2023 Best Online PhD in Strategy & Innovation Programs [Doctorate Guide]

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Effectively leading a business requires a confident and strategic mindset, and a PhD in Strategy offers the opportunity to gain and hone critical skills in finance, management, and computer science.

Best Online PhD in Strategy and Innovation Programs

While completing your doctorate, you’ll take a variety of courses focused on how organizations in multiple industries build and maintain competitive operations. Doctoral programs in business strategy require several years of intensive study, teaching, research, and writing.

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Once you’ve completed this terminal degree program, you may be regarded as an expert in the field who can provide unique skills to employers.

Online PhD in Strategy Programs

Woman pursuing Online PhD in Strategy

A PhD in Business Strategy is an advanced degree that focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship, and strategic decision-making. During this program, you can work closely with respected and experienced faculty who serve as both instructors and mentors.

The subjects you might study during your PhD program include:

  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Statistics
  • Mathematics
  • Leadership skills
  • Business theories and practices
  • Public policy
  • Computer science

These areas of study are essential for business leaders who guide their organizations toward long-term success. You’ll take courses that present abstract concepts and practical skills for business professionals.

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Depending on the program you select, you may also have the opportunity to take electives focused on your particular interests, such as international business or industrial organization. Your dissertation also allows you to pursue a topic that you find especially engaging.

After graduating with your PhD, you may be well-positioned to begin a career with a broad pool of employers, including:

  • Retail businesses
  • Financial institutions
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Government agencies
  • Colleges and universities
  • Nonprofits
  • Consulting firms

These organizations hire professionals with knowledge and expertise in strategic management to guide their financial and operational decisions. Graduates of these programs sometimes become economists, top executives, and managers.

If you’re interested in education, you might work at a university as a business professor who guides the next generation of professionals in the field. Many PhD programs include a teaching component that helps you determine whether you want to pursue a career in education.

Doctoral degree holders also sometimes become deans and presidents of colleges and universities. They oversee academic programs, recruit new faculty, and manage budgetary decisions.

Strategy Careers & Salaries

Strategy Careers and Salaries

A PhD in Strategy and Innovation is a valuable degree for current and aspiring business leaders, administrators, and managers.

During this program, you can learn how to best protect the interests of an organization, whether it’s a hospital, bank, or government agency.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the median salaries of potential occupations for graduates of strategy PhD programs.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $189,520
Marketing Managers $140,040
Financial Managers $139,790
Human Resources Managers $130,000
Economists $113,940
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,830
Administrative Services Managers $103,330
Postsecondary Education Administrators $99,940
General and Operations Managers $98,100
Postsecondary Business Teachers $88,790

Graduates of PhD programs are highly skilled in research and develop extensive knowledge and skills in strategic management. These are assets to organizations looking for employees to oversee their financial, human resources, marketing, or administrative departments.

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Other professionals with this type of degree become executives who are responsible for managing every aspect of an organization. Graduates of strategy doctoral programs may also work as business educators for undergraduate and graduate students.

Strategy PhD Curriculum & Courses

students taking Strategy PhD in group research work

The curriculum of a doctorate in strategic leadership is designed to teach students how to become more effective leaders with the ability to innovate and adapt in modern organizations. Common courses in these programs include:

  • Microeconomic Theory: In this course, you’ll learn about the connection between resource allocation and consumer behavior.
  • Advanced Econometrics: Students in this class use statistical methods to describe and define economic situations and forecast trends.
  • Machine Learning: This class focuses on the use of data to teach machines to perform tasks that are typically completed by humans.
  • Organizational Theory: During this course, you’ll explore why organizations are structured in certain ways and what allows them to function successfully.
  • Entrepreneurship: Developing a new business requires an advanced understanding of strategy, and this course introduces you to important economic considerations that are necessary to achieve financial viability.
  • Behavioral Decision Theory: This class provides you with an understanding of how people make decisions and what drives human behavior.
  • Anticipating the Future: Students in this course discuss the ways organizations plan for future growth through techniques such as modeling.
  • Innovation: This course addresses organizational processes and methods for innovation, including scenario and contingency planning.
  • Computational Economics: In this multidisciplinary course, you’ll learn about aspects of computer science, management science, and economics.
  • Probability Theory: Students in this class analyze random events and determine the probabilities associated with them.

A strategy doctoral program, much like an online PhD in Entrepreneurship, usually involves 2 or 3 years of coursework followed by 1 or more years of research, culminating in a lengthy dissertation.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for PhD in Strategy and Innovation

Doctoral programs are generally selective and have strict application requirements. These are some of the most common criteria:

  • Transcripts. Provide official transcripts from your undergraduate and graduate studies.
  • Test scores. If required, submit test scores from the GRE or GMAT.
  • Resume or CV. Write a detailed list of your professional experience, academic achievements, and publications.
  • Personal statement. Explain why you feel the program aligns with your skills and goals.
  • Recommendations. Seek recommendations from instructors and supervisors who are familiar with your strengths.

You may also be asked to complete a program application and participate in an interview.


University offering PhD in Strategy and Innovation Degrees

Regional accreditation is an indicator of a postsecondary institution’s quality. To become accredited, universities must undergo a lengthy and thorough evaluation process that assesses both their curriculum and faculty.

This helps ensure that you receive useful and current information from respected professionals in the field. If you have to change schools before graduating, regional accreditation generally makes it easier to transfer credits as well. Attending an accredited school is professionally beneficial, as most employers respond more positively to degrees from regionally accredited institutions.

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Professional organizations and certification boards may also base your eligibility on whether you completed your education at an accredited school.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Strategy and Innovation Financial Aid

There are many financial aid opportunities available to help qualifying students pay the upfront costs of a doctorate in strategy.

You can begin by filing a FAFSA to determine whether you qualify for federal loans, grants, or work studies. Your state government may also offer aid opportunities for students attending in-state schools.

You can search an online database or speak to a financial aid representative from your prospective college about scholarship opportunities. Some scholarship programs are designed for specific majors, while others are tailored to particular groups, such as minority communities. If you’re a working professional, your employer may also offer financial assistance.

You could ask your supervisor or human resources department about opportunities for tuition reimbursement. Many organizations offer this benefit to support employees in their pursuit of higher education.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Strategic Management?

Financial Manager discussing with executives

During a strategic management PhD program, you can develop analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills that apply to a number of career paths.

After earning this terminal degree, some professionals are promoted to top executive positions, such as a chief executive officer, within an organization. Other potential career opportunities include teaching business courses at a college or university. You might also work as an analyst or consultant specializing in management or economics.

Depending on their background, graduates may also pursue positions as economists, financial managers, and medical and health services managers. Many of these roles pay competitive salaries, and holding a PhD may increase your earning potential as well.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship Online?

Man taking PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship online

Just like a PhD in Real Estate online, the length of a strategy doctoral program depends on the track and graduation requirements. Many doctorate in business degree online programs include between 12 and 16 credit hours. Full-time students can typically complete these classes within 2 to 3 years.

If your PhD program requires a dissertation, that will likely require an additional 1 to 3 years of research and writing. Doctoral programs also frequently include a teaching assistantship that you complete concurrently with your courses and dissertation work.

Many PhD programs have a cap on the number of years that you have to complete your classes, comprehensive exam, dissertation, and dissertation defense.

Is a PhD in Strategy Worth It?

Chief Executive discussing with Marketing Manager & team

Yes, a PhD in Strategy is worth it for many students. Business professionals who want to advance their careers can learn valuable skills during a doctoral program.

Completing a doctorate gives you the opportunity to study a particular area of interest in great depth. During your program, you may write and publish articles and network with influential members of the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of the career paths open to strategy PhD graduates will continue to grow in demand.

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Overall employment for management occupations is projected to see 8% job growth over the next ten years, which is faster than average.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Strategy Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Capella University offers an online PhD in Business Management with a specialization in Strategy and Innovation. The program offers opportunities to network with instructors and classmates through participation in virtual residencies and receive mentorship while working on a dissertation. A comprehensive exam must also be completed to graduate.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Sullivan University

Sullivan University campus

Sullivan University offers an online PhD in Management with a concentration in Strategic Management. Full-time students typically take two courses each quarter and can usually complete the coursework in about 2 years. The program requires the completion of a dissertation and a comprehensive exam to graduate.

Sullivan University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of North Carolina – Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus

North Carolina – Greensboro offers a PhD in Business Administration with a focus on Strategy. This online program requires the completion of 54 credit hours and can typically be completed in 5 years. Prospective students are expected to have a master’s degree in business or a related field.

UNC Greensboro is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands campus

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online PhD in Business with a content specialty in Strategic Management. The program requires the completion of a dissertation. Potential courses include Advanced Managerial Accounting, Strategic Marketing, and Corporate Finance.

The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University campus

Walden University offers a PhD in Management Leadership with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Strategy. The curriculum is designed to challenge critical thinking abilities. The program includes a dissertation requirement and four residency requirements, two of which may be completed virtually. It usually takes 3 to 8 years to complete.

Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your PhD in Strategy Online

student getting PhD in Strategy Degree online

Whether you dream of starting your own business or becoming the leader of an established organization, a PhD in Strategy can help you grow your qualifications and advance your career.

During a strategy doctoral program, you will study subjects that are central to business operations, including economics, organizational theory, and entrepreneurship. A faculty mentor will also guide you through a dissertation project. After graduating with a PhD, you may be better qualified to transition into a new role or perform more productively in your current position.

You could take the next step in your professional journey today by researching online strategy PhD programs from accredited universities.

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Kama has a master's degree in English from Virginia Tech and a bachelor's in English from Concord University. She previously taught college-level English composition, literature, and English as a second language courses. She is now a full-time writer in the education field, with a particular focus on educational technology and pedagogical best practices for English language learners.