Best Online Ph.D. in Business

Earning a Ph.D. in business can lead to a career in leadership. Here, we list the top online programs in business.

Updated August 25, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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Online Ph.D. Programs in Business

Aspiring academics and industry leaders may pursue an online Ph.D. in business. Typical admission requirements include a statement of purpose, undergraduate or graduate transcripts, standardized test scores, and recommendation letters. Many programs also use interviews and GPA cutoffs.

Students pursuing a Ph.D. business program online may take classes in microeconomic foundations, managerial finance, and behavioral accounting research. Learners complete many research classes leading up to the dissertation.

This page highlights the best online Ph.D. in business programs. Read on to learn about costs, common classes, and potential specializations.

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Questions About Business Degrees

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

An online Ph.D. in business appeals to learners wanting to enter academia. Coursework trains them to contribute to the field's scholarly literature. However, some graduates work outside of academia in roles like senior manager.

How many years does it take to get a Ph.D. in business?

Degree-seekers with an MBA need 3-5 years to complete an online Ph.D. in business. Learners without an MBA take an extra 1-2 years to graduate.

Are business Ph.D.s in demand?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for postsecondary teachers to grow 12% from 2020-2030. This figure exceeds the median projected growth rate for all U.S. jobs.

Why Get a Ph.D. in Business?

The business field features many careers for entry-level, midcareer, and experienced professionals. Those in the latter group may pursue a Ph.D. in business for different reasons. For example, they may want to qualify for a tenure-track position or they may want to achieve a personal goal.

Schools that offer Ph.D. business programs online let enrollees continue their careers while earning their degree. Online degree-seekers save time by not commuting to campus. They can also attend the top program without relocating.

How Much Does a Ph.D. in Business Cost?

Doctorates cost an average of $114,300, according to EducationData.org. However, costs vary by school, program length, and learners' residency status. In-state public universities usually charge the most affordable tuition. These schools offer the lowest tuition to residents. However, many public schools waive out-of-state tuition for online students.

Learners with financial need should submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal grants and loans. Universities also use FAFSA results to award financial aid packages. Working students should check whether their employer offers a tuition-reimbursement program. These programs can help degree-seekers avoid student debt.

Additional Online Student Fees

Students completing a Ph.D. business program online should plan for extra costs. They may need to upgrade their computer or internet. Some schools charge technology and graduation fees. Learners in a hybrid program should budget for commuting.

Graduates with an online Ph.D. in business may need to pay for professional certifications. Earning a certification shows employers that candidates offer specific knowledge and skills. Certification requirements often include passing an exam and taking continuing education classes.

How Much Do Business Majors Make?

Salaries vary widely depending on graduates' employer, field, and geographic location. For example, postsecondary teachers earn a median $80,560 annually, according to the BLS. Teachers specializing in business make approximately $8,000 more. Business teachers in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and California earn the nation's highest salaries, ranging from $123,000-$131,800. Many of these well-paying positions require a Ph.D. and business experience.

Graduates who do not enter academia earn $87,660-$108,350 as management analysts, C-level executives, or economists. Professionals in these and other jobs can increase their salary potential by selecting the right employer. Economists working for the federal government, a finance or insurance company, or a scientific research institution earn much more than the profession's median salary.

Courses in a Business Ph.D. Program

Degree-seekers completing an online Ph.D. program take core classes before starting their concentration. These classes help them master foundational topics and develop the skills they need throughout the dissertation process. Most students take 1-2 years completing their dissertation. Students revising their dissertation need an additional year.

See below for three research classes most Ph.D. students take. Please note that class topics and professors' expectations vary among schools. These differences affect academic experience and graduate outcomes. Learners should compare their prospective schools' degree plans and consult enrollment counselors.

  • Scholarship Seminar

    This introductory research class emphasizes the foundational skills students need to write a dissertation. The class pairs learners with a professor working in their concentration. Together, they review relevant literature and select a research topic. Degree-seekers produce an extended essay ready for publication. Students use what they learn in this class when performing dissertation research.
  • Econometrics I

    Econometrics refers to the mathematical concepts economists use to forecast trends. Class topics include linear algebra, calculus, and statistics. Degree-seekers use formulas to make predictions and estimates. They also explore modeling assumptions and method of moments. This class requires prerequisites in statistical foundations and accounting for financial analysis.
  • Applied Multivariate Data Analysis I

    This class introduces students to advanced statistical topics, such as data examination, outliers and assumptions, and multiple regression analysis. Degree-seekers master logistic regression and multivariate analysis of variance. Learners complete assignments using specialized software they purchase with the class textbook. Assigned readings cover the latest research into multivariate data analysis.

Business Ph.D Specializations

Ph.D. business programs' online curricula feature one or more specializations. Learners select a specialization to become an expert in a business subfield. Other learning outcomes include preparing for a specific career track. Some schools refer to specializations as tracks or concentrations. Many degree-seekers choose a specialization upon enrollment.

See below for some possible specializations for online Ph.D. in business programs. Keep in mind that programs' curricula vary by school. Even two universities with the same specializations feature different classes and graduation requirements. Consult programs' websites and speak with admissions counselors for more information.

  • Finance

    A finance concentration requires coursework in empirical methods in finance, asset pricing theory, and corporate finance research. Learners also take upper-division math classes. Like other concentrations, finance requires degree-seekers to pass a comprehensive exam before starting the dissertation. Graduates who concentrated in finance may work as postsecondary teachers or corporate finance executives.
  • Management

    Some aspiring postsecondary teachers concentrate in management. Coursework emphasizes teaching fundamentals and research methods. Other graduation requirements include synchronous weekly seminars. These seminars feature guest speakers from different industries. Unlike students in other concentrations, management degree-seekers customize their degree with at least four electives.
  • Marketing

    Students concentrating in marketing pass core classes, perform original research, and write a dissertation. Core classes include behavioral research in marketing and quantitative research in marketing. Although the concentration attracts degree-seekers with different career plans, it requires learners to work as teacher assistants in the first and second years.

Career and Salary Outlook for Business Graduates

Students completing a Ph.D. business program online can use their school's career center resources to explore jobs. Careers like those below pay a high median salary. Also, the BLS projects positive growth for each between 2020-2030. Positive growth lets graduates explore more open positions and negotiate a higher starting salary.

Click the chart's embedded links to learn more about each job's application requirements, typical duties, and salary potential.

  • Economists

    Economists may work for the federal or state government. Other employers include management enterprises and scientific research firms. These professionals research economic trends, analyze data, and make forecasts for clients. Their research contributions help impact the economics field.
  • C-Level Executives

    Also known as top executives, C-level executives need at least five years of work experience. A master's or doctorate may make them more appealing to employers. A quarter of executives work at a company they created. Other employers include professional services companies and government agencies. These professionals approve contracts and hire less-senior managers.
  • Management Analysts/Consultants

    Just over half of all management analysts/consultants work for the government or the professional services industry. They perform many roles, such as identifying problems their employer faces, interviewing employees, and making recommendations. They also oversee improvement projects and make adjustments when necessary. The highest-paid workers hold either an MBA or a doctorate.
Salary Potential and Growth Rate
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Economists $108,350 13%
C-Level Executives $107,680 8%
Management Analysts/Consultants $87,660 14%

Source: BLS

Online Ph.D. Programs in Business

  • Baker College
    Location

    Flint, MI

    Graduates interested in pursuing a doctorate of business administration may complete the entirety of their coursework online with the Baker College Center for Graduate Studies. All of Baker College’s campuses offer the services students require to make their aspirations a reality, whether it's academic advising, tutoring, or career advisement. At Baker College, students are ensured one-on-one time with their instructors, as class sizes are averaged at 25 students, and most instructors have had many years of real-world experience. Courses are able to stay up-to-date with Baker College’s Advisory Board, which is made up of professionals and employers specific to a field of study.

  • Concordia University-Chicago
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    Concordia University Chicago offers an excellent opportunity for graduates who wish to further their education with a doctoral program in organizational leadership. Because this program is offered through both online and on-campus courses, students will be able to build a personalized academic plan that will fit into their schedules. The faculty at Concordia University Chicago is aware of the financial burden an academic career may cause, and is proud to offer numerous financial aid opportunities to students that exhibit excellence in their studies. Incoming freshman are able to transition comfortably into their upcoming academic careers with Concordia University Chicago’s Jump Start orientation program.

  • Indiana Wesleyan University
    Location

    Marion, IN

    Students interested in completing their doctorate in organizational leadership may wish to apply for the academic program at Indiana Wesleyan University. Split between on-campus and online coursework, this PhD program allows students the flexibility necessary to work their studies into their busy lives. Indiana Wesleyan University disperses thousands of dollars of institutional aid in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and veterans benefits every year. There are nearly 40 student clubs and organizations at Indiana Wesleyan, including intramural sports and performance arts. Student services include a health center, career center, recreational facilities, and academic advising.

  • Johnson University
    Location

    Knoxville, TN

    In 1893, Johnson University became a residential academic institution and a correspondence bible college. Today it offers degree programs at three campuses and online. JU’s PhD in Leadership Studies interdisciplinary degree program is offered entirely online. Doctoral students can choose from concentrations in Educational Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Philosophy and Theology of Leadership, and Missional Leadership. The leadership core classes are made up of global studies, leadership studies and theory, organizational studies and theory, intercultural behavior, worldview, and communication. Students culminate their doctoral studies with preparation and defense of a dissertation reflecting independent research.

  • National Graduate School of Quality Management
    Location

    Falmouth, MA

  • Our Lady of the Lake University
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Our Lady of the Lake University was founded by the Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence in 1895. Today, it enrolls more than 300 doctoral students across a range of programs representing the pinnacle of academic attainment. The interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Leadership Studies program prepares graduates for roles in business, education, and healthcare fields, among others. Requiring completion of 75 semester credit hours, the PhD centers around a 4-5 year-long course sequence and concludes with the student’s delivery and defense of a dissertation. Applicants must hold a master’s degree.

  • Pennsylvania State University
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Located on the Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus, the Smeal College of Business has offered degree programs since 1953. Its PhD Program enrolls only a limited number of students each year. Doctoral students benefit from the college’s research centers and institutes dedicated to the study of supply chain management, commercial real estate, and B2B marketing. PhD students are expected to complete graduate-level courses in research methodology in addition to their choice of concentration among options in accounting, finance, management and organization, marketing, supply chain and information systems, or real estate. Students assist faculty members in projects leading to jointly authored papers.

  • Southern New Hampshire University
    Location

    Manchester, NH

  • University of Charleston
    Location

    Charleston, WV

    The University of Charleston was established as Barboursville Seminary in 1888. Its original enrollment of 25 students has grown to more than 2,400 students today. The university’s Doctor of Executive Leadership degree is offered entirely online except for an annual residence at the Charleston campus each year. General curriculum includes studies in leadership, decision-making, ethics, collaboration and the international business environment. Five research courses are required in methods, data analysis and interpretation. Students are also required to complete two proseminars and a dissertation. Applicants must hold a master’s or first professional degree for consideration.

  • University of Maryland-University College
    Location

    Adelphi, MD

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