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Doctoral Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Living in Tucson

Is the financial support enough to live on in Tucson?

The cost of living in Tucson is close to the national average, which is considerably lower than most major U.S. cities. See the following website for additional information for students living off-campus:

In addition, there are many cost-of-living calculators that will compare your salary at your current location with that required to live in Tucson. For example:

What is it like to live in Tucson?

The University of Arizona is located in Tucson, a growing metropolis of over 800,000 in the unique environment of the Sonoran desert in southern Arizona. Tucson is surrounded by four mountain ranges and is only an hour drive north of Sonora, Mexico and 90 minute drive south of Phoenix. Tucson offers a wide range of outdoor activities: golfing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, etc. Since the winters are very mild, Tucson is also a winter resort destination.

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Doctoral Programs

This information provided courtesy of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB).

How strong is the demand for business professors?

According to a survey conducted by AACSB International, demand for Ph.D.s in business schools rose slightly in 2006 and the overall vacancy rate rose to 6.8 percent. At the same time, planned growth in business faculty positions for 2007 is 4.7 percent. Overall, the shortage of business faculty is predicted to reach 2,400 by 2012.

The faculty shortage has resulted in increasing salaries for faculty at business schools. In 2006, the average 9-month salary for an assistant professor (entry level) was $88,500 for faculty teaching in management, $117,100 for finance, $106,600 for accounting and $97,000 for marketing. Combined with additional compensation for activities such as summer teaching and research activities, consulting, executive program teaching, textbook writing, and sponsored papers and presentations, business faculty enjoy very healthy incomes.

What is the lifestyle of a business professor?

College and university professors enjoy many work and lifestyle privileges that are not typically available in other professions. Significant professional and intellectual autonomy allows for an unusual degree of freedom in defining work arrangements and in developing areas of academic activity. Nine-month contracts allow faculty the freedom to travel and undertake alternative teaching, research, and consulting assignments. Tenured faculty have employment that provides unprecedented job security. The opportunity to teach highly motivated students, and undertake research and develop satisfying professional relations with colleagues across the country and world is without parallel in most other professions. Being a professor also means having the opportunity to search for knowledge that will improve business practice and society. Through their research and teaching, faculty can have a significant effect on industry by making firms more efficient, innovative, profitable, etc. They also can contribute to creating jobs and economic prosperity at the national level.

Are there different types of doctoral programs?

The two principal degree designations offered by business doctoral programs are the Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) and the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration). In an earlier era of business education, the DBA was popularly regarded as providing a more general exposure to business topics geared towards practice, while the Ph.D. was viewed as focusing more on research in a given business specialty. Over time, the distinction between these two degrees has become blurred at many institutions. At present, the Ph.D. is more widely available from business schools than the DBA, particularly in the U.S. Most Ph.D. programs require full-time participation while it is more common for DBA programs to be part-time.

Do I need a master’s degree or business experience to pursue a doctorate?

While this requirement varies among programs, many do not require that students have a master’s degree in business. There also is no specific requirement to have business work experience. However, students who do not have a business background or degree will likely have to take foundation master’s courses in business.

How do I select a doctoral program?

Personal considerations, including location and educational choices in a specialized field of interest, are criteria that may help narrow the range of possibilities. An obvious consideration is whether a particular school has faculty who specialize in the prospective student’s area of interest. Students often incorrectly assume that all schools offer similar types of specializations and pay relatively little attention to the specific research interests of faculty. This can cause some unfortunate surprises once a student begins a doctoral program. Even among the leading doctoral programs at renowned research universities, there are major differences in the areas in which schools have national and international recognition for research and teaching.

As a practical matter, the growth of diploma mills that offer doctoral degrees in business has made it even more crucial for prospective students to exercise care in selecting a school. One source of information is to review key research journals to identify individual scholars who are doing research and writing articles in the field of interest. If feasible, it is beneficial to visit the campus to meet with appropriate doctoral program officials and faculty members with whom the student is likely to work. This also is a good time to explore the availability of teaching and research assistantships. Asking schools for placement history data of recent doctoral graduates is especially important since this information can be helpful in projecting the kinds of employment opportunities likely to be available once doctoral studies have been completed. Data about how many graduates took academic vs. non-academic jobs and how many received tenure would also be useful in the program selection process. Overall, one should seek evidence that program graduates are successful.

What role do rankings and accreditation play in choosing a doctoral program?

Publications that provide rankings of business schools should be viewed with some skepticism when evaluating doctoral programs. These studies are highly subjective and depend on unscientific survey data, word-of-mouth, and other unreliable data. Moreover, rankings by national business magazines often focus exclusively on MBA programs and there may be little correlation between MBA rankings and the quality of doctoral programs. Rankings should not substitute a student’s own investigation of particular school characteristics. For more information about rankings, visit

An important selection factor to consider is accreditation. Accreditation is a quality measure indicating that knowledgeable peers from other institutions have determined
that a school’s programs meet accreditation standards for faculty composition, curriculum content, instructional resources, intellectual contributions, etc. Virtually all colleges and universities in the United States hold institutional accreditation conferred by regional accrediting agencies. Within the field of business, however, separate specialized accreditation is conferred by AACSB. Selecting a school that is accredited by AACSB is an assurance that the school provides a high-quality education. In fact, many schools in the U.S. will only hire doctorates from AACSB accredited schools when recruiting for tenure track faculty. The following link provides a list of AACSB accredited business schools:

What is it like to be a doctoral student?

Unlike undergraduate or master’s-level education, where individual courses and highly structured learning with many different faculty members is the norm, doctoral education places a greater emphasis on self-directed learning and close relationships with few faculty in a particular area of  specialization. Programs typically take 4-5 years to complete and involve intense reading of academic journal articles and writing original research.

Financial assistance in the form of an assistantship is common. Doctoral students often forge close relationships with faculty mentors. These mentors work closely with the student to define a course of study, help them prepare for qualifying examinations, provide guidance in the dissertation process, and assist with finding their first faculty position.

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Doctoral Program Myths and Facts

This information provided courtesy of Beta Gamma Sigma International and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB).

Myth: Doctoral study is self-funded, leading to large debts.

According to the survey of BGS student members, 37.7 percent expect they will have to incur substantial debt to pursue a doctorate. They also indicated the “ability to support myself and family while studying” and “monetary cost of doctoral programs” as the two most important factors in deciding whether to pursue a doctoral degree program in business.

Fact: Most doctoral candidates in the U.S. receive funding from the university they attend.

According to a survey of 125 business schools (85 in the U.S.) that award business doctoral degrees, more than 80 percent of new doctoral candidates are funded by the universities (in the U.S.). Outside the U.S., the results were mixed. In some countries doctoral programs were self-funded and in others government entities and the universities themselves assisted in funding.

According to National Science Foundation (NSF) data, 56 percent of 2000 doctoral graduates had less than $10,000 in debt from their doctoral studies.

“Our Ph.D. program is one of the largest in the country and we have around 100 students,” said Dr. Libby Crawley, associate director of the doctoral program at Georgia State University. “Some departments initially fund students with research assistantships exclusively, others offer funding through a package of research and teaching assistantships. All assistantships come with a tuition waiver.”

Myth: Faculty pay is low compared to a traditional business career.

In the survey of BGS Student Leadership Forum participants, “students rank the financial rewards of academic careers in business extremely low compared with a practicing career in management.” Students expected new doctorates to receive approximately 39 percent less than the actual figures for new doctorates (in 2001).

Fact: Potential students underestimate compensation levels.

According to “Sustaining Scholarship in Business Schools”, a 2003 report of the Doctoral Faculty Commission to AACSB International’s Board of Directors, the average U.S. academic year (nine-month) salary for new doctorates in 2001 was $85,900. In the fields of finance and accounting, the average for new doctorates was $95,000 and $101,500, respectively. One in three students estimated that faculty salaries were less than $70,000 annually, which would be pro-rated to $52,500 for an academic year salary. That means that one-third of the BGS Student Leadership Forum respondents underestimated by at least 39 percent the true level of earnings for business Ph.D.’s in academia.

Myth: Candidates must have earned an MBA or other master’s degree to apply for a doctoral program in business.

Many students and professionals in business mistakenly assume a master’s degree is required to apply successfully to a business doctoral program.

Fact: An MBA or other master’s is not necessary.

Many individuals who earned their undergraduate degrees in business have no idea that they qualify to apply for Ph.D. programs. There is no requirement for a candidate to earn a master’s degree first.

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