Is a Ph.D. in Engineering Management helpful with advancing my career?

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A Doctor of Philosophy is the penultimate academic degree awarded to numerous disciplines. The prestigious global degree recipients often become a university or college professor, conduct research or scientific work. Since the 12th century, the doctorate has existed, with the first one believed to be awarded in medieval Paris around 1150. However, the doctorate became popularized in Germany in the mid 17th century in Germany where it replaced the master’s degree as the highest academic achievement.

Before addressing the captioned query, we need to look at what a doctorate in engineering management involves. At this level, acceptance into a program becomes more challenging due to each school’s stringent admission requirements. For example, at The George Washington University (GWU), their doctoral requirements stipulate at least 30 master’s degree credits must be in a research dissertation. There is also a Qualifying Examination after completing core courses and 27 credits of other required courses.

The GWU Qualify exam has two parts:

Part I – Written Exam:  A two-hour in-class exam and an eight-hour take-home test covering specified courses.

Part II – Focus Area Exam: After successfully passing Part I, it consists of a written and oral exam. Students have three options for the oral defense of a journal paper that lasts one hour. If you fail any part of the qualifying exam, you will not be allowed to pursue a doctorate at GWU.

As mentioned above, many Ph.D. graduates find careers in teaching (university level) or research (or both) since the requirement for a doctorate is research. Students tailor classes on-campus or online to their chose specialty, and then in conjunction with faculty, they begin crafting a research topic. The endeavor culminates in a thesis or dissertation suitable for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.


The Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering at Texas Tech University in Amarillo offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems and Engineering Management. There are ten courses or 30 semester credit hours of Core classes concentrating on management. Examples are:

  • Decision Theory and Management Science
  • The Engineering Management Environment
  • Systems Management Global Environment
  • Advanced Theoretical Studies in Systems Management

Students select a major or minor discipline for 60 credit hours total, followed by dissertation research for 12 semester credit hours.

Stanford University has a Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering that requires three years of study, of which two must be at the school. The program permits the transfer of up to 45 units towards the minimum of 135 credits needed for completion. Students have the choice of eight research areas, some of which are:

  • Decision and Risk Analysis
  • Operations Management
  • Strategy and Policy
  • Organizations, Technology, and Entrepreneurship

Will it advance your career?

As illustrated above, a doctorate is an arduous undertaking averaging 3-6 years of full-time study. And then there is the cost to consider, ranging from approximately $7,000 a year to over $30,000. Students who take out a loan need to weigh the benefits of a higher salary against the length of time it will take to pay off the loan. Also, in-state tuition can be up to half what an out-of-state student will pay for the same program.

Another degree to consider is the Doctor of Engineering – each has its benefits. For further information, please read our report titled:


Do I need a Ph.D. in Engineering Management?

If a career as a college professor is the plan, then a doctorate is imperative. Outside of academics, it is not as important. A review of online employment websites, like Indeed, some engineering management positions accept candidates with a Ph.D. in engineering. A chief technical engineering manager at Navistar in Elmendorf, Texas, states that applicants with a doctorate require at least nine years of experience versus twelve years with a master’s degree.

Many posted jobs have a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement, along with proven management experience. Depending on the engineering field, employers want applicants with an engineering degree related to their particular business, in addition to management experience. Therefore, the years and money spent earning a Ph.D. are unnecessary outside of academics and perhaps consulting. Anyone considering starting their own engineering firm will impress prospective clients if you have the initials Ph.D. after your surname.

By the time you reach the final years of a master’s degree in engineering management or a related field, you probably have a career in mind. Along the way, you have likely talked to faculty members, practicing engineers, reviewed employment opportunities, and consulted with fellow students. With this information, you can determine if your career path warrants a Ph.D. or if the years will be better spent gaining practical experience.

Additional Resources:

Will I get any first-hand experience in a Master of Engineering Management program?

What kind of things does an Engineering Manager do daily?

Can I complete a Masters of Engineering Management in just one year to save time and money?

Will I Be Stuck in the Engineering Field With a Master of Engineering Management Or Will I Be Able to Bring These Skills to Other Positions?

Do I Need to Have a Specific Undergrad Degree in Order to Get a Master of Engineering Management?

What Skills Will I Obtain From a Master of Engineering Management Degree?

Are There Different Types of Master’s Programs in Engineering Management?

How much value does an MBA have for someone in the field of Engineering Management?