Part-Time PhD Programs in Business

by Michael Marz

If you thrive in an academic environment, enjoy intense research and writing, and prefer to spend your career teaching at a college or university and publishing articles, you may be the ideal candidate for a Ph.D. program in business. And if you need to continue working or have other obligations that prevent you from studying full-time, consider some of the business schools that will let you enroll part-time.

Choosing A Program

According to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business -- the organization that evaluates business schools and awards a highly sought-after accreditation -- only 27 business schools offer a part-time Ph.D. program. Since AACSB accreditation is highly valued in the academic world, you may want to only look at schools that are accredited. Two other important factors include the strength of a school’s business faculty and the universities where Ph.D. graduates are able to obtain teaching positions.

Executive & Online Ph.D.s

If you’re unable to gain admittance to a traditional part-time Ph.D. program that’s commutable from your home or that offers the course of study you’re interested in, many schools offer executive and online Ph.D. program. Executive Ph.D. programs usually restrict enrollment to senior executives and managers who are far along in their careers. However, these programs are almost always part-time. There are also a number of online schools that offer Ph.D. programs in business for which a majority, if not all, of the work can be completed from the comforts of home.

Research Interests

Ph.D. programs tend to seek out students with the same research interests as its faculty. For example, if you want to focus your academic career in finance, it’s important to do some preliminary research on the school to see if finance is one of its strengths. You can usually get an idea by looking through faculty and student profiles and seeing which areas of business they tend to publish papers in.

Getting In

Each school will publish specific information about its Ph.D. admissions requirements, but typically, both part-time and full-time Ph.D. applications will require the same essential items. You will need to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test, or GMAT, and submit the official scores, forward copies of all academic transcripts, draft at least one essay that outlines your research interests and have three letters of recommendation written on your behalf. In addition, you may need to submit a resume and writing samples.

Ph.D. Curriculum

Once you start your program, the curriculum is the same as it is for full-time students -- the only difference is it takes longer to complete. Whether you plan to focus your Ph.D. on finance, accounting, management, marketing, economics or information systems, the beginning of your studies will predominantly consist of traditional course work that covers a wide range of business disciplines, but with a large number of courses being in economics. For full-time students this can take approximately two years, so this phase of the Ph.D. will take longer for part-time students. After all courses are complete, expect to start working on a dissertation, which can be hundreds of pages in length and must reflect years of original research you’ve conducted in your area of business.

About the Author

Michael Marz has worked in the financial sector since 2002, specializing in wealth and estate planning. After spending six years working for a large investment bank and an accounting firm, Marz is now self-employed as a consultant, focusing on complex estate and gift tax compliance and planning.

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