Finance PhD Vs. MBA

Apr 02, 2019

There are several differences between a PhD in Finance and an MBA program, including length, course topics, and career outcomes. Here we compare the programs and discuss how interested students can apply.

Students interested in studying finance may want to consider their career goals and their specific interests in the field to determine whether a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Finance or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is right for them. The PhD program is a more specific degree program and takes slightly longer to complete than an MBA. Learn about other differences and similarities between the degrees here.

Finance PhD vs. MBA

Doctor of Philosophy in Finance

PhD in Finance degree programs are usually on-campus programs that generally take 5 years to complete. Students in these degree programs are typically required to complete a dissertation and may need to fulfill additional requirements, such as comprehensive exams, field exams, summer research papers, and/or teaching responsibilities. Some programs may also include a practicum experience where students work with a faculty member to conduct research and/or teach courses throughout the program. Coursework for these degree programs may include topics such as empirical methods, economics, financial markets, econometric methods, economic theory, and corporate finance theory. Many graduates of PhD in Finance programs pursue careers as educators and researchers for postsecondary institutions, but graduates are also qualified to pursue advanced research positions within the business industry.

Master of Business Administration

MBA programs are more general degree programs that train students in business administration, leadership, and management, typically in addition to an area of concentration, such as finance. These programs can usually be completed in 2 years, but some programs may allow students to finish in as little as 15 months, and these programs are often available in online, flexible formats. Students in MBA programs are usually required to complete a capstone experience that may discuss various topics and issues in management. Coursework for these programs typically consist of core business administration courses in subjects like ethics, accounting, marketing, business strategy, finance, economics, and leadership, and students who choose a concentration in finance may take additional courses in areas such as investment analysis, corporate financial management, financial statement analysis, real estate finance, financial modeling and mergers and acquisitions. Graduates of these degree programs are prepared to work a wide range of managerial and leadership positions in business and those who specialize in finance may find careers in areas such as financial analysis, auditing, investment banking, taxation, and private equity.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to both a PhD in Finance and MBA program typically need to hold at least a bachelor's degree and some doctoral programs may require students to have prior coursework in areas like algebra, statistics, and calculus. The majority of these degree programs require the GMAT or GRE test scores, but some MBA programs may accept students without these scores. It is also common for these degree programs to consider an applicant's work experience during the admission process, but some MBA programs may require students to have a specific number of years of experience to apply. Some MBA programs may also require students to contact an admissions advisor to help them navigate the admissions process. Common application materials are similar for both programs and typically include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and essay responses and/or a personal statement.

PhD in Finance programs take about 5 years to complete and primarily prepare students for careers as researchers and educators. On the other hand, finance is often offered as a concentration in MBA programs and these programs train students to be leaders and managers in the business field in about 1 to 2 years.

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