Doctoral Business Programs

Doctoral programs in business education focus on original research and the creation of new knowledge.

Do I Need a Business Degree to Complete a Business Doctoral Program?

A doctoral degree not only qualifies you to teach in a university setting but is also suitable in a business setting, thanks to the superior critical thinking and data analysis skills required to address issues across industries. In order to pursue a doctorate, you must have a master's degree. However, the master's degree, or your undergraduate degree, is not required to have been of a business specialization. Fundamental business acumen gained through educational pursuits, like a master's program or MBA, is preferred, but can also be acquired through extensive career experience.

PhD in Business 

The PhD is for candidates interested in pursuing a career in academia and are passionate about developing an in-depth specialization of knowledge on a particular area of business. The PhD focuses on conducting original research that contributes to new knowledge or theory. Many PhD programs follow a standardized curriculum, requiring students to develop specialized knowledge in a business area like management or economics.

Candidates typically find roles in a university setting as a tenure-track faculty member, but may also continue to focus research or work as a business consultant.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

While it still requires research, the DBA is designed for practice-oriented candidates with significant industry experience at high levels. Candidates gain experience with conducting rigorous research to address a defined business issue, combining business acumen and scholarly methods.

Candidates of the DBA may find similar roles as a PhD—either teaching at a university or in business consultancy—but may also apply their experience to their roles as business leaders.

Key Differences in Doctoral Programs

  • Admissions to either doctoral program type require a master’s degree, but the DBA also requires a significant amount of professional experience.
  • PhDs are research-oriented, while DBAs are practice-oriented.
  • Both degrees typically require a dissertation, but the type of research will vary.

Selecting an Accredited Program

What's the quickest way to tell if a business school offers a high-quality DBA or PhD program?

See if they've earned AACSB accreditation.

Business schools that have earned AACSB accreditation have gone through a rigorous process that ensures they are teaching students exactly what they need to succeed in business. AACSB accreditation is globally recognized as the highest indicator of quality by businesses and other business schools opening a world of opportunity for your career, whether you return to business or enter academia.