The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

TBS Staff Writers
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Updated October 25, 2023
Doctoral degrees in management prepare students for careers in organizational leadership and leads to several high-profile career paths.

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Earning a Doctorate in Management

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.

Featured Online Doctorate in Management Degrees

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The Best Online Doctorate in Management Degree Programs

#1 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

Creighton University

  • Location-markerOmaha, NE
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$39,630
  • Out-of-state$39,630
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled8,821
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment38%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

University of Dallas

  • Location-markerIrving, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$39,680
  • Out-of-state$39,680
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate45%
  • Students Enrolled2,481
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment24%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

California Baptist University

  • Location-markerRiverside, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,942
  • Out-of-state$32,942
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled11,045
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment55%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

Concordia University Chicago

  • Location-markerRiver Forest, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$31,926
  • Out-of-state$31,926
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate75%
  • Students Enrolled6,205
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment68%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

Wayland Baptist University

  • Location-markerPlainview, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$21,360
  • Out-of-state$21,360
  • Retention Rate41%
  • Acceptance Rate97%
  • Students Enrolled4,084
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment61%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Location-markerAdelphi, MD
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,200
  • Out-of-state$11,976
  • Retention Rate52%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled58,281
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment90%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

Franklin University

  • Location-markerColumbus, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,552
  • Out-of-state$9,552
  • Retention Rate47%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled6,031
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment80%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

Lincoln Memorial University

  • Location-markerHarrogate, TN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$22,200
  • Out-of-state$22,200
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate50%
  • Students Enrolled4,867
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment10%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

Felician University

  • Location-markerLodi, NJ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,550
  • Out-of-state$32,550
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate86%
  • Students Enrolled2,262
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 The Best Online Doctorate in Management Programs

Saybrook University

  • Location-markerPasadena, CA
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled688
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes

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

  • Management Theory: This course explores various strategies for effective organizational leadership, creating the ability to recognize and solve problems, identify oneself as a leader, and manage personnel in the face of ambiguity and adversity. The curriculum provides students with a well-rounded understanding of management theory through exposure to traditional and contemporary writings and approaches.
  • Mechanics of Individual and Group Decision Making: Decision-making models and practices are crucial for organizational success. This course introduces students to different approaches toward individual and group decisions and the various ways these approaches affect both organizational leadership and society as a whole.
  • Ethics and Leadership in a Global Environment: Many management practitioners work in international business, and cultural intelligence enables these professionals to create a respectful, ethical environment for all employees. This course discusses theories and practices related to ethics, as well as guidelines for ethical decision making and how leaders fit into global business.
  • Organization Innovation and Scenario Thinking: Here, students learn through scenario building. This management technique involves creating stories based on analysis of practical situations and other techniques that foster innovation at the organizational level. Students develop future business plans based on predictive analysis and study innovation models and dissemination methods
  • Leadership, Influence, and Power: This course focuses on the complex ― and at times, problematic ― relationship between these three factors. Students analyze and research past and present leaders in order to understand character and personality traits often used in conjunction with leadership. They also examine tactics and tools that people use to exert influence over others.

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 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 $2,083 ― $420 per week more than master’s holders and more than $650 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: $100,090
    • Projected Growth Rate: 3%
  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: $147,247
  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: $155,616
  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: $100,090
    • Projected Growth Rate: 3%
  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: $80,840
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%

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 $246,440, but these employees earn at least $279,000 per year in 11 states. The top five states for chief executives in terms of mean annual wage appear in the table below.

Top States for Chief Executives

StateEmployeesEmployment (per 1,000 jobs)Mean Annual Wage
New Jersey1,2000.29$414,350
South Dakota4601.05$334,240
New York4,9100.54$324,370
North Carolina1,6800.36$322,120
Texas5,1500.40$314,060

Sources: BLS

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.

  • American Management Association: The AMA offers training seminars in two dozen subjects related to management, including communication skills, finance and accounting, project management, and strategic planning. The association is also home to the Women’s Leadership Center that helps ensure achievement and job satisfaction among female organizational leaders.
  • Executive Leadership Council: Founded in 1986, the ELC trains and empowers African American organizational leaders. The council’s C-Suite Academy offers leadership development, networking opportunities, and executive coaching for ‘high potential senior executives.’ The ELC also offers sponsorship for executives and managers at different professional levels.
  • American Society of Association Executives: The ASAE offers the Certified Association Executive credential to executives of nonprofit organizations or association management companies with at least 10 years of paid work experience. The ASAE also offers several leadership development opportunities, including the Diversity Executive Leadership Program and the Women Executives Forum.

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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. 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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Featured Image Credit: SrdjanPav | E+ | Getty Images

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