Online Ph.D. Programs in Management

Degree Options & Potential Careers

Online doctoral programs in management help students develop leadership and organizational skills applicable to positions in management and business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects growth for many professions in the field.

For example, the BLS projects financial manager positions in healthcare to increase by 14% from 2016-2026, largely due to the growing population of elderly citizens. Additionally, the BLS projects top executive positions to increase by 8% during that same time frame, as new companies emerge and current businesses extend their reach. Graduates of online doctoral programs in management can also start their own businesses.

Detail-oriented individuals with strong organizational, communication, and long-term planning skills often succeed in management programs and careers.

Should I Earn an Online Doctorate in Management?

Earning a doctorate in any field can increase a worker's earning potential. According to the BLS, professionals with a doctorate earn a median salary of $1,743 per week, while bachelor's degree-holders earn a median weekly salary of $1,173.

World Education Services reports the average lifetime earnings for business professionals with a doctorate to be $3.535 million, which is 9% higher than the average lifetime earnings for master's degree-holders. Bachelor's degree-holders average lifetime earnings of $2.563 million.

Additionally, the unemployment rate for professionals with a doctoral degree is a full percentage point lower than the rate for bachelor's degree-holders.

Online doctoral programs in management emphasize skills that apply to positions in many fields. Students hone research skills during their dissertation, which graduates can use in market research analyst positions. Leadership, communication, and organizational skills are also crucial for positions such as school principals and museum curators. However, other careers may require credentials beyond a management doctorate.

Because most organizations require management professionals, individuals with a doctorate in the field can work in various industries. For example, sports teams, bakeries, banks, publishing companies, hospitals, and software companies all benefit from strong management. Graduates of online doctorate in management programs can pursue positions in nearly any industry.

A doctorate in management also prepares learners to fulfill personal goals, like opening a new business. Since a management degree prepares students to work in any industry, graduates can launch a variety of businesses.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Management?

Online doctoral programs in management prepare students for employment with small businesses and large corporations. Management students learn about organizational structures, leadership, finances, and decision-making techniques that can boost revenue and improve intra-company relations. This information also prepares students to improve an organization's interactions with other companies.

Graduates can pursue a variety of careers, including roles as top executives, management analysts, and survey researchers. Graduates can pursue these types of positions at healthcare facilities, government organizations, and nonprofits. Professionals with a doctorate in management can work in various fields and sectors.

Individuals with management expertise can also provide business guidance to clients individually. For example, personal financial advisors help clients reach personal and entrepreneurial financial goals. The BLS projects personal financial advisor positions to increase by 15% from 2016-2026, which translates to more than 40,000 new positions. These advisors earn a median annual salary of $88,890.

Graduates can also work as postsecondary teachers. Many schools require these educators to hold a doctorate in their teaching discipline. According to the BLS, postsecondary teachers earn a median salary of $78,470 per year, and this occupation is projected to grow by 15% from 2016-2026. After gaining experience, these educators can advance into postsecondary education administrator positions, such as deans and provosts. The BLS reports a median annual salary of $94,340 for these professions and projects 10% growth for these positions from 2016-2026.

Other academic careers for graduates include instructional coordinator positions for management-related coursework. The BLS projects these positions to increase by 11% from 2016-2026; instructional coordinators earn a median salary of $64,450.

Graduating from online doctoral programs in management also offers credibility to nonfiction and technical writers.

Top Executives

Top executives create and uphold company policies and ensure organizations operate according to expectations. These professionals may hire employees, review company records, and pursue contracts with other organizations. Executives may also tend to budgets and set long-term plans. Some top executive positions, such as university president, require a doctorate.

Management Analysts

Management analysts identify solutions to company problems. This process may involve discussing issues with employees, visiting locations, and exploring financial reports. These analysts deliver findings and suggested alterations to higher teams. Many management analyst positions only require a bachelor's, but an advanced degree indicates strong field knowledge and can increase employment opportunities.

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts help companies determine which goods and services to offer. Analysts base suggestions on information from research, such as surveys, which explores consumer preferences. These professionals may also advise companies on effective marketing tactics. Some organizations require these analysts to hold a graduate degree.

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary educators teach college-level courses within their academic discipline, which involves creating syllabi and designing assignments. These educators may also deliver lectures, grade coursework, and advise students on course schedules. Colleges typically require these teachers to hold a doctorate.

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers consider company goals and determine areas for improvement within an organization. These managers design and adapt training experiences and choose training materials. Other responsibilities may include putting together budgets and guiding trainers on educational practices. Companies often require these managers to hold a graduate degree.

Management Doctoral Program Overview

Program components and completion times vary between doctoral programs. For example, one doctoral program may offer concentration options and take three years to complete, while another may confer a general management degree and require five years of study. Programs also include specific objectives and outcomes to prepare candidates for certain careers. Learners should compare each prospective program's details to their professional goals.

Programs require different admission materials and standards. Students should consider these requirements to ensure they can fulfill all program components.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Management

Students pursuing an online doctorate in management can earn a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) or a doctor of management (DM).

DM programs focus on practical applications of field concepts. Students learn to conduct research to find solutions to management issues and improve company structures. Professionals with a DM often apply these skills when overseeing companies, which may involve tasks like determining company problems, researching possible solutions, and identifying the best options. A DM qualifies graduates to teach in higher education, but the coursework's practical emphasis is better suited for individuals who plan to work in business or management settings.

Ph.D. programs focus more on conducting research to expand the overall knowledge in the field. Rather than applying research to field practice, Ph.D. students usually focus on theoretical approaches. Online Ph.D. programs in management are well-suited for students who plan to teach management at colleges or universities and/or to perform innovative research for publication. Full-time Ph.D. programs may require an extra year of study, as compared to DM programs.

Both degree types explore topics related to reasoning, leadership, and organization, along with business concepts like finance and globalization. Both program types help students build communication skills, and they each typically require a dissertation.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Admission into online doctoral programs in management often requires a master's degree from an accredited institution. Some programs require a master's in a related discipline or a minimum GPA.

Prospective students submit an application and a fee, which is typically less than $100. Programs may require applicants to submit a resume or curriculum vitae outlining their work experience, education, and relevant skills and credentials. Departments may also require a writing sample, such as a personal statement detailing an applicant's accomplishments and goals. Some schools require several essays.

Additional application materials may include recommendation letters, which should highlight an applicant's academic and professional potential. Some programs also require an online, phone, or in-person interview.


Curricula for online doctoral programs in management vary between schools. Each program has its own credit requirements and timeline. However, learners can usually complete programs in five years or less. Doctoral programs typically require about 20 credits of core coursework, 20-30 research credits, and 4-5 classes covering dissertation research, writing, and presentations.

Some programs offer concentration options in areas such as public administration, business, nonprofit management, conflict management, strategic management, technology management, and human resource leadership. Concentrations typically comprise 12-16 credits.

Students may also need to complete workshops, exploring field topics and building research skills. Programs often include comprehensive exams with written and/or oral components. Some schools award credit for these examinations.

Learners usually need to submit a proposal for their dissertation research topic, which should address a unique management concept. Students typically complete their dissertation over several semesters, under the guidance of a faculty member. Programs may culminate with an oral dissertation defense in front of faculty members.

While course requirements vary, doctorate in management programs typically cover topics related to strategy, leadership, and organizational structure. Students often complete courses in the following subjects.

Leadership Change
This course examines reasons for organizational changes, such as mergers, and the positive impact these changes can have on corporations. Students learn strategies to make these adjustments easier for employees and the company as a whole.
Research Inquiry
Students explore effective methods for using and interpreting research sources. This class may focus on qualitative or quantitative research or combine both approaches.
Financial Risk Management
Students learn strategies for determining risk and selecting opportunities to explore. This course may address topics such as valuation and the impact of time on finances, along with related ethical and legal concerns.
Organizational Management
This course addresses various aspects of overseeing organizations, such as problem-solving and assessing situations for hidden risks. Coursework may examine legal and ethical factors.
Decision-making Techniques
Students learn to make executive decisions based on factors such as finances, team relationships, and company needs. Learners may study global concerns and the importance of risk assessment in decision-making.
Survey Design
Students learn to consider research needs for companies and to build applicable surveys. This class may explore question selection; professional delivery; and survey methods, such as in-person and email approaches.
Reasoning and Analysis
Learners study quantitative and qualitative research methods. Coursework explores the research process, from designing a question to forming conclusions. This class may include tips for source assessment and methods of gathering information.

Program Outcomes

Online doctoral programs in management equip students with leadership skills and knowledge related to organizational designs and dynamics. Learners prepare to design and enforce policies while encouraging teamwork to improve a company's well-being.

Doctorate in management coursework trains learners to perform original research and determine consumer wants and public needs. Management personnel can use this information to determine which products and services a company should offer and to design campaigns. Students also learn to use current research and theory to make management decisions. Programs may apply this information to organizational events, such as mergers.

Programs may examine relevant technology, such as social media for management purposes. Some programs explore the history of management and the correlation between management and intercultural engagement.

Graduates should understand business strategies and research. They often work toward building organizational efficiency and improving intercompany relations.

Accreditation for Online Management Doctoral Programs

Employers often require job candidates to hold a degree from an accredited school. Accreditation indicates that a third-party agency has reviewed and approved the quality of an institution's academic offerings. Additionally, only students attending accredited institutions can qualify for federal aid.

Postsecondary schools can hold national or regional accreditation at the institutional level. National accreditation often applies to vocational or for-profit institutions. Regional accreditation is generally considered to be more prestigious and allows students to transfer credits and degrees more easily.

Departments and programs can also earn specialized accreditation. For example, management programs may hold field-specific accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.