Study E-Commerce: MBA, PhD & Online Degrees Info

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What will you learn in an e-commerce graduate degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an MBA and PhD degree and potential careers.
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E-Commerce Master's and PhD Degrees at a Glance

The U.S. is the global leader in e-commerce and aside from a small decline in 2008, Internet sales have risen steadily each year, stated the U.S. Department of Commerce. As online shopping continues to grow, so does employment. An MBA in e-commerce prepares you for jobs in the business side of e-commerce, including market analysis, e-business consulting and executive management.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in e-commerce related occupations, such as management analysts, may grow by 22% from 2010-2020. Ph.D. programs prepare you for professor positions, which are projected to grow by 17% in that decade. If your interest is in web design, online sales and marketing or e-commerce management, a graduate degree may not be necessary. In fact, many jobs in e-commerce require only a bachelor's degree.

MBA PhD
Who is this degree for? Bachelor's holders interested in designing e-commerce solutions or advising businesses on Internet sales and marketing strategies Individuals who want to work in academia or consultant positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Internet Marketing Manager ($85,000 - might vary depending on experience)*
- E-commerce Strategy Manager ($110,000 - might vary depending on experience)*
- E-commerce Marketing Analyst ($63,000)*
- Business University Professor ($75,000)**
- Business Consultant ($78,000)**
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-5 years full-time, 4-6 years part-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 48-54 credit hours
- Capstone project/seminar or thesis
- Exit exam
- 42-60 credit hours, depending on prior coursework
- PhD exams
- Dissertation
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in any field; however, foundation courses may be required if individual does not have undergraduate coursework in business and accounting MBA or master's degree in a related field
Online Availability Yes Rare

*Source: *Salary.com (April 2012 stats), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

MBA in E-Commerce

An MBA program with a concentration in e-commerce teaches the business principles of e-commerce, such as accounting, marketing, customer relations and strategy. Many working professionals consider an MBA in e-commerce to enhance their existing skill set and increase opportunities for advancement in their current career. Classes in a traditional MBA program are usually held in the evenings and on weekends. You should expect to spend 1-3 hours per credit hour outside of class each week studying or completing assignments.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You will be more eligible for senior and executive management positions with an MBA
  • E-commerce is a growing sector of the economy and has lots of job growth potential
  • You will acquire skills that are relevant in many industries

Cons

  • A graduate degree is not required for many positions in the e-commerce sector and may not give you a competitive advantage in the job market
  • Salaries in e-commerce occupations are similar for both bachelor's and master's degree holders
  • Since e-commerce programs are typically available as a concentration within an MBA, you have to complete core business classes in addition to e-commerce specific classes
  • In 2009, the cost of an MBA program was somewhat higher than that of other master's degrees ($17,700 vs. $13,500)*

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics

Common Courses and Requirements

MBA programs include coursework in entrepreneurship, marketing and e-commerce strategy. Some programs have students complete a final project, often called the capstone project, or write a final thesis. Other programs require only an exit exam to graduate.

These courses are typical of a MBA in e-commerce:

  • Internet Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Database Management
  • E-business Strategy

Online Degree Options

Online MBA programs are quite common. However, e-commerce is a relatively new field of study and not all MBA programs offer it as an area of concentration. There is no difference between the coursework found in an online and on-campus program. However, depending on the program you choose, you may not be required to complete a thesis.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Completing an MBA in e-commerce gives you a good foundation in both the business and technical aspects of Internet sales and marketing. However, the focus of an MBA is more on business skills. To make yourself stand out from the crowd of job seekers, you should consider learning more about the technology of e-commerce. Learning web design and staying current on any new trends in e-commerce technology can be beneficial.

Degree Alternatives

While e-commerce is a fast growing field with great growth potential, completion of an MBA program limits you to jobs in the business sector of the field. However, if you're interested in the technology used within e-commerce, you can consider completing a master's degree in information technology and management instead. The master's degree program relies heavily on courses in management principles and e-business technology. Careers in information systems management are projected to grow about fast-as-average at 18% from 2010-2020. However, the median wages in the field were $118,000 as of May 2011, stated the BLS.

PhD in E-Commerce

PhD programs in e-commerce are rare. PhD programs in business administration with a concentration in e-commerce are more accessible; however, these programs are still hard to find in most cases. The primary objective of a PhD program is to prepare individuals for careers as professors or academic researchers.

PhD programs delve into advanced research in business, information systems and e-commerce. You have the option to tailor your PhD program to your personal interests through your graduate research and dissertation. The coursework can vary greatly depending on your goals and program. Many doctoral programs offer graduate research and/or teaching assistantships to full-time students. However, access to these assistantships is limited.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Having a PhD carries a certain amount of prestige and authority; graduates are regarded as experts in their field
  • E-commerce is a global field and business consultants can work throughout the U.S. and abroad
  • Nearly all universities in the U.S. offer a business curriculum, which creates a demand for qualified professors

Cons

  • Studying for a PhD is an arduous process, which requires a minimum of 3 years to complete
  • Less growth in the field for professors than management positions (17% vs. 22% from 2010-2020)*
  • There is a lack of online opportunities available at the doctorate level

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Requirements for a PhD in e-commerce most often include 4-6 doctoral seminars in research and theory, along with 20+ hours of coursework, a project and a dissertation. Most of the coursework is completed in the first two years of the program; after which, you will be expected to concentrate on researching and writing your dissertation. Some programs require a teaching component. The final stage of a PhD program is to present and defend your dissertation.

Online Degree Options

Because PhD programs are solely focused on scholarly research and preparation for academia positions, online programs in the field are exceedingly rare. The few programs that are available follow the same basic format as the traditional on-campus PhD. You will complete coursework, qualitative research and a dissertation.

Stand out with this Degree

The best way to gain a competitive advantage in the workplace with a PhD in e-commerce is to stay ahead of the information curve. Keep current on the latest developments in both technology and business by reading industry specific news and journal articles or attending seminars on topics related to e-commerce. As you work toward your degree, write and publish scholarly articles that establish your expertise in this field, especially if you are interested in a career in post-secondary education. Many universities highly favor job candidates whose resumes include a history of published works.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA - Media Management
      • M.A. - Organizational Management: Organizational Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • Master of Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Marketing
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • MBA - Management
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Project Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
      • MBA
      • Master of Science in Business Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    7. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin
      • Master: Management
      • Master of Business Admin - Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Business Administration - Small Business Data Analytics
      • Master of Business Administration - Small Business Information Technology
      • Master of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship
      • Master of Business Administration - General Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Innovation Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • MBA
  • MBA - Media Management
  • M.A. - Organizational Management: Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business

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Herzing University

  • MBA
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
  • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Project Management

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Northcentral University

  • MBA - Marketing
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA

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Grand Canyon University

  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
  • MBA
  • Master of Science in Business Analytics

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American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • Master of Business Admin
  • Master: Management
  • Master of Business Admin - Entrepreneurship

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