The fastest online business administration PhD programs prepare professionals for careers in academia, government agencies, and most business sectors. Like all doctor of philosophy (PhD) programs, the PhD in business administration and similar programs have research-centric programs of study.
On top of acquired knowledge thru collegiate business education, advanced research knowledge, and skills in business and management processes are gained from doctorate programs completed online. Doctoral students typically complete a combination of didactic coursework, dissertation courses, and the actual dissertation.
The beauty of accelerated degree programs offering an online PhD in business administration is in their comparatively quick graduation timelines. A typical PhD program can take five to eight years to complete. The fastest online PhD programs take less than three years to complete!
Graduates can then grab career advancement opportunities earlier than their counterparts in traditional PhD programs, giving them a definite competitive advantage.
And what a competitive advantage it is, too! Contrary to popular belief, a PhD in business administration from an accelerated online program isn’t a liability, far from it. Employers will likely see you as the most qualified for the job because of your advanced technical and business skills.
In short, you have something that others don’t—and that makes you more attractive in their eyes. Even better, you’ve reached your goal much sooner than you would have in a traditional PhD program.
The rewards of earning an online PhD in business administration degree in less than three years from an accelerated program are well worth it!
The career opportunities are vast and varied, from management consultants and professors to successful entrepreneurs—and all in nearly half the time it takes (i.e., 6 years, at least) to earn a traditional PhD degree in business administration.
However, it is important to note that earning an accelerated online PhD in business administration will be challenging. The fastest programs will have intensive coursework, heavy class loads, and shortened timelines.
The cost of earning a PhD degree through one of the fastest online programs can also be expensive. This is one of the oft-cited reasons for the high dropout rates.
A quality education from an accelerated online doctorate program is within your reach. Our in-depth, comprehensive guide to accelerated online degrees will give you even more tips on earning a doctorate degree as quickly as possible.
Bottom Line: An accelerated PhD program will require a fierce determination and great organizational skills. The programs are very competitive. But for those students who see it through to graduation, the rewards are also great.
A PhD in business administration is a terminal degree, meaning it’s the highest degree that can be conferred on individuals in the field. This is also true for the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree—it’s a terminal degree but it has several significant differences with the PhD degree.
Both online DBA programs and PhD programs confer a doctorate in business administration degree, of course. But generally-speaking, a PhD degree is research-oriented, while a DBA degree is application-oriented.
Which one is better? Neither is better than the other in general—it depends on your personal and professional goals.
On one hand, if you’re into the formulation of theories that provide viable answers to questions in the business world, then an accelerated online PhD in business administration degree is your best choice. Your research knowledge and skills will be of excellent value in academia, business organizations, and think tanks, among other entities.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in effective and efficient solutions for practical issues in your current organization, then accelerated online DBA programs are your best bet.
Key Point: In this ranking, we are only featuring the fastest PhD in business administration programs offered in online and hybrid formats. Note that while a 100% online program may be best for busy schedules, hybrid programs are more common. The hybrid format usually consists of online coursework, on-campus residencies, and either virtual or in-person dissertation oral defense.
While each online business administration doctoral programs is unique, there are some things that remain consistent across most programs.
The typical requirements of accelerated online doctorate degree in business administration programs include:
Key Point: Some programs may also conduct interviews to determine the suitability of applicants for the challenges ahead, especially in an accelerated online program. Schools look for applicants who demonstrate exceptional academic performance, research aptitude, and time and stress management skills. Applicants are also judged on effective communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.
The best colleges and universities maintain their prestige by being the best in what they do in terms of academic excellence—and students are a huge part of it! The higher the number of graduates in a business administration program, the better for the school’s reputation—which spills over to the reputation of the college or university, too.
Many PhD in business administration programs have a time-to-completion of 4-5 years for full-time studies, if the curriculum will be followed to the letter. But it is not uncommon for the average time-to-degree completion to be longer because of the extensive time required for the completion of the dissertation. In fact, doctorate degree programs can take 6-12 years to complete!
But the best accelerated online PhD in business administration programs can be completed in as little as three years!
Most accelerated PhD programs usually require full-time matriculation among their students. Some programs may even prohibit students from having external employment, especially for students who have an assistantship.
However, many executive PhD programs do allow their students to maintain their current employment with the provision that their academic performance is up to par.
Key Point: The fastest online PhD in business administration degree programs featured below can all be completed within 3 years.
The typical PhD in business administration programs require students to complete between 60 and 90 semester credit —or the equivalent in quarter credits—to earn their degrees. The difference usually lies in whether the program accepts students with only a bachelor’s degree (90 credits) or a master’s degree (60 credits).
Many accelerated online PhD in business administration programs allow students to choose from several concentrations or specializations including:
The typical doctoral programs classify the coursework into four major areas, namely:
Key Point: Many accelerated online PhD in business administration programs also require students to create a plan of study with a timeline of courses and their completion. This serves as a way of not only monitoring progress toward degree completion, but also keeping the student on track.
Aside from the didactic and field coursework and seminars, the following requirements are common for degree completion purposes in the best accelerated doctoral programs:
The fastest online PhD in business administration programs use learning management systems (LMS) for the delivery of the coursework and other purposes. While every LMS has its specific features and functions, these are the common aspects that make online learning as productive as in-person learning.
Key Point: The learning curve for LMS differs between students but for students who have already earned an online bachelor’s or master’s degree, or even taken online courses in high school, it’s a familiar platform.
Let’s face it—earning an online PhD in business administration degree through one an accelerated program will require a considerable dollar investment! Per-credit costs can range between $500 and $1,500 depending on the type of institution (i.e., public or private).
The total tuition can range from $27,000 and $65,000+ and it doesn’t include other expenses, such as technology fees, travel fees for on-campus activities, and incidental fees.
But don’t be immediately discouraged by the cost! Most, if not all, doctoral programs offer financial aid packages for their students. These include institutional scholarships, grants and assistantships, as well as loans.
The graduate assistantship, typically requires either teaching, research, and/or administrative responsibilities, and can include a waiver of university tuition, premium payments for student health insurance, and an annual stipend.
These privileges are usually renewable on a yearly basis for four years, maximum. Extensions for another year may be approved pending satisfactory progress and performance in doctoral studies.
Graduate assistantships vary, but usually require about 20 hours of work each week. Full-time employment may or may not be feasible for full-time online students in accelerated programs, especially those with an assistantship.
Be sure to discuss your options and the program policy on this matter to avoid the consequences, which can include dismissal from the doctoral program.
Bottom Line: While the cost of one of the fastest online PhD in business administration degree programs can be considerable, many schools offer financial aid, grants and assistantships, or loans to help cover the cost of the program.
PhD in business administration degree holders certainly qualify for positions in academia, think tanks, and research-centric government agencies, but their career options are as diverse as those of DBA holders!
Check out these career paths and see that, indeed, a PhD degree in business administration from an accelerated online program will take you places.
Other possible career paths are in human resources, executive coaching, and leadership development. Graduates of Executive PhD in Business Administration programs can also become chief executive officers or presidents of their companies.
The following graph depicts the average salaries of Business Operations Specialists for each percentile in the U.S.
Source: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
SVG Attribution: Wikipedia
Tuition + fees
Liberty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Liberty University doesn’t shy away from making its voice heard, and it comes in many forms, too! The Journal of Statesmanship and Public Policy highlights Liberty’s Christian perspective on matters of national security, domestic policy, and international relations. On the online front, its online Liberty Bell News expounds on Dr. Falwell Sr.’s mission and vision in training champions for Christ.
The PhD in Business Administration program is also imbued with a Christian perspective for the challenges of contemporary times. Students strengthen their business skills by using business research methods in theory development and even in finding solutions for complex business issues.
The business administration program features core courses that cover human resources management, marketing for competitive advantage, and strategic allocation of resources, among others:
The specializations in the business administration program are in:
Students choose from several specializations that provide them with a competitive advantage of their own in the job marketplace and business industry.
The military-friendly benefits make Liberty one of the best universities for military personnel and veterans as well as their spouses. Tuition discounts, additional discounts for veterans who are current First Responders, and college credit for military training are a few examples.
Liberty University is great for students who:
Thrive in an online learning environment with exceptional student support services
Liberty University might not be the best fit for students who:
Want their freedom of choice in terms of lifestyle habits like alcohol use, sex and dress code
Tuition + fees
In 2017, Northcentral University launched its Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) program for ABD students to earn their doctorate degrees. The program is anchored on greater structure, responsibility, and accountability, and innovative student experiences that contribute to improved doctoral completion rates. In 2019, NCU alumni reported superior graduate outcomes in a 2018 Gallup Study.
The ACBSP-accredited PhD in Business Administration program benefited from the DCP program, too, and it’s among NCU’s most successful programs in terms of professional satisfaction. The program prepares students for senior leadership positions in the business world, for academic positions, and other related occupations.
Students choose from 16 specializations including:
Students choose from several electives, too, in accordance with their chosen specialization. Advanced research knowledge and skills, as well as a love for lifelong learning, are emphasized throughout the program of study.
The faculty members possess doctorate degrees in their field of specialization, too, and provide one-on-one engagement with their students. Students complete 20 courses and can apply for scholarships including the Stay Focused Scholarship.
The online university is truly a welcoming institution! In 2017, its oldest graduate was an 80-year old individual with a PhD in Business Administration degree.
NCU is great for students who:
Thrive in a structured learning environment that allows a certain degree of flexibility but doesn’t compromise on academic excellence
NCU might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer in-person learning
Tuition + fees
Florida Atlantic University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
In 2021, the student body of Florida Atlantic University consisted of 61% ethnic minorities—and it has proven, once again, that FAU is the most ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse institution in The Sunshine State’s State University System!
Aside from domestic students, FAU also hosts students from over 180 countries worldwide. Furthermore, FAU has two honors programs—the University Scholars Program for freshmen and the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College that offers elite liberal arts education.
FAU’s AACSB-accredited Executive PhD in Business Administration program is considered one of the best of its kind in Florida. The online program welcomes senior-level business executives with extensive experience who want to earn a terminal degree in business administration. Students can continue their full-time employment and can immediately apply their learnings to their workplaces.
Students learn under the tutelage of credentialed faculty members with extensive experience in business research and other relevant topics. The program of study enables students to develop their mastery of advanced business research methodologies as well as their analytical thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
There are several business research areas of specialization to choose from:
Students learn in a cohort model and complete five residency weekends every academic year. These residencies are intended for learning opportunities between students and professors. The online program also offers VIP Concierge Service for student success.
FAU continues to impress with its research programs and partnerships, such as with the Max Planck Society and the Scripps Research Institute. Together with its centers of excellence in biomedical, marine biotechnology, and ocean energy technology, it’s among the best places for researchers and scientists!
FAU is great for students who:
Love an abundance of research opportunities and a large academic community
FAU might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer an average college experience
Tuition + fees
Founded by two teachers as an institution for adult learners, Walden University has definitely made its mark in education! Today, the university is known for its quality online programs designed for adult learners, working professionals, and other non-traditional students. Furthermore, it’s recognized as among the universities that award the highest number of research doctorates to African-Americans.
The ACBSP-accredited PhD in Management program prepares students for successful careers in academia, the business industry, and the public sector, thanks to their advanced knowledge and skills. The terminal degree is also considered among the most prestigious and, thus, boosts your credibility, impact, and influence in the industry.
As a research-centric degree program, the main focus is on the dissertation process. Students choose from several concentrations:
Students can also design their own program of study by choosing courses from the different specializations based on their interests and goals. All students complete four PhD residencies as part of the degree completion requirements.
Walden University also offers a PhD completion program for students who already have doctoral degree credits from another institution but haven’t completed a dissertation.
Students choose from two types of learning based on their present needs. First, the course-based learning is the traditional instructor-led approach. Second, the Tempo Learning plan offers flexible learning experiences with self-paced study and subscription pricing.
Walden University is great for students who:
Benefit from an online learning environment and with a wide range of online programs
Walden University might not be the best fit for students who:
Like in-person learning
Tuition + fees
Oklahoma State University–Stillwater’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Think of Oklahoma State University as a Goldilocks university—just right. The student body consists of talented individuals from across the United States and 100+ countries resulting in a dynamic, inclusive, and fun campus culture. There are even 70+ diversity-related organizations that strengthen its inclusive culture, but the 80,000-strong gatherings have a single color—orange!
Offered by the Spears School of Business, the AACSB-accredited PhD in Business for Executives program welcomes executives with extensive leadership experience. Students can pursue the terminal degree while maintaining their full-time careers and, in the process, apply their research-based learnings to the benefit of their workplaces or businesses.
Students progress through the program with a combination of synchronous online classes, recorded lectures, and monthly 3-day, in-person residences. The coursework covers topics in organizational behavior, strategic management, research design and methods, and business analytics, among others.
Every course is taught by faculty members with doctorate degrees and extensive experience in their field of expertise.
Students must complete a dissertation under the guidance of their respective faculty research advisor. The dissertation must demonstrate their mastery of research methodologies, among other technical skills, as well as their communication skills.
Applicants must possess a master’s degree, extensive managerial experience, and higher faculty thinking skills. Letters of recommendation, transcripts, and resume are a must.
It’s right smack in the middle of Stillwater, among The South’s Friendliest Cities! But it’s also near Tulsa and Oklahoma City, meaning more recreational opportunities await.
OKState is great for students who:
Love a large campus community, thrive in competitive learning environments, and like to have fun
OKState might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer an everybody-knows-everybody campus