Business Professional Doctoral Programs: Student Motivations, Educational Process, and Graduate Career Outcomes

Louis J. Grabowski, Jeanette Miller
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 10  •  2015  •  pp. 257-278
The emerging body of research on business professional doctoral programs has focused primarily on the programs’ composition and management, offering limited insight into students’ motivations and the impact the degree has on graduates and their careers. However, understanding these student motivations and career impacts is valuable for several reasons. In addition to helping future candidates assess various programs and the business professional doctoral degree itself, it can help enrolled students maximize their academic experience and help administrators improve these programs so that they better meet students’ personal and professional expectations. To bridge this research gap, this study pursued a mixed-methods approach to glean insights into why people pursue professional doctorates in business, the ultimate personal and professional outcomes of students, and the educational process producing those outcomes. The study revealed that most students entered these programs with a desire for personal or professional transformation, including the possibility of entering academia or a new industry. Moreover, the vast majority of program graduates believed they had experienced such a transformation, often in both professional and personal ways. Further, while important to personal growth, alumni perceived that certain program elements—such as the student networks they created and non-research related coursework—had little to no effect upon their career and viewed their research and the research process as far more important to their professional development. Based upon these findings, the researchers propose a comprehensive process model to explain the personal and professional factors and outcomes for graduates of business professional doctoral programs. They also suggest practical steps that students and administrators can take to improve the business professional doctoral educational experience.
Professional doctorates, careers of professional doctoral graduates, motivations of professional doctoral students, doctoral education process
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