Online PhD Programs in Business

An online PhD business program is an upper level degree with a focus in business research. Many online PhD programs in business embrace the societal impacts of commerce, corporate governance, and new forms of enterprise. Students in these programs have an opportunity to excel as thought leaders. As problem solvers they could potentially impact the ways people think and conduct business in the future.

Why an Online PhD Business Program?

Online PhD Business programs enable busy adults to earn a doctorate degree while they maintain their career and lifestyle duties. While in their program, students often receive support from faculty and advisers through videoconferencing, email, chat, discussion boards, and sometimes, in-person meetings. These face-to-face residencies are used to network, meet faculty, attend seminars, and collaborate.

Courses for online PhD programs in business are generally available entirely through a web platform. As such, students may schedule their study and research around their own timetable. To this end, many universities provide extensive online library databases, writing tutors and inter-library loan systems. Consequently, an online PhD in business program may have all the same features as its campus counterpart - except for the commute.

Types of Online PhD Programs in Business

There are basically two kinds of online PhD programs in business - the scholarly PhD degree and several applied doctorates. In the latter, the focus is on how to adopt theory into the workplace. Thus, while academically equivalent, online PhD business programs have their own set of requisites, and target students.

Online Business Doctorate Programs

It may be helpful for searchers to clarify their own goals in order to flesh out a suitable academic direction. For instance –

  • do you prefer to test hypotheses and innovate?
  • are you a seasoned professional hoping for tools to problem solve in your industry?
  • do you want to focus on strategy and leadership development so that you could propel your business forward?

There are several main degree paths one might follow in their pursuit of the highest degree in the world of business. Some of the most common include the

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Management (DM)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Administration

However, there are many other focused degrees such as the Doctor of Public Administration (DPA); and Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) that emphasize one aspect of business. Higher Education administration, organizational leadership, executive nursing, finance or accounting, for example. These focal areas anchor a student’s research and may foster expertise in their chosen field.

Application Checklist

Online PhD programs in business come with different sets of admission requirements. Applicants must have undergraduate or graduate degree(s) from accredited colleges or universities.Reference letters, transcripts, a resume are generally included with a completed form.

Graduate degrees are not a requirement of some PhD programs, but schools may ask for GRE or GMAT scores. For online DBA programs, applicants commonly need a masters or MBA degree, but might waive the GRE in favor of an eligible student’s extensive work history.


According O*NET, when surveyed, 66% of Marketing & Business Teachers reported they had a Doctoral degree.

Online PhD in Business

An online PhD business degree is a research doctorate and the highest degree for scholars and aspiring professors. It is often designed for the curious, the contributor and the academic thinker. In fact, the majority of business administration professors have a doctoral degree and a smaller percentage, post-doctoral training. i

PhD programs include extensive coursework, challenging exams, in-depth data collection, research, analysis, and detailed reporting. The objective of a doctoral program is to challenge students to their intellectual limits, and fully immerse them in a research environment.

No two PhD programs have the exact same requirements, but on average, a minimum of 60 credit hours may be needed for receiving the PhD degree in Business. In some cases, students take 15 credits of core courses, 33 credits in their chosen concentration and 12 credits of dissertation research.

Students in online business PhD programs are almost always required to complete a dissertation that highlights an issue and provides their original theory. Candidates are then required to defend that dissertation before a panel of business experts and academic advisors. What area would you like to research? Technology and innovation management, business administration and organizational leadership are several of many options.

Online DBA Degree

The online Doctor of Business Administration, DBA, is an applied doctorate in executive leadership. One of the goals of a DBA degree is to help students craft effective solutions to complex, real-world problems common to the practice of business and management.

Online DBA programs are often geared toward current executives and graduates of MBA or other masters programs. These students often have experience in their industry and want to refresh skills to confidently climb the ladder into a CEO role.

As such, some schools offer part-time study options. Those who pursue the degree full-time might expect about three years to completion. Meanwhile, online learners may be able to make sense of what they learn in a current work environment. Another practical feature of distance education.

Course plans in online DBA programs may heighten advanced decision-making and leadership skills. Courses in a 49-credit program may be divvied up between business strategy, managerial finance, organizational psychology and data analysis. Learners may study current literature and empirical findings to learn how to apply modern business theory to find solutions to challenges through critical analysis.

Also, while a customized DBA program is possible, it is common for students to pursue a DBA ‘in’ and area of emphasis. Concentrations for online DBA programs span criminal justice, IT, project management, finance, business analytics and more. Discover your potential to lead in your field of choice.  

Online DM Degree

The online Doctor of Management, DM, is an applied doctorate in management science. The focus of a DM degree is on the application of management theories and, on learning how practical research can be used to identify or solve industry problems.

Like the DBA degree, a DM degree may appeal to industry professionals who hope to advance into senior level executive roles. Course plans are thus geared to the growth of a personal leadership style as students learn to think and act strategically. Core topics might also include scenario thinking, consulting, and both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

To anchor their active research projects, online DM students select a field of expertise via a concentration. This area may strongly relate to a career trajectory. Look for emphases such as global leadership, homeland security, technology management and beyond.

I Want to Earn an Online DBA, DM or PhD Business In (Fill in Your Blank)

Both traditional and online universities offer the DM, DBA and PhD Business degrees in a full spectrum of disciplines. “I want to earn an online PhD in Business Administration in (you fill in the blank)”.


An online doctorate in accounting is focused on the managerial accounting methods that are essential to a company’s bottom line. Students might explore capital markets, earnings management, voluntary disclosure/management guidance, corporate governance, and financial institutions and instruments.

Business Administration and Management

An online doctorate in business administration are often planned-out for those who want to move into overall management and leadership in a business-related field. Studies might include managerial accounting, global economies, case studies and business analysis, corporate sustainability, business strategy and decisions.

Business Information Systems

Students who pursue a doctorate in business information systems usually focus heavily on data science, business analytics, cross-disciplinary scholarship in computer science. Other topics such as economics, machine learning, marketing, and management science might help students integrate new technology into an enterprise or solve business problems through digital means.


Those who focus their online PhD in entrepreneurship may develop deeper insight into how to manage risk, innovate in their field and understand market opportunity. In tandem, students may refine their ability to lead in an established company, a start-up or raise capital for a new personal venture.


An online PhD or DBA in Finance often focuses on managerial finance. Students may explore areas like option pricing, corporate finance, global markets, derivatives, and behavioral finance. They are usually encouraged to meld theory with practice and apply their skills to solve organizational problems.

Healthcare Administration

An online doctor of healthcare administration (DHA) or related program, is a leadership degree for healthcare executives. PhD students may conduct research into the managerial, operational, and strategic issues that face organizations in the health care industry. While a DHA or DBA degree might cover the tactical, managerial and financial theories that may be applied into the administration of healthcare enterprises.

Human Resource Management

An online PhD in HRM is a research degree in the field of human resources, conflict resolution and workplace behavior. It may appeal to current HR managers who want to develop professionally as they study human capital development, hiring strategies, benefits analysis, organizational effectiveness, advanced communication, and management tactics.

International Business

An online PhD in international business aims to develop new ways to lead and manage teams in the global marketplace. Students often explore the financial markets, investment ideas, new markets, exchange and interest rates as well as strategies for a culturally diverse business culture.

Marketing & Advertising

An online PhD or DBA in marketing and advertising may cover research into consumer behavior theory, microeconomic theory and firm behavior. A variety of emphases (e.g. digital marketing or advertising) may bolster skills in a specific area.

Nonprofit Management

Online PhD programs in nonprofit management and leadership delve into policy and administration in the public and nonprofit/NGO sectors. Students might refine skills needed to work with governments and businesses for the good of the community.

Organizational Leadership

An online PhD in organizational leadership may ready students to effectively manage at high levels within organizations. Courses often help students refine their own leadership style, motivate and manage others. Often, this is a degree in which students could prepare to navigate a specific context such as higher education or the corporate world.

Operations Management

An online DBA in operations management typically has students research and problem solve in areas such as supply chain design, product development and inventory management. Courses may address the finer points of price strategy, logistics and manufacturing.

Project Management

An online DM in project management may ready students to handle complex projects for organizations. Upper level courses may bolster skills in time management, strategy, budget, communication styles, and organization.

Public Administration & Policy

In online Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) programs students focus on problem solving in the public and non-profit spheres. Their work often helps them develop the skills needed to shape and execute public policy as well as oversee programs in a fiscally responsible and ethical manner.

Sports Management

In some online DBA in leadership programs, students might focus their analysis on sport management. Participants might grow their ability to make data-based decisions about sports promotion, events management, sports finance and the economics of sport.

Technology Management

Online PhD and DBA in Technology management programs often emphasize the creation of new business opportunities through technological solutions. Students may learn modern ways to integrate the latest technology into an enterprise.

Take the Next Step with our List of 157 Online Doctoral Programs in Business

Choose one of the above subjects to review partner programs in that category. When you land on the online PhD Business program that could propel your career to the next level, use the on-page form to get started!


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