MBA Vs. Doctorate in Economics

by Kate Prudchenko
An MBA program encourages students to work in teams to solve real-world business problems.

An MBA program encourages students to work in teams to solve real-world business problems.

Economics is the study of how people make decisions about allocating resources. Universities offer different kinds of graduate degrees within this field, two of which are Master of Business Administration, also known as an MBA, and a doctorate in economics, or a Ph.D. An MBA is a professional degree that focuses on the applications of economic theory, and a doctorate in economics is an academic degree that focuses on the theoretical and research aspects of economics.


As a professional degree, the MBA is generally offered by a university's School of Business. Universities typically offer an array of MBA programs aimed at the different needs of students. For example, you'll find entirely online programs; executive programs, where working professionals attend classes in the evenings and on weekends; and one- and two-year programs for full-time students. Each of these programs has different credit requirements, but all aim to give students a thorough applied business education. More specifically, MBA programs provide students with hands-on experience in solving real-world business problems such as coming up with new product lines and marketing materials.

MBA Courses

Because the MBA is an applied degree program, it entails courses that teach students the applications of economic theories to the real world of business. Therefore, in an MBA program, you'll take courses such as accounting, marketing, finance, organizational behavior and leadership. These courses are not mathematically rigorous and instead emphasize the importance of working in groups and solving problems as a team.

Doctorate in Economics

A doctorate in economics is an academic degree offered by a university's Department of Economics. A doctorate is the highest degree that any department can offer, and it is highly mathematically rigorous and research-based. To graduate with a doctorate, you complete independent research projects that demonstrate your ability to become a practitioner in the research field. Most doctorate programs in economics programs have certain number of core requirements and take approximately five years to complete.

Ph.D. in Economics Courses

As a research-based academic degree, doctorate programs in economics require students to take theoretical and mathematically rigorous courses. The particular requirements vary according to department, but many universities require you to take courses in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, econometric methods, probability and statistics. You are also required to take a certain number of other courses in your chosen area of concentration. For example, you might take courses in environmental and natural resources economics, banking, finance, international economics or developmental economics.

About the Author

Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.

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