Earning an Online Doctorate in Business Intelligence

In the business intelligence field, professionals use applications, tools, and analytical equipment to make informed decisions regarding data and information. As enrollment numbers increase at accredited business schools and businesses continue to adopt big data analytics systems, a doctorate in business intelligence online provides an opportunity for the degree-holders to stand out among their peers.

Equipped with highly specialized skills, these graduates can gain direct access to one of the fastest-growing areas of business available. Read on for more details on this career choice, including salary potential, job growth, helpful resources, and what it takes to earn and fund a doctorate.

Why Get a Doctorate in Business Intelligence?

Pursuing Specialization

An aspiring professional in the field can benefit from earning an online Ph.D. in business intelligence. Standard business professionals may not possess the advanced technology, applications, and software training required for positions in market intelligence analysis. As such, the advanced technical training in this degree may open up new career avenues and opportunities outside of the traditional business landscape. Many organizations that want to improve customer relations or improve efficiencies, for example, can look to business intelligence professionals for solutions.

Career Advancement Opportunities

In many fields, more advanced degrees may result in better career advancement and higher-paying positions. Regardless of one's specialization, a doctorate in a business discipline qualifies graduates for many management and high-ranking positions in the business world. In the business intelligence landscape, however, the differences between degree holders may become even more striking. As organizations rush to invest in fields like big data and artificial intelligence, the most educated professionals in this new and niche field likely stand to acquire some of the most illustrious positions.

Online Learning Technology

For a student taking a doctorate in business intelligence online, the ability to use innovative communication technology for schooling can certainly pay dividends professionally. Many organizations use similar technology as online programs, so it can help to familiarize oneself to it beforehand. Furthermore, online schooling allows students to maintain employment while studying. This functionality enables an aspiring professional to strengthen their experience and resume while earning an online Ph.D. in business intelligence.

What's the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a DBA in Business Intelligence?

While earning an online Ph.D. in business intelligence or doctor of business administration (DBA) requires rigorous training and study requirements, the degrees differ by the type of candidates who enroll in them, the training specifics, and their eventual professional opportunities. A student pursuing the Ph.D. typically gravitates toward research and theory, both educationally and professionally. The programs focus more heavily on independent research and presenting new ideas, and graduates usually pursue careers in academia or scholarly research.

The typical DBA program, conversely, grounds itself in experiential learning. While research still plays a large role in these programs, candidates often possess relevant professional experience, pursue advanced positions in business, and their studies relate to their desired careers.

Prerequisites for Online Doctorate in Business Intelligence Programs

Each doctoral program features unique admission requirements. Candidates should carefully consider every component of the application and ensure they meet the specific program demands. The following list comprises some of the most common prerequisites needed for doctoral students in business intelligence programs.

  • Work Experience: While many doctoral programs accept master's degree graduates without experience, some programs may require it. This demonstrates that the applicant boasts the necessary practical foundations and can contextualize their learning and research. Equipped with experience, doctorate holders improve their chances at management and upper-level positions.
  • Exams and Test Scores:

    Not every doctoral program requires graduate test scores like the GRE or GMAT, but some do request the scores to validate an applicant's preparedness for a rigorous program. Once taken, the tests remain valid for five years. According to US News & World Report, candidates should aim for a combined score between 310-315 on the GRE or a good GMAT score between 650-690.

  • Coursework: The required grades and coursework for doctoral program candidates often depends on the program and its specific courses. Many programs set a 3.0 GPA as the minimum grade requirement to ensure all applicants demonstrate prior academic success. Additionally, some programs require students to complete mathematics or information technology courses before entry, while others only include prerequisites for certain courses.
  • Recommendations: Letters of recommendation represent one of the most common application components at the doctorate level. These letters can come from a variety of sources, including former professors, employers, or someone with inside knowledge of the student's educational or professional capabilities. These letters typically speak to the candidates potential and qualifications as they relate to the intended program.
  • Essays: In an application, essays can take various paths. Some programs may require an applicant to write an essay on a given topic, which can help to demonstrate the student's aptitude. Other programs may require students to write personal essays that address their interests in the field.
  • Interviews: Interviews typically involve program advisors or professors asking questions about the candidate's career goals, potential research interests, and any educational concerns. In addition to offering program advisors an up-close look at the candidate's personality, interviews also help determine if the program and candidate match well.
  • International Students: An international student will typically face a different application process. To address any potential language barriers, international applicants often need to submit proof of English proficiency, like TOEFL or IELTS scores. These applicants may need to submit a transfer and credit evaluations, as well. This process validates that the international qualifications compare favorably to that of domestic candidates.

How Much Can I Make with a Doctorate in Business Intelligence?

With an online doctorate in business intelligence, graduates can pursue some of the most desirable positions in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), annual salaries for management analysts range from $48,000 in the 10th percentile to $153,000 in the 90th percentile. While management positions typically become available with experience, a doctorate in a specialized field like business intelligence puts graduates in a very select group. Job seekers in the field may also find opportunities outside of the business environment, using their skills to help other organizations improve operations.

Traditional Careers

Career Stats Description

Management Analyst

Median Pay: $83,600

Job Growth: 14%

Management analysts oversee business operations, assessing efficiencies and implementing methods for improvement. These professionals may work for the organization or take on contracts to evaluate the processes. Successful analysts require strong communication and problem-solving skills.

Financial Analyst

Median Pay: $85,700

Job Growth: 11%

Financial analysts provide support and advice for individuals and businesses regarding investment and large financial decisions. These professionals assess and evaluate the financial landscape and determine potential risks and opportunities for their clients and employers. Mathematical and communication skills come in high demand in this field.

Budget Analyst

Median Pay: $76,200

Job Growth: 7%

Budget analysts oversee the financial decisions of an organization, ensuring that spending and operations fall within budgetary means. These analysts also ensure that their organizations adhere to the proper laws and guidelines related to their finances. Detail-oriented professionals with mathematical skills often thrive in this field.

Market Research Analyst

Median Pay: $63,100

Job Growth: 23%

Market research analysts observe the market conditions for various products and services to determine potential opportunities. To arrive at these conclusions, analysts assess the supply and demand, along with the target audience's wants and needs. In addition to communication and analytical skills, market research analysts often require critical-thinking skills.

Operations Research Analyst

Median Pay: $83,400

Job Growth: 27%

Operations research analysts assess an organization's operations from top to bottom, looking to improve any inefficiencies. While math and critical-thinking skills represent important needs, these professionals also require interpersonal skills.

Nontraditional Careers

For students interested in exploring the opportunities outside of the traditional business intelligence landscape, the following list should provide some options to explore. Though not directly related to this field of study, these careers seek candidates with similar training and skill-sets to business intelligence graduates.

Career Stats Description


Median Pay: $74,600

Job Growth: 7%

Logisticians take charge of an organization's product or service supply chain. They assess the delivery system as a whole, ensuring it meets customer needs and operates efficiently while looking for areas of improvement.

Skills overlapped: Communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills

Mathematician and Statistician

Median Pay: $88,200

Job Growth: 33%

Mathematicians and statisticians use analytical models and statistical techniques to assess and solve problems. These professionals may use various applications to identify and propose practical solutions in many industries.

Skills overlapped: Analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills

Political Scientist

Median Pay: $117,600

Job Growth: 3%

Political scientists observe the trends, policies, and public opinion as it relates to politics. Professionals use various quantitative methods to study and evaluate these systems. They may work within the government or within an industry that requires informed political information.

Skills overlapped: Analytical, communication, and critical-thinking skills


Median Pay: $104,300

Job Growth: 6%

Economists study the system of goods and services in many industries. They use statistical models and other quantitative methods to evaluate the movement of resources, forecast trends, and assess market conditions. They may work within the government, independent organizations, or as consultants and analysts.

Skills overlapped: Analytical, critical-thinking, and communication skills

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paying for a Doctorate in Business Intelligence Online

Scheduling and logistical flexibility remain the most significant benefits to online study, but earning a doctorate in business intelligence online can also provide substantial savings for students. To accommodate and attract distance learners, many programs offer online tuition rates that ignore out-of-state tuition increases. Additionally, online study may allow for reduced travel costs, shorter study timelines, and lower residency costs. To help pay for their study costs, online students benefit from a variety of financial aid opportunities, including grants and scholarships.

Scholarships for Online Business Intelligence Students

When it comes to financing a degree, the scholarships available to a student earning an online Ph.D. in business intelligence come in many forms. For example, many schools offer admission scholarships to eligible students. As a means of encouraging enrollees to pursue in-demand careers, like business-related professions, various organizations offer subject-specific scholarships as well. The following list identifies some of those awards.

What to Expect from an Online Business Intelligence Program

In a doctoral program like business intelligence, a student typically spends 3-5 years completing a degree. This varies depending on individual course loads, research, and program requirements. Some programs require each enrollee to complete one or more overarching research project, while others require a dissertation.

While online programs provide a flexible online experience, many doctoral programs require candidates to complete residencies, on-site teaching assignments, and in-person meetings.

Major Milestones

  1. Research Project

    In the second half of the degree, a student completes a research project that challenges them to apply their skills and training to solve a practical problem. These projects appear more often in DBA programs.

  2. Teaching Assignments

    Many students pursuing doctorates can take on teaching assignments at any time, but Ph.D. programs often require them of candidates in the final 2-3 years of study.

  3. Residencies

    To help students build relationships with their peers and foster a scholarly environment, many online programs include residency requirements for online doctoral students. Enrollees typically complete courses or participate in seminars during these mandatory on-campus sessions.

  4. Dissertation Preparation and Defense

    Once students complete their dissertations, they must explain how their work fits in among the current scholarship on the subject. For many students, completing this process marks the end of the doctoral program.

  5. Licensure Exam

    For business intelligence professionals, industry licensure can signal to employers that the licensee's knowledge meets the industry standards in the field. While a doctorate already does that, students may wish to take the exams for one of the many licenses in the field to bolster their credentials.

  6. Intent to Graduate

    Before completing a program, each doctoral student must indicate to the school of their intention to graduate. This gives the program advisors time to ensure the student meets all the requirements and prepare the graduating materials.


While many programs allow students to customize their educational paths, certain foundational courses appear more often than not. The following list comprises some of the core courses typically available to students in doctoral programs.

Business Research

In this course, students can learn how to design research questions and carry out research in business settings. This includes building and implementing customer surveys, data collection, and analysis.

Supply Chain Management

This course provides trains students in maximizing supply chain efficiency by using modern tools and techniques. Many programs focus on a global scale to prepare students to handle international issues.

Financial Management

Enrollees in this course can examine investment techniques and models to inform financial decisions. Some of the topics covered include the evaluation of financial opportunity and risk management, as well.

Business Analytics

This course trains students to use analytics to evaluate, visualize, and forecast business trends. Students learn techniques and strategies in data collection, mining, and assessment.

Modeling for Business Decisions

Students in this course learn how to design statistical and quantitative models to inform better business decisions. The training provides insight into managing finances, marketing, and human resources.

Degree Timelines

Schools commonly strive to offer more flexible study timelines to accommodate every kind of student. The following list highlights the most common study options and the lengths of time they usually take.


Time to Complete: 6+ years

Part-time programs work best for working professionals or students with busy schedules. By taking one course at a time or taking breaks during the study period, students can gradually earn their degrees over a longer period than normal. Some part-time programs require students to take at least one course per semester and complete their degrees over a longer-than-average period.


Time to Complete: 3-5 years

Full-time programs require students to satisfy the credit requirements for full-time status, typically two or more courses per semester. Completing courses at this rate allows most students to complete a doctorate between three and five years.


Time to Complete: 2-3 years

Accelerated programs allow students to take more courses per semester than traditional programs. These programs vary in length, but students can complete some in less than three years.

Licenses and Certifications

During the doctoral program or after graduation, students may explore licenses available in the field. While not mandatory, these additional certifications add to a student's qualifications. For employers, licensure verifies that the candidate demonstrated knowledge and training that met the industry standards in that specific area. The following list comprises some of the more popular licensure options available to those with an online doctorate in business intelligence.

  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis: Designed for product developers and managers, this certification requires candidates to pass a 200-question exam and complete 60 professional development units every three years afterward. The cost ranges from $405-$555.
  • PMI Risk Management Professional: This certification, ideal for project managers with risk management experience, requires candidates to complete a 170-question exam and take 30 professional development units every three years. The total cost ranges from $520-$670.
  • Certificate of Capability in Business Analysis: Made for experienced business analysis practitioners, this certification requires candidates to complete a 130-question exam and possess the required experience. The exam costs $325-$450.
  • Certified Business Analysis Professional: Built for professionals with extensive experience in business analysis, this certification requires candidates to complete the 120-question exam, boast substantial experience, and complete a set number of professional development courses before applying. The exam costs $325-$450.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations offer students meaningful benefits while pursuing a degree. In addition to offering helpful insight into the field and learning about current issues, students can gain access to scholarship opportunities, mentorships, and industry publications.

For new grads, these organizations offer access to invaluable professional development opportunities, like annual conferences, networking workshops, continuing education programs, and career support. The following list highlights some of the most relevant organizations for business intelligence students.

  • Business Information Industry Association: The BIIA unites information professionals in a large professional network that helps to set standards and policies within the industry. Members can gain access to industry resources, events, and mentoring opportunities.
  • Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals: The SCIP strives to improve the use of intelligence in business decision-making processes. Members receive access to network support, along with continuing education and professional development opportunities.
  • Data Management Association International: DAMA looks to promote data management principles and support the organizations that engage with it. Its members can gain access to industry resources, networking events, and various discounts.
  • International Institute of Business Analysis: IIBA supports and promotes business analysis through advocacy and by providing professional development resources. Members benefit from access to certifications, networking events, and industry best practices.
  • Digital Analytics Association: The DAA seeks to improve the digital analytics community by hosting and supporting a professional network and helping professionals develop their careers. Members can access helpful career resources, professional development tools, and networking events.
  • Association for Information Science and Technology: ASIS&T helps to connect like-minded professionals in a large network and provide them with access to industry information. Its members receive access to networking events, plus career development tools and resources.
  • National Business Association: The NBA works with small businesses to help them thrive professionally. Members can gain access to a variety of support resources and a helpful network.
  • American Business Association: Dedicated to improving small businesses and business professionals, the ABA connects its members to a shared pool of resources, industry publications, information, and discounts.
  • Business Network International: The BNI offers members access to its large referral network, resources, and professional development opportunities to improve its members' businesses and careers.
  • Business Professionals of America: The BPA supports business professionals by developing and promoting a set of industry standards and best practices. The association offers professional support, access to resources, and educational opportunities.