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You’re a business analytics professional who aspires to become a university professor. You’re thinking of a PhD in Business Analytics, but wondering if it’s worth the effort. Use our PhD guide to evaluate timelines, coursework, and the dissertation process. Compare different types of business analytics doctorates. Learn if your experience matches up to typical admissions requirements. Explore funding options and employment avenues. Find answers to questions on online degrees and FAQ. Or jump ahead to listings of all the PhD in Business Analytics programs in the country.
What Are PhD in Business Analytics Programs?
A PhD in Business Analytics or a closely related field is a specialist doctorate focused on the intersection of original and groundbreaking research in applied statistics, analytics & business studies. It is almost always offered by a School of Business. Doctoral students who choose this pathway:
- Learn how to deploy sophisticated statistical & analytical techniques to address major corporate challenges
- Specialize in making complex, data-driven decisions in specific realms of business (e.g. marketing, finance, operations management, etc.)
- Become business analytics professors at universities and top-level researchers in the private sector
Can You Earn a PhD in Business Analytics?
Yes. Doctoral programs in business analytics exist, but they are academically-focused and research-driven. A PhD in Business Analytics is not a workplace qualification like an MS in Business Analytics or an MS in Data Science or a practical business administration degree like an MBA or DBA. Most PhD programs in our listings are specifically designed to help students become university professors.
Types of Business Analytics Doctorate Programs
Doctoral programs in this field tend to fall into two main categories: Business Analytics or Operations Management (or a combo of the two). Once you’ve highlighted a few programs, you can use the curriculum links in our listings to dig down into the coursework and explore faculty research interests.
PhD in Business Analytics
At the doctoral level, a PhD in Business Analytics has many of the same hallmarks as a PhD in Data Analytics. It will often involve high-level training in areas such as applied statistics, statistical programming, data mining, simulation, data science, optimization, and decision analysis. You’ll be required to apply all of those skills to a specific area of business research (e.g. marketing, economics, finance, operations, management, etc.). See the Dissertation section for examples of projects.
PhD in Operations Management
A PhD in Operations Management (OM) is focused on optimizing business processes from production through to distribution. Think of supply chains, operations planning & control, distribution networks, pricing, and inventory management. Using your skills in business analytics (see above), you could be challenged to develop theoretical models, conduct empirical studies, and run complex data analyses to find ways to improve these interconnected parts.
PhD in Business Information Technology (or Similar)
Some universities also offer “build your own” doctorates with an interdisciplinary feel. You’ll be able to combine coursework from the School of Business and technical departments. With an interdisciplinary doctorate, you can concentrate your research on whatever you please—operations management, information systems, business & data analytics, or even security & privacy.
How Doctorates in Business Analytics Work: Curriculum & Dissertation
Doctoral students go through 6 key stages to earn a PhD in Business Analytics—you have to finish one stage (e.g. core coursework) before you can progress to the next one (e.g. qualifying exam). On a full-time schedule, the entire doctorate might take 4-5 years.
- Core Coursework
- Qualifying/Comprehensive Exam
- Dissertation Proposal
- Dissertation Defense
- Year 1: Core coursework and first-year research papers. Assignment of a faculty mentor.
- Year 2: Core coursework, electives, second-year research papers, and the qualifying exam.
- Year 3: Any remaining coursework. Preparing research projects for publication. Dissertation proposal.
- Year 4: Dissertation work under the guidance of a dissertation advisor and advisory committee.
- Year 5: Dissertation work. Research papers & conference submissions. Dissertation defense.
The first two years of your PhD in Business Analytics will contain a set of mandatory research & business courses. These credits are designed to equip you with all the skill sets you might need for your dissertation. Here are a few samples of real course titles from doctoral programs:
Research Methodology & Technical Skills
- Probability & Statistics
- Linear Algebra
- Applied Stochastic Process
- Multivariate Analysis
- Linear Programming
- Data Structures
- Operations Management
- Management Information Systems
- Information Analysis for Managerial Decisions
- Supply Chain Operations and Information
You can see how PhD programs in business analytics draw on high-level coursework from the Departments of Statistics & Computer Science and coursework from the School of Business. The mix will vary depending on the title & focus of the PhD. Visit the curriculum links in our listings to learn more about each program’s unique approach.
In addition to core coursework, your doctorate will almost always contain electives. You’ll be allowed to choose your own subjects and customize your degree to suit your research goals.
At the doctoral level, electives can be super-specialized. Here are a few examples of electives from PhD programs in Business Analytics & Operations Management:
- Data Structure & Algorithms
- Machine Learning
- Markov Decision Processes
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Game Theory
- Scheduling Theory
- Service Operations
Once you’ve completed your core coursework, you’ll be required to pass a comprehensive exam. The exam is designed to test your knowledge and prepare you for top-tier research projects.
The qualifying exam for a PhD in Business Analytics can take a number of forms. For instance:
- At the University of Cincinnati, the PhD in Operations, Business Analytics, and Information Systems qualifying exam consists of a written exam and a oral presentation.
- At the University of Oregon, the PhD in Operations and Business Analytics qualifying exam involves a test and a second-year paper that must be presented at a departmental seminar series.
After you’ve passed the qualifying exam, you can focus on developing the idea for your dissertation under the supervision of a dissertation advisor/faculty mentor. You may wish to work on a research-based dissertation, which explores new theories & models, or a project-based dissertation, which involves exploring real-life business problems.
You’ll assemble these ideas into a proposal and present your proposal to a dissertation advisory committee. The committee will be composed of experienced faculty members and—occasionally—outside experts. If the committee accepts your proposal, you can get to work on your dissertation.
A PhD dissertation is defined as a work of original research that makes a significant contribution to the theory & practice of a field. Your goal is break new ground in business analytics—new theories, new practices, and new data-driven approaches.
Here are a few examples of real-life PhD dissertation titles in business analytics & closely related fields:
- Revenue Maximization Using Product Bundling
- Estimating the Statistics of Operational Loss Through the Analyzation of a Time Series
- Performance Improvement Through Better Understanding of Supply Chain Resilience
- Managing Outsourcing Decisions: Government Policy, Firm Options, and the Economic Impact
- Applications of Revenue Management in Healthcare
- Three Essays on Optimization and Decision-Making Solutions in Retail Operations
In tandem with your dissertation, you may also be writing up research papers to submit to peer-reviewed journals and industry conferences.
The defense is the final stage of your PhD. You’ll be challenged to present your findings to the dissertation advisory committee and defend your research in an oral & visual presentation. The committee will then ask you questions and discuss your work.
If you have a strong dissertation advisor, you’ll be more than ready for the defense! You’ll know your research backwards and forwards and you’ll be prepped to answer likely questions. You can improve your odds even further by observing other student defenses, practicing with mock presentations, and researching the work of committee members.
PhD in Business Analytics: Admissions
Doctorate in Business Analytics: What It Takes to Get In
PhD programs in business analytics are 1) rare; and 2) typically fully funded. That also means they’re extremely competitive! Some Schools of Business may only accept 2-3 candidates per year. Follow the admissions links in our listings to get a sense of the university’s expectations.
Not sure if you have what it takes? Take a moment to:
- Assess your application to see if you can compensate for weak spots (e.g. GPA) with strengths (e.g. research projects, teaching experience, published papers, etc.)
- Make sure that your research interests would be a good fit with the PhD program’s faculty, departments, and facilities (e.g. Operations Research Center)
- Talk to current PhD students and recent alumni about their experiences with admissions, research work, and employment after graduation
For a PhD in Business Analytics, universities will want to see candidates who have a degree in business or a related technical discipline (e.g. data analytics, data science, statistics, etc.). The standard GPA requirement is 3.0 GPA or higher.
- Bachelor’s Degree Entry: A number of schools are willing to consider applicants with a bachelor’s degree. However, they may give preference to candidates with prior graduate-level coursework.
- Master’s Degree Entry: Some doctoral programs in business analytics are only open to candidates with a master’s degree.
Are you a bachelor’s degree candidate who’s interested in a PhD with a master’s degree entry? Talk to the program coordinator. You may be able to earn a graduate degree at the same university before transferring into the PhD track.
Skills & Proficiencies
A PhD in Business Analytics or a closely related field is a highly technical degree, so universities will often want to see evidence of skills & proficiencies in:
- Calculus and linear algebra
- Computer programming
- Quantitative fields (e.g. maths, statistics, operation research, supply chain management, etc.)
But they will also be looking for skills that all academic professors must have, including:
- Oral & written competencies
- Teaching & research talents
In addition to your academic transcripts, be prepared to submit:
- GRE or GMAT scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose
- TOEFL scores for non-English speaking international applicants
In particular, universities will be looking for candidates with strong quant & analytical scores on the GRE or GMAT.
PhD in Business Analytics: Tuition & Funding
How to Fund the PhD
Doctorates in business analytics can be grouped into 2 categories:
Fully funded PhD programs are the norm in this field—they’re designed to prepare graduates to become academic professors.
Fully Funded PhD Programs
A fully funded PhD in Business Analytics means that the university pays for your education. They will waive all tuition costs and provide you with a living stipend as compensation for teaching & research activities.
- Assistantships: Most PhD in Business Analytics students work as Teaching Assistants (TAs), Research Assistants (RAs), or course instructors during their studies.
- Scholarships & Fellowships: Some high-potential candidates will also receive additional monetary awards on top of the standard living stipend.
Talk to the PhD program coordinator to learn more about funding packages. You may (or may not) qualify for:
- Conference stipends, travel support, research-related expenses & other perks
- Campus housing
- University health insurance
- Fee waivers
- Summer fellowships & financial support
- Professional membership dues
Most universities will cover funding for Years 1-4 of your degree. With certain PhD programs, Year 5 support will be conditional on strong academic performance.
Tuition-Driven PhD Programs
You’ll occasionally run into a doctoral program in business analytics that is tuition-driven. That means the university expects you to pay for the degree by yourself. A PhD in this category could cost between $50,000-$96,000.
- Be very cautious about this route! If you can’t get into a fully funded PhD program, consider a master’s degree in a relevant field of interest (e.g. MS in Business Analytics) or a more flexible doctorate.
- You don’t need a PhD in Business Analytics to work in an industry role. It’s only going to be useful if you wish to become a university professor or top-level researcher.
Online PhD in Business Analytics Programs
Can You Earn an Online PhD in Business Analytics?
Yes—with a caveat. Capitol Technology University offers an Online PhD in Business Analytics and Data Science, but we would classify this more as an “industry” data science degree than an “academic” business analytics doctorate. And you will have to pay for it.
Why Are Online PhD Programs in Business Analytics Hard to Find?
Quality control. Top-tier research universities and high-ranking Schools of Business want to ensure that doctoral students:
- Take full advantage of all of their campus facilities (e.g. research centers, labs, and technical infrastructures)
- Learn how to teach undergraduates in actual classrooms
- Collaborate with faculty, fellow students, and their dissertation advisor on a regular, in-person basis
- Be present for seminars, workshops & networking events with visiting experts
We back them up on this matter. If you’re going to commit to a PhD in a niche topic like business analytics, choose one that is fully funded and on-campus.
Career Prospects for PhD in Business Analytics Graduates
As we mentioned, a PhD in Business Analytics or a closely related field is a super-specialized and research-focused degree. It will prepare you for a couple of roles:
- Assistant Professor or Post-Doc Position: You’ll be teaching business analytics at the university level to undergraduates.
- Senior Research Position: Some niche positions in fields like finance & economics will require top-level research skills (e.g. Senior Statistician).
However, you don’t need a doctorate in business analytics to pursue a senior-level position within the industry:
- Many analytics experts simply have an MS and industry certifications.
- Many managers & CEOs have an MBA or DBA.
PhD Business Analytics FAQ
What Should I Look for in a Business Analytics Doctoral Program?
Start with our program listings. You can use the curriculum & admissions links to evaluate your degree options and create a shortlist of likely candidates. Once you have some names in mind, consider the following factors:
- Funding Package: Almost all PhD programs will be fully funded, but some will have better benefits than others. Ask about perks like health insurance, travel stipends, fellowship awards, and the like.
- School of Business Reputation: A PhD in Business Analytics will almost always be offered by a School of Business. Look for Schools that are AACSB-accredited, nationally ranked, and well-regarded in the academic community.
- Department Reputations: Investigate each department that’s offering PhD coursework & electives. What kinds of research labs & facilities do they have? Are they working on industry partnerships with the School of Business? Are they exploring new frontiers in analytics?
- Faculty Expertise: Faculty profiles will be featured on the PhD program website. These people will be your mentors & advisors, so get to know them. Read through their bios, meet them for a virtual coffee, and learn more about their research interests.
- Career Preparation: What kinds of Teaching Assistantship (TA) opportunities will you be offered? Will you be able to submit your PhD research papers to academic journals? Will you be encouraged to present at major business & analytics conferences?
- Academic Placements: The vast majority of PhD graduates in business analytics will go on to teach in universities. So find out where alumni have ended up. Some PhD programs provide a list of recent academic placements.
- STEM Designation: International students who wish to work in the States after graduation should check and see if the doctorate is a STEM-designated program. This designation is needed to extend the OPT period for students on an F-1 Visa.
You may also want to look up past winners of the UPS George D. Smith Prize from INFORMS. This prize is given to an academic department or program that prepares students to be good practitioners of operations research, management science, or analytics.
What is a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)?
Like a PhD, a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a terminal degree that includes a dissertation. However, the DBA focuses on applied research instead of original research. DBA students use existing practices and theories and apply them to real-world business problems. Examples of DBA offerings include:
- DBA in Business Intelligence
- DBA in Data Analytics
- DBA in Business Analytics
DBA vs. PhD
DBA students tend to be working professionals who want to explore an area of analytics or BI research that can be applied to their current jobs. They’re willing to pay for a 3-year doctorate that may be online or part-time. And they often secure consultancy & leadership positions within their industry.
PhD in Business Analytics students aspire to become academics, professors & top-level researchers. They’re willing to commit to 5 years of rigorous, in-person study and they’re happy to teach undergraduates, publish papers in academic journals, and live in a world of theoretical research.
What is AACSB Accreditation?
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB) is a global non-profit association that provides specialized accreditation to Schools of Business.
- Schools of Business must go through a stringent assessment process to earn AACSB accreditation. The AACSB evaluates the School’s mission, faculty qualifications, curricula, and ability to provide quality programs.
- You can use the AACSB’s handy tool to search for AACSB-accredited schools and filter by location, delivery, format, and even field (e.g. Operations Management, Data Analytics, etc.).
What is a STEM Doctorate?
A STEM doctorate is typically defined as any PhD that contains at least 50% of coursework in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.
- Are you an international student hoping to work in the States? Ask if the PhD has a “STEM designation” from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Students on an F-1 Visa can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. With a STEM-designated degree, the OPT period can be extended from 12 months to 36 months.
- STEM programs often receive financial support from the government and private industries. That means universities may be able to offer more fully funded PhD programs in STEM fields.
Not all Business Analytics programs are STEM programs! For example, Pitt’s PhD in Business Analytics & Operations contains a lot of business coursework and is classified as a doctorate in Business Administration. Check with the PhD program coordinator before you make a choice.
Is a PhD in Business Analytics Worth It?
Only if it aligns with your career goals in research & academia. A PhD in Business Analytics or a closely related field is an intense, 5-year doctorate that prepares graduates for jobs as university professors & top-level researchers. It’s not designed for professionals who want a practical industry qualification.
Wondering whether to make the leap? Ask recent PhD graduates about their experiences. You’ll find them on LinkedIn, at industry conferences, and within faculty directories on university websites. Be ready to answer questions about your research interests & teaching aspirations.