What Is the Best Degree to Have to Become a CEO?

If you want to become a CEO, you must be prepared to get a lot of education, and even more experience. However, there is not a single set degree pathway that will guarantee you a CEO job. For instance, Charles Phillips Infor CEO’s affair was to get a BS in Computer Science, an MBA, and a JD, but that doesn’t mean everyone with that education will become CEO.


If you have your heart set on becoming one, however, then obtaining an MBA is always a good idea. However, you need to already hold a bachelor’s degree to complete an MBA, which means you have to think about the industry you want to become involved in. Your MBA will then build on that.

Most MBA programs require some type of business related bachelor’s degree, such as finance, economics, management, business, or finance. However, there are some disciplines, particularly engineering and computer sciences, where that threshold has been crossed. However, if this is the degree you have, you will usually have to complete courses in accounting, statistics, economics, and finance before you can be accepted.

If an MBA really isn’t for you, then trying to get a doctoral degree would be the next logical option, but that actually takes more time and certainly doesn’t guarantee a CEO job, since doctoral degrees are often not business focused.

I Have an MBA, Now What?

Most of the time, people become CEOs through internal promotions, although there are some who have simply applied for the job, or have even been headhunted. If you are looking for a CEO job, then the American Management Association (AMA) is probably the best place to start. Not only do they list any CEO or upper level management jobs, they also provide you with lots of tips on who is looking, how to become more interesting for headhunters, and more. Becoming a member of the AMA is also a good idea, as it demonstrates that you are committed to management.

What Will I Have to Do Once I Get the Job?

Quantifying and detailing the exact job of a CEO is almost impossible. This is also because the exact duties will vary so much depending on where you work. Some of the common duties, however, include:

  • Preparing budgets and overseeing overall finances.
  • Solving problems.
  • Evaluating staff performance.
  • Analyzing the way operations are run and finding ways to improve this, focusing on policy change, program improvement, cost reduction, staff performance, and more.
  • Negotiating contracts with suppliers and other staff.
  • Reviewing and writing reports.

It is very important that you have a strong foundation to be able to be a CEO, and that foundation is found through education. Focus on areas such as national security operations, human resources, technology, telecommunication, customer service, regulations and laws, finance, taxation, and so on. The earlier you start with your education, the earlier you can get to work, and the quicker you can grow the ranks until you are a CEO.