Business PhD Programs: Prerequisites and Requirements

Business Ph.D. programs are for scholars who are interested in becoming professors at the university level. Learn about the degree specifics for these programs, like requirements, courses, and length, as well as career prospects.

Essential Information

Ph.D. candidates learn management, economics, and business concepts. They are encouraged to develop a mind for independent inquiry and are allowed to choose an area of specialty within the Ph.D. program, such as marketing, finance, accounting, and operations. The culmination of Ph.D. business programs is an original dissertation that a doctoral candidate researches, writes, edits, and presents for review and a completion exam based on the Ph.D. program coursework.

Ph.D. in Business

Students are required to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant business field (though master's degrees are recommended), along with satisfactory GMAT or GRE scores in order to be admitted to these programs. Doctoral business classes are research-intensive. General courses involve business and math, and electives depend on a student's chosen specialization. Coursework takes place during the program's first two years. Afterward, degree candidates typically spend two years teaching courses and doing research. Actually writing the dissertation can take 1-3 years more. Specializations and coursework may include the following topics:

  • Business strategies
  • Business research methods
  • Financial markets
  • Microeconomics
  • Mathematical statistics

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Doctoral programs prepare graduates to enter the academic profession. After gaining enough experience in teaching, research, and publications, a professor qualifies for tenure: Immunity from being fired. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for postsecondary teachers should grow by 13% between 2014 and 2024 (

Tenure-track positions are competitive, but Ph.D. holders may find good prospects as older, baby boomer professors retire within the decade. Some doctoral graduates accept part-time adjunct professorships which don't provide tenure. The BLS reported that postsecondary business instructors earned a median of $75,370 per year in 2015.

Heavy in research, business Ph.D. programs help students build their research skills while expanding their knowledge of business concepts. These programs prepare students to become business teachers within a university.

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