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Business PhD Programs

Doctorate in Business

Selecting Your Program

If you are interested in obtaining a PhD, you likely have a good idea of what your research interests are. But, if you remain unsure, the most important aspect to consider when selecting a doctoral program is whether or not you are deeply interested in the discipline of study. Entering a PhD program requires hours and hours of research in the particular area you choose. You also need to remember that you will be researching the subject long-term as you enter academia or a research position for a professional industry.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Starting salaries of faculty members in the field
  • Supply and demand of faculty positions in the field
  • Organizations that hire researchers in the field
  • Geographical areas where you wish to begin your career or reside and whether or not your field is highly demanded in those locations
  • If you have completed prior schooling in business, what topics did you lean toward?
  • Did you write any research papers that you found particularly interesting?
  • If you could study one area of business what would it be?
  • If you could teach one subject, what would it be?

Determining a Program's Quality

Accreditation Is Number One

Accreditation is the most reliable way to determine a program's quality. It indicates that an institution's programs have met a set of standards for faculty composition, curricula content, instructional resources, intellectual contributions, and a variety of other critical areas. Accreditation may be regional, institutional, discipline specific, or international. Sometimes it is conducted by governments and other times it is managed by private (often nonprofit) entities.

When choosing a doctoral program, it is important to understand accreditation. Every school you speak with will tell you they are "accredited." But the question is, who accredits them? Most high-quality doctorate programs have earned what is a called specialized, professional accreditation that is specific to the discipline being taught—such as business. These specialized accreditations should be recognized international, especially if you are a student that does not want to be limited geographically.

Within the field of business, AACSB Accreditation is the most recognized, specialized accreditation worldwide. It covers undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs in business.

Consider Faculty Qualifications and Research

Another way to access the quality of a school's doctoral program is to review the qualifications of the faculty and the level of research they have produced—especially in the field/department that you will be researching in.

1. Search for the vitae of the program's faculty online or request their background information directly from the school. Find out which faculty member you will be reporting to.

2. Review quality research journals in your discipline of interest and note the universities and institutions that are frequently publishing articles. To view several discipline-specific journals, visit the programs page and select your desired discipline.

3. Speak with your previous professors and ask them what they know about the programs you are interested in.

Speak With Alumni

Find out who graduated from the school and where they are. Send one or two of them an email and ask how they liked the program. If they are current faculty members at an institution, they will likely be more than happy to speak with you about their experience.

Role of Rankings in Choosing a Doctoral Program

Publications that provide rankings of business schools should be viewed with skepticism when evaluating doctoral programs. These studies are highly subjective and depend on unscientific survey data, word-of-mouth, and a variety of other unreliable sources. Moreover, rankings by national or global business magazines often focus exclusively on MBA programs and there may be little correlation between the ranking of an MBA program and the quality of the school's doctoral programs. Be sure that the rankings you find do not substitute your own investigation of the school's characteristics.