Is it worth doing a PhD in business


Doctorate is typically German, MBA is more international

In Germany, 25,000 university graduates complete their doctorates every year. Almost every second doctor (43%) is doing a doctorate in mathematics and the natural sciences, and every fifth in engineering (20%). Anyone who has studied in these subject areas should definitely consider a doctorate so as not to lose out to their fellow students.

Sörge Drosten, partner at the management consultancy Kienbaum, says in an interview with the newspaper Welt:

The title is still a plus on the job market: Many employers appreciate the profound specialist knowledge and the ability to work independently and scientifically in doctoral students. For engineers and scientists, the doctorate is often the ticket to management positions, in research and development.

This statement is also confirmed by a study: Eight years after completing their doctorate, 36% of doctoral candidates hold a managerial position. More than 45% of those who have embarked on a purely scientific career.

At the higher career levels, it is no longer just the well-founded theoretical know-how that counts, but management competence and commercial knowledge are also required here. You don't learn that in a doctorate and here the MBA has an advantage. Also for those who are abroad or at an international, possibly American-influenced, Companies wanting to pursue a career, the MBA can provide more career advantages.

PhD or MBA? Preferably both

There are many professionals who can show both degrees. Most of them are typically graduates of natural or engineering courses. The classic career path is entry after graduation, promotion to management positions and then the part-time MBA to strengthen business knowledge.

For graduates of economics courses, the Doctorate have a more positive impact on career than the MBA, because you already learned the business administration know-how in your first degree.

MBA or PhD? Testimonials from those who have both

We interviewed randomly selected people via Xing who have both a doctorate and an MBA. We received the following opinions:

HR consultant Dr. Dorian Hartmuth

My tip: only do the MBA at universities, not at universities of applied sciences. In my opinion, the dissertation is less important than the MBA. The dissertation is particularly important if you want to work in top management in Germany. The MBA is useful even earlier.

Daniel (Dr. & MBA)

I did my doctorate because I wanted to deepen my professional work. Not at university, though, as I've never had a college career. A career in industry played a role, however, since in large companies the title often opens the way to management positions more quickly.

I then joined the MBA because a few years later I was no longer so convinced that development - i.e. more professional work - is my future. I wanted to develop into an all-rounder, tending to focus more on management positions. Interestingly, I am now working as an all-rounder at the interface between development and production, which on the one hand challenges me a lot and on the other hand fulfills me very much. I also see it as the next step on the ladder, as I am currently building a network in an entire branch of the company and collecting know-how about the processes and helping to shape them. But neither a doctorate nor an MBA alone would have brought me into this position.
In retrospect, I believe that if I had switched to one of my former clients at the right moment, I would have made progress in my promotion. I never did that at the time, because the positions offered didn't appeal to me personally, because they were mostly anchored exclusively in development. But I believe that people with a different personality structure can be just as successful or more successful with the MBA. An MBA from the right university enjoys a lot of attention these days, so these are also ideal starting opportunities.
I'm more satisfied when I can complete a project or two up to 100%, more of a topic for a doctorate. In the MBA at ESB I learned many different subject areas, but mostly only between 30 and 70%. Always scratched the surface. This is how I feel for some of my colleagues who are successful with a saddled MBA in marketing or controlling. And that just doesn't suit me.

Nicolas (Dr. & MBA)

I have thought very hard about the question of whether the doctorate or the MBA has brought me more. To be honest, there is no clear answer for me. Without a doctorate, I would not have made my career entry so easily. The MBA (perhaps also because of a second, rather unrelated course) has opened more doors for me professionally.

More good articles on the topic

Tip: In the university management education there is the possibility of completing a Doctor of Business Administration after the Master of Business Administration. This allows you to do a doctorate while working and thus your Dr. Obtaining a title.