Thinking PhD in Business?

Pursuing a doctorate degree in business requires exceptional effort. A doctoral program is a full-time commitment. There typically are not opportunities to earn your PhD on a part-time basis, especially if you want a full, research intensive doctorate degree. Why? It is due to the rigor of the courses, need to work closely with faculty, and obligations doctoral candidates have to teaching. Programs require many hours on campus working close with faculty in your discipline. PhD programs also include extensive coursework, challenging exams, in-depth data collection, research, and analysis, and detailed reporting. The objective of a doctoral program is to challenge you to your intellectual limits, and fully immerse you in a research environment.

Deciding if a PhD is Right for You?

Measure Your Interest in Research and Academia
Business doctoral candidates are inspired by the process of discovery. Most enjoy solving problems and creating correlations between theories and ideas. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself if you are considering a doctorate program in business:

  • Are you interested in research?
  • Do you enjoy learning and innovating?
  • Do you want to teach at a university?
  • Do you wish to consult at a higher level?
  • Are you able to draw conclusions from data?
  • Can you solve complex problems?

If you said yes to one or more of these items, a doctorate degree in business could be a challenge you might want to consider.

Is a Master's Degree Required to Pursue a Doctorate Degree?

In most instances, no. However, if you do not hold a masters you will likely need a bachelor's degree in a related field, a very high grade-point average in your undergraduate coursework, and a high GMAT/GRE score. Therefore, if you are currently an undergraduate student and know you want to pursue a doctorate in business, you may want to explore whether or not a master's degree is required from your list of preferred schools.

Typical Life of a PhD Student

So, what is a typical day like for a business PhD student? AACSB interviewed Mikael Bergrant, a doctoral student in finance at the University of South Florida (USA) and here is what he had to say:

What is the hardest thing about being a PhD student?
I really enjoy being a PhD student. However, the hardest part is to balance being a Ph.D. student with other aspects of life. PhD studies require a lot of time and dedication, which often makes having a social life (outside of school) hard or impossible.

How many hours do you spend reading or collecting data per day?
Before starting a new paper, it is important to read all relevant literature and make sure that the idea is in fact unique. Depending on the idea (and the area of research) this can take several weeks. After it has been confirmed that there is a gap in the literature (and your idea is unique) the data collection process can take anywhere from a few days to several months. I am currently working on a paper for which I have collected data over more than two months. It is difficult to generalize, but on average I might spend four hours a day reading and four hours a day collecting data (not including the time spent on data analysis).

What is the toughest class you have taken? Why?
I have enjoyed almost all classes I have taken. The toughest classes are probably those in which I am only moderately interested. Not pointing out any specific class, I would say that all of them have been in areas outside of my focus (finance).

As far as your teaching obligations, how many students do you teach? And, what subjects?
I currently teach approximately 60 students in a class titled "Money and Banking."

On average, how many hours a day would you say you spend devoted to your PhD program between teaching, research, class attendance, etc.?
That's a very good question. On average, I would say about 12 hours per day.

What are your plans for after graduation?
To get a job as an assistant professor at a major research university.