By GSH Staff

Why earn a Ph.D. in Business when an MBA seems to offer all the training you could need? While it's true that an MBA can provide enough knowledge to help you climb the corporate career ladder, a doctoral degree in business adds one essential additional element – research. Like most Ph.D. programs, a doctorate in business administration or management will give you the qualifications to work in academia and make original contributions to the field.

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Instead of simply enacting other people's theories, you'll have the opportunity to come up with completely new ideas. What's more, some people with a Ph.D. in accounting, economics, finance, or information technology (all subsets of many DBA programs) secure top leadership positions in highly specialized areas of the corporate, governmental, and nonprofit worlds.

If you're looking to go straight to the top when it comes to business education, you've come to the right place. Below we have assembled our selection of the top 25 doctoral programs in business for 2015.

Methodology

In order to determine this ranking, we started by identifying all the universities in the nation that 1) offer Ph.Ds in business, and 2) have an admissions rate of 50% or below. From this list of selective institutions, we further filtered the results by considering four primary factors:

Carnegie Classification (Weighted 30%): As we mentioned, research is one of the most important parts of any doctoral business degree. Luckily, the Carnegie Foundation has already done the work of ranking colleges according to their "research activity." A school could receive a standard classification as a doctoral institution, earn a "high activity" distinction, or be awarded the top tier as a "very high activity" university. We then ranked the Ph.D. programs accordingly, giving more points to schools with higher research activity.

Faculty Citations (Weighted 25%): Although the professors don't mean much when you're an undergrad, the quality of the faculty is a primary consideration at graduate schools. The caliber of the faculty affects not just the research occurring on campus, but also the quality of your mentorship and of your final dissertation project. A such, we used Thomas Reuter's 2014 ranking of "highly cited" researchers to determine which colleges have the most productive faculty. The Reuters report includes only the most cited scholars in each field (business and economics, in this case) and is a strong indication of a professor's productivity, quality, and reputation. The more faculty on the list, the more points we awarded the school.

Specialization Options (Weighted 30%): Another consideration for many Ph.D. business students is the number of concentration options they have. "Business" is a broad field that encompasses many fields of study, so the best programs are comprehensive enough to offer specialties in areas like Accounting, Economics, Finance, International Business, Supply Chain Management, Information Technology, Operations Management, Organizational Behavior…the list goes on! Since versatility and scope are important factors, we gave universities with the most concentrations the most points.

Tuition (Weighted 15%): Although tuition doesn't necessarily say much about overall quality, we understand that most students don't have limitless cash to fund their education. Out of consideration for this reality, we included annual tuition cost as a minor factor in our ranking. We used graduate-level tuition information from College Navigator, a government-run data website, to inform this part of the process. We awarded more points to schools with lower annual costs. However, please note that there are numerous factors that can affect the actual cost of attendance – from stipends and teaching assistantships to miscellaneous fees and housing costs – so you would do well to contact any university you are considering attending to verify what you should expect to contribute financially.

Lastly, we crunched the numbers and gave each school a total score out of 200. Not even Harvard (the #1 pick) earned a perfect score, and that is to be expected. It's difficult to find a college that offers both the best possible education and the lowest possible cost, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of excellent choices available to you. These 25 universities blow past the competition when it comes to Ph.D. business programs that are challenging, effective, engaging, and considerately priced.

25. University of Memphis

Ph.D. in Business

Website
People who want to teach business at the collegiate level or secure specialized advanced positions in certain industries (management information technology, for example) would do well to pursue a doctorate in business administration – and the University of Memphis can help. The balanced program aims to teach students both quantitative and qualitative skills in the field, as well as help them grow comfortable with the research process. Students also get to choose their own specialty between one of six concentrations – Economics, Management, Finance, Marketing, Management Information Systems, and Management – all of which offer opportunities for in-depth research and close collaboration with faculty.
Tuition: $8,298/yr (In-state) $17,082/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 109.21

24. Washington University in St. Louis

Ph.D. in Business

Website
The business school at Washington University in St. Louis stands out for its superior research capabilities; not only is it score as a "very high activity" research school with the Carnegie Foundation, but its faculty members regularly also rank as some of the most productive in the field. In addition, Wash U places a premium on student-faculty relationships – a value that fosters strong graduate student involvement on important projects. In fact, many students build close relationships with mentors and end up co-authoring papers with their advisors. Professors' interests span a wide range of topics, and students can opt to conduct research/customize their curriculum to focus on Finance, Marketing, Strategy, Organizational Behavior, Accounting, Business Economics, or Operations and Manufacturing Management.
Tuition: $45,700/yr
Score: 111.12

23. University of Connecticut

Ph.D. in Business

Website
The doctorate in business administration from the University of Connecticut is specifically aimed at students who wish to become professors and academic researchers at the collegiate level. The program is intentionally small – admitting only two to four students per department each year – in order to ensure that each student gets the attention he or she needs. The smaller size of the program also allows UConn to provide full funding and assistantships to each student, giving them the freedom to focus entirely on their studies. The program incorporates five disciplines under the umbrella of business administration, so you can focus your research on Operations and Information Management, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, or Management as you see fit.
Tuition: $12,202/yr (In-state) $31,64/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 112.80

22. University of Southern California

PhD Program at Marshall

Website
Students with a serious passion for learning and a dedicated curiosity about business will excel at the University of Southern California, which has a small Ph.D. in business program that is as selective as they come. The average undergraduate GPA is 3.46 and admitted applicants typically score at or above the 95th percentile on the GMAT. You can concentrate in Marketing, Statistics, Accounting, Finance and Business Economics, Management and Organization, or Data Sciences and Operations – each of which allows you to partner with prestigious faculty members on interesting projects. Speaking of faculty members, USC is home to professor M Hashem Pesaren, a distinguished researcher and top authority on econometrics.
Tuition: $38,448/yr
Score: 113.79

21. Cornell University

Johnson PhD Program

Website
The PhD program at Cornell University is intentionally flexible enough to support students in whatever career goals they have, whether they want to become professors, consultants, start their own business, or work in some other area of the industry. Students can tailor the program to their interests in Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Production and Operations Management, and/or Organizational Behavior. Only about 40 students attend the program at a time, and the close-knit environment helps students feel more comfortable interacting with professors. The program features interactive seminars, group workshops, and opportunities to take courses through other departments at Cornell.
Tuition: $29,500/yr
Score: 113.88

20. University of Central Florida

PhD in Business Administration

Website
The DBA program at Central Florida is a full-time degree that can take students from midlevel management positions to top jobs in both profit and nonprofit organizations – or to teaching positions in academia. The business administration Ph.D. incorporates four areas of study, allowing applicants to earn a doctorate in accounting, marketing, management, or finance. UCF students also benefit from the annual Dean's Speaker Series, which invites "faculty thought leaders" to share their expertise with students, and of course excellent research opportunities with professors. In the past, research projects have addressed behavioral ethics, economic development, workforce development, and more.
Tuition: $16,338/yr
Score: 114.39

19. University of Florida

PhD in Business Administration

Website
For another PhD program in business available in Florida, head to the University of Florida – just two hours away from UCF. It is a full-time residence program that is available in two major tracks: Micro and Macro. Within the "micro" option, you can further specialize in Human Resource Management or Organizational Behavior. Within the "macro" option, on the other hand, you have the choice to specialize in either Organization Theory or Strategic Management. The rigor and competitiveness of the University of Florida's program can make the coursework difficult, but those who graduate receive positions at some of the best universities in the country, including the University of Virginia, Rutgers, Cornell, and Georgia Tech.
Tuition: $19,053/yr
Score: 115.80

18. Stanford University

Business PhD Program

Website
Stanford University has a reputation for excellence in numerous advanced-level degree programs, business included. This degree is not for the faint hearted, but those who have a desire for challenge will flourish in the rigorous environment Stanford provides. You'll dive into your chosen field of study (Marketing; Finance; Political Economics; Organizational Behavior; Economics Analysis & Policy; Operations, Information, & Technology; or Accounting) on day one and waste no time starting on research projects. Stanford's faculty boasts an enviable list of experts in business, including the macroeconomics and industrial organization professor (and highly-cited researcher) Dr. Nicholas Bloom.
Tuition: $44,184/yr
Score: 115.95

17. Duke University

PhD Program in Business Administration

Website
If you're looking for a program that prioritizes independent inquiry and in-depth research and analysis, Duke University can take care of that checklist. The Fuqua School of Business emphasizes the need to be productive in the research community and to regularly contribute to publications, so DBA students have no shortage of opportunities to get involved. The student-to-faculty ratio at this level of study is nearly one-to-one, ensuring there are plenty of qualified mentors to guide students through the dissertation process. Although each professor has his or her own unique area of research focus, concentrations within this Ph.D. program in management are generally divided between even major topics: Accounting, Strategy, Marketing, Finance, Decision Sciences, Management and Organizations, and Operations Management.
Tuition: $45,760/yr
Score: 120.36

16. Northwestern University

Kellogg Doctoral Program

Website
The Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University has been pushing the field of business forward for the past 80 years. Its business Ph.D. program produces experienced graduates who excel in both academia and management, and who use their critical thinking prowess and unique insights to make unique contributions to research. PhD courses are organized into six essential areas of study: Operations Management, Accounting, Marketing, Finance, Managerial Economics and Strategy, and Management and Operations. Many students also take classes in other departments, such as Engineering, Psychology, and Political Science, as a way to broaden their knowledge base and enhance their understanding of the marketplace as whole.
Tuition: $46,836/yr
Score: 121.44

15. The University of Texas at Austin

PhD in Business

Website
Whether you're looking for a Ph.D. in accounting, business administration, finance, marketing, or some other management specialty, UT Austin has it covered. The university's comprehensive program is in some ways a degree in "intellectual leadership," as it asks students to move beyond the basics of management training and use their superior smarts to contribute positively to the business world. The "very high activity level" research institution is highly competitive, only accepting a meager 5% of applicants each year. Admitted students can choose between five different concentrations, each of which is managed by an experienced Ph.D. coordinator who can point you in the right direction based on your research interests.
Tuition: $10,878/yr (In-state) $20,698/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 121.80

14. The George Washington University

Business PhD Program

Website
The George Washington University is currently in the process of expanding its DBA programs, and doctoral applicants who attend GW in the next few years will see the school's program offerings continue to grow. Students can take advantage of degrees in accounting, finance, and international business, and as soon as 2016 they may also see programs in strategy, public policy, management, marketing, and the decision sciences. Most GWU students take five years to complete their degree (two years for classes and three for research) although you can certainly finish in less time if you are ambitious enough. It's also important to note that students are required to complete a research project in the summer after their first year as a way to demonstrate their readiness for serious scholarly work.
Tuition: $26,820/yr
Score: 124.62

13. Carnegie Mellon University

Business PhD Program

Website
Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business has established itself as a top university with the capability to churn out pioneers in the field. The faculty consists of multiple Nobel laureates and one especially "highly cited" professor – George Lowenstein, a premier economist who specializes in the interdisciplinary areas of behavioral and neuroeconomics. Tepper's eight concentrations include Economics and Financial Economics, Business Technologies, Marketing, and Operations Management, as well as cross-disciplinary topics such as Organizational Behavior and Theory. What's more, CMU goes above and beyond by offering joint Ph.D. programs in Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization; Management of Manufacturing and Automization; and Economics and Public Policy.
Tuition: $39,727/yr
Score: 126.36

12. University of Michigan Ann Arbor

Business PhD Program

Website
The University of Michigan has the credentials, reputation, and resources to help business professionals take the next step in their careers. The school's five-year Ph.D. in business is primarily for students who want to secure positions in academia and research; in fact 93% of graduates earn academic positions at universities in the United States and abroad. Part of U of M's strength is in its faculty research, which is top-rated nationally and supports excellent opportunities for graduate students. The university describes its research capacities as "boundary-less," and gives learners the freedom to explore topics in one or more traditional areas of business, such as accounting, marketing, strategy, business economics and public policy, finance, and technology and operations.
Tuition: $20,078/yr (In-state) $40,564/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 129.03

11. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Business PhD Program

Website
Only the most tenacious, ambitious students gain entry into the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, but those who make the grade are rewarded with a one-of-a-kind experience that shapes the world's future business leaders. Admitted students also benefit from generous resources – including strong financial support – and close collaboration with faculty members. Many students work on interdisciplinary research in economics, public health, law, and the social sciences, and the Kenan Institute supports key projects in logistics, urban enterprises, and emerging economies. UNC students in the business Ph.D. program also frequently team up with other university research centers, including the North Carolina Population Center and the Institute of Statistics.
Tuition: $8,693/yr (In-state) $25,904/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 129.54

10. University of California Berkeley

Berkeley-Haas PhD Program

Website
The Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley is perhaps best described as a "community of innovative thinkers." Berkeley seeks applicants who are looking to break the traditional molds of business and leverage their Ph.D. education to improve the industry with new theories and ideas. The university's star-studded faculty includes powerful contributors like Edward Miguel (who specializes in health and developmental economics) and Ross Levine (the 13th most cited economist in the world!). Several distinct fields of study allow students to choose from one of six doctoral programs, including a Ph.D. program in Accounting, Real Estate, Business and Public Policy, Management of Organizations, Marketing, or Finance.
Tuition: $11,220/yr (In-state) $26,322/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 130.62

9. Georgia Institute of Technology

Business PhD Program

Website
Georgia Institute of Technology brings something different to the table; its small Ph.D. program in business brings together an intimate group of learners in the name of "intellectual freedom." GIT offers the personalized attention from faculty, close support from other students, and independent study options that are sometimes missing at larger business schools. Optional concentrations include Accounting, Strategic Management, Organizational Behavior, Operations Management, Finance, Marketing, and Information Technology Management, but students who aren't in love with one of these pre-approved areas are encouraged to design their own concentration. In addition, GIT employs Frank Rothaermel, a distinguished faculty member who focuses on strategic management and entrepreneurship.
Tuition: $12,344/yr (In-state) $27,600/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 130.95

8. University of Miami

PhD in Business

Website
This "very high research activity" institution ranks among the best of the best in its commitment to business education. Students seeking a Ph.D. in Business can come to this flexible, versatile Miami program, which provides concentrations in all the traditional areas of business (Accounting, Finance, Economics, Marketing, and Management) as well as less common specializations like Organizational Behavior, Operations Management, and Strategy/International Business. There university also offers plenty of experiential opportunities for students outside of the classroom, such as the annual Conference on the Business of Health Care to Focus on Technology, Access, and Efficiency and regular lectures from alumni and guest speakers.
Tuition: $32,220/yr
Score: 131.61

7. University of Minnesota Twin Cities

PhD Business Administration

Website
The University of Minnesota has one of the premier DBA programs in the Midwest thanks to what it dubs the "Carlson School Advantage." A "world-class business school" that attracts applicants from more than 20 countries, U of M wants students to move beyond simply memorizing and comprehending information to actually creating new theories and helping businesses grow. You'll work closely with other students and faculty members as you dive into the research process and deepen your understanding in one of seven core areas of study: Accounting, Work and Organizations, Supply Chain and Operations, Information and Decision Sciences, Finance, Marketing, or Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship.
Tuition: $15,458/yr (In-state) $23,680/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 131.70

6. University of California Los Angeles

Management Doctoral Program

Website
Whether you're interested in marketing, accounting, global economics, operations and technology management, or global enterprise, UCLA has a Ph.D. for you. Students come from all over the world to study at the University of California Los Angeles and work with some of the brightest faculty around. The program prioritizes "independent inquiry" and encourages students to produce research that is both publishable and impactful in the business community. The school's values are part of why it earned the #1 ranking in "intellectual capital" by Business Week just a few years ago. Many students go on to become professors themselves at reputable institutions like MIT, Stanford, Northwestern, and Berkeley.
Tuition: $11,220/yr (In-state) $26,322/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 132.12

5. University of California Irvine

Doctor of Philosophy in Management

Website
The University of California Irvine's Ph.D. program in Management is another top choice within the California public school system. Emphasis areas include Operations and Design Technologies, Strategy, Organization and Management, and Finance, as well as doctorates in accounting and marketing. Students work closely with faculty members as they explore the theoretical foundations of business and engage in research that will help them contribute original ideas to the industry. UC Irvine also encourages students to get involved in the instructional process themselves and requires each Ph.D. candidate to take on a teaching responsibility, as well as take a seminar in the pedagogy.
Tuition: $11,220/yr (In-state) $26,322/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 134.70

4. University of Chicago

Doctoral Program in Business

Website
As the first doctoral program in business to be established in the United States, the University of Chicago has a long history of producing top industry leaders with excellent academic credentials. Students must be prepared to seriously commit if they are accepted to Chicago; the program mandates that all students attend full-time in order to complete the curriculum in the recommended five years. That being said, there is plenty of flexibility embedded within the course of study as well. You'll have the freedom to choose your own specialization and design a program that fits your interests. Chicago also leads the way in highly-cited faculty members and is home to eight prestigious professors who have made a significant impact in the field.
Tuition: $49,644/yr
Score: 140.67

3. University of Pennsylvania

Wharton Doctoral Program

Website
The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania has a strong reputation for producing top leaders and pioneers in the world of finance and management. The school has options that span from the undergraduate to doctoral and certificate levels, with a wide variety of subject options as well. Ph.D. candidates can focus in Accounting; Finance; Statistics; Operations, Information and Decisions; Ethics and Legal Studies; Management; Healthcare Management and Economics; or even earn a doctorate in Finance. In addition to its premier research facilities and unparalleled networking opportunities, students tend to choose UPenn because of the "Wharton Culture" which fosters "intellectual collaboration" above all.
Tuition: $29,890/yr
Score: 143.10

2. University of Maryland College Park

Business PhD Program

Website
The University of Maryland tops many national lists of great business schools and has earned international recognition as well. In fact, the Financial Times has rated the university as the 9th best school of business in the world! Fields of study within the Ph.D. program include Marketing, Information Systems, Supply Chain Management, Accounting and Information Assurance, Managerial Economics, and a Doctorate in Finance – among others! The interdisciplinary program spans six different departments, providing research opportunities that can put you within reach of top professors all across the university. In addition, an optional minor in International Business can provide additional expertise to students who are interested in global management strategy.
Tuition: $10,836/yr (In-state) $23,364/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 146.94

1. Harvard University

HBS Doctoral Programs

Website
It's no surprise that Harvard University stands at the top of our list of PhD business programs. Harvard's business school is well known for its prestige and top caliber instruction, and students from all over the world apply to this Ivy League member in the hopes of securing unparalleled management training. The doctoral program boasts eight specializations – Marketing, Strategy, Management, Business Economics, Health Policy, Accounting & Management, Organizational Behavior, and Technology & Operations Management. Harvard's Ph.D. in business also soars past the competition when it comes to research and faculty caliber; in addition to having "very high activity" in research, it is home to twelve highly cited professors in the field.
Tuition: $40,416/yr
Score: 161.49

Sources:
Highly Cited
College Navigator
Carnegie Classifications

Related Resources:

10 Most Affordable Online Doctoral Programs in Business