Executive Programs

Doctoral Programs for Executives

Individuals seeking to enhance their current executive knowledge may seek to enroll in a Doctoral Program for Executives. Business executives possess some of the largest salaries of any professional in the United States. Most of these professionals earn well over $100,000 per year. Most executive doctoral programs are geared towards working professionals who desire the degree in order to advance their careers.

In order to enroll into an executive doctoral program, an individual must first obtain a Master’s degree before progressing to an executive doctoral program. The area of study and the prerequisites needed for the executive doctoral program will determine the Master’s degree professionals should possess prior to enrollment.

Students migrate into an executive doctoral program to study business, public health, leadership, theology, counseling, and professional studies. Most individuals migrate into the executive doctoral programs in order to study business or management. However, each professional’s path may be unique.

What a Person Learns With an Executive Doctorate

Traditional doctoral programs differ from executive doctoral programs. Executive doctoral programs focus on striking a balance between learning business theory and practical execution of theoretical principles. Executive doctoral programs are designed to train executives how to effectively use business principles on the job.

Because these programs are designed for working professionals, many are offered in the evenings and on the weekends. This provides working professionals the opportunity to complete their course work, while continuing their professional careers. Many professionals may also use their executive doctorates to teach and serve as professors in their fields. In some instances, this may require additional educational development.

As stated above, students are required to obtain their Master’s degree as a prerequisite for entering an executive doctoral program. Many students may earn their Master’s of Business Administration (M.B.A). This is the most common Master’s degree program that students enter before obtaining their executive doctoral degree. However, a person seeking an executive doctorate in Theology may seek a Master’s in Theology or Ethics prior to enrollment.

Students should be able to provide letters of recommendation and transcripts from their previous post-secondary studies. Work experience will also play a huge factor in acceptance into an executive doctoral program.

Course Work

Students may study the following:

  • Global Marketing Strategy
  • Research Methodology
  • Management Leadership
  • Organizational Leadership Training
  • Data Analysis
  • Research Design
  • Advanced Business Theory
  • Dissertation Seminar

The course work for the program will depend upon the specialization the student pursues. For instance, health care is currently a growing field. Individuals who desire to progress in this field will be assured a certain degree of job security. A student interested in the health profession may pursue an executive doctoral program in the area of Health Leadership. This program is designed to prepare professionals in their mid-career for a senior-level position. These programs are typically 3 years and aim to teach professionals to improve public health programs and initiatives.

Individuals who would qualify for the program are people working in non-profit settings, foundations, health directors, program officers, or entrepreneurs. Classes for this professional may consist of the following:

  • Leadership in Public Health and Ethics
  • Organizational Leadership Theory and Practice
  • Research Principles
  • Policy Development for Public Health Leadership
  • Essentials of Practice Based Research
  • Community Involvement in Research
  • Marketing and PR for Health Leaders
  • ìStrategic Thinking and Implementationî
  • ìDissertation Preparation and Planningî

After reviewing the basic structure of a doctoral program for executives, professionals may notice the similarities in the structure and curriculum of the programs.

Online Executive Doctoral Programs

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers professionals an online program for executives pursuing a doctorate in Health Leadership. The curriculum is as outlined in the above example and is centered on Health Policy and Management. Students will access their faculty and peers through their computers mainly. Each of the student’s assignments are accessible via their own personal computer with a DSL or cable modem connection.

Each week the students will receive their narrative case studies, readings, datasets, and recorded videos via the web. Students simply log onto the computer and receive their study materials. Students must complete their tasks prior to the next scheduled class. Each session will consist of three-hour lectures or learning sessions via the internet.

To complete the program, students must complete the curriculum, along with writing a dissertation. The dissertation must also be defended formally to receive the doctoral honor.

Syracuse University


Syracuse University offers a Doctorate of Professional studies for working professionals who desire to advance in the executive world. This particular doctorate focuses upon directing organizations for positive change through executive leadership. The program combines evaluation, management, and implementation to direct organizational change.

The program relies heavily on information management and the use of the discipline to manage daily organizational tasks. Executives direct and regulate the programs and processes that are required for efficient business management whether in the field of network management, information management, public administration, military, library management, or any other discipline.

Experts predict a shortage in the United States of qualified executives to fill senior leadership jobs in areas such as business, government and other positions. The Information Studies Professional Doctorate aims to prepare individuals for placement into executive positions in the public and private sectors, as well as academic, non-profit, and defense.

This Executive Doctoral program requires professionals to complete 16 courses. The curriculum includes 6 residential seminars, 4 online doctoral seminars, 4 methods courses, and 2 practical courses from a master’s level curriculum. Those courses will be in the areas of Telecommunications, Network Management, Library Science, and Information Management.

Accredited Offline Executive Doctoral Programs

George Washington University


George Washington University offers an Executive Leadership Doctoral Program in Human and Organizational Learning. This program differs from traditional programs. The Executive Leadership program provides professionals with the opportunity to challenge traditional assumptions and promotes critical reflection. The curriculum also focuses upon self-directed and group learning. The curriculum is centered on principles of anthropology, sociology, biology, management, and psychology.

Students will learn how to implement directional change of an organization through organizational development and change instruction. Professionals will participate in leadership development courses and individual, group and organization-learning curricula.

Professionals are offered a variety of programs to accommodate their busy schedules. Evening and weekend doctoral studies are available. The location will depend upon the program the professional selects. Evening courses are taught in Washington, D.C. and evening and weekend courses are available in Maryland. The classes meet once per week. Each class is 15 weeks. The entire curriculum takes 3 years to complete.

Students will be included in a diverse classroom of professionals. Most of the applicants have 10 or more years of experience in a professional environment. Applicants are from diverse backgrounds, such as the high tech industry, engineering, non-profit, manufacturing, corporate, health care, or federal government. The classes typically consist of 12 students. Many of the tasks are completed through the Web 2.0 environment.

Georgia State University


Professionals seeking an Executive Doctorate in Business may explore the program offered by the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. The program strives to teach professionals how to apply theoretical principles to actual business problems. Professionals are taught to think globally and develop strategies to address global business concerns. The classes are taught by professors who ran the 4th largest Ph.D. program in the United States.

The program seeks seasoned senior-level professionals who need the Executive Doctorate to propel them to the next level in their career. Executives are taught skills in formal social inquiry in order to facilitate their efforts to address complex business issues. Professionals will also learn to apply quantitative and qualitative principles to current business problems.

The Executive Doctorate requires applicants to hold an M.B.A. prior to applying. The individual must also be working full-time. The program will require 3 years to complete. An Executive Doctorate prepares professionals to serve in an executive role. This degree will not prepare the individual to teach.

Job Employment Opportunities and Salaries

Individuals who successfully obtain their executive doctorate may receive the following appointments:

  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Vice President of Finance
  • Vice President of Marketing
  • Professional Consultant
  • Academic Professor
  • Financial Analyst

The median average salary range of these types of professionals is $167,280. Nearly 297,640 people are employed as executives. Executives working in District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are more likely to be surrounded by their peers, as a high percentage of executives work in these areas.

Executives working in Delaware, New Mexico, New Jersey, California, and Connecticut have the highest median state salaries of executives across the nation. The median average salary of Delaware executives is $201,460. Considering only metropolitan areas, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT; New York-White Plains-Wayne, NJ; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA; and Durham, NC have the highest median salaries for executives. The annual median salary is between $217,080 and $210,380.

Executive Responsibilities

Executives have flexible schedules that allow them the authority to come and go from their jobs as they please. Nearly 45 percent of full-time executives enjoy this type of flexibility. Top executives devise the overall vision for the corporation. These individuals are charged with developing strategies to move the company forward and ensure that the company meets their goals and objectives. In most instances, this translates to profit.

Chief Executive Officers and other top executives are responsible for establishing the direction of the company. Companies often employ a board of directors to oversee the direction of the company and offer input from an outside perspective.

These executive leaders are also often involved in the community to promote economic development and business investment in the community. An executive’s responsibilities will depend upon the size of the organization. Smaller organizations may require more responsibilities of a top executive that may be handled by another executive in a larger corporation. In a small corporation, executives may become more involved in the financials of the company. Larger corporations have individuals designated to that particular task.

Chief Information Officers may direct the company’s technological development. These individuals may propose budgets for technological growth, determine the growth of organizations and hiring patterns, and determine which products and equipment are necessary to compete in a technologically advanced society.

Each executive is charged with ensuring that his or her organization performs optimally. Their performance is reflective of the entire company’s brand image. The decisions these individuals make will determine how the organization is viewed in the community. This will determine if people will purchase products from the business or how the company’s stock performs. People who employed in these positions are visionaries and must be strategic thinkers to perform their jobs.

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5 Responses to “Executive Programs”
  1. Orvell Johns

    This was very informative. I fall into the working executive/professional category who would like to earn a PhD, but find it difficult to make time for a full time program.

    This information cleared up some of those concerns, but now I am left with, HOW DO YOU PAY FOR THE PROGRAM?

    Is anyone aware of partial and full scholarships/fellowships?

  2. L.J. DiGiusto, III

    Inquiring about Exec Doctoral Programs. Have MBA. Senior Exec in Marketing Comm.

  3. babajide

    I just have one question regarding the executive phd programs; can I get a fellowship /research assistant for any of this programs?

  4. Paula Smith

    I am interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in leadership. I hold a Master’s degree in Justice Administration. By not having a MBA, does this preclude me from pursuing an executive doctoral program with one of these colleges?

  5. Mohammed Arifur Rahman

    I am interested to do a PhD course from Bangladesh on Social Science related topic. I am working as the Chief Executive of YPSA (Non Profit Social Development Organization) and want to develop my skills and vision on social development issues . Please let me inform more detail on professional PhD courses .

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