The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is commonly referred to as one of the leading graduate degree programs for business professionals, particularly those who want to pursue leadership opportunities within their chosen field.  

However, many passionate businesspeople find themselves wondering, "Can you get a PhD in Business?" The answer, of course, is yes: A doctorate degree in business is ideal for those looking to push the boundaries and explore in-depth business topics related to their personal career goals, along with anyone who may be interested in business ownership or senior management opportunities. 

Understanding the Value of a PhD in Business 

Compared to other graduate degree programs in business administration, the doctorate in business is a relatively new addition. According to Coursera, Harvard University was the first university to offer a PhD in Business, with the elite Ivy League school introducing it to its offerings in the 1950s. Yet, over the course of the past several decades, the Doctor of Business Administration degree and other doctoral degrees in business have made their mark on the industry. 

At one time, the MBA degree was considered the qualifying degree for managers and senior-level executives. Recently, according to Harvard Business Review, advances in technology as well as shifts in business demands have increased the need for highly specialized business professionals, ultimately boosting the value of a PhD in business. 

Reasons to Pursue a PhD in Business 

Pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or another doctoral degree in business can be incredibly rewarding, and not just on a personal level. These are some of the top reasons why business professionals enroll in a doctorate business degree program: 

  • It provides them with a competitive advantage in an industry infiltrated with qualified professionals. 
  • It offers access to exclusive research opportunities, allowing them to better align their interests and passions with their career goals. 
  • It can give them an opportunity to curve their career path toward a new goal, such as working in academia or pursuing business ownership. 

The Journey Toward a PhD in Business 

Admissions criteria for a PhD in business program vary based on the school you are considering. However, most universities that offer a doctorate in business require applicants to: 

  • Have spent several years working in the business profession and gaining relevant experience. 
  • Have showcased an interest in research and participated in a research-based project. 
  • Have earned an MBA degree or another relevant graduate degree. 

Exploring Career Paths for PhD in Business Graduates 

Doctoral degree programs are generally associated with careers in academia. Though that is certainly an option for graduates who earn a PhD in business, there are also a variety of exciting and interesting career pathways to explore: 

A Career as a Business Consultant 

Consulting is one of the most dynamic fields within the world of business. As a business consultant, you would have the opportunity to work directly with the owners of a business or upper management to create a business plan, establish goals and create a strategy to reach those goals. According to Glassdoor, business consulting professionals earn an average salary of about $99,000 per year. 

To become a business consultant, you need a strong foundation in the best business practices and a broad range of knowledge of numerous industries—making this a good fit for graduates with a PhD in business. According to Indeed, common business consultant job responsibilities include: 

  • Developing a marketing strategy designed to improve brand awareness among a target market segment. 
  • Providing relevant information about new technology that can help streamline business operations. 
  • Reviewing financial procedures to identify new opportunities for revenue growth or ways to reduce costs. 
  • Creating a strategy to attract top talent and retain existing employees. 

Opportunities as a C-Suite Executive 

Earning a doctorate in business can help you reach those coveted C-suite positions. The C-suite is defined as the top tier of any organization, and the executives who work at the C-level include: 

  • Chief executive officer (CEO) 
  • Chief operating officer (COO) 
  • Chief financial officer (CFO) 
  • Chief marketing officer (CMO) 
  • Chief information officer (CIO) 

Depending on the size and scope of the organization, there may be other C-level positions available. 

Rather than delegating tasks and managing the progress of individual departments, C-level executives work to make strategic decisions that will guide the organization toward long-term success. Given their roles in the top tier of the company, it's not surprising that these are some of the most lucrative positions. ZipRecruiter notes that top earners within the C-level executive workforce earn as much as $138,000 per year. 

The Role of an Economist 

Within a business doctoral degree program, you have the opportunity to specialize, and students who are particularly interested in economics can position themselves to take on the role of an economist after graduation. 

An economist is a professional specializing in economic research, often collecting data related to upcoming economic trends and working to forecast economic fluctuations. As experts in economic theory, economists can provide organizations with actionable insight to help guide their short-term and long-term business strategies. 

Economists play a valuable role in any business organization, regardless of its industry or sector. The primary responsibilities of an economist include: 

  • Collecting economic data 
  • Conducting economic forecasting 
  • Assisting with budget preparation 
  • Explaining economic theories in relatable and relevant ways 
  • Publishing research and data-based projects to highlight economic trends 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that demand for economists is expected to grow by about 6 percent between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than average compared to other occupations, and the median annual salary for economists is currently almost $114,000. 

Academia: Becoming a Professor 

The world of academia is appealing to doctoral students, especially those who enjoyed their business school experience and want to be part of the movement to educate the next generation of business professionals. 

Business professors, however, are more than just teachers. At their core, these professors are researchers who specialize in a niche area of business and work to publish their findings on a regular basis. Becoming a professor is an opportunity for you, as a business professional, to focus on an aspect of business you are passionate about while simultaneously educating up-and-coming business leaders. 

According to the BLS, the job outlook for professors is favorable. The number of available jobs is expected to increase by about 8 percent between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than average. Currently, the median annual salary for a professor is about $80,000. 

Working for Think Tanks and Research Groups 

Think tanks and research groups are specialized organizations focused primarily on conducting research that advocates or supports a specific cause. According to ZipRecruiter, individuals who work at think tanks or research groups often collaborate in order to: 

  • Provide reports and documents that support legislative efforts. 
  • Partner with experts on particular issues to advocate and generate support for their cause. 
  • Partner with others in the industry to help further their cause. 

Although a bachelor's degree is typically required for an entry-level position at a think tank, many of the most involved and impactful think tanks prefer candidates with a graduate-level degree. The analytical and critical thinking skills required to work at these organizations makes it an ideal fit for anyone with a PhD in business or DBA. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a position at a think tank is about $64,000. 

Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur Advisor 

Entrepreneurs and entrepreneur advisors are independent, motivated business professionals who are driven by the concept of bringing a dream to life. Entrepreneurs often work to market their own products and services and strive to become their own boss. While the success of an entrepreneur largely depends on their own level of commitment and their connections in business, Indeed notes that an entrepreneur can earn more than $94,000 per year. 

Assisting Government Agencies 

Business experts, including graduates with a PhD in business, are well-qualified to work at a wide range of government agencies. You may be able to assist government agencies in the following types of roles: 

  • Human resource specialist – Median annual salary of $64,000 
  • Marketing specialist – Median annual salary of $68,000 
  • Financial analyst – Median annual salary of $96,000 
  • Risk management – Median annual salary of $102,000 

Employment Outlook for PhD in Business Graduates

Employment trends show that higher levels of education are required in order to gain entrance to the work force, increasing the demand for doctoral graduates in nearly every industry. According to the BLS, employment levels in doctoral and professional occupations are expected to increase by more than 13 percent, whereas employment growth across all occupations is only expected to grow by 7 percent. 

Within the world of business, specifically, the employment outlook for DBA graduates is positive. Overall employment in business and finance is expected to increase by more than 910,000 jobs each year between 2022 and 2032. Those holding a PhD in business would have a distinctive set of advanced skills and have acquired niche business knowledge that could offer them the competitive advantage in this growing sector. 

Salary Expectations for PhD in Business Graduates

Graduates who earn a PhD in business are qualified for high-level, executive positions in business, which can increase their earning potential overtime. For example, some positions for which a graduate with a doctoral degree in business may be qualified include: 

  • Chief executive – Responsible for guiding the overall direction of a company, the chief executive is often considered the top leader in the organization. This position earns an average salary of $189,000 annually. 
  • Market research analyst – Specializing in advanced research techniques to uncover trends and preferences in specific markets, market research analysts are critical to the success of any organization. This position earns an average salary of $68,000 annually. 
  • Business professor – Conducting research and instructing business students at the collegiate level, business professors play a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation of business leaders. The median annual salary for postsecondary educators is nearly $81,000. 
  • Management analyst – By monitoring and evaluating an organization's practices, a management analyst makes expert recommendations to improve efficiency and outcomes. The median annual salary for this position is about $95,000. 

How Does Geographic Location Impact Job Opportunities for PhD in Business Graduates? 

Generally speaking, your geographic location would likely have little influence over your job prospects after graduating with a PhD in business. This is especially true in the post-pandemic era, when more people have grown accustomed to remote work and geographic location does not necessarily limit a person's ability to accept a job opportunity. 

Focus on enrolling in a well-respected, high-quality doctorate program, as this would have a larger impact on your professional success than your personal geographic location. 

Are There Any Unique Job Roles for PhD in Business Graduates? 

Graduates who earn a PhD in business may have access to high-level job opportunities featuring specific requirements. Some unique job roles for which those with a DBA or PhD in business may be qualified include: 

  • Consultant 
  • Entrepreneur 
  • Analyst 
  • Economist 
  • Government agent 

For the most part, you will find that this advanced business degree provides you with the flexibility and versatility you need to personalize your career path moving forward. 

Earn Your PhD in Business at University of the Cumberlands 

At University of the Cumberlands, we offer an online PhD in Business that allows experienced professionals the opportunity to elevate their careers and dig deeper into their passion for best business principles. With a focus on business philosophy and evidence-based practices, this doctorate program is designed to help hone your skills, expand your knowledge and give you the ability to shift your career toward achieving your personal goals. 

Request more information about our doctoral degree programs today.