PhD Programs for Executives Gain Traction

New doctoral programs in business geared to working executives help many develop on-the-job…

Georgia (Aug 19, 2010)


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New doctoral programs in business geared to working executives help many develop on-the-job research skills or a shift into teaching

Business schools are seeking to take executive education to the next level, with a growing number offering niche doctoral programs aimed at senior-level managers either looking to shift to academia or to bring high-level research skills into the workplace.

Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business in Atlanta introduced a new Executive Doctorate in Business program in 2009 aimed at chief executives and other high-ranking corporate managers, while neighboring Kennesaw State University's Coles College of Business in Kennesaw, Ga., created a Doctorate of Business Administration program in 2008. Oklahoma State University's Spears School of Business in Stillwater is planning to launch a management doctoral program in the next 12 months, the school said.

Less than a dozen accredited business schools offer these types of business professional doctorates in the U.S., according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), one of the leading accreditation agencies for business schools, which tracks doctoral degrees programs. In the past few years, interest in programs like these has grown as high-level managers seek a more rigorous academic experience than the typical executive education classes or executive roundtables offered at business schools, says Andy Policano, chairman of AACSB's board and dean of the University of California-Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business.

"The main reason these programs are springing up in the U.S. is there seems to be a market," Policano says. "There are more and more executives willing to pay a fairly high tuition to take this kind of program on, so now it becomes a legitimate business model for schools to offer."


Most of these professional doctoral programs differ from traditional PhD programs in that they are part-time, can usually be completed in three years, and are aimed at working senior executives with advanced degrees and at least 15 years of work experience, Policano says. Typically, he adds, they encourage research that executives can apply directly back to the business world.

At Georgia State, students in the school's new executive doctoral program, which costs about $100,000 for three years, are required to come to the school's Atlanta campus for a three-day residency at the school, says Maury Kalnitz, the program's director. He reports that so far the school has been able to attract executives from IBM (IBM), Google (GOOG), and Citigroup (


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit