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Best Ph.D. in Business Administration 2021
Top Consensus Ranked Ph.D. in Business Administration Programs

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CC 2021 Best Phd Business 06

This Best Ph.D. in Business Administration ranking lists the most prestigious and highest academic degrees from around the country focused on business and management research. A Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D., in Business Administration is a postgraduate degree offered by business schools and business faculties at colleges and universities across the nation. Professionals who complete a Ph.D. can enjoy an array of significantly superior career prospects. Graduate students and professionals interested in leadership research, administration, academia, consulting, and entrepreneurship will find that a Ph.D. in Business Administration is the exciting finish line.

Ph.D. in Business Administration

Many universities around the nation offer Ph.D. programs. It is common for doctoral students to specialize in Business Administration, Social Sciences, Engineering, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Sustainability, Humanities, and the Arts. Like in all other areas of concentration, Ph.D. in Business Administration holders are considered to be experts in their field. If you are interested in this type of doctoral degree, this ranking contains some of the best you will find in the nation.

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Our 2021 ranking of the Best Ph.D. in Business Administration Programs is a consensus ranking, which combines data from four leading ranking systems: U.S. News and World ReportBloomberg BusinessweekForbes, and CEO Magazine. Each ranking was converted to a score on a 100-point scale, weighted equally, and averaged to reveal the degree’s Consensus Score. In the event of a tie, the base tuition of the Ph.D. in Business Administration was used as the tie-breaking factor.


Harvard University
Harvard Business School

Harvard University delivers an excellent Ph.D. in Business Administration through the Harvard Business School. The doctoral program in Accounting and Management falls under the Ph.D. in Business Administration. It focuses on the role of information systems in allocating resources among organizations and between individual departments. This degree also deals with monitoring and rewarding managers’ performance, formulating and executing strategy by managers, and understanding the profitability of business units, suppliers, products, customers, and distribution channels. Prospective candidates apply to the Ph.D. in Business Administration and select Accounting as their field of study. Ph.D. students work closely with professors in the Accounting and Management Unit. Research there encompasses Management Accounting and Financial Reporting and Analysis. Harvard’s programs are full-time degrees which officially begin each August. Students are expected to complete their doctoral program in five years. The first two years are for coursework, at the end of which postgraduate students take a field exam. The final three years are spent on dissertation research and writing.

Consensus Score


Washington University in St. Louis
Olin Business School

Washington University in St. Louis delivers an excellent Ph.D. in Business Administration at the Olin Business School. The University’s business school is one of the nation’s leading research universities, with a faculty whose research work consistently ranks among the highest in the business school realm. Olin faculty members are recognized worldwide for their essential contributions to the discovery of new knowledge. The business school also takes great pride in its commitment to excellence in teaching. Olin’s Ph.D. in Business students are guided by highly prolific researchers who are among the U.S.’s top scholars. Instructors work closely with doctoral students to develop their research skills, often nurturing one-on-one mentoring relationships that may include co-authoring research papers and projects. The development of strong problem-solving abilities equips Washington University in St. Louis students to strategically address complex business problems that result in new ideas and innovative thinking for research that add value to the academic community and business world.

Consensus Score


University of California, Berkeley
Haas School of Business

The University of California, Berkeley delivers one of the country’s best Ph.D. in Business Administration programs at the Haas School of Business. This Ph.D. program offers six fields of academic study for a curriculum of unique richness and depth. Since the program enrolls less than 20 new Ph.D. students each year, doctoral students get the opportunity to work very closely with instructors and experts in their chosen specialties. The close partnership, coupled with the diverse cultural and academic backgrounds of Haas’ Ph.D. students, fosters an environment of intellectual curiosity and close collaboration. Berkeley’s Haas Ph.D. is strongly oriented toward research and discipline. Emphasis is placed on preparing doctoral students to evaluate the state of knowledge in their particular fields and advance them by applying theory from statistics, the social sciences, and mathematics. After applying to the program, business school candidates must choose a field of study, which will determine coursework and focus on future employment opportunities. Students may choose from the areas of Accounting, Business and Public Policy, Finance, Marketing, Management of Organizations, and Real Estate.

Consensus Score


Duke University
Fuqua School of Business

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University offers a Ph.D. in Business Administration. This program prepares candidates for teaching and research careers at leading educational institutions and expert careers where advanced analytical and research capabilities are needed. At Fuqua, doctoral students develop close working relationships with leading scholars in their fields in a collaborative and stimulating learning environment. Business school leaders encourage strong collaborations between faculty and students, both within their academic area and across various disciplines, to better foster the groundbreaking interdisciplinary research Duke University is known for. The Ph.D. program focuses on three critical development areas to prepare doctoral students for their careers: independent inquiry, competence in research methodology, and communication of research results. From the start, postgraduate students will be introduced to rigorous coursework and Fuqua faculty’s research activities. In this Ph.D. degree program, students work with our world-renowned instructors who are recognized for excellence in teaching and research.

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University of Florida
Warrington College of Business

The Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida provides an outstanding Ph.D. in Business Administration. This Ph.D. program prepares candidates for teaching and research careers at elite academic institutions worldwide. Candidates collaborate with the business school’s world-class faculty and gain a reliable network of peers during their time in the Ph.D. program. Warrington’s Ph.D. in business trains aspiring academics to become highly skilled and innovative researchers. It is a pathway to becoming a tenure-track business school faculty member. The program is designed as a full-time course of study. Most doctoral students take five years to complete all degree requirements and then defend their dissertations. Students begin active research at an introductory stage and collaborate closely with faculty as valued colleagues and peers throughout the program. The five fields of study available to doctoral students include Accounting, Marketing, Finance, Management, and Information Systems and Operations Management.

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University of Minnesota
Carlson School of Management

One of the nation’s best Ph.D. in Business Administration degrees is available at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. This Ph.D. program in Business Administration provides full-time equipping in research and teaching while allowing students to focus their studies on one of seven concentration areas. Ph.D. students will engage with other motivated students from across the nation and from 20 different countries. Students can also connect with a vibrant business community while enjoying access to research opportunities, financial support, and technology resources. The Carlson School of Management is changing the definition of what it means to be a world-renowned business school. It insists on experiencing what it teaches. Instead of just connecting with organizations, it helps them grow. It does not merely master traditional fields of study; it creates new knowledge and theory. Doctoral students in the Business Administration program receive generous financial support and benefit significantly from distinguished instructors, cutting edge technology, and field-leading research.

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Penn State
Smeal College of Business

An outstanding Ph.D. in Business Administration is offered at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business. The Doctor of Philosophy degree within the Business Administration program provides advanced graduate learning for students focused on research careers at quality business schools. The college’s staff views the Ph.D. as evidencing academia at the highest level. Entrance into the Ph.D. program in business administration does not require the completion of a bachelor’s degree, specifically in business. Almost any major at the bachelor’s level may be acceptable. Graduate study in business administration does assume a minimum level of competency in math, statistics, and computation. No transcript credit is required for qualifying doctoral students in these areas, except where noted by particular fields of emphasis. However, it must be pointed out that a lack of minimum competency in math, statistics, and computation could be a significant disadvantage to the business school candidate. All students are expected to show a broad understanding of the many functions of the business organization.

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Ohio State University
Max M. Fisher College of Business

A Ph.D. in Business Administration is currently available at the Max M. Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. Doctoral students choosing business administration can select from a group of emphasis options. Specializations include Finance, Human Resource Management, International Business, Organizational Behavior, Strategy/Entrepreneurship, Operations Management, Marketing, and Logistics. The Ph.D. program consists of three fields of study and a series of evaluations. Students will learn how to develop competency in the many functional areas of business, develop abilities in the major, minor, and research tools areas, including statistics and econometrics, and work on a dissertation. A series of formal evaluations chart progress in the program and provides doctoral students with appropriate feedback. Most Ph.D. courses follow a seminar format, in which postgraduate students read and discuss contemporary research in a casual classroom setting. Coursework in minor areas and research tools may follow a typical classroom format.

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Texas A&M University
Mays Business School

The Mays Business School at Texas A&M University offers one of the nation’s Ph.D. in Business Administration programs. Admission to this Ph.D. program is open to all qualified individuals who hold an undergraduate or a graduate degree. The review process includes assessing factors including an accredited academic degree and a GMAT or GRE score, and more. Business school candidates can elect to center their studies in a specific area. Organizational Behavior/Human Resource Management. This specialization focuses on the analysis of human behavior within complex social systems and organizations. Strategic Management deals with the roles and issues of top management groups and strategy formulation and implementation. This Ph.D. at the Mays Business School has a five-year limit for completion, with 64 semester hours required after a master’s degree and 96 hours required beyond an undergraduate program. Doctoral students and their advisory committees may schedule coursework beyond these minimums. Texas A&M University’s Ph.D. in Business Administration’s management curriculum contains coursework in the areas of foundation requirements, major field and concentrations, Ph.D. electives, economics, exams, and dissertation research.

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University of Utah
David Eccles School of Business

The University of Utah provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration at the David Eccles School of Business. This Ph.D. program at the Eccles business school prepares students for faculty positions at America’s leading research universities through the top-notch development of specialized knowledge needed to conduct scholarly research and develop as effective teachers. Each program is customized to the individual student’s interests and supervised by instructors who specialize in their fields. The program takes four to five years of full-time study to complete. College graduates from disciplines outside of business are encouraged to apply. Advanced degrees are not required to qualify for admission. David Eccles School of Business Ph.D. is a very research-intensive program, designed to produce business scholars who will teach or do world-class research. The business school’s mission is to graduate Ph.D. students who will obtain faculty positions at peer research institutions. The emphasis on research is a critical distinguishing factor of this program.

Consensus Score

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Temple University
Fox School of Business

The Fox School of Business at Temple University provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration. This degree prepares doctoral students to advance in their fields through innovative teaching and research. Temple’s rigorous full-time program trains doctoral students to tackle some of the most complex issues facing the modern business world. This is a heavily research-focused program designed for advanced scholars interested in building their research portfolios and expanding their ideas using data-driven approaches and theories. Graduates of this Ph.D. will position themselves to develop as business educators. The Business Administration Ph.D.’s comprehensive curriculum, along with its multiple specializations, promotes interdisciplinary study. Professors partner with students to pursue cutting-edge research initiatives that cross disciplinary boundaries. Small classes allow students to work in a close-knit, collaborative atmosphere with other students and the business school’s outstanding research faculty. Fox’s unique commitment to mentorship provides students with both personalized professional guidance and academic support. The business school’s relationship with large organizations and local small businesses allows students to learn from and network with leading industry experts.

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University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Haslam School of Business

The Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, currently features one of the best Ph.D. in Business Administration programs in the United States. This Doctor of Philosophy program provides qualified candidates with the professional and intellectual capabilities needed for teaching and research careers at major universities. The program is purposely limited to a small, highly qualified group of students to encourage close working relationships between students and faculty members. Admission to the doctoral program is highly competitive and depends on a candidate’s prior academic performance, entrance exam scores, relevant professional work experience, and recommendation letters. Students can add a specialization to this Ph.D. in the areas of Accounting, Business Analytics, Economics, Finance, Marketing, Strategy, Entrepreneurship, & Organizations, and Supply Chain Management. All applications go through UT’s Graduate School. Individual programs feature detailed requirements. Most Haslam programs require the GMAT, but the GRE may be substituted.

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Florida International University
College of Business

The College of Business at the Florida International University provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration. FIU’s Ph.D. in Business Administration connects students to a world-class faculty that develops their research and teaching skills in preparation for a long and successful academic career. The Ph.D. program emphasizes a strong foundation in both theoretical and methodological training. Doctoral students engage in collaborative work with instructors by developing skills in formulating, executing, and communicating quality research. Choices of five core concentrations include Accounting, Finance, Information Systems and Business Analytics, Management and International Business, and Marketing. Typical degree completion is in four years, including two years of coursework and two years to complete the student’s dissertation research. Students are also responsible for summer research projects, which include faculty supervision. Financial support in the form of annual stipends and tuition waivers are offered on a competitive basis.

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Oklahoma State University
Spears School of Business

Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration. This AACSB-accredited Ph.D. in Business Administration is designed to dovetail with executives’ and working professionals’ active and demanding schedules. Enrolled students can pursue their degrees while maintaining full-time positions. This intensive program will develop innovative, evidence-based business leaders by applying science theory to business practice through a trusted research-based curriculum. The 60-credit hour doctoral program can be completed in just three years. Offered in an executive format with weekly online class meetings, the program features nine three-day in-person residencies each year on the Stillwater campus. The program’s core curriculum consists of twelve courses, plus an applied dissertation and research practicum. Courses within the degree cover theory, micro and macro organizational issues, and a comprehensive spectrum of research methods. Top instructors and researchers deliver the curriculum from Spears Business. Faculty expertise spans many disciplines, including organizational behavior, data analytics, strategic management, marketing, entrepreneurship, and finance.

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Drexel University
Bennett S. LeBow College of Business

Drexel University’s Bennett S. LeBow College of Business provides one of the nation’s best Ph.D. in Business Administration degrees. The LeBow College of Business’ doctoral programs prepare students to become outstanding scholars and inspiring teachers. Ph.D. students work alongside award-winning research faculty members who take a hands-on approach to mentoring students daily. Doctoral students will discover their unique research paths as they surpass the expected by going beyond mere knowledge to explore new territories in academia. Program designers allow learners to extend their reach and gain exposure in their fields with additional support for taking part in research conferences. All of Drexel’s Ph.D. degrees are delivered as full-time, on-campus programs and typically require about five years to complete. Graduates will become professors at highly reputable institutions such as Pepperdine, Oregon State University, and University City London. LeBow features a Ph.D. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Business.

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Georgia State University
J. Mack Robinson College of Business

The J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration. Research is the main ingredient of this Ph.D. program. Students are mentored by highly research productive professors and are encouraged to publish in scholarly journals and present research papers at regional and national conferences. Doctoral students are also encouraged to take part in Robinson’s Research Workshops. Robinson’s Ph.D. program aims to enrich individuals who are sought after for faculty roles in research-oriented universities. Students play an active role in the overall design of this study program during the coursework phase of the degree. All enrolled students take fifteen hours of research methods courses, eighteen hours of discipline-specific classes within their major. Nine hours are spent on a secondary area of interest. This program also offers diverse majors with hard-to-find emphases like accountancy, business process innovation, finance, information systems, international business specialization, marketing, organizational behavior & human resources, real estate, risk management & insurance, and strategy.

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University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Belk College of Business

A Ph.D. in Business Administration is currently available at the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This degree is a full-time research-oriented program designed to prepare doctoral students for academic teaching careers in research. The program includes courses covering all business disciplines, combined with an in-depth study of finance’s practical and theoretical aspects. Doctoral students admitted to the finance program minor in economics and are expected to complete a research methods sequence in mathematics. Enrolled students will teach undergraduate courses to receive training in pedagogy. This program’s graduates are qualified for tenure-track professor positions at international and national research and teaching colleges and other educational institutions. The Belk College of Business began offering this Ph.D. in Business Administration in the fall of 2006. UNC Charlotte is one of only three universities in the state to provide degrees in business administration at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

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University of South Florida
Muma College of Business

The Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration. This doctoral program, featured at the Muma College of Business, provides its graduates with ample preparation for careers as university and college professors and research and staff personnel in government and industry. Students’ intellectual growth is nurtured through working closely with instructors in seminars, research projects, and assignments that develop teaching and research skills. The curriculum offers a breadth of understanding of the many integral components of business administration and depth of field emphasis sufficient to permit the doctoral student to make meaningful contributions to the discipline of her choice. Flexibility in the curriculum allows all students to build upon their strengths and to accommodate Ph.D. students with various levels of preparation in a wide variety of academic fields. Specializations are offered in accounting, marketing, finance, and information systems. Support areas of study are featured in these fields and areas outside the college’s focus. The degree awarded is a Doctor of Philosophy in Business, emphasizing one of the named concentration areas.

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University of Rhode Island
College of Business

The University of Rhode Island offers one of the nation’s best Ph.D. in Business Administration at the College of Business. This Ph.D. program concentrations include marketing, supply chain management, and finance. In this mentor-based program, students will take formal coursework during their first two years and then work closely with one or more instructors on research projects in the area of specialization throughout their program. The Ph.D. offers a caring environment where students and their peers benefit from comfortable and close interaction with the staff within their chosen specialization area as well as professors from other regions of the College of Business. Academic exchanges dovetail with social relationships through events and activities that occur in and out of the educational environment. Classroom performance is mandatory as Ph.D. students are expected to teach in undergraduate and graduate programs. A one-credit course in pedagogy is designed to prepare students for this requirement. This class is supplemented with real teaching experience, including total responsibility for a course from syllabus design to completion.

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Kennesaw State University
Coles College of Business

The Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration. A doctoral education leader, this Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration program at Kennesaw State is an innovative degree awarded by an AACSB-accredited business school. Joining this innovative program allows students to advance their goal of obtaining an academic role at an AACSB-accredited university. With over 100 alumni, the program’s impact on the education and business communities is far-reaching and will provide doctoral students with the opportunity to develop and strengthen their networks. Coles College of Business alumni has an impressive record of publishing in high quality peer-reviewed academic journals, thus revealing the quality of research conducted by its alumni. KSU’s Ph.D. in Business Administration is intended for two types of doctoral students – educational professionals and working professionals. Adjuncts and lecturers who wish to establish a more robust academic presence or pursue a tenure-track position will benefit from this program, just as professionals want to develop an academic presence or seek either faculty or administrative roles.

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George Washington University
School of Business

George Washington University provides a Ph.D. in Business Administration at the School of Business. This doctoral program in Business Administration prepares advanced students for full-time careers in business academics. Working with a distinguished faculty and staff, students develop expertise in scholarship and research as they learn to contribute as vital members of scholars’ relevant and dynamic community. Graduates go on to faculty appointments at internationally renowned business schools and plan to balance active research and teaching. The Ph.D. in Business Administration offers concentrations in Decision Sciences and International Business beginning Fall 2020. Applicants interested in this program must write and submit a 750-to-1,200-word letter of intent indicating their specific concentration. This letter will also explain why they seek a Ph.D. in the specified concentration while describing how to present objectives relate to their previous life experiences. Admissions officers require transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, whether credit was earned or if the program was completed.

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University of Missouri
Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business

A Ph.D. in Business Administration is featured at the University of Missouri’s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business. The business school features Ph.D. programs in Marketing, Finance, and Management. Each department has unique requirements for their doctoral students, but the Ph.D. is in Business Administration. Each program prepares graduates for careers as university faculty or senior research roles in business or government. A primary objective of the degree is to train Ph.D. students to become proficient researchers. Coursework within the program involves research activities like literature review and critique, theoretical modeling, computer-assisted empirical analysis, research design, and preparation of proposals and research papers. The program’s objective is to train students to become proficient educators. Most Ph.D. candidates are allowed to teach bachelor’s courses in their specialty area. In addition, doctoral students are expected to participate in regional and national academic conferences and are encouraged to coordinate with faculty in developing individual research and teaching skills.

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University of South Carolina
Darla Moore School of Business

One of the best Ph.D.s in the nation is delivered at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. Ph.D. in Business Administration. The business school offers eight specializations in the Ph.D. in Business Administration. Moore’s Ph.D. in Accounting has established a national reputation for academic research. Doctoral students investigate financial accounting, taxation, managerial accounting, auditing, and information systems subjects using a new and promising research approach. The Ph.D. in Finance is composed of outstanding researchers and teachers whose interests include bank management, real estate finance, corporate restructuring, investment management, risk management, and employee benefits. The finance emphasis features an advanced, integrated education in business administration with training in research methods and theory applicable to finance issues. South Carolina’s Ph.D. in International Business is designed to prepare students for academic careers. Doctoral students select cognate course work in sociology, management, psychology, anthropology, and international studies. Ph.D. students are encouraged to use the cognate to develop a study program that establishes a robust multidisciplinary foundation supporting their l specialization and individual research interests.

Consensus Score


University of Oklahoma
Michael F. Price College of Business

The Michael F. Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma provides one of the country’s best PhD.s. This Ph.D. is a closely-knit, high-quality degree program that stresses solid preparation, collaborative working relationships with faculty, support for professional travel and research, and strong placements. This degree aims to provide Michael F. Price College of Business students with the necessary training, knowledge, and resources to pursue successful careers in teaching and research that expand the frontiers of knowledge throughout business disciplines. OU currently has many doctoral students across the six divisions of Accounting, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Finance, Marketing, Management, International Business, and Management Information Systems. Typically, all Ph.D. students receive an 11-month Graduate Assistantship position included in their admission offer. The GA position is a combination of research and teaching and consists of a competitive monthly stipend. The GA appointment consists of a 100% tuition waiver but does not include university fees. Additionally, incoming Ph.D. enrollees receive a $4,000 professional allowance for over four years for research activities.

Consensus Score


University of Mississippi
School of Business Administration

A Ph.D. is currently available through the School of Business Administration at the University of Mississippi. Students enrolled in the Ph.D. in Business Administration get to choose a focus area in Finance, Management, Management Information Systems, or Marketing. Coursework in this program includes topics within each of the focus areas. Every doctoral student completes a set of research methods courses designed to help them explore their areas of interest. While most students complete the degree in four years, some Ph.D. students may be awarded a fifth year of funding—this Ph.D. Program in Business Administration typically adds two to three new students each year in the areas of Finance, MIS, Management, and Marketing. The Graduate Committee evaluates various characteristics, including resume, test scores, transcripts, statement of purpose, work experience, cover letters, and recommendations. Admission is exclusively granted on request by the committee. Access to this doctoral program in Business Administration will be recommended for applicants who submit a competitive GMAT score.

Consensus Score

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Are you interested in becoming a business professor or pursuing a Ph.D. in Business Administration? There are several reasons why this is an excellent idea, including job security, intellectual stimulation, a lucrative income, flexible work conditions, and more. Given the current shortage of individuals holding a doctoral degree in business administration and the increasing demand for their services, now is an excellent time to consider pursuing a Ph.D. in Business Administration.

What is the Current Demand for Professionals with a Ph.D. in Business Administration?

In the field of today’s business, the number of new doctorates is less than the average of positions available. This tendency is due to three current realities: many senior faculty members are retiring or will soon retire, there is an increase in the number of graduate students seeking business degrees (a trend likely to continue), and finally, there remains an insufficient number of doctoral students enrolling in and completing doctoral business programs. According to a recent survey conducted by AACSB International, demand for Ph.D.s in business schools rose slightly in 2006 while the overall vacancy rate rose to 6.8 percent. At the same time, the estimated growth in business faculty positions for 2007 was 4.7 percent. Overall, the shortage of business faculty staff members is predicted to reach 2,400 in the coming years.

The staff shortage has resulted in more attractive salaries for faculty at business schools. Combined with additional payment for activities such as summer teaching and research, consulting, sponsored papers, executive program teaching, textbook writing, and presentations, business administrators enjoy healthy incomes.

What Kind of Lifestyle Can a Ph.D. in Business Administration Expect?

Professionals with this type of degree can become economists, C-level executives, financial managers, and educators. University professors enjoy many lifestyle and work privileges that are not typically found in other professions. Significant intellectual and professional autonomy allows for an atypical degree of freedom in defining workflow and developing academic activity areas. Professionals working in traditional areas of executive business leadership will often experience more high-pressure roles within their organizations. Nine-month contracts in higher education allow professors the freedom to travel and experience alternative teaching, consulting, and research assignments. Tenured faculty in higher education have employment that provides unprecedented job security. The opportunity to teach high capacity students, undertake research, and develop professional relations with colleagues across the nation and world is unrivaled in most other professions. Being a professor also means searching for knowledge that will make a mark on society and business practice. Through research and teaching, a Ph.D. in Business Administration can significantly affect the industry by influencing organizations to become more efficient, innovative, and profitable. They can also contribute by creating jobs and economic prosperity at the national level.

What are the Different Types of Doctoral Programs in Business Administration?

The two main degree designations offered by business programs are the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). In an earlier business education era, the DBA was regarded as providing broad exposure to business subjects geared towards practice. Simultaneously, the Ph.D. was thought to focus more on research in a given business realm. Over the years, the distinction between these two degrees has become blurred at many business schools. Today, the Ph.D. is more widely available at business schools than the DBA, particularly in the United States. Most Ph.D. programs require full-time enrollment, while it is more common for DBA students to complete the degree on a part-time basis.

Will I need a Graduate Degree and Business Experience to Qualify for a Ph.D. in Business Administration?

While requirements vary among programs, many do not require that doctoral students have a graduate degree in business. There is no specific requirement to have business work experience either. However, students lacking a business background or degree will likely have to take foundational business courses.

How do I Know What Doctoral Program to Select?

Personal considerations, including geographical location and educational preferences in a specialized field of interest, are criteria that will help narrow the range of possibilities. One primary concern is whether a particular business school has staff who specialize in the prospective student’s study area. Students may assume that all schools offer similar types of emphases and pay relatively no attention to the faculty’s specific research interests. This may cause unfortunate surprises once a student enrolls in a doctoral program. Even among leading postgraduate programs at the nation’s top research universities, there are significant differences in what areas schools have national and international recognition for teaching and research. Potential students should research faculty interest areas no matter at all schools being considered.

What Role do Accreditations and Rankings Play in Considering a Ph.D.?

Publications that offer rankings of business schools should be viewed with an understanding of their goals and priorities. All rankings are subjective to each entity’s priorities and goals. Some focus on cost, some on college support, some on peer review, and some on student reviews. Ranking exposure should never substitute a student’s own research and investigation, but only to aid as a tool. A crucial selection factor to consider is accreditation. Accreditation is a viable measure indicating that knowledgeable peers from a neutral institution have determined that a school’s program meets accreditation standards for faculty composition, intellectual contributions, curriculum content, and instructional resources. Most non-profit colleges and universities in the nation hold institutional accreditation conferred by regional accrediting agencies. Within the field of business, separate specialized accrediting agencies grant business accreditation to business schools or individual business programs, among the top is AACSB. Selecting a business school accredited by AACSB is an assurance that the institution provides a high-quality education.

What is the Experience of Pursuing a Ph.D. in Business Administration Like?

Unlike bachelor’s or master’s-level work, where highly structured learning and individual courses with many different instructors are the norms, doctoral education places a higher premium on self-directed learning and closer relationships with fewer faculty members in a particular area of specialization. On average, Ph.D. programs will take five to six years to complete and involve the intense study of academic journal articles and original research writings. Doctoral students often forge close friendships with faculty mentors. These mentors work closely with students to define a course of study, prepare for qualifying exams, provide guidance in the dissertation process, and help with pursuing their first faculty position.

A degree like a Ph.D. in Business Administration is an opportunity that has much to offer in terms of intellectual stimulation, future income, lifestyle, and many other attractive characteristics. Demand for business professors and top-level executives will remain healthy in the future. Pursuing a Ph.D. in Business Administration is an educational choice that will pay dividends for years to come.