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The Ph.D. degree is for individuals who wish to establish an in-depth and critical knowledge of an area of study. Knowledge would include the methodologies required to understand and complete research in the area of study. In fact, much of the course work in a doctoral program is concerned with research courses such as statistics, econometrics, research methods and other advanced techniques.
In general Masters courses in business are of an applied and institutional nature. The key is to understand the best practices of an industry or field and be able to apply them successfully. There may be aspects of theory in its application to specific business problems, but the overall emphasis is on the applied nature of a discipline.
However, Ph.D. coursework is generally not concerned with the institutional or applied nature of the area of student.Doctoral coursework is generally concerned with the theory aspects of the discipline: how do we understand how individuals, groups and markets work? The key to this process is understanding research methodology. A statistics course in an MBA usually is concerned with what test we should use for a particular hypothesis. In the doctoral program, one may be required to structure a new test and to demonstrate of knowledge of the underlying statistical process.
An example: in finance, one would likely learn about decision rules for capital budgeting in the typical MBA course. However, in the doctoral course, the class may focus on the behavioral aspect of decision making. Does different information influence the decision process? The class would also consider how to test the thesis that various information has an impact of the decision outcome. In the MBA class, the profession is fairly proscriptive. There tends to be an established best practice. In the doctoral class, the professor expects that the student is so interested that he or she has already learned the standard textbook and industry practices and thus he/she concentrates on helping the student learn about how we learn new things about the industry or solve troublesome issues. There is more emphasis on individual initiative and learning in the Ph.D. courses.
First, talk with lots of people who have a Ph.D. Ask them what they do, why do they like about what they do? How did the Ph.D. prepare them for their career? Then have them discuss with you the earning of a Ph.D. as opposed to the earning of the masters degree.
Second, talk with faculty who teach in a Ph.D. program. Find out what their requirements are for the degree. Discuss your interest with them.
Third, visit a Ph.D. granting university and talk with least three students in the field of your choice.
Fourth, find a few recent graduates and talk with them about your potential career and your desire for a Ph.D.
The key person to discuss your interest in a doctorate at GW is the doctoral lead professor in the area of your interest. After you have talked with the lead professor, you may want to visit other faculty in the area. The lead professor can help you with suggestions.