Corporate Governance Degree and Certification Programs

Oct 20, 2019

Some business schools offer corporate governance programs that can provide individuals with coursework and research opportunities geared toward executive management. Certificate programs are available, as well as doctorate programs in business administration.

Essential Information

Corporate governance degree and certificate programs are designed for individuals who already have either an educational or professional background in business. These programs are directed at individuals who want to learn more about the responsibilities required of senior-level management. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most top business executives have at least a bachelor's or master's degree. Additional training in corporate governance, either at the post-graduate certificate or doctoral levels, can help these individuals refine their skills and move ahead in their careers.

Certificate in Corporate Governance

Certificate programs in corporate governance are typically offered at the graduate level and may be designed for individuals with professional business experience. There is currently no industry standard for certification in corporate governance. Certificate programs may be completed in a matter of days, a single semester or longer.

Commonly offered as executive or professional certificates, these programs are typically graduate-level and may require at least a bachelor's degree for admittance. Most often, they are designed for top business professionals, so work experience in senior management and responsibility may be required.

Courses in a corporate governance program can relate to all aspects of business. They cover topics such as efficiency, communication, strategy and profit. These programs may also discuss the distinct roles within a company's executive management, including shareholders, directors and corporate officers. Students in these certificate programs may study:

  • Partnerships
  • Security
  • Legal regulations
  • Finance
  • Compensation
  • Ethics

Ph.D. in Business Administration

A Ph.D. program in business may allow students to conduct research in particular areas of business, including corporate governance. Doctorate programs may include fellowships, graduate minors or concentration options. Students may be able to participate in programs through a corporate governance center or an institute within a school of business.

Students entering a doctorate program may not be required to hold a master's degree, but it is the most common and preferred prerequisite. An undergraduate degree in business is typically necessary, and schools may require students to meet minimum GPA requirements and minimum Graduate Management Admissions Test or Graduate Record Examination test scores.

Ph.D. programs in business administration focuses on specific subjects within business. They may include finance, human resources, accounting or corporate governance. Students are expected to research, produce and defend a dissertation and attend seminars in their area of specialization. The curriculum can vary between concentration options, but common course topics may include:

  • Research methodology
  • Economic finance
  • Statistics
  • Accounting
  • Information security

Popular Career Options

Individuals attending graduate or executive certificate programs in corporate governance may already hold a high-ranking or board-level position within a company and are seeking an improved understanding of business. These individuals may hold titles such as:

  • Director
  • Manager
  • President

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Corporate governance may apply to all types of business environments, and is not tied to a specific position or title. The study of corporate governance may impact individuals in positions of responsibility, including a company's managers and directors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for administrative service managers was $96,180 in May 2018 ( In that same period, the BLS reported the median annual salary of sales managers at $124,220, human resource managers at $113,300, financial managers at $127,990 and marketing managers at $134,290. Chief executives earned a median annual salary of $189,600 that year, according to the BLS.

Experienced businesspeople who want to advance to the highest management positions may get the education they need from a graduate certificate program in corporate governance. Those who are particularly interested in business research can enroll in a Ph.D. program in business administration.

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