PhD in management

PhD in management is the highest academic degree awarded in the study of management science. The degree was designed for those seeking academic research and teaching careers as faculty or professors in the study of management at business schools worldwide.[1]

The Ph.D. in Management Degree

Business doctoral programs

A PhD degree is a doctor of philosophy which can be obtained in many areas of study, while a PhD in management is specific to the study of research questions with potential relevance to the business world. Areas of specialization for the PhD in business often include, but are not limited to the following:

A PhD in management or business is often required for those interested in pursuing an academic career as a professor at a business school.[2] Business schools often require faculty to hold a Ph.D. and to engage in research.[3] Business school rankings are often heavily influenced by the proportion of faculty with Ph.D. degrees or doctorates.[4] Research is fundamental to the integrity of a graduate educational institution. Through research, professors gain the expertise required to teach advanced courses and to ensure that they remain current in his or her chosen field.

Brief history

In the 1950s and 1960s, leading business schools made a transition from vocational training to scientific research, rooted in social sciences, such as economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, systems engineering, and mathematics. Since then, Ph.D. programs in business prepare candidates to conduct scholarly research based on rigorous methods and applied to business. For example, such research might aim to develop new theory and empirical knowledge about business and management problems by combining methods from economics, psychology and mathematical decision theory. By combining methods from multiple social sciences, business research has developed its own subfields of research, published in business application oriented journals as well as in social sciences journals.[5]

Business research

Research with regard to the study of business encompasses a wide range of activities. There are many research methodologies or "tools" one must learn before being able to conduct research. A Ph.D. program in business will teach one of these various methods.[6][7][8]</ref>

Research methodologies

Common research methodologies used in studying business are Modeling, Econometrics, Experiments, descriptive and Field Studies.

Program structure

Typically, the PhD in management takes 4–5 years to complete.[9] The structure is usually 2 years of intensive coursework (core courses and seminars) followed by a comprehensive examination.[10] The dissertation phase is typically 2–3 years.[10]


Becoming a professor of business means investing years of study before obtaining the desired degree, but academia offers many benefits, including attractive salaries, the combination of varied activities in one career, intellectual stimulation as well as professional autonomy.[11] However, following through with a PhD degree can be challenging not only because of the academic rigour but also due to the pressure and stress that comes from conducting research and defending a dissertation. Moreover, once a person obtains a Ph.D., there is no guarantee that even with an offer from a business school, that the Ph.D. student will go on to publish his or her research in a top journal, will be able to teach effectively, or will receive a tenured faculty position.

Still, for those who have the motivation, drive, and stamina to be successful in this field, there are many benefits. The life of a business professor is markedly different from a corporate career. An academic has more time to explore his or her own interests, pursues research, and rarely has a 'nine to five' type of career. Being a professor is much like being an entrepreneur.[12] Success is based on the individual, and faculty are often their own bosses. Beyond being intellectually bright and able to conduct research, professors in business also need to be able to perform in the classroom. Teaching is a fundamental component of being a professor, though most faculty may only teach around 100 hours per year, the classroom setting can be challenging and often involve debate.[13]

Not everyone can be a professor, but for those that have the skills required, it provides an excellent standard of living, with salaries comparable to the corporate world.[12] Consulting, book publishing and speaking engagements can also further add to overall compensation.[12] Academic institutions are often less vulnerable than corporations to forces like global economic downturns. Academia offers much in the way of financial stability.[12]

PhD versus DBA

The PhD in Business Administration is equivalent to the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).[14] Both doctorates are research doctorates representing the highest academic qualification in business in the U.S. education system. As such, both PhD and DBA programs require students to develop original research leading to a dissertation defense.[15] Furthermore, both doctorates enable holders to become faculty members at academic institutions.

In some cases, as in that of Harvard University, the distinction is solely administrative (Harvard Business School is not authorized to issue PhDs; only the Faculty of Arts and Sciences may do so).[16] In most cases, however, the distinction is one of orientation and intended outcomes. The Ph.D. is highly focused on developing theoretical knowledge, while the DBA emphasizes applied research leading to the practical application of theoretical knowledge.[15] Upon completion, graduates of PhD programs generally migrate to academia, while those of DBA programs reemerge in industry as executives in leading organizations often teaching part-time in undergraduate and graduate programs.

See also


  1. Becoming a Business Professor "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2016-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. AACSB "Becoming a Business Professor" article "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2016-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. AACSB "Becoming a Business Professor" "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2016-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. 2009 FT rankings table and criteria list
  5. Ph.D. Project
  6. Stanford
  8. Columbia
  9. AACSB article about a PhD in Business and Becoming a Business Professor "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2016-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2016-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. PhD Project "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2016-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. FAQs AACSB "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-09. Retrieved 2015-11-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. Admissions FAQs Harvard
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