General Management Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Training Info

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Master's degrees and PhDs in management can lead to careers in business and academia. Get the truth about requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Study General Management: Degrees at a Glance

A master's degree program in general management is typically meant for individuals who are interested in actively working in the world of business in positions such as manager, executive and analyst. A PhD program would be designed for an individual who is planning to go into academic or research-based work.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, from 2010-2020, top executives were expected to see a seven percent increase in employment. For that same time period, market research analysts were expected to see a 41% increase in employment, financial managers were expected to see a nine percent increase in employment, and human resource managers were expected to see a 13% increase. Also according to the BLS, postsecondary teachers were expected to see a 17% increase in employment from 2010-2020.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? A business professional seeking a management position or advancement in a current career An individual interested in academics or research
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Market research analyst ($67,000)*
- Chief executives ($177,000)*
- Postsecondary teacher of business ($87,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years (accelerated or full-time) 3-5 years
Common Graduation Requirements - Core business courses
- Management coursework, possible management concentration
- Management coursework
- Written and oral examinations
- Dissertation
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree Bachelor's or master's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011

Master's Degree in General Management

Master's degree programs in this field may be offered as Master of Science or Master of Business Administration (MBA) options, and may be offered in either management studies or general management programs. Both types of programs can contain a core of business courses in addition to a set of management courses. Additionally, an MBA program can be offered in many different ways, including in combination with another program, as a global option, as an executive option or as an accelerated option.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Chief executives, who typically hold MBA degrees, earn one of the highest mean annual salaries of all occupations nationally*
  • You can complete a master's degree in management in one of many specialized formats
  • A master's degree is preferred or required for a wide variety of management positions

Cons

  • You may be in competition with bachelor's degree holders or managers with more experience in the field
  • Top executives are expected to see a slower-than-average job growth from 2010-2020*
  • A general management program may not be as useful as a degree in a specific field of management, like financial or human resources management

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Course Topics

A master's degree program in management will commonly include a core of business courses, as well as management courses and research courses. In some cases, management courses are available as elective options, and in others they are available as concentration tracks. Some programs in management will offer more specific management specializations, allowing for coursework in a particular area of management. Some common courses could include:

  • Organizational behavior
  • Human resource management
  • Information systems
  • Marketing management
  • Labor relations
  • Business law

Online Degree Options

Online programs in general management are most commonly available as MBA options. These programs may be available both through for-profit and non-profit universities, and may be best suited to individuals who are currently employed in the business world and who are trying to further their education while working. An online program typically offers a flexible schedule, and may also offer concentration options in the field of management. Like on-campus programs, online programs may also include basic business concepts in fields like marketing and organizational behavior.

Stand Out with this Degree

While the field of general management is intentionally broad, you may benefit from using elective coursework or specialization tracks to study one particular field of management, such as finance or marketing management, in order to be better prepared for a specific field. Similarly, gaining work experience in the field in which you plan to work could be preferred by employers, so some form of employment while you complete a master's degree program could be useful.

Additionally, multiple certification opportunities exist for aspiring business managers. Voluntary certification can be obtained through a variety of organizations, such as the Society for Human Resource Management, Institute of Certified Professional Managers, Marketing Research Association, and the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute. Some of these certifications may require work experience as well as education.

Degree Alternatives

Rather than earning a degree in just general management, you may consider earning a master's degree in another field of business, such as finance, marketing, supply chain management or accounting. As with general management degrees, these options may be available in M.S. degrees or MBA formats. Additionally, you may be interested in studying the field of management information systems in one of these two formats. A master's degree in this field can prepare you for work as a computer or information systems manager, who run computer operations within a business and are expected to see an 18% in employment growth from 2010-2020, according to the BLS. Additionally, the BLS reported that these professionals earned a mean annual salary of about $126,000 as of May 2011.

PhD Degree in General Management

Doctoral degree programs in general management are not typically designed for individuals who intend to pursue or continue a career working hands-on in the field. Instead, PhD holders would go on to work in business research or academics, such as teaching business courses at a university. Alongside coursework, PhD students typically dedicate much of their time to research efforts in a particular area of management, which will result in a dissertation. The doctoral dissertation must be presented and defended for successful completion of the program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A PhD is typically mandatory to become a professor at a university
  • A PhD program will allow you to study certain areas of management more in-depth, and will allow you to research an area of your choosing
  • Specialization options are extremely varied

Cons

  • A PhD holder will not be qualified for better-paying jobs than a bachelor's or master's degree holder
  • Postsecondary teachers may need to work nights and weekends
  • Outside factors may affect employment growth in this field, such as government budget issues

Common Course Requirements

Traditional coursework is less important at the doctoral level than at the bachelor's or master's level. While these programs commonly include some basic course requirements that are designed to help students develop their dissertation, independent study and research commonly dictate the area of study that a student will focus on. Additionally, seminars in management subjects are typically required for doctoral students. Some coursework may include:

  • Research methods
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Organizational management
  • Statistics
  • Leadership

Online Degree Options

Online PhD programs in management are available, but they are most commonly offered at private, for-profit universities. These programs may offer more coursework than a traditional doctoral program, and may offer specific specialization options. In order to better complete your doctoral dissertation, online programs may offer in-person learning opportunities, such as retreats, to gain face-to-face guidance in your research and composition. An online program may allow you to increase the flexibility of your academic schedule, which can be useful if you're currently employed or have personal obligations.

Stand Out with this Degree

Because universities and other postsecondary institutions may prefer to hire professors with some experience, a teaching assistantship while enrolled in your doctoral program may be useful to you both in financial assistance and in gaining hands-on experience. Additionally, aspiring research professionals may benefit from research assistantships, which will offer experience in that field. Generating publishable work in your area of specialization may also prove to future employers that you are dedicated to your field of study and that you are knowledgeable in it.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Project Management
      • Master: Management - Project Management
      • Master: Management
      • Master of Business Admin - Entrepreneurship
      • M.S. - Management: Organization Leadership and Change
      • Master of Business Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Operations Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Project Management
      • Master: Management/Project Mgmt
      • M.S. in Management
      • Master : Business Admin
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • MSM in Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
      • MBA and MS in Leadership (Dual Degree)
      • MBA: Leadership
      • MS in Leadership
      • MBA
      • Master of Science in Business Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Project Management
      • MS - Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • Master of International Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
      • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MA in Public Management
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
      • Master of Science in Research Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Project Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Management
      • MSTIM - IT Project Management
      • MBA - Management
      • MBA - Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project/Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    10. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing

Featured Schools

Colorado Technical University

  • MBA: Project Management
  • Master: Management - Project Management
  • Master: Management

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American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Operations Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Project Management

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Kaplan University

  • MBA: Project Management
  • Master: Management/Project Mgmt
  • M.S. in Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
  • MBA and MS in Leadership (Dual Degree)
  • MBA: Leadership

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Colorado State University Global

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

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American University

  • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
  • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation

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Johns Hopkins University

  • MA in Public Management
  • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Master of Science in Research Administration

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Northcentral University

  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Project Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Management

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