Why Choose a Pharmaceutical Management MBA

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest in the world and it isn’t slowing down. It is believed that prescription drug sales in the world generate around $1 trillion per year. Additionally, traditionally poorer countries like India and China are developing a stronger middle class, who require more and more drugs. As such, the industry is also becoming more global in nature.

Business students are tuning in to this growth. As a result, a number of schools are now offering MBA programs with a focus on pharmaceutical management. These programs teach students the know-how needed to manage the business side of the industry, while also having the technical knowledge required for the field itself.

What We Do

Careers for those with an MBA in pharmaceutical management are varied. They include such things as pharmaceutical administration and nursing and research and development, for instance. Essentially, they make financial and business decisions in relation to the research and development of new drugs, as well as their testing, marketing and subsequent sale. It is their job, for instance, to decide whether or not a certain drug should be developed. They also determine what the best form of marketing for the product will be, and they hold responsibility for seeking FDA approval.

Why It’s Hot

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth and salaries for those involved in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing management can all expect significant growth as well as high salaries. The average salary is around $129,750 per year, not taking into account any profit sharing or bonuses. Those who work as a chief executive in this field, however, can expect to earn as much as $211,820. Interestingly, the BLS provides an extensive list of different career options.

As previously stated, the pharmaceutical industry is becoming increasingly global. As a result, students are also interested in this field because it gives them an opportunity to work all over the world. Indeed, this is a highly attractive element of this type of specialization.

Work Environment

Those with an MBA in Pharmaceutical Management will often have desk-based jobs, as much of their focus is on the management of different processes, rather than being active participants. However, those who have a strong focus on research and development may also be involved in doing actual lab work, product testing and more. Additionally, those who choose to focus on the global market could get to work anywhere in the world, from a fancy penthouse office in Beijing to a shack somewhere in West Africa working on a cure for Ebola.

How to Do It

In order to earn an MBA in Pharmaceutical Management, a four year bachelor’s degree must first be completed. While there is not necessarily a set requirement for a bachelor’s major, something that relates to health sciences is generally recommended. Obtaining a master’s degree usually takes at least two years. Admission to the courses is very competitive and you will likely have to pass the GMAT exam. Additionally, preference will be given to those students who have completed courses in areas such as chemistry, biology, finance, business management, mathematics, human resources management and pharmacology.

Additionally, schools will look for people who have certain skills already very well-developed. These include written and oral communication skills, as well as a great understanding of management and business principles. Furthermore, they should have a strong background in science and math as much of the job relates to research.

Students can choose to either study towards their MBA online or on campus. One on campus option is the Rutgers MBA in Pharmaceutical Management offered by Rutgers Business School Newark and New Brunswick. This school was listed as being in the top 10 around the world for their program.

MBA in Pharmaceutical Management Online

There are also a number of online options to choose from. These options give the benefit of being very flexible, allowing students to work and study at the same time. Furthermore, they make it easier to study either internationally or with international students, which is very important in the pharmaceutical industry, which is going more global.

1. Master in Business Administration – Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management – Aspen University – This program discusses all the topics that are relevant to the pharmaceutical industry, including ethics, marketing and management.

2. Online Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Marketing MBA for Executives – Saint Joseph’s University Erivan K. Haub School of Business – This program is designed specifically for working and international students, offering flexibility across the curriculum. However, the course fully mirrors the on campus option so that students are not in any way disadvantaged.

3. Pharmaceutical and Healthcare MBA Online – University of the Sciences – This is a 22-month program delivered fully online in modules of 8 weeks each. The program is tremendously respected for its interactive and dynamic delivery.

4. MBA in Pharmaceutical Industry Management – Cambridge Corporate University – This university in Switzerland is one of the first to be offering a “PIM” (pharmaceutical industry management) MBA. It is designed specifically for those who are interested in the global aspects of pharmaceutical management.

5. Pharmaceutical Management / Marketing MBA – Indian Institute of Pharmaceutical Marketing – This distance education program is of particular interest because it is delivered by a university in India. India is one of the fastest emerging markets for pharmaceutical products.

6. Danube Professional MBA Biotech & Pharmaceutical Management – Danube University Krems – Graduates from this program in Austria is that it focuses specifically on the factors that are driving global health care systems, but also on the industry itself. It is a highly intensive program that truly immerses students in online pharmaceutical management learning.

7. Online MBA Concentrations: Pharmaceutical Industry Management – Alliant International University – This degree program is highly comprehensive and delivers graduates who can get to work in any field related to pharmaceutical management.

8. Online MBA in Pharmaceuticals Management – Jaro Education – This program looks at specific areas of pharmaceutical management, namely the legal aspects, marketing, regulatory affairs, strategic management, ethics, intellectual property rights, strategic cost management, innovations and research methodology. This is another Indian university that is interesting due to the emerging market.

9. Executive MBA in Health Administration with Pharmaceutical Management Courses – University of Colorado Denver Business School – This is a highly comprehensive MBA course that looks not just at pharmaceutical management, but also other elements of healthcare administration.

Pros & Cons

Choosing to enroll in an MBA in Pharmaceutical Management is a big decision and it is important that you weigh the pros and cons of actually doing so.


  • You will have increased job opportunities with an advantage over other potential applicants.
  • You could end up working abroad, which is one of the reasons why so many international universities now offer these degrees.
  • You will have an opportunity to turn the pharmaceutical industry in a more ethical industry that focuses on making cures, not customers.


  • Some people struggle to find a link between pharmaceutics and business. This is because the pharmaceutical industry concerns itself in the main with research and development and the business side pretty much runs itself. After all, a $1 trillion annual revenue isn’t earned haphazardly.
  • The degree is costly and lengthy, particularly if you have to go to an international university.

Financial Aid

Career Paths

Generally speaking, graduates with an MBA in Pharmaceutical Management will try to find employment with the “big pharma” corporations and work their way up the ladder. These corporations include Novartis, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. Indeed, financially speaking, the big pharma companies effectively run the entire industry. As a result, they also have many different areas of work that a graduate could become involved in. These include:

  • Research and development managers, working on the development of new products for emerging and existing illnesses and health conditions.
  • Drug delivery managers, who ensure that drugs are sent to places where they matter the most, as well as looking at ways to ensure drugs are accessible.
  • Corporate finance managers, who deal with the budgets and financial aspects of the pharmaceutical company.
  • Marketing managers, who work together with various other departments in order to make sure a new drug is approved by the FDA and marketing properly to maximize sales.

The pharmaceutical industry is incredibly complex and large. This means that it would be almost impossible to list all the different types of jobs. Indeed, even the BLS, as discussed previously, lists a range of different managerial positions for those with an MBA in pharmaceutical management. It is also for this reason that many schools that offer an MBA in Pharmaceutical Management also encourage their students to get an elective course in a more functional area. The most popular combination in terms of student choices and employment opportunities are marketing and supply chain management. Additionally, many graduates choose a finance concentration. However, the market is highly fluid and these concentrations change regularly.

Further Reading

Suggested Websites

Six websites with helpful resources for those working in a field relevant to an MBA in Pharmaceutical Management: