Should you do an MBA after PhD?- Best Career Options

Can you do an MBA after PhD?

Yes, nothing is restricting you from pursuing an MBA after a PhD. A PhD is the highest degree of education someone can achieve in a particular field. But, even if you have completed a PhD, you might still want to pursue additional degrees. An MBA can boost your career journey. For example, it can help you get a promotion, migrate from academia to industry, or change industries altogether.

Why should you get an MBA after PhD

Work in the Industry

Most PhD graduates opt to stay in academia and pursue a career at a university. However, a PhD does not limit you to the academic world. There are many research-based jobs in the industry. Most skills PhD students learn thought their doctoral program are an asset for companies. For example, students learn how to do research (Research and development positions), data analytics, technical writing, teaching, etc.

Even though it is not always necessary, an MBA can help you make the transition from academia to industry. The skills learned through an MBA are geared toward the industry. Also, an MBA gives you the necessary experience to work in teams and become a manager.

Gain a Promotion

PhD graduates can work in the industry or academia. Due to their high level of education, they can pursue high-level positions at almost any institution. However, some upper management positions may require business expertise. Then, if your PhD is not based on a business field, you can consider pursuing an MBA and getting that promotion

Change Industries

Some professionals decide they want a career change after many years of working in one particular industry. However, they are not looking forward to taking a pay cut or a junior-level position. An MBA can help those professionals seamlessly change industries. MBA programs cover a wide range of business fields, from the management of information systems to human resources and marketing. Therefore, MBA graduates can choose any of those fields as a new career path.

Best Strategies to get an MBA after PhD


Business school is very expensive. An average 2-year MBA program costs $60,000 in tuition alone [2]. Also, funding for MBA programs is quite difficult to obtain. Teaching Assistant (TA) and Research Assistant (RA) positions are very limited in business school. Therefore, the student must look for scholarships to lower their tuition costs. However, there is an alternate option. Some employers cover tuition expenses as long as the employee demonstrates interest (or shows commitment) in staying in the company afterward. This funding option is also available for people working at Universities. Many Universities offer tuition reduction or waivers for employees.

Program Structure and Length

Standard MBAs take two years to complete. The classes are set up as a full-time program and, in most cases, do not allow you to work during the program. As an experienced professional with a PhD under your belt, you should consider a flexible MBA program. Here are a few options:

Executive MBA: These programs are designed for experienced professionals. You can continue to work and attend courses at night or lunch hours. Also, some universities offer online courses as part of the program (not a fully online degree, just a way to accelerate your studies).

Online Program: You can avoid long commutes and work through classes remotely. These programs allow you to build your schedule and work through courses at your own pace. Also, you will have a lot more Universities to pick from, since your location does not limit you anymore.

Accelerated MBA: These programs are very demanding, but get the job done in a year or less. If you are willing to take a break from work, consider joining an accelerated MBA program. You won’t be able to work fulltime, but you will only be out of the workforce for a year.

Back to School: MBA after PhD

PhD vs MBA

A PhD degree takes, on average, 8.3 years to complete in the United States [1]. They are the culprit of higher education, and they tend to be highly specific. For example, when pursuing a PhD in biology, the student does not focus on the whole subject. Instead, they focus on a specialization such as microbiology or genetics. Also, PhD programs are a mix of coursework and research. Students work for years on their dissertations and gain unique research experience.

MBA degrees are completed in 1 to 3 years, and the program is made up of coursework only. An MBA is a well-rounded degree; the coursework covers most business subjects such as marketing, operations, finance, and accounting. Most MBA programs give students to option to pick a concentration or emphasis. In that case, the student builds their expertise in a particular subject. However, the degree is still not as specific as a doctorate.

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