eBusiness Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Training Info

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What will you learn in an e-business graduate degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a master's and a Ph.D. and potential careers.
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Studying E-business: Degrees at a Glance

There are not many graduate degree programs strictly in e-business. Most graduate degrees are in business or business administration and usually offer concentrations or specializations in fields such as electronic business or electronic commerce. While a Ph.D. is a great accomplishment, a master's degree is usually enough to qualify for most e-business careers in management, marketing or technology.

For the most part, you can expect these graduate degree programs to have an interdisciplinary design. Most programs blend business management and marketing strategies with an understanding of online technology tools. In some ways, e-business is still a new field of study. Since e-business changes frequently, especially with technology upgrades, you may want to choose degree programs that strive to stay current with industry trends.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? Professionals who want to learn more about conducting business online People want to conduct advanced research about online business or become postsecondary professors
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Sales manager ($102,000)*
- E-commerce marketing analyst ($63,000)**
- Information technology manager ($118,000)*
- Internet marketing manager ($88,000)*
- Internet security analyst ($78,000)*
- Business consultant (no available data)
- Postsecondary business professor ($75,000)*
Time to Completion 2-3 years full-time after completion of a bachelor's program 3-6 years full-time after finishing a bachelor's program
Common Graduation Requirements - Around 30-54 units of graduate courses
- Final research project
- Master's exams
- Completion of core business and e-commerce courses
- Ph.D. competency exams
- Dissertation
- Meeting research or teaching requirements
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree in a related field
- Work experience in business
- Bachelor's degree in business or a related field
Online Availability A few hybrid programs are available None at this time

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com figures (as of 2012).

Master's Degree in E-business

Most Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs with concentrations related to e-business will require you to complete technology and business courses. Many programs have a very structured curriculum, requiring students to complete a set amount of courses, internships and field work projects. Some programs may not offer formal classes; rather, these programs may assign you to a group to work on realistic business projects every few weeks.

The majority of programs are designed to teach you about making practical decisions to solve real-world business problems. You'll gain a better understanding of the global marketplace, especially in terms of online marketing platforms. Most programs also teach you about maintaining online data systems, implementing security protocols and designing virtual business locations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many e-business employers prefer to hire applicants who have an MBA
  • May qualify you for some teaching positions at community colleges*
  • Many of the employment options you'd have with a master's degree are in growing career fields (market research analysts were projected to see a 41% increase in jobs from 2010-2020, and information security analysts were expected to experience a 22% employment increase during that decade)*

Cons

  • Usually takes 5-7 years to complete a bachelor's degree and a master's degree
  • Some programs require students to have several years of business experience before they're considered for admission
  • Does not prepare you for university teaching positions

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

In most cases, you'll have to complete all of the core requirements of an MBA program, in addition to completing the e-business specialization courses. Core courses in MBA programs often include accounting, management, organizational behavior, marketing and business communications. Several programs may include more technical training, such as courses in computer programming, data mining, service providers and search engine optimization strategies. To graduate, you may also have to conduct field studies, write research papers or pass comprehensive exams, but the specific requirements vary between schools. Some common e-business courses you may take include:

  • E-business design and development
  • Supply chain management
  • Internet promotions
  • Online entrepreneurship
  • Internet security

Online Degree Options

Many MBA programs try to incorporate a collaborative team environment, which usually means that you have to attend classes in person. However, some schools offer hybrid options that consist of some in-person instruction combined with some online learning. Due to the nature of the e-business concentration area, several assignments may be completed online so that you gain a realistic experience with electronic commerce. Some programs may allow you to take your core courses at the campus and the e-business concentration courses in a strictly online format for maximum exposure to online environments.

Stand Out with This Degree

While you're learning about e-business strategies, you can stand out with this degree by completing a technology-related certification program. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many Web developers have earned certifications in computer languages. You can also earn certification in fields such as Internet business, Web design, internet security and e-commerce.

One popular credential includes the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation. CISSP exam questions cover a variety of areas, such as network security, operations security, legal concerns and software development security. While earning the CISSP credential may impress employers, you should know that the eligibility requirements to take this exam include at least five years of experience in the security industry. Each certification has different requirements and is designed for a particular career path, so you should check out which certifications could benefit your career goals the most before pursuing one.

Ph.D. in E-business

Several Ph.D. programs in business administration or operations and information management offer degree specializations related to e-commerce. Most Ph.D. business programs structure the curriculum to include a lot of business research training. This training may prepare you to become a research and development director, business consultant, university professor or government researcher. Some graduates may prefer to continue their research while also teaching at postsecondary institutions.

You'll usually need to have taken either the GMAT or GRE to qualify for admission to a Ph.D. program. During your studies, you may be able to get financial aid by teaching or assisting a professor with research. You could be in charge of teaching an undergraduate course all by yourself, or you might just help a professor teach his/her course.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Qualifies you to teach at the university level
  • Can develop a dissertation topic that focuses on your particular interests in e-commerce
  • Schools usually train you with top-of-the-line business technology

Cons

  • Usually takes 7-10 years to earn a bachelor's degree plus a Ph.D. in this field
  • Does not qualify you for many positions outside of teaching or researching
  • Competition for tenure-track professor positions is highly competitive*
  • May face competition for admission to this type of program

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

The majority of Ph.D. programs in business are designed so that students are able to teach lower-level business courses. You'll learn how to interpret research results and be able to evaluate scholarly sources. Most Ph.D. programs have some core business courses that you'll need to take, which may include statistical methods, ethics and research methods. You'll usually take e-business courses in consumer studies, operations management, e-commerce marketing, e-commerce on mobile devices and Website promotion.

Other common Ph.D. requirements include passing competency exams and completing a dissertation. Dissertations in this field often include designing research projects that examine different aspects of e-business. For example, a dissertation research project could compare how different businesses utilize e-commerce technology. Most universities will require you to spend the minimum of one year working on your dissertation, but it may take longer to complete the project.

Online Course Info

There are very few Ph.D. programs that offer a concentration in e-business or e-commerce, and almost none of these programs appear to be offered completely online. Since most of the courses involve working in online environments, you'll most likely complete some of your projects on the Internet, but not the entire program. However, if you do come across a Ph.D. program that claims to be administered completely online, make sure you find out if it is accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation before enrolling.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you want to become a postsecondary professor, you can get ahead by taking advantage of any teaching opportunities in the program. Most universities require Ph.D. candidates to teach a minimum number of units, so completing the necessary amount of teaching units will allow you to gain teaching experience.

Another way to get ahead includes participating in as many research projects as possible. If you do a good job as a research assistant, research directors may be willing to help you find a permanent position by writing you a letter of recommendation or connecting you with hiring managers. The experience you gain from these projects also looks good on your resume, regardless if you're hoping to become a researcher or a teacher.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Marketing
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Management
      • PhD-TIM - IT Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Project Management
      • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)
      • Doctorate: Management - Organizational Development and Change
  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

  • Cambridge, MA

    Harvard University

  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Durham, NC

    Duke University

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Marketing
  • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship

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Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Project Management
  • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)
  • Doctorate: Management - Organizational Development and Change

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