Online PhD in Business

Business doctoral programs are designed for students who already have foundational skills in business and management. Building upon knowledge that is typically acquired during undergraduate studies, online doctoral programs in business require students to take classes in advanced administrative theory, leadership methods, and ethics. Students will become well-versed in marketing tactics, research, and professional writing. They will also learn how to strategize for an organization's success — both locally and within the global sphere.

Graduates from online PhD programs in business have multiple career paths available to be them. Typically, students aim to become professors or researchers, however Ph.D. programs also set a good foundation for future industry leaders. It is common for graduates to become chief officers or to hold chair positions within a company. Graduates can therefore forge careers as high-level administrators within fields like health care, marketing, or operations.

About Online PhD Programs in Business

Online PhD programs for business typically give students the option of specializing in a particular aspect of business, such as accounting, marketing, human resources, or project management. However, regardless of the concentration, most program curricula promote thorough understanding of business operations, ethical decision-making, and critical thinking. Students will also learn how to write business proposals and establish marketing plans. As the business marketplace is becoming increasingly globalized, students should also learn about international business strategy. Some examples of classes that a business student may take include those listed below, which come from Hampton University‘s business Ph.D. program.

Year One:

  • Organizational Behavior. This class teaches students about the different ways that organizations evolve and operate as an entity, while also outlining different strategies to encourage organizational success.
  • Organization Theory and Practice. By delving into theories behind organization operations, this class encourages future business leaders to consider the organization as a whole that consists of multiple departments.
  • Computer Applications. Technology is becoming increasingly important within the business field. To encourage students to learn about how information technology can benefit companies, this class looks at different computer applications for business purposes.

Year Two:

  • Strategy and Policy Leadership. This class provides an advanced look at the different strategies behind leadership and ways in which students can encourage business growth and development.
  • Advanced Leadership Concepts. By examining different concepts of leadership, this class helps students acquire the skills necessary for ensuring organizational success.
  • Research Methods. Students will take classes in both behavioral and empirical research methods to prepare for their dissertations.

The majority of online Ph.D. programs will require students to complete a dissertation prior to graduating. Dissertations are research projects that address a topic in business administration. Some examples of business dissertation subjects include the effect of e-commerce on a business's international ventures, strategies for sustainability business projects, and promoting unification among large companies that have branches within multiple locations. To prepare for their dissertations, students typically take classes over writing proposals, conducting research, and the dissertation process. After writing their dissertations, students will conduct an oral defense in front of their professors.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Business

Business graduate degrees are a good investment for students who wish to enter academic careers. They are also a good way to prepare for high-level executive positions within companies or other organizations. As many universities give students the option of tailoring their degrees to their interests, business Ph.D. degrees can also serve those who wish to be employed in accounting, human resources, or marketing. However, students who are not interested in business strategy and theory may want to consider a different doctoral degree program, as business Ph.D. programs require the study of both. Students who want to work in business but who have no interest in academia or executive positions may want to consider a master's degree in lieu of a Ph.D.

As online business graduate degree programs give students the freedom to complete course work on their own time, they are a flexible alternative to classroom-based programs for students who work and have other obligations. However, to be successful in online classes, students must be good at time management. They should also be very well-organized, as they will be responsible for meeting deadlines. Those who struggle with motivation may need the structure of traditional or hybrid classes to ensure success.

Application & Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary based on the program; however, all programs will require students to have at least a bachelor's degree in a field related to business. Typically, students will need to have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, although some schools may be a little more flexible with this requirement. In addition, students will have to submit work and academic histories, a personal statement of intent, and in some cases, an essay. Most programs require students to complete the GMAT exam as well. Finally, some programs include interviews as part of the application process.

Career Options & Job Market

Students who graduate from online Ph.D. programs in business typically go on to pursue academic careers as instructors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that post secondary teaching, a career that is growing as fast as the average career, results in an average salary of around $62,050 yearly. Another option is for graduates to pursue top executive positions, which can bring in $101,250 on average annually, according to the BLS. Chief executive positions are experiencing slow growth and are highly competitive, so students should gain as much experience as possible in addition to pursuing higher education. Keep in mind, however, that salaries will vary depending upon the employer and the company's location.

Where to Find Information

How to Get Funding

Many professional associations like those listed above provide grant and fellowship opportunities for up-and-coming business professionals. However, students are not limited to those aid opportunities. They can also pursue scholarships and loan opportunities through the government at the state and federal levels. Some examples of aid opportunities are listed below.

  • Federal Direct Stafford Loan. Provided by the federal government, this program gives students a loan of up to $20,500 annually at a fixed interest rate of 6.8%.
  • Federal Perkins Loan. This is another federally-issued loan that offers up to $3,500 annually at a fixed interested rate. It is based on financial need.
  • Campus-Based Aid. Students can also seek aid opportunities through their universities. Most universities provide an office dedicated to financial aid, which helps students learn about the opportunities available to them.

Essential Advice

  • Getting a solid foundation in business applications is key to success in business Ph.D. programs. While enrolled in an undergraduate program, take business classes to prepare for your future graduate course work.
  • If you are worried about the GMAT exam, consider enrolling in a preparatory class. This will help you learn about the format and the types of questions that will be asked on the exam.
  • If you are having trouble with the admissions process, don't be afraid to call admissions offices to get your questions answered. They are there to help.
  • Choose a business program that matches your interests. You'll be working on your Ph.D. for up to eight years, so finding some enjoyment in your concentration can help you stay motivated.