Salary Outlook for PhD in Business Degree Grads

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - May 16, 2018
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Earning a Ph.D. in Business Administration will provide you with the knowledge and skills for an academic career in business administration, as well as scholarly business administration research at the collegiate level. You also will develop advanced business management knowledge that can be applied to the private sector. A Ph.D. in business administration focuses primarily on developing new theories of business management, public administration, consulting, economics and related fields.

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If you are going to earn a doctorate in business administration, it will take a lot of time and effort. It is a full time commitment that will take at least four to five years. So it makes sense to research what your potential salary could be with this degree. This article details the following factors that may affect your salary with a Ph.D. in business administration:

  • Whether you work in the public or private sector
  • How many years of work experience
  • Geographic location
  • Job title

Whether You Work in the Public or Private Sector

Generally, obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree will result in a higher salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports earning a master’s degree can give you an average $12,000 pay raise over a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, earning a Ph.D. will result in a premium over a master’s degree.

For example, some surveys indicate earning a master’s degree in business will net you an average lifetime pay of $3.2 million, while earning a doctorate will increase that to $3.5 million. Earning a master’s in education will net you $2.2 million in earnings over your career, and a Ph.D. in the same field will net you $2.8 million.

So we can say generally that getting a doctorate will result in a higher salary. But a major factor in how much of a salary increase you will see is whether you are working in the public or private sector.

Many professionals with a Ph.D. in business administration work in the public or educational sector, but some do work in the private sector. Below is salary information from BLS that shows the wage premium earned for a variety of business related positions in the private sector with a graduate degree over a bachelor’s degree:

  • Financial manager: $78,000/$110,000
  • Market research analyst: $65,000/$90,000
  • Distribution manager: $62,000/$90,000
  • Marketing and sales manager: $80,000/$110,000

For education administrators, we see that you can earn $23,000 more with a master’s degree over a bachelor’s degree. BLS does not provide data about Ph.D. vs master’s salaries, but we can assume there is an increase in salary by earning the higher degree.

Also, later in this article we highlight salaries by job title, and this indicates that a professional with a Ph.D. in business administration will generally earn a higher salary by working in the private sector.

Ph.D. in Business Administration Work Experience

As in all career fields, the number of years of work experience you have will influence your salary. For example, if you become a professor with your Ph.D., reports the median salary across the US is $87,500. But this will vary depending upon your level of experience:

  • Professors with less than five years of experience earn $60,000 per year
  • Professors with five to 10 years of work experience earn $71,000 per year
  • Professors with 10 to 20 years of work experience earn $86,000 per year
  • Professors with more than 20 years of experience earn $99,000 per year.

On the other hand, some professionals with a Ph.D. in business administration go the private business route and become CEOs. reports the median salary for CEOs is $164,800. This also will vary with experience:

  • Less than five years experience: $120,000
  • Five to 10 years of experience: $154,000
  • 10 to 20 years of experience: $193,000
  • More than 20 years of experience: $229,000

Ph.D. in Business Administration Geographic Location

If you are a professor in a business college with your Ph.D., you will earn a higher salary in some parts of the country than others. The national average wage for this position is $87,300, but your salary can be higher or lower depending upon if you live in these cities:

  • San Francisco: +49%
  • Boston: +32%
  • Los Angeles: +21%
  • Indianapolis: +19%
  • Philadelphia: +16%
  • Seattle: +15%
  • Chicago: 0%
  • Baltimore: -6%
  • Dallas: -8%
  • Houston: -11%

For general salary for Ph.D. in business administration for all job titles, these are typical salaries for some cities across the US, according to

  • Wilmington DE: $156,300
  • Los Angeles CA: $150,500
  • Louisville KY: $94,750
  • Chicago IL: $120,700
  • New York City: $120,000

Ph.D. in Business Administration Job Title

The last major influence on what your salary could be with a Ph.D. in business administration is job title. Depending upon whether you get a job in academia or in a private company, your salary can vary widely.

Below is a sampling of the job titles and salaries that people with this degree have; this data was pulled from

  • Professor, Postsecondary and Higher Education: $116,435
  • Chief Information Officer: $92,717
  • Regional Vice President of Operations: $159,700
  • Six Sigma Black Belt Project Manager: $83,600
  • Director of Analytics: $113,576
  • Healthcare Administrator: $131,800
  • Adjunct Professor: $59,500
  • Assistant Professor: $84,100
  • Associate Professor: $97,000
  • Senior Risk Manager: $139,000
  • Director of Operations: $81,212
  • IT Manager: $153,000
  • Management Consultant: $75,800

On a related note, your salary with this degree also will be influenced by any specialty you choose. Many popular Ph.D. in business programs offer specialties that may pay more than others, such as accounting, finance, information systems, general management, operations management and entrepreneurship.

The information above provides some insights about what your salary could be with a Ph.D. in business administration. There are many career directions you can go in that will definitely affect your salary. Once you have determined exactly what you want to do with the degree, you can get a better idea of the salary potential.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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