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Postgraduate (MSc, MA, MBA, PhD) Programs in E-business

Here we offer essential advice on studying a postgraduate business program in E-business and E-commerce, as well as the ability to access our comprehensive database of European institutions that offer E-commerce/E-business-related MA, MSc, MBA and PhD programs taught in the English language.

A field that hardly existed in the mid-1990s, e-business has become a pervasive part of the business (and non-profit/not-for-profit and government) landscape. It involves identifying, assessing, developing and then managing electronic-commerce capabilities for business, industry, non-profit/not-for-profit, or governmental organisations. The skills and knowledge required to design, develop, and implement such capabilities are clearly interdisciplinary in nature, ranging from business and technical to managerial and strategic.

Find postgraduate programs in E-BUSINESS

The early days of the field focused largely on selling products to consumers. Over time, the emphasis has shifted. Now the focus is just as likely to be on managing the critical flows of information within supply chains, or providing services to consumers, or linking governments with citizens. E-commerce’s pervasiveness has also meant that many organisations have needed to be reorganised and re-orientated. To take a simple example, many organisations that once just sold to stores in large amounts now also sell direct to individual customers in small amounts. This has meant that supply chain management, customer service, billing and collection, and the firm’s whole information technology infrastructure have had to be re-geared. e commerce


Numerous substantial trends continue to drive this field, including:

• Increased computing power and related technological developments.
• Greater consumer access to high-speed internet connections.
• The shift to online sales and marketing
• increased used of the Web for entertainment as well as purchasing.
• Development of new online industries such as gaming and gambling.
• Adoption of online marketing and interactive opinion gathering by non-traditional players (government and non-profits/not-for-profits).
• Increased co-ordination of firms and consumers (as well as governments and citizens) via the internet.

Some masters programs are labelled ‘e-commerce’, others, ‘e-business’. Whatever the title, these programs are often one year long, with a handful being two years in length. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the nature of the subject, many programs have a substantial distance-learning (ie web) component. The potential range of the subject – covering both technology and business matters – results in substantially different programme emphases. Some emphasise technology, some marketing, some the organisational consequences of re-orientating an organisation to online marketing, and some emphasise yet other elements. Most are aimed at those who will work for businesses, but  few focus on those who will work for governmental units.

The MSc in E-Business and Information Systems on offer at one UK university provides a fine example of the range of emphases on offer. At this particular institution, students are required to choose one of these four ‘specialist streams’:

• E-business/e-commerce: "This stream aims to produce graduates who wish to study both the fundamentals of strategies and business processes and the development and application of information systems in supporting new organisations and new business practices. The program is aimed at graduates of all disciplines who are interested in a management career."

• E-marketing: "The e-marketing team will provide students with opportunities to acquire a thorough understanding of marketing theories and how to apply them to real world business challenges in the electronic business context."

• E-government: "This stream aims to produce graduates who understand the complexities of designing and implementing information systems for government (including e-government and e-health)."

• Information systems: "...focus primarily on internet and related technologies and how they can be used to built information systems. This stream is primarily aimed at computer sciences graduates who would like to broaden their career options."

Programs vary substantially in what they expect of applicants. Some programs require candidates to have a first degree in a subject with a substantial computing or information systems component. Some programs do not require that students have an undergraduate computing degree, but will nonetheless expect them to have strong general computer skills, such as mastery of Microsoft Office and internet usage. Others look for candidates with either a computing degree or a business degree, with some specifying the type of business degree they seek. For instance, Oxford Brookes University’s MSc in eMarketing looks for those with a marketing degree.

Many programs also look for:

• Team orientation
• An ability to communicate with non-technical people
• An ability to juggle multiple projects.   

e commerce MBA in E-Business

An MBA in E-Commerce or E-Business is designed to give students an in-depth knowledge of electronic business strategies employed by small and large organisations. These MBA programs will study various elements of the internet, including constructing a website, managing an e-business and the importance and growth of internet business law.

An MBA in E-Commerce or E-Business will enable its students to thrive in the world of e-business and prepare them for their careers whether they are planning to work in an established organisation or launch their own e-business. Typical modules of study will include: E-Marketing Strategies; Management Skills; Marketing; Business Methods; Global Economics; Management Information Systems; and The E-Consumer.  The European University Business School offers a one-year full-time MBA in E-Commerce with three start dates throughout the year – January, March and October.


PhD in E-Business

Studying a PhD program in e-commerce or e-business will enable the student even great career advancement potential – or of course a doorway into the world of academia. While it’s true to say that PhD programs solely focussed on e-commerce are rather rare, there are several PhD programs that include e-commerce/e-business as one of the areas of study.

Newcastle University has an MPhil/PhD in Business and Management which has a number of themed areas of research that students are able to choose from including e-business which comes under their Marketing, Operation and Systems umbrella.  This PhD course can be studied for 36 months full time or 72 months as a part-time option. The University of Nottingham , meanwhile, offers an innovative selection of PhD programs and among these there is a choice of studying Digital Economy.

e commerce Career Opportunities

Business managers in both private and public sectors need to be able to respond to information technology innovation. Thus, those with an e-commerce background are well placed to move beyond the typical Internet marketing roles in which e-commerce specialists begin. Their technological capabilities and interests align well with the skill set required for many marketing, supply chain management, and MIS managers.

Typical job titles

• E-commerce business analyst
• Online marketing manager
• Database marketing manager
• Internet channel analyst
• E-business project manager
• Systems analyst
• Development manager
• Technology manager
• IT manager
• Electronic media product manager
• Web project associate
• Business information developer
• Web business developer
• Internet engineer
• E-business application developer
• Business analyst/designer
• New media developer
• E-commerce support analyst
• Interactive designer
• E-commerce strategist
• Technology consultant
• Information architect

Professional associations (UK and US)

British Computer Society

British Institute of Technology & E-Commerce

American E-Commerce Association

Computer and Communications Industry Association (US)

Information Technology Association of America

Software & Information Industry Association (US)

Introductory readings

Gary Schneider’s Electronic Commerce (Course Technology) provides more of a business than a technical perspective on the field. Updated annually, it manages to do a good job of keeping abreast of this rapidly changing field. Those wishing a look at the underlying information systems issues, as opposed to the marketing side of e-commerce, can usefully read Stephen Haag and Maeve Cummings’ Information Systems Essentials (McGraw-Hill). 

Those needing to get their programming up to snuff can consult Y Daniel Liang, Introduction to Java Programming (Prentice Hall) or other similar titles.

Find postgraduate programs in E-BUSINESS

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