What Kind of Doctorate is Needed to be a Professor | Regenesys

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If you aspire to become a business school lecturer, a doctorate in business management might be a great choice for you. This qualification is a professional doctoral programme that can help you take advantage of other opportunities a doctorate in business will bring your way.


  • Two paths into academia
  • How a doctorate in management differs from a PhD
  • Academic ranks
  • The doctorate is a first step
  • A doctorate in business management brings credibility

Two paths into academia

There are two paths into the world of academia. If you wish to pursue a formal career as a researcher and lecturer in academia, a doctor of philosophy degree (PhD) is the usual option. If you have considerable experience in industry and want to advance to the C-suite or into consultancy, a professional doctoral programme such as a doctorate in management will give you the required edge – and a jump in salary. 

This  National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 10 qualification will give you the right to use the title of Dr in front of your name, and permit you to apply for academic posts at universities as well as conduct research to publish articles in research journals. 

How a doctorate in management differs from a PhD

A doctorate in management differs from a PhD in that the research you undertake will be practical, aiming to address industry issues. The PhD is more research-orientated, and suited for those who wish to build careers as academics.

The title of professor is awarded by universities, and may be used only at the university that awards it. If a professor resigns before retirement, he or she may no longer use the title. The post of professor is usually awarded to a senior academic with a distinguished teaching and publishing track record.

Academic ranks

For more clarity, let’s have a look at various ranks in academia. Note that the terminology varies across countries because of “systemic and institutional differences” (Bitzer, 2008).


Academic ranks

Who may qualify

Associate/assistant lecturer  Contract staff
Adjunct professor Also contract, part-time staff – visiting lecturers or industry executives with a wealth of experience
Lecturer  Entry-level full-time staff with a master’s degree (minimum)
Senior lecturer  Academic staff with relevant experience, a doctoral degree, and publications to their name; experience and publication requirements vary across countries, increasing significantly from senior lecturer to full professor level
Associate professor
(Full) professor
Professor emeritus  Title conferred at a university’s discretion, on retirement, to professors who have made exceptional academic contributions 

(Wikipedia, 2014; UCT, 2023)

doctorate in business management

The doctorate is a first step

So the answer to whether you can become a professor with a doctorate in business management is yes: it is a first step towards becoming a professor. 

While the Oxford dictionary defines a professor as “a university teacher of the highest rank” (Oxford University Press, nd), to earn the post of full professor, you need to produce a considerable number of research publications (research output), have many years of teaching under your belt,  and the approval of your  university’s senate. 

At entry level in a higher education institution you will be an academic staff member (sometimes informally called a professor) and can then progress towards becoming a (full) professor. In many countries, including South Africa, only academic staff from public universities are technically entitled to take on the appellation of professor, so if you are planning to teach in a private institution, you might not progress to the title of professor, though you will still be able to work as a full-time academic staff member with similar responsibilities but a different title.

A doctorate in business management brings credibility

That’s not the end of the story, though: there is a thrust across the globe towards engaging industry practitioners in academia to bring practical insights to academic programmes. The professional doctorate programmes such as a doctorate in business management vouch for your credibility as an expert with practical knowledge of industry, as well as of a researcher, capable of generating high-quality research output. They also differentiate you and give you the option of advancing your career in industry as well as in the role of visiting faculty, should you wish to pursue your dream of a career as a full-time academic at a later stage. 

If you think a doctorate is the right choice for you, have a look at what’s needed to enrol in Regenesys Business School’s Doctorate of Business Management programme.

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PhD, MBA Senior Lecturer | Regenesys Business School Dr Shaista, who holds a PhD in Management from Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology in Allahabad, teaches creative thinking, innovation and design thinking at Regenesys. Her doctoral research examined the variables of creativity, emotional intelligence and organisational culture. She believes both in holistic development of students and continuous learning, and has had several research papers published.

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