The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

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Doctoral degrees in management prepare students for careers in organizational leadership. Students who wish to pursue a management doctorate can choose from two specific degrees. The doctor of philosophy, or Ph.D., is a research-oriented degree geared toward learners who plan to work in academia. A doctor of management, on the other hand, focuses more on practical competencies and benefits those seeking advanced management roles. Rather than attending courses on-campus, students may prefer to earn a doctorate of management online.

The doctor of management leads to several high-profile career paths. Certain top executive roles, such as chief operating officers, typically hold an advanced degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also notes that a Ph.D. may be required for top executives in education management, such as college presidents and school superintendents. Additionally, postsecondary teachers who lead management courses at four-year colleges and universities may need a doctoral degree in their field of instruction. Based on BLS data, top executives and postsecondary teachers each earn median annual salaries at more than twice the national average.

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The Best Online Doctorate in Management Degree Programs

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Concordia University - Chicago 

River Forest, IL

About this school

Concordia-Chicago's online doctorate in business administration emphasizes communication, ethics, critical thinking, entrepreneurship, and global interconnectedness. The program combines theoretical studies with practical applications, which prepare students for professional leadership roles.

Unlike other online Ph.D. in management and business programs, students in Concordia-Chicago's program begin work on their dissertations right after selecting a topic of focus. The program requires 60 credits and is available fully online. Full-time students typically graduate in three years.

Applicants must have a master's degree and at least a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a personal statement, official college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores.

Wayland Baptist University 

Plainview, TX

About this school

Based in Plainview, Texas, Wayland Baptist University offers a Doctor of Management online program that trains students to use theory and research techniques to address and solve complex problems within businesses, organizations, universities, and government agencies. Many program graduates become college professors, C-suite executives, and public officials.

The 60-credit program culminates in a comprehensive exam and a final research project. Students present the research project to a committee, which evaluates the project and determines whether to award credit. The curriculum covers topics including organizational behaviors, employee and labor relations, international business, contemporary leadership practices, and human resource management.

Applicants must submit GRE or GMAT scores, a resume, three professional recommendations, and a personal essay. Applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution and must provide official transcripts.

University of Maryland - University College 

Adelphi, MD

About this school

Based in Adelphi, UMUC offers a doctor of management online program with a global perspective on organizational leadership, sustainability, strategic thinking, and change management. The program prepares students to find ethical solutions to complex problems, examine business intelligence environments, and use research to make sound business decisions.

Students earning the 48-credit doctorate of management online take courses in data analytics, evidence-based research methods, and management theory. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of state residency.

Applicants must submit a resume, a personal essay, and at least two letters of recommendation. Applicants must have a master's degree from an accredited institution and must submit official transcripts. Students must earn a grade of B or better in foundations of doctoral study.

University of Maryland University College is regionally accredited by the the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Franklin University 

Columbus, OH

About this school

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin University offers a doctor of business administration that emphasizes trends, technologies, and changing consumer expectations affecting the business world. The three-year online Ph.D. in management and business provides an in-depth understanding of the impact of economics, regulation, diversity, and politics on global markets.

The program features a “no-fear" dissertation process, which breaks the large project into manageable parts. Students begin their dissertations upon entering the program and receive consistent guidance from faculty. Each student's dissertation addresses a problem, proposes a solution, and tests one or more hypotheses.

Applicants must have a master's degree from an accredited college or university and must have completed at least 30 hours of business-related coursework. Applicants with a master's GPA of at least 3.0 do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.

Lincoln Memorial University 

Harrogate, TN

About this school

Focused on improving the leadership skills of Appalachia's business professionals, LMU offers a doctor of business administration with a concentration in management. The program trains students on strategies, policies, and technologies that lead to success in the rapidly changing global business environment. The program requires 57 credit hours and includes a combination of online, hybrid, and in-person courses.

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, college transcripts, a resume, and a writing sample. Applicants undergo an entrance interview to determine their fitness for advanced business studies. MBA holders may waive up to 12 foundation courses, reducing program requirements to 45 credit hours. Tennessee residents and non-residents pay the same tuition rate.

Felician University 

Lodi, NJ

About this school

Located in Rutherford, New Jersey, Felician University offers a doctor of business administration. The program is fully online, with the exception of a short-term residency. A four-phase program design prepares future leaders and communicators; the first three phases involve foundational courses, core projects, and a demonstration of concept mastery.

The fourth phase of the online Ph.D. in management and business program comprises four courses during which students complete dissertations using sound methodology, research design, and data analysis. Students receive guidance from faculty throughout the dissertation process. Most students complete the self-paced online Ph.D. in management and business in three years.

Applicants must hold an MBA and must submit official transcripts, a resume, and a personal essay.

Saybrook University 

Oakland, CA

About this school

Located in Oakland, California, Saybrook University offers a Ph.D. in managing organizational systems with a concentration in collaborative strategic management. The program is ideal for students who want to drive systemwide change within businesses, nonprofits, and public agencies.

Students earning the Ph.D. in management online complete 65 credits, including nine foundation courses in areas including organizational behaviors, leadership, and professional ethics. Students take five management-related electives. Most students take three courses per semester and graduate within three years. The program is available fully online, with the exception of two annual residential conferences, each lasting five days.

Applicants to the doctor of management online program must hold a master's degree from an accredited college or university. Saybrook does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Accepted students can begin coursework in January or August.

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What Else Can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Management Program?

All online Ph.D. in management and doctor of management programs differ. Students should carefully research their options to determine which institution and degree paths best meet their educational and professional needs.

Curriculum for an Online Doctorate in Management

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Doctorate Degree in Management?

Although the length of an online doctorate in management varies by institution, U.S. News & World Report estimates that most consist of up to 60 credits. Students usually complete their doctoral program in four or five years, although some institutions allow up to eight years of study prior to graduation. Cohort-based programs ― student groups that take courses and complete milestones at the same pace ― typically have a set duration, while individual-based programs depend on the student's progress.

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Accreditation for Online Doctorate in Management Degrees

Accreditation refers to an evaluation that colleges and universities undergo to demonstrate standards of quality education. Most employers prefer to hire candidates with degrees from accredited institutions. Other colleges and universities also use accreditation status to determine whether a student's previous coursework qualifies for transfer credits. Additionally, students who wish to qualify for federal student aid must attend schools with nationally recognized accreditors.

Colleges and universities may receive one of three types of accreditation. Regional accreditation is normally reserved for academic, not-for-profit, and state universities. On the other hand, for-profit and vocational schools generally receive national accreditation. Students should note the differences between regional and national accreditation, as many regionally accredited institutions will not accept credits from schools that are nationally accredited. Lastly, specialized or programmatic accreditation is granted to specific degree programs or sub-colleges dedicated to certain fields, such as law, medicine, and education.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversees accrediting agencies recognized by 'professional and state licensing authorities' without federal recognition. These include 60 regional, national, and programmatic accrediting organizations, as well as roughly 3,000 degree-granting postsecondary institutions. CHEA reviews accredited institutions every 3-10 years, and evaluates them based on a review process that takes key principles like quality assurance, advocacy, and inclusion into account. The U.S. Department of Education oversees federally recognized accrediting organizations and maintains a list of active and inactive regional, national, and specialized accreditation providers.

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Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Management Graduates

Doctorate in Management Careers

Because online doctorate in management programs emphasize topics like organizational behavior and ethical leadership, these programs prepare students for various careers in business and education. Although a doctoral degree may not be explicitly required for some of these roles, the BLS notes that doctorate holders in the U.S. earn a median weekly salary of $1,743 ― $300 per week more than master's holders and more than $550 per week than bachelor's degree holders.

  1. Chief Executive Officer: Chief executive officers, or CEOs, direct their entire organization in terms of operations, policies, and human resources. They routinely meet with other top executives, including the chief operating officer that serves as their second-in-command. CEOs must also report to their organization's board of directors. Many CEOs have an advanced degree related to business with extensive managerial experience.
    • Median Annual Salary: $164,867
    • Projected Growth Rate: -4%
  2. Chief Operating Officer: Chief operating officers, or COOs, oversee day-to-day operations for their entire organization. They work with other executives to implement policies and set goals. COOs then follow up with divisional managers and other mid-level personnel to meet company standards. They also help streamline operations by evaluating factors like expenses and efficiency. Most COOs hold graduate degrees in management or similar fields.
    • Median Annual Salary: $138,307
    • Projected Growth Rate: -4%
  3. College President: A college president manages a wide range of duties and responsibilities pertaining to his or her postsecondary institution. These include supervising the faculty and staff, reaching out to local community members for support, staffing and recruitment, and creating budgets.
    • Median Annual Salary: $151,710
    • Projected Growth Rate: -4%
  4. School Superintendent: A school superintendent works as the chief executive officer of their school district, which usually comprises multiple learning centers and grade levels. They oversee student achievement, budgeting and resource management, and day-to-day operations. They must also communicate on a regular basis with government agencies that oversee the district, including local stakeholders. Superintendents must hold a master's degree, though some employers prefer to hire those with a Ph.D.
    • Median Annual Salary: $114,987
    • Projected Growth Rate: -4%
  5. Postsecondary Teacher: A postsecondary teacher instructs academic and/or vocational courses that extend beyond high school. In addition to teaching duties, many postsecondary teachers have a hand in curriculum development, and also research and publish original papers. Most four-year colleges and universities require postsecondary teachers to hold a doctoral degree in their field of instruction, making a doctorate in management suitable for those who plan to teach college-level management courses.
    • Median Annual Salary: $87,546
    • Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Doctorate in Management Salary

The title of chief executive ― which encompasses CEOs, COOs, college presidents, and superintendents ― brings above-average earnings across the country. However, some states offer significantly higher annual salaries than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for chief executives nationwide is $196,050, but these employees earn at least $215,000 per year in 12 states. The top five states for chief executives in terms of mean annual wage appear in the table below.

Top States for Chief Executives, Mean Annual Wage (May 2017)
State Number of Employees Employment (per 1,000 jobs) Mean Hourly Wage Mean Annual Wage
South Dakota 520 1.23 $115.80 $240,870
District of Columbia 2,140 3.12 $113.47 $236,010
Rhode Island 350 0.73 $113.09 $236,010
Texas 4,670 0.39 $112.16 $233,300
New Jersey 640 0.16 $111.00 $230,870

Management Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization can help connect you to job openings and advanced learning opportunities. Through conferences, career services, and various programs, management professionals can network with others in their field, which can often lead to mentorship and future career references.

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Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Management

A Ph.D. in management online program represents a significant financial investment for most prospective students. According to U.S. News & World Report, most of these degree programs carry a total cost of $20,000-$51,000, depending on the institution. In order to alleviate these high costs, many students turn to financial aid in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships.

Those earning a doctorate in management can choose from multiple federal student loan options. In order to qualify for any form of federal student aid, candidates must complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This online form uses the applicant's financial history and current income to determine qualifying amount.

In addition to student loans, those seeking a doctorate in management may qualify for grants and scholarships. Unlike loans, most grants and scholarships do not need to be repaid. Students may find these opportunities through their higher education institution, public and private companies, nonprofit foundations, religious groups, and other non-academic organizations.

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