programs

Doctor of Business Administration Doctor of Business Management Ph.D. in Business Management
Program Focus Professional degree that applies theoretical concepts to business careers. Scholar-practitioner degree that combines research, theory, and practice in business careers. Theoretical research degree, focused on academic questions and development of original research.
Outcomes Designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of business professionals planning to continue employment in their field. Designed to enhance the knowledge and research capabilities of professionals who want to work in business or education. Designed to prepare graduates for academic careers and scholarly pursuits like journal publication.
Student Demographics Attracts mid- and senior-level professionals with many years of work experience. Attracts mid- and senior-level professionals with many years of work experience. Attracts mid-level professionals and younger students with limited work experience, often coming directly from their graduate degree.
Program Format Online and on-campus options available. Online and on-campus options available. Online and on-campus options available.
Program Length Approximately 3-5 years of full-time study. Part-time options rarely available. Approximately 4-5 years of full-time study. Part-time options rarely available. Approximately five years of full-time study. Part-time options rarely available.
Culminating Requirements Requires a capstone experience, research project, or dissertation. Requires a capstone experience, research project, or dissertation. Requires a dissertation.

Ph.D. in Business, DMgt, and DBA Programs

The following list of doctoral degrees in management is compiled from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. These accredited institutions offer management doctorates in 2021.

All programs below hold regional accreditation from one of the following agencies:

  • – Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • – Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • – Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • – WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


Some programs also hold business-specific accreditation from one of the following agencies:

  • – Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • – Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • – International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)

Auburn University


Binghamton University


California Baptist University


Campbellsville University


Cleveland State University


Columbia University in the City of New York


Cornell University


Felician University


Florida Atlantic University

  • – Executive Ph.D. in Business Administration
  • View Program


Florida International University

  • – Ph.D. in Business Administration – Management and International Business
  • View Program


Gardner-Webb University


Hampton University


Iowa State University


Jackson State University


Keiser University


Liberty University


Louisiana State University and A&M College

  • – Ph.D. in Business Administration With a Concentration in Management
  • View Program


Michigan State University


Mississippi State University


New Mexico State University


Oklahoma State University

  • – Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration option in Management
  • View Program


Purdue University


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Saint Leo University


The George Washington University

  • – Ph.D. in Business With a Management and Strategy Focus
  • View Program


University at Buffalo


University of Alabama


University of Arizona


University of Arkansas


University of California, Irvine


University of Georgia

  • – Ph.D. in Business Administration (Management)
  • View Program


University of Iowa


University of Miami


University of North Texas


University of Oregon


University of Pennsylvania


University of Pittsburgh


University of Washington


Washington State University


Wayland Baptist University


West Virginia University

  • – Ph.D. in Business Administration With a Major in Management
  • View Program


Wilmington University

What To Expect From Business Doctoral Programs

Deciding to pursue a doctoral degree in business is no small commitment. Ph.D., DBA, and DM programs typically take 3-5 years of full-time study to complete. The number of required credits vary depending on program and specialization selection, often comprising 60-72 credit hours of coursework.

Unlike undergraduate programs, which rely heavily on lecture-based courses, a doctorate in business typically utilizes seminar-style courses. In these courses, students and faculty meet in small groups for intense study of a single subject or area. Seminars often involve presenting and critiquing one another's current research efforts, papers, and projects.

Doctoral students also engage in one-on-one collaboration with faculty and may lead courses of their own as teaching assistants.

Admission to a doctorate in business typically requires completion of a master's degree in a relevant discipline, qualifying GRE or GMAT scores, and supplemental materials like letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Applicants are expected to hold many years of experience in their field.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Doctorate in Business Administration?

DBA programs require about 60 credits, which usually take 3-4 years of full-time study to complete. However, timelines vary based on program requirements. DBA programs requiring a thesis can take significantly longer, depending on program structure and faculty guidance. Many programs require full-time students to complete the entire degree in 4-5 years, though schools usually grant extended timelines to part-time students.

Popular Doctoral Program Courses

Before doctoral students begin the dissertation process, they complete two years of advanced coursework. Doctoral degrees in business are highly specialized to let students focus on specific areas of research and academic interest. However, most programs require a handful of core courses, like those listed below, to give each student a similar foundation.

    • Doctoral Research Methods: This course introduces students to the fundamentals of social science research and prepares them to conduct their own research and experiments. Topics include theory development, experiment and research design methods, and writing for scholarly journals. Coursework requires students to practice these skills through research assignments.


    • Organizational Behavior: This doctoral-level course helps students grow as academics by examining recent research and scholarly work in the fields of organizational behavior and theory. Topics may include leadership, motivation, and ethics. Students may also discuss group dynamics, satisfaction, and performance.


    • Advanced Statistics: Typically combining theory and hands-on practice, doctoral courses in statistics build off of knowledge gained in prerequisite statistics courses. A two-course sequence in statistics is common, often covering univariate and multivariate statistics. Students learn to apply statistical analysis, models, and methods to issues in management.


    • Topic-Specific Seminar: Seminars often make up the bulk of doctorate coursework. Seminars involve small-group discussion around a single topic, which varies by program and specialization (e.g., seminar in marketing methods or seminar in HR management). Seminar courses allow students to grow as scholars and researchers by giving presentations, participating in discussions, and receiving feedback.


The Doctoral Dissertation

Most doctoral students complete a dissertation as the culminating requirement of their degree.

This substantial project requires two major milestones: the dissertation proposal defense, which presents the student's topics and research plans for approval, and the final dissertation defense, which presents the final document. These defense presentations take place in front of a dissertation committee and may be open to the public.

Dissertations aim to contribute new ideas and original research to the scholarly understanding of business. Students work closely with faculty advisors to choose a topic and find a unique angle in which to approach it. An ideal topic aligns with the student's interests and career goals.

Students typically begin the dissertation process by the end of their third year of study. After completing all coursework, completing the dissertation can take several years. Every student's timeline differs depending on factors like writing schedules and faculty approval.

What Jobs Can You Get as a Doctor of Business?

MBAs are becoming fairly commonplace — earned at a higher rate than any other graduate degree in the country — but doctorates in business management and administration made up just 2.7% of all conferred doctoral degrees as of 2018, according to data from the National Science Foundation.

Since a limited number of professionals complete DBM and DBA programs, these designations allow job candidates to stand out in their fields and compete for the highest-paying leadership positions in business.

Graduates may also find management and consulting opportunities in government, education, and the nonprofit sector.

A Ph.D. in business administration uniquely positions job candidates for opportunities as university faculty, college presidents, and school district superintendents.

Let's take a closer look at three popular opportunities for program graduates.

Top Executives

Top executives include CEOs, general managers, government leaders, postsecondary school administrators, and other professionals who coordinate and direct the activities of an organization. Common tasks include establishing goals, managing general activity related to products or services, overseeing financial activity, and consulting with others.

  • Requirements: Education requirements vary by organization, but most top executives possess at least a bachelor's and considerable work experience. Doctoral degrees are preferred for some positions, such as college president or school superintendent.
  • Job Outlook: +4% (2019-29)
  • Median Annual Salary: $104,690


Management Analysts

Management analysts consult with managers and executives on ways to improve organizational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve revenue. They gather information, conduct research, analyze data, and develop solutions. Management analysts commonly work in private business and government.

  • Requirements: Entry-level positions require at least a bachelor's and several years of work experience. Master's degrees are often preferred. With a doctorate or Ph.D., candidates can compete for the highest-paying, senior-level opportunities.
  • Job Outlook: +11% (2019-29)
  • Median Annual Salary: $85,260


Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers educate students and conduct scholarly research at colleges and universities. This career requires developing instructional plans and staying informed about industry innovations. Business educators are the third-most employed type of postsecondary teachers in the U.S.

  • Requirements: Most four-year universities require job candidates to possess a Ph.D. and work experience in their chosen field of study.
  • Job Outlook: +9% (2019-29)
  • Median Annual Salary: $79,540


How To Find the Right Ph.D. in Business Program

Each business management doctoral program features its own concentration offerings. Prospective students should look for programs offering coursework that aligns with their career goals and interests. For example, those interested in manufacturing logistics may concentrate their degrees in supply chain management or logistics designed for supply chain managers. Other popular concentrations include healthcare management, human resources, and information systems.

As they review curriculum options, prospective learners should consider practical concerns such as capstone requirements. Working professionals should pay attention to degree timelines — the best Ph.D. business programs often require a dissertation, which can take several years to complete. Students with sufficient time and motivation to finish quickly may opt for accelerated programs, while busy working professionals may need to study part time.

Should You Get Your DBA Degree Online?

Online education has become increasingly popular in recent years, with even the nation's most respected colleges and universities offering online learning options. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 3 million people — nearly 17% of all college students — enrolled exclusively online in 2018.

Doctoral degrees in business lend themselves well to an online format, occasionally allowing learners to maintain their current employment while studying. This flexibility enriches the learning experience as students can immediately apply their coursework knowledge in the workplace.

Before choosing an online degree, consider the program's technology requirements, your learning style, and your learning environment. Some students simply learn better in a classroom with other people, and not all professionals can get the quiet time and space they need to study at home. Online students must also feel comfortable interacting digitally, through means like email, discussion boards, and video chat.


Professional Organizations in Business Administration

Aspiring and current business administrators can connect with established professionals in their field through business administration professional organizations. The following organizations provide continuing education, conferences, leadership opportunities, and many useful online resources; some even offer free or discounted membership to full-time students.

American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management

Focused on revenue management and other topics related to healthcare administration, AAHAM provides certification, training, conferences, webinars, and other professional development resources.

American Management Association

Founded in 1913 as the National Association of Corporation Training, this international nonprofit provides training, events, and products for management professionals.

Association of Change Management Professionals

ACMP connects management professionals around the globe, offering professional development programs and publishing professional standards for change management.

Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals

An association for organizations and individual leaders interested in business partnerships, ASAP builds knowledge and skills through certification programs, workshops, webinars, and conferences.

Reaching Out

A nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting and supporting the LGBTQ business community, Reaching Out runs an annual conference and regional chapters. Students can join this organization's free web portal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it take to get a Ph.D. in business?

A Ph.D. in business requires around 60 credits, comprising core coursework, electives, and dissertation research. Ph.D.s can take five years of full-time study or longer, depending on dissertation difficulty.

Can I get a DBA without an MBA?

Admission requirements vary by university, but it is possible to pursue a DBA without an MBA. Schools may consider non-MBA candidates with extensive work experience, a closely related degree, or other forms of advanced education.

What is the difference between a DBA and a Ph.D.?

Although they share some similarities, DBAs and Ph.D.s satisfy different professional goals. DBAs focus on applying current research to business practices, while Ph.D.s focus on making new research findings.

Is a doctoral degree in business worth it?

A doctoral degree in business is certainly not required to succeed, but for the right type of student, a DBA degree can enhance overall career experience, enable professional growth, and increase salary potential.

What can you do with a Ph.D. in business?

A Ph.D. in business administration prepares students for advanced careers in education and research. Graduates typically go on to work as university professors, college administrators, and school superintendents.

Learn More About Doctorates in Business Management