PhD Programs in Business Ethics: 2012
It is an indicator of the growing interest in the field of Business Ethics that a number of universities now offer opportunities for students to earn a PhD in the topic.
I often get email from students and professionals looking for advice on how and where to study ethics at the graduate level. I point out that there are two main ways to get a PhD in Business Ethics. One traditional way is to do a PhD in Philosophy like I did — Philosophy departments are the traditional home of ethics scholarship at universities — and focus on ethical issues in business. The other way is to find a Business school that offers either a PhD program specifically in Ethics, or one with a PhD program that is at least open to students who wish to specialize in ethics.
For students with a background in Philosophy, doing a Philosophy PhD is the obvious route [though not necessarily best route*], and there are literally dozens if not hundreds of Philosophy departments where you could do a PhD in Business Ethics — all that’s required, really, is a willing and qualified supervisor. But this route is typically only open to students with a background (at least an undergraduate degree, and preferably a Master’s degree) in Philosophy.
The situation is less clear for students with a background in Business — B-school programs are out there, but they’re harder to find. So I’ve done a bit of digging and prepared the following list.
The following information was gathered fairly casually by word-of-mouth. No guarantees, and no endorsement is implied. Please contact the directors of particular programs for further details.
Business School PhD Programs in Business Ethics:
In no particular order…
- Rutgers Business School (my pal Miguel Alzola, who now teaches at Fordham, got his PhD there, under the direction of Ed Hartman.)
- Wharton (at UPenn) has a PhD program in Ethics and Legal Studies
- The PhD program at the Darden School of Business lists ethics among the areas on which students can focus.
- The University of Groningen (in the Netherlands) doesn’t have a “program” in business ethics, but I’m told that both the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Economics and Business welcome applications from students interested in doing research in business ethics.
- Benedictine University has a Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Business Administration (Ph.D./D.B.A.) Program in Values-Driven Leadership
- Penn State: Ph.D. in Business Administration – Management and Organization
- The PhD program in Organizational Behaviour at Utah has several faculty members who specialize in ethics.
- PhD program at the Schulich School of Business (where my friends Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten teach) encourages work in Ethics and CSR.
- Students in the Ph.D. program in business at the University of Kansas can study topics in business ethics via the program’s Organizational Behavior concentration.
- Students at Nottingham University Business School can do a Phd in CSR.
If you know of programs that should be added to the list, email me.
For additional perspective, you can also find out which business schools take ethics seriously by looking at the “Beyond Grey Pinstripes” rankings — but not all of the schools listed there will have PhD programs.
(Note: This is an updating of the list I did back in 2008, based on an informal survey of colleagues, of PhD Programs in Business Ethics. The information there may still prove useful, though I haven’t been able to verify that all the schools listed there still allow or encourage PhD work in ethics.)
Addendum: I’m told that people have recently done ethics-related PhD’s at Michigan, Maryland, and Central Florida. I had originally omitted those schools because their PhD programs make no specific mention of ethics.
*Addendum 2: A reader has rightly pointed out to me that those with an undergraduate or MA in philosophy can also do a PhD in business, that doing so broadens a student’s perspective, and that doing so is likely to improve chances at employment.