Study Management: Doctorate, Master's & Online Degree Info

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Master's and doctorate degrees in management can lead to a variety of careers opportunities in business, finance and human resources, among others. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your master's degree or doctorate.
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Management Master's and Doctorate: Degrees at a Glance

Since managers are found in virtually every organization and business, there are endless possibilities for employment. Managers work in nearly every industry in the private-sector, government and nonprofit organizations. Salaries and job growth vary widely depending on industry and career level. The middle half of general managers earned between $65,000 and $145,000 in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From 2010 to 2020, the BLS projects that certain management occupations will grow at a fast rate (for example, medical and health management at 22%), while other positions will remain flat (human resources management at 13%) or slower than average (architecture/engineering management and financial management at 9% each).

Employers often look for applicants with relevant work experience, so graduates who possess a combination of academic and professional proficiency are best poised for success.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? - Students with professional work experience who want to develop or enhance their leadership skills
- Professionals who are new to management or seeking a career change
- People who want to work in academia
- Master's or bachelor degree holders, particularly those with a background or interest in business, management, and research
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - General managers ($115,000)*
- Medical and health services managers ($96,000)*
- Management analysts ($88,000)*
-Human resources managers ($109,000)*
Postsecondary business professors ($87,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years (full-time) 4-5 years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Completion of coursework (roughly 30-40 credits)
- Completion of internship/capstone project
- Completion of course requirements (varies)
- PhD qualifier exams
- Research, write and defend dissertation
- Complete research projects, as applicable
Prerequisites - Official transcripts from an accredited bachelor's degree program in a related or unrelated field
- Several years of work experience
- MAT, GRE or GMAT scores
- Application essay/personal statement/interview
-Official transcripts from an accredited master's or bachelor degree program
- Several years of work experience
- MAT, GRE or GMAT scores
- Knowledge of the core issues and topics in management
Online Availability Yes None at this time

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures).

Master's in Management

Master's degrees in management help students prepare for careers focused on the planning, coordination and oversight of services and resources. At this level, you can choose from several degree options, including the Master of Science in Management (MSM), Master of Science in Management and Leadership (MSML) and Master of Business Administration (MBA).

MBA programs tend to focus on the practical operations and administration aspects of managing a business or organization, while MSM and MSML programs take a more theoretical approach. As a result, different coursework and admissions requirements may apply to MBA and MSM or MSML programs. In some programs, you can choose concentration areas, such as finance, leadership, managing organizational change or business strategy. In an MBA program, you may also be able to pursue an internship for credit or earn a dual MBA/Master of Science in areas like finance, accounting or international business.

Pros and Cons


  • In management master's programs, class sizes are usually small so that students can learn, interact, and network with expert faculty members and other students.
  • Managers handle a lot of responsibility, and in return, can receive good pay.*
  • Many business schools (which house management programs) offer graduates career resources, including job fairs, personal support during the job search process, resume assistance and help developing partnerships with local employers.
  • Most master's degree programs offer flexible programs of study, including weekend courses, online options or part-time study.


  • Slower-than-average growth is expected for top executive positions from 2010-2020*
  • Students that depart the workforce to obtain a degree may have a harder time reentering the job market upon graduation.
  • You may need substantial work experience to find a job in a competitive market.*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses and Requirements

Students in management master's degree programs can expect to study foundational business and management courses, including:

  • Conflict management
  • Data analysis
  • Organizational theory
  • Business ethics
  • Decision making
  • Financial management
  • Project management

You'll also choose elective courses in your chosen area of specialization, if available, or you can choose free electives from upper-level business courses. In addition to coursework, you can also expect to complete a thesis or participate in a capstone project where you'll apply your acquired skills into comprehensive research or a practical project within a real-world organizational setting.

Online Degree Options

Because management master's programs generally cater to working professionals, programs are available in a wide variety of formats, including fully online. Some programs allow students to combine traditional on-campus classes with online classes. These programs provide the same education and level of professionalism as full-time on-campus programs. At some schools, you may be expected to take part in immersion weekends in person.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

To stand out among other students, you might consider acquiring knowledge of technological innovations that can help you succeed in business. For example, if you are interested in financial management, enroll in courses that teach you how to use financial analytic software programs. Another option is to attend seminars where you can learn about the latest business and technology trends.

Additionally, you can seek a voluntary certification that showcases your niche skills. Nationally-recognized professional organizations may provide their own certifications or point workers to respected certifying agencies in their field. For example, the CFA Institute provides a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to financial managers, while the Society for Human Resource Management provides a variety of training tools to help you prepare for certification through the HR Certification Institute.

Doctorate in Management

Management doctoral programs are designed to produce academic researchers and faculty who teach at business schools. These programs draw dedicated, methodical, innovative and analytical candidates who wish to study management theories and develop empirical research. Doctoral candidates are usually expected to engage in research projects throughout their studies.

A doctorate is often required to work in academia. Outside academia, it may provide a significant edge if you want to become a subject matter expert in your field; however, consider that you may be over-educated for some positions because most management and business careers require bachelor's- or master's-level education.

Pros and Cons


  • Most college-level teaching jobs require a doctorate.*
  • Opportunities to present your original research at conferences or have research published in academic journals.
  • Doctorate programs may have available funding for research projects and conference/seminar travel.


  • If you choose to pursue an academic career path, you may face uncertain job security. Typically, only tenured positions, which are very competitive, are considered secure.*
  • Outside of academia, bachelor's and master's degrees are the academic standards in this field, and you may not reap the salary or advancement opportunities you desire after putting in the time, commitment, and expense of a doctorate program.
  • State budgets fund secondary education programs; recent budget cuts may have a lasting effect on employment prospects in academia.*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses and Requirements

Generally, during the first two years of a student's program, doctoral candidates must satisfy coursework requirements and pass preliminary examinations. The second phase of these programs typically requires candidates to research, write and defend an original dissertation. The dissertation phase usually takes at least one year to complete.

Management doctoral candidates can expect courses on the following topics:

  • Organizational leadership
  • Management behavior
  • Organization theory
  • Sustainable development.

Students will likely attend seminars and/or complete research projects in addition to their coursework requirements.

Online Degree Options

Unlike master's programs, legitimate online PhD programs in management are generally not available. If you are considering an online PhD program, proceed with caution and do your due diligence to thoroughly research the program to ensure it is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or one of its accrediting agencies.

Stand Out with this Degree

If you plan to work in academia, you can begin to pursue teaching or research opportunities while you are enrolled in your doctoral program. Schools typically offer teaching opportunities, though they may be limited and competitive. If you are on a research track, take advantage of your school's literary journals and publications; published research will set you apart from other candidates in your field.

Another way to stand out as you prepare for your career is to stay on top of technological advancements that can be applied to management and business. For instance, you could participate in colloquiums or seminars that focus on business and technology or work with faculty members who are engaged in research on the impact of technology on business processes.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Walden University

    Program Options

      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators)
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (Non-Licensure)
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Higher Education Leadership & Management
      • PhD in Education - Early Childhood Leadership & Advocacy
      • PhD in Education - Education Policy, Leadership & Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Liberty University

    Program Options

      • PHD: Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership
      • EDD: Educational Leadership
      • EDS: Educational Leadership
      • EDS: Higher Education Administration
      • PHD: Education: Organizational Leadership
      • DME: Doctor of Music Education
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

    The University of Alabama

  • Evanston, IL

    Northwestern University

  • Athens, GA

    University of Georgia

  • Mississippi State, MS

    Mississippi State University

  • Storrs, CT

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  • Salt Lake City, UT

    University of Utah

  • Atlanta, GA

    Georgia State University

Featured Schools

Walden University

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (Non-Licensure)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership

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Liberty University

  • PHD: Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership
  • EDD: Educational Leadership
  • EDS: Educational Leadership

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