Success in the business world for those with a bachelor’s degree can bring about a desire for more concentrated study. The Master of Business in Administration is the next logical step in higher education for people working in the corporate world with an eye toward advancement. In the 1950s and 1960s a new form of post-graduate education emerged for corporate workers: the doctorate in Business Management. So how do you know whether to pursue an MBA or a Ph.D. in Business Management?
Why Not Stop at an MBA?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the educational requirements for management analysts and corporate leaders include the MBA, though there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. Stories in Forbes, Time, Smart Money, Newsweek, the Economist and other major publications tout extraordinary business leaders who lack even a bachelor’s degree (and sometimes a high school diploma!). About 26 percent of all workers in business management are self-employed, notes the BLS, so graduate education of any sort can help propel a highly-motivated, business-oriented worker into a challenging and rewarding career.
Why do some workers go for the Ph.D. in management, then?
Benefits of a Ph.D. in Business Management
The Ph.D. in Business Management is, like all doctorates, a research degree. The Master of Business Administration degree, on the other hand, is a more vocational degree, with practical, hands-on education that prepares workers for real-world management situations. Studying for a Ph.D. in Business Management involves examining theory as applied to business, management, finance, accounting, and other similar fields. For students wishing to teach at the college level, the MBA can be useful for part-time, adjunct positions. For a full-time, tenure track position and a long-term career in academia, students benefit most from a Ph.D. in Business Management.
Doctorate holders don’t have to worry about being excluded from the corporate world, however. A Ph.D. in Business Management does not make the corporate world out of reach. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Academia or Corporations: Why the Management Ph.D. Works
According to Salary.com, the median salary for professors of business administration is $100,626. Workers with MBAs from top schools can earn three, four, ten, or more times this figure, so love of money generally does not compel people to get the Ph.D. in Business Management and join the academic world.
On the other hand, many management doctorate holders consult for private industry, with or without an academic job. In many cases corporate workers or entrepreneurs do both the MBA and the management Ph.D., a killer combination that can be in hot demand for certain fields, such as education, government consulting, or finance.
The benefits of a Ph.D. in Business Management are, as with so many other decisions in the business world, highly dependent on the individual and context. Regardless of the reason for getting an MBA vs. a Ph.D., understanding how to leverage both to get the career you want is critical in today’s highly-competitive job market.