Earning an Online Doctorate in Management

Business practices change rapidly as social media and the internet rise and culture shifts. Careers like market research analyst are also on the rise as businesses try to keep up with society's rapid changes. Earning an online Ph.D. in management helps degree holders not only learn the latest trends but also stay up to date on trends as they continue their career. Those who earn this degree enhance their own management styles and leave their employees happier and more successful. With many options available for completing and financing the degree, any professional can find a program that caters to their specific needs and interests.

Why Get a Doctorate in Management?

Pursuing Specialization

Management is a broad field, so students who pursue an online Ph.D. program in management benefit from several career options. Learners can specialize within their industry by earning a certification in sales or project management. Professionals might also find themselves in a career involving public relations or social media management.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Earning an online Ph.D. in management provides opportunities for higher-paying jobs with increased responsibilities, making it the perfect option for individuals who enjoy leading others. While a master's degree can help you earn an entry-level job, a doctorate provides a competitive edge for applicants to a corporation's executive board or collegiate staff. Earning a doctorate prepares individuals to make big-picture decisions and evaluate and improve business functions.

Online Learning Technology

Tech companies come up with new resources every day, so it's important for business professionals to stay current with the latest advancements. By pursuing a doctorate in management online, students can access the latest educational technology and e-learning tools.

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

Students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in management may consider a Ph.D. or a doctorate of business administration (DBA), depending on their needs.

Those who want to teach business at the collegiate level and don't have much prior experience should pursue a Ph.D., while prospective students who currently work in a successful business career may consider a DBA. Individuals who receive a Ph.D. in management set themselves up for academic positions at a business or liberal arts university. Students who wish to continue to work their way up in the business world might work towards a DBA in management to provide themselves with a new challenge and continue to refine their knowledge of business.

Both degrees serve students with an interest in business and give them the skills to excel in their goals.

Prerequisites for Online Doctorate in Management Programs

The business world encourages competition, so students interested in earning an online Ph.D. in management must be ready to show their best selves. Programs include different prerequisites, which can include work experience, specific test scores or coursework, recommendations or references, essays, or an interview. International students may need to fulfill additional requirements.

  • Work Experience: Although some programs accept students directly after they've earned a master's degree, many programs prefer learners with prior managerial experience. Prospective students may want to gain some years of experience regardless, as it helps them stand out among applicants. Some online Ph.D. programs in management could require up to seven years of managerial experience.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Some programs may require students to submit their GMAT or GRE scores for admission. The test scores typically must be from the last 5 years. This isn't as common for Ph.D. programs, but students generally still have the option to submit them if they choose. Most schools require a minimum test score.
  • Coursework: Students must first complete a master's program in order to pursue a Ph.D. in management. Most schools require or prefer a degree in the business field but make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Applicants should expect to submit all official transcripts showing a 2.5-3.0 GPA, although the minimum requirement varies.
  • Recommendations: Students interested in earning an online Ph.D. in management must typically submit 2-3 letters of recommendation to their prospective school. These letters should be from relevant academic or professional connections, such as a teacher, colleague, or employer.
  • Essays: Many schools require applicants to submit essays for consideration. The topics vary by school, but many ask for a statement of purpose where students explain why they are interested in a program and how they hope to use their degree. Some schools may also require applicants to submit prior essays or articles written on the topic of their degree.
  • Interviews: Many schools require selected applicants to complete an interview process. These interviews can take place on campus or remotely and typically include a panel of department faculty. Students should expect to answer questions about their prior experiences, goals, and reasons for interest in the program.
  • International Students: International students may have additional admission requirements. The most common requirement is a passing score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Students should also consider additional requirements for international study, such as obtaining a visa, although completing a degree online may eliminate some of these steps.

How Much Can I Make With a Doctorate in Management?

Earning an online Ph.D in management opens the door for hundreds of career choices. Although individuals earn experience as they work, pursuing higher education provides individuals with diverse skills that employers desire. Those who pursue a career in business management could earn an annual salary between $49,260 and $151,700. Available careers include an executive or operations manager, public relations manager, education administrator, and credit counselor.

Traditional Careers for Management

Careers Stats Description

Architectural and Engineering Manager

Median Pay: $140,760

Job Growth: 6%

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate the day-to-day activities of a firm. This can come in a variety of settings, including an office, research facility, production plant, or construction site. Those with strong leadership skills do well in this role.

Human Resources Manager

Median Pay: $113,300

Job Growth: 9%

A human resources (HR) manager ensures that a company and employees follow policies and procedures while maintaining compliance with local, state, and federal laws. An HR manager addresses employee complaints and oversees things such as sick or maternity leave. Those who enjoy mediating and handling conflict do well as HR managers, as they often assist employees in working out their differences.

Construction Manager

Median Pay: $93,370

Job Growth: 11%

Construction managers enjoy a daily work experience that changes regularly. These professionals supervise various construction projects, monitoring their budget and progress. An excellent job for flexible workers who prefer being outside rather than in an office, construction managers spend most of their time supervising projects in the field.

Sales Manager

Median Pay: $124,220

Job Growth: 7%

Sales managers motivate and drive a team towards success through setting goals, analyzing data, and training employees. Additional education in business paired with strong leadership skills prepares sales managers to be competent and successful in their careers.

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Median Pay: $94,340

Job Growth: 10%

Varying by college, postsecondary education administrators take on many different tasks at the school they serve. Most professionals in this field oversee services involving students, staff, and academics while promoting admissions and student life.

Source: PayScale/BLS

Paying for a Doctorate in Management Online

Paying for school can be stressful, but it doesn't have to break the bank thanks to the many financial aid options for students looking at online Ph.D. programs in management. Tuition rates vary by school; however, many programs offer a cheaper rate for in-state or online students. Some schools also provide accelerated tracks that allow learners to complete their degree faster, saving them from paying more fees each semester. Students may also check into programs provided by their work, as some employers pay full or partial tuition for their employees.

Scholarships for Online Management Students

Most students need some assistance to succeed, and applying for scholarships is an important part of the process. Not only are there general scholarships designed for any college student, but there are also scholarships specifically for students pursuing a business degree. By applying for just a few of these opportunities, students become candidates for thousands of dollars in scholarships.

What to Expect From an Online Management Program

Earning an online Ph.D. in management serves as a convenient way for students to earn a degree while still investing in their career. Thanks to the flexibility of online learning, students complete their degree on a variety of timelines, but learners can complete most programs in 2-3 years. Programs include various milestones, such as a dissertation, a research project, or a comprehensive exam. Professors teach some classes in a synchronous style, meaning students must log on to be in class at a specific time. Students typically also must complete a residency on campus, which varies in length depending on the program.

Major Milestones

  1. Residency

    Some programs require online students to complete a residency on campus at the beginning of the program. This allows students to get acquainted with the school and meet other students in their cohort. Most residencies last only a weekend or a semester at most.

  2. Research Project

    Some students complete a research project over their desired topic in the field of business. This typically takes place near the end of their program as a culminating project.

  3. Comprehensive Exam

    As a method for evaluating how much a student has learned, many schools require Ph.D. candidates to take a comprehensive exam. Universities typically use these exams to discern a program’s strengths and weaknesses.

  4. Required Coursework

    Students must typically complete 50-60 credits as they pursue their online Ph.D. in management.

  5. Fellowship

    A fellowship is a research-based internship that comes at the end of a student's Ph.D. coursework. Fellowships often include a research project or a variety of tasks as students gain industry experience.

  6. Dissertation

    Students who have completed all other coursework may complete their program by writing a dissertation on a complex issue in the field. This culminating experience showcases the research skills students learned during their completion of the program.


The following list includes courses that are often found within online Ph.D. programs in management. The content of these courses varies by school, but they generally teach many of the same concepts.

Data Analytics

This course provides effective tools to gather data, make forecasts, and use predictive models to make informed marketing decisions. Students gain a greater ability to lead using data analysis within an organization to strengthen marketing strategies.

Organizational Behavior

With an emphasis on behavioral science, this course explores how to strengthen an organization's culture by examining human behavior.

Financial Risk Management

Financial decision-making is an important part of leading an organization, and this course shows students how to make informed decisions in the way of growth, sustainability, and employee issues. Students learn core principles of finances and examine different situations organizations may find themselves in.

Management Theory

Students explore and evaluate a variety of management theories and determine best implementation practices within their organizations.

Human Resource Management

Students examine both classic and modern practices of human resource management, primarily focusing on strategy and implementation. Learners look at a variety of issues and discover many effective ways to navigate these challenges.

Degree Timelines

Online degrees often feature a variety of options for students to fulfill their program requirements. Some schools allow students to complete their coursework on a full-time, part-time, or accelerated timeline depending on their needs.

Enrollment Status Time to Complete Description


4 years

Students with a job, family, or other personal commitments that take up much of their time might prefer taking courses part-time. Part-time students can typically complete their program in four years by taking 3-6 credits per semester. Some programs allow students to be flexible in the number of credits they take each semester, meaning they can vary their course load depending on their needs.


2-3 years

Although degrees vary by school, most full-time students can complete an online Ph.D. in management in 2-3 years. This requires students take approximately 6-9 credits a semester. This is a great option for students with a flexible job.


1-1.5 years

Students who can devote time to a fast-paced schedule might consider taking advantage of a school's accelerated degree format. Through shorter and more frequent terms, students can complete more credits in a shorter amount of time. Students may still take the same amount of credits at a time as a full-time student, but they are completing these credits in a shorter amount of time. This is a great option for students who can devote their time entirely to school.

Licenses and Certifications

Employers often look for motivated, life-long learners. In addition to higher education, a great way to demonstrate motivation and passion is by completing training for additional licenses or certifications. Students who wish to open themselves up to more job opportunities or improve their skills in a specific area should strongly consider taking advantage of these opportunities.

  • Sales Certification: Although experience still stands as the best teacher when it comes to sales, pursuing certification in sales shows employers a commitment to learning all of the best trade practices. Although managers typically don't make sales calls, they work hard to motivate salespeople.
  • Project Management Certification: Any job candidate can claim to have strong leadership and management skills, but a certification shows knowledge of methodologies and a growth-oriented mindset ideal for management positions.
  • Human Resources Certification: Many professionals with an online Ph.D. in management desire a career in human resources. Obtaining a certification in this area provides them with the skills they need to take on these roles.
  • Real Estate License: Earning a real estate license provides individuals with the opportunity to begin a career in property management. Skills from a Ph.D. in management transfer well to the real estate field and allow professionals to forge a meaningful career in this industry.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Students seeking an online Ph.D. in management can go the extra mile and learn outside the classroom by joining a professional organization. These associations provide members with an outlet for networking, building their career, and staying connected with the latest their field has to offer. Many organizations hold annual conferences featuring influential speakers and provide student leadership opportunities, allowing students to build their resumes.

  • Society for Human Resource Management This organization promotes those in the human resources field by providing educational certification and resources for professional development and networking. How-to guides provided by the Society for Human Resource Management benefit members through practical, step-by-step guidelines for daily human resource manager tasks.
  • American Management Association Based in New York City, this nonprofit professional organization provides educational opportunities for those in the management field.
  • APICS A global leader in supply chain certification programs, APICS offers professionals educational and networking opportunities through various resources.
  • Project Management Institute PMI provides professionals with opportunities for networking and several certification options. PMI also offers a career center that lists open positions across the country.
  • International Facility Management Association A professional organization for those in the facility management field, the International Facility Management Association provides meaningful connections with other professionals globally, professional development opportunities, and a job board.
  • HR.com HR.com serves as the largest online community of human resources professionals, providing individuals in the field with a variety of educational tools and resources.
  • Chief Happiness Officer Blog This blog by Alexander Kjerulf provides ideas and resources for managers to create positive work environments and happy employees. Learning these skills can lead to a more productive and healthier job environment.
  • Businessweek Management Blog Part of Bloomberg's Businessweek, this blog offers articles on business management that can improve leadership skills and keep professionals looking at the big picture. Staying up to date with the latest studies and trends in management can make for a more effective work environment.