MBA Vs. PhD in Computer Science

Apr 04, 2019

Course topics, length, concentrations/research areas, and formats are just a few of the ways that MBA and PhD in Computer Science programs differ. Learn how to apply to these programs and explore which one may be right for you.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs prepare students for more business-based careers, while Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Computer Science programs prepare students for more technology-based careers. These programs also differ in length, coursework, and graduation requirements. Examine some of these differences and unique characteristics of each program below.

MBA vs. PhD in Computer Science

Master of Business Administration

Students can pursue a general MBA degree program or for those interested in the subject of computer science, there are MBA programs with a concentration in applied computer science or joint MBA/Master of Computer Science degree programs. Many MBA programs are available in on-campus, online, or hybrid formats for flexibility and may be completed in 16 to 24 months. Credit requirements vary by program, but may range from around 30 to 45 credits, and students may need to maintain a specific GPA throughout the program, such as a 3.0. Coursework for the MBA usually includes core business administration courses that discuss topics in like marketing, accounting, finance, operations management, communication, and economics, followed by electives in a student's chosen concentration, such as computer graphics, programming languages, and database management for a concentration in applied computer science. Graduates of an MBA program who specialized in an area of computer science may work in leadership positions and professional careers as systems or network administrators, project managers, or programmers.

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science

PhD in Computer Science degree programs are typically full-time programs that may require around 64 to 90 credits for completion. Students may be required to maintain a specific GPA throughout the program, such as a 3.5, and may be able to focus their studies by choosing a concentration in areas such as robotics, theory, systems and networking, human-computer interactions, graphics, or artificial intelligence and machine learning. Some of these programs may allow students to earn their Master of Science (M.S.) along the way and most of these programs require students to complete comprehensive exams, a dissertation, and/or teaching responsibilities during their studies. Students pursuing this degree may take courses in theory, applications, computer systems, and software, as well as courses specific to their concentration area or research interests. Graduates of these degree programs are prepared to work careers in academia, industrial laboratories, or research laboratories.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students interested in applying to an MBA program or PhD in Computer Science program need to have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of these programs may require students to meet a minimum GPA requirement and/or submit their GRE test scores. However, MBA programs may also accept the GMAT in place of the GRE and/or prefer if applicants to the program have professional work experience. Doctoral programs in computer science may prefer for students to hold a degree in computer science and/or have prior coursework in areas of computational science. Students may need to include their transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement and/or resume with their application and students applying to a PhD in Computer Science may also need to indicate their research interests and possible faculty advisors.

In summary, MBA programs are usually offered in flexible formats and generally prepare graduates for management positions in the field of business. A PhD in Computer Science may have stricter GPA requirements and require a dissertation; it prepares students for careers in academia, research, and various industries.

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